Where Can I Find Books to Put Online?
If you want to put a book online, you'll need to find a copy
that you can scan or transcribe.
(You'll also need to make sure the book can go online, legally.
For more information on how to do that, see
Here are some places you can find copies:
Once you've found the book you want,
see this page for information on how to put
the book online.
- Often a library will have a copy of the book you'd like to
transcribe. You can check it out from there; just make sure
to take good care of it and return it on time. If your local library
doesn't have a copy of the book you want, you may be able to get
it from another library through inter-library loan.
- Also keep an eye out for library book sales. Often
you can find many older, hard-to-find books there, often very cheaply.
They can be fruitful places to find books to rescue and put online.
Most libraries have at least one per year, and some have them more
- Mass digitization sites
- If the book you're interested was published before 1923, it's
increasingly likely that a mass digitization project has scanned page
images of it. The best-known large mass digitization sites are listed
on my archives and indexes page. Their copies, though, might not be provided
to all countries, and their page images might not be as easy to read
and use as a good transcription. They can still be very useful as the
basis of a transcription, however.
- Local bookstores
- Along with the chains, be sure to check local
independent, and used and rare bookstores-- they often have books
that you won't find in the big chains, especially if the book's been
out of print for a while. Many of them can special-order a book
for you as well, or do an out-of-print book search for you.
- Private sales
- Sometimes personal book collections are sold off, in estate
sales, or when someone's moving or otherwise needs to reduce their
book collection. (For some of us, our book collections can threaten to
take over our house if they're not culled every now and then.)
Such sales are often hard to discover, and the quality of what's available
can vary greatly. But some people enjoy this sort of hunt. You can find
out about many of these sales by watching your local classifieds and
bulletin boards. You'll also probably enjoy library book sales
- Online booksellers
- See this page for some links
to book catalogs and retailers. If you're looking for something
that's rare or out of print, you may find
list at AcqWeb useful for finding a
used bookseller with the book, and buying it from them.
(The big online chains can also find used books for you, but you
typically get a book more cheaply, with less delay, and
with a better idea of the condition of the book you're getting,
if you skip the middleman.) My current favorite places to look
are Powell's for new and popular
and the ABE
indexes for the harder-to-find out-of-print books.
(I have no financial interest in any of those stores or sites, and do
not intend to expand this short list of examples. More booksellers
can be found in the directories linked
from this page.)
You may find other favorites of your own in your own explorations.
- Other stores or sales
- Other places to buy books include church/hospital/other charity
rummage sales, charity stores (e.g. Salvation Army, Goodwill),
or general antique shopes of dealers at community antique fairs.
- Decorative Props
- Gary Young notes that bars, restaurants, and even furniture stores
sometimes use old books as props.
a bit a chutzpah to ask the bartender how much he wants for a book that
is glued to a shelf in the beverage room, but I have done it."
- Other people
- Maybe someone you know already has the book you want to transcribe.
They may be willing to lend or give it you, if you explain what you're doing,
and return it in good condition if they want it back. (Gary Young suggests
asking whether your grandparents might have some old treasures in their
attic, basement, or garage.)
Many thanks to Gary Young for contributing much of the material
and ideas for this section.
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