Preserving the past and making it accessible

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of PD's preference for paper over electronics for books and stationery. The ability to feel and smell finely printed material trumps electronic versions, however this does not mean that PD is a Luddite. Far from it, PD knows the benefits of progress. One is in the preservation of our history. Our understanding of humanity and history relies on books (and clay and stone tablets before that), many examples of which exist in numerous collections around the world. Unfortunately many are missing; think of the tragic loss of the original library in Alexandria, wars and theft. In addition, access to the ones that do exist is restricted to a few well known scholars and private collectors.

(O. Von Corven, 19th century)

Advances in cameras and computers allow for digitization of old books and allow the images to be accessed by anyone, widening the appreciation of old books.

Many of these digitized books are available on various websites. The Public Domain Review ( is a non-profit organization devoted to not only making such books available online. It is funded by a small group of enthusiasts and by donations by individuals and by subscriptions of the Friends of The Public Domain Review.

The Public Domain Review not only gives access to historic books but writes useful essays on related topics and also publishes books, including collections of its essays. Check out the Public Domain Review shop at

Unless you buy facsimile editions of old books, which are of necessity limited in number and expensive, looking at digital copies of these books is preferred to no access at all.

Happy browsing.

For the curious: This is the final installment in the current series on books. In July PD will publish a new theme. For those keen to know what that theme is, there is only a week to wait.

Note: photographs are from the relevant websites and are the copyright of the respective owners.

Note: PD does not get sponsored by any company and chooses to write about products that catch his eye while on the prowl, without the makers' knowledge. That way he remains impartial.

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