Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bookshelf feature at Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is in my opinion one of the best sites to ever come to the internet. Committed to getting as much of the world's available public domain literature on-line for free, easy access in formats even the dumbest computer can manage? I'm there! But with a project as vast as this one comes the issue: how to find the good stuff? Easy enough if you're looking for something in particular and can use the search feature. But what about if you just want to browse?

Enter the Bookshelf, a new-ish browsing tool I hadn't much used until my sudden interest in periodicals had me scouring the depths of PG once again. I find I get cleaner files if I run the conversion myself on HTML files, especially where graphics are concerned as with the periodicals, so I was returning to PG again to dig up some source files.

I was in luck! There was a special bookshelf for periodicals that listed every title available. I didn't need to wade through every issue of every title. I could just see what there was, then click on any entry for a list of issues available. The ones published in volumes as opposed to issues were even grouped by volume so you could see at once which were the complete sets!

Other bookshelf lists are grouped thematically. Canada has a list of books about Canada, grouped into categories like history and biography. Other countries are available too. Detectives has a range of detective fiction, grouped by author and sorted by author's year of birth. Archaeology is sorted by the continent each work is discussing.

There are probably not 100% comprehensive lists. Are there detective stories in PG's vast archives which are not listed, yet or at all, in the bookshelf. Undoubtedly. Are there groups of works which lend themselves to the Bookshelf treatment but haven't had it yet? Probably. But if you just want to browse, the Bookshelf is certainly a better bet than browsing through every title in PG, one by one. And you are sure to find some suitable content, no matter what you're looking for.

Here are some bookshelf categories which intrigue me particularly:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Magazines at Project Gutenberg

As I was pondering whether or not to renew my subscription to Asimov's at Fictionwise next year, I wandered over to my Yahoo RSS feed and saw a new upload of Strand Magazine at Project Gutenberg. The Strand, among its other achievements, was the publisher of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, and it occured to me that those who like such things would very likely find other gems in these old periodicals. Magazines tend to publish fiction thematically; if you like one of their staples, the others are likely to be in a similar style and feel. So it can be a great way to discover new authors and great new stories.

I'm thinking of picking a year and seeing how I do with a Gutenberg 'subscription.' Perhaps I could do it as a book club with my readers here. Every month, I'll post the issue corresponding to the year in question, and we can read the magazine together and discuss it collectively, perhaps in a Yahoo Group or smaller such venue. So, faithful readers, anyone interested? I am thinking of starting with Atlantic Monthly magazine, as there are several consecutive complete years available beginning in 1859. Comment or message me if you think this might be a fun year-long venture. I can set up a Yahoo Group if there is interest.