Thursday, June 21, 2007

WEBSITE: New Feature from Project Gutenberg

Some over at Teleread alerted me to an interesting new feature over at Project Gutenberg. It's called the Bookshelf, and it's a wiki-esque collection of thematic lists for browsing. What makes it interesting is the inclusion on certain of the lists, when relevant, of works not in the database. It's handy when a series has multiple works of which only some are in the public domain: you can see at a glance which works are missing and you can make other arrangements to find them should you wish to. They also have links to Gutenberg of Australia when relevant, but they don't direct link to any titles there, only indicate that more works by that author are available for those who live in Life Plus 70 countries.

I am still waiting for an amazon.com-style browsing experience, with capsule summaries of every title, user-generated thematic lists and system-generated 'people who downloaded this book also downloaded' lists and user-editable wiki-style info for every title. Manybooks comes closer, but nobody has hit the need exactly. The growing database of public-domain etexts is a fabulous thing, but many people still need help in filtering it down a little when they browse. It's all well and good when you go in there knowing that you just want to download Wuthering Heights and be done with it. But if you just want to browse, I think the user experience out there in ebookland is still a little lacking.

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