By Saikat Basu
Project Gutenberg is the oldest digital library in the world. You might even be reading a classic from there right now in your e-reader.
But don’t you hate how it’s formatted?
Gutenberg is a worthwhile effort, but as a true book lover you just might be turned off by the poor formatting of those old books, crippled by archaic typesets that strain your eyes. The absence of attractive book covers might also irk you.
Standard Books promises to change all that. This volunteer effort is bringing the oomph back to these old classics.
The Cinderella Touch for Old Public Domain Books
Here’s how the volunteers at Standard Books plug it:
“Standard Ebooks takes ebooks from sources like Project Gutenberg, formats and typesets them using a carefully designed and professional-grade style guide, lightly modernizes them, fully proofreads and corrects them, and then builds them to take advantage of state-of-the-art ereader and browser technology.”
The Standard Books approach works on four levels:
- Correct the transcription errors and the ancient style with a rigorous style guide.
- Add well-researched book information with detailed book blurbs and links to encyclopedia sources.
- Match books to latest e-reader features like hyphenation support, pop-up footnotes, table of contents, and high-quality scalable vector graphics.
- Use Public Domain fine art to create attractive and unique covers for all books.
As you flip through the pages of a Little Women or Don Quixote, the difference is striking. You will notice it in the formatting of the dialog or the refurbishing of American spellings.
Standard Books also makes browsing through the catalog easier. It’s a clean interface with a search bar on top and a sort filter below. Click on the attractive book covers and jump to the book page. The free download options cover all popular formats you would need today: EPUB, EPUB3, AZW3, and KEPUB for Kobo devices.
And don’t miss this little help on the book page:
Yes, the reading time information tells me that I can find out what Bertie and Wooster are up to over the course of a weekend.
Fall in Love With the Classics Again
Tell us about your impressions. Which is the last classic you finished? Which one would you recommend without a pause?