It is apps like these that give me belief that humanity can fully benefit from the use of today?s technology. The British Library has scanned and published 1000 rare books and made them available through their app. They join the New York Library (Biblion) and Dallas Public Library (Dallas Public iLibrary HD) is the app business by releasing ?some? of their books to the public.
Today, I read about this gentleman by the name of George Foster that wrote about ?An accurate Account of Entertaining Travels in Cashmere? in 1821. It brought me back to a time where there wasn?t Wikipedia nor National Geographic to tell us these stories. Back then, knowledge of the unknown and exotic had to be relied upon by travelers like George Foster to report upon.
I also gained insight into a Chinese gentleman that lived in England by the name of Wo Chang and published a book in 1897 called ?England through Chinese Spectacles?. You might say he was a social blogger of his time, writing about the English after so much was written about the China by the English. In his notes, he pens:
I have come to a belief, after a great deal of thinking and observation, that England is honeycombed with disorganization, and that this is due, in first instance, to the lack or reverence for the institution of the family and the lack of wise domestic management so common in this country.
These 19th Century publications are scanned in high resolution, so it is ironically refreshing to see the actual pages and library stamps dating back more than a century (as opposed to reading an ebook).
The British Library will launch an app that will allow for personal subscriptions later. The fees will go towards the cost of further digitizing of their library and making them available to the public to preserve the cultural legacy. I guess I will have another cause to subscribe to.
The British Library 19th Century Books app is now available for free on App Store. You can download it via this direct iTunes link.