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The British Library has just published the first 17 titles in its eBook Treasures series.  These are digital versions of some of its rarest titles, from Jane Austen’s  History of England written as a parody when she was only 16, to Mozart’s Musical diary, the record of his compositions in the last seven years of his life.

The titles are priced at either £2.99 or £3.49 (SEK 30.65 or 35.78). Seventy-five titles will be made available over the next two years.


[The opening page of Alice]

The British Library is exceptional, of course, in the quality of its rare resources, but the strategy of making these available as e-books, not only enables the scholar to examine the works from a distance, on iPad, iPhone or iPod (with an app also available for Windows 8), but, for other libraries with rare materials, offers the possibility of a modest income stream. Adopting such a strategy also has the advantage of presenting the library to the outside world as a modern institution, with an understanding of the direction that publishing is taking, rather than as a quiet backwater away from the troublesome world, unconcerned about the political disadvantages of such an image.

More on the new venture can be found at the British Library site.