Knowledge sharing is a foundation to a strong society and economy. For that reason, I think it is very impressive and wonderful that libraries and companies have teamed up to share books digitally.* For example, while researching the philosophical underpinnings of public trust in our democracy, I stumbled across Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Volume 2, hosted by Google Books. His Democracy in America series is a classic work and important for its early study of American democracy and society.
The book is also available in ebook format and other digital formats at a number of different web sites.
All digital formats have their pluses and minuses. Including book scans is wonderful because it is generally more readable than plain text formatting and does not require a specialized machine that costs $100 or more. Of course, I prefer paper to digital books but the downside to paper is the inability to quickly and easily search. 🙂
* Note, I am talking specifically about books in the public domain, and to some extent orphaned works. Despite the obvious flaws to our copyright system, copyrights are valuable to society to encourage and reward creativity.