Tour of the Forgotten Books Website
It’s been a while since I did my tour of the bookish website Fictfact, but another cool bookish site has been brought to my attention. Forgotten Books has a concept similar to Project Gutenberg, a personal favourite, but gives it an updated look and a more user-friendly interface.
What is it?
For literally thousands (if not millions) of books the copyrights have been expired. All of these books are legally within the public domain, which means that they may be reproduced without permission of the rights holder. For example, every publishing house ever can print some of Shakespeare’s poems or plays. This is a bit different from works that are translated, as sometimes the translations themselves are still under copyright.
Like Project Gutenberg, Forgotten Books makes these books in the public domain available. My main problem with Project Gutenberg is that their website is outdated as hell, and sometimes books are harder to find than they should be.
Enter, the pretty interface of Forgotten Books.
The site has tons of options, and it would be crazy work to try to describe all of them, so I’m just picking a few to give you an idea of what the site can do.
What does it do?
Simply said, you search for a book, you click on it, and you read it. As with all good sites there are tons of ways to browse, including search by title, author, category, top rated, staff picks… You name it. Once you find the book you’re looking for, this is the page that opens.
Here you can find book reviews, the book description, and when you scroll down, book details, citation style, most common words in the book (such a fun feature), similar books, and popular books in the same category. You can choose to browse the book online, which is free and doesn’t require sign up. This will bring you to their reader:
Here you can read through the book. Some books seem to be available entirely, while others have annoying blacked out pages that you can only unlock by paying a credit (see membership plans below). Another problem with this feature is that you can’t change the font size or font itself. The reader is responsive though, and has a bookmark and cite function. It works well, but I wouldn’t recommend using it for reading entire books.
You can also download the book in PDF, so you can print it, or send it to your Kindle. There will be an app as well, but as of right now it’s not been released yet (this post has been written on 27th of February 2014). The only catch is that for downloading, you need an account. Some books are downloadable for free; each day there is a free book of the day. Other books require credits. Here is an overview of their memberships:
- $2.99 per month for 10 books a month
- $4.99 per month for 100 books a month
- $19.99 per year for 10 books a month
- $35.99 per year for 100 books a month
In my opinion the membership is quite cheap and worth it for what you get. If you’re a fan of classics Forgotten Books is a great resource. It also has a huge database of older non-fiction works, including Darwin’s Origin of Species and philosophical works by Kant and Weber. Especially those academical texts are often hard to find in a decent version. The books are clearly scanned, but the quality is fine and perfectly readable. To be honest I kind of like seeing the old fonts. I haven’t tried the Kindle format because I didn’t have my Kindle handy, but I don’t expect any problems on that front.
Worth it if you enjoy browsing through old novels and academic texts. It’s going to be really helpful in my university life, since I won’t have to scour libraries again to find primary works on philosophy, history or religion. Searching for specific subjects can be a bit of a pain, but there are a lot of resources on Forgotten Books.
Disclaimer: I was offered a free membership in return of any kind of post on the website, good or bad. My judgement is based on my own opinion.
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