Friday, September 4, 2009

Digitizing is not all bad...

There has been a great deal of press about Google's plan to digitize every book. (Read something about it here). Obviously, there are some seriously ticked-off copyright holders who don't want their hard work given away for free online (and rightly so) but I have to applaud part of the plan, whether that makes me popular or not.

In the course of researching my novel, I have been looking for some obscure information, the kind you don't find in the average history books. So I turned to the Internet (natch) and found some of my best sources courtesy of Google digitized books.

Most notably, I came upon an amazing gem of a book published (in its third edition) in 1828. The copyright has long since expired on Domestic Duties: Or, Instructions to Young Married Ladies on the Management of their Households and the Regulation of their Conduct in the Various Relations and Duties of Married Life by Mrs. William Parkes and no doubt there are only a handful of original copies still in existence in the world. I guess there isn't much call for it anymore and will likely only be accessed by writers of historical novels and thick dissertations about the subjugation of woman in early 19th century England. But still, what a shame it would be if this book just crumbled away to nothing, unloved and unneeded on a shelf of the NY Public Library.

How could we lose a book that includes such nuggets of wisdom as:

"The mistress of a family has the power of being the spring of its movements and the regulator of its habits. Exerting this properly, she sees around her everyone obedient to the laws of order and regularity"

(Subjugated, my eye!)

Thanks to Google's efforts, we have it for all times and I for one am grateful.

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