With the uncertainty and alarming nature of current affairs, the prospect of being able to escape to a fictional world or delve into a certain topic is an appealing one. There are many ways of accessing books – online – that aren’t really publicised and/or are vastly underused ( all legal, of course), that I want to let you know about, in case they have slipped under your radar. If you can access this blog, then you can access these online sources!
Your library’s digital library
While the current situation has closed libraries in the “bricks-and-mortar” sense, their digital libraries are very much open for business. Not enough people know about this, and I think it’s an amazing facility if you can’t go to the library or if you don’t want to cart your library books around. While the range of services used by particular libraries differs, you will need your library card and an internet connection to sign up to access a plethora of ebooks, emagazines and audiobooks, many of which are new releases. Your library will have instructions on how to access this on their website. Why bother shelling out for ebooks when you can access them through the library, for free?
The only drawback that I can see is that, depending on how many digital “copies” the library has, only a small number of people can read a book at once, so for some of the most popular books, there is a “queue”, some of which are months long. Nevertheless, there is enough choice that you can be reading other books while you wait, and most services offer an app for ease-of-use. There are many genres of books, including childrens’ and non-fiction, so I’m sure you’ll find something for you!
Under copyright law, books enter the public domain in the UK 70 years after the author’s death, and in the US, it’s all books published before 1925 (every year, more books published since then will become available). This means that you can access these books free of charge from a variety of online platforms. I’ll admit that I’m not yet a big reader of classics, but this is the perfect opportunity to delve into what’s available. Project Gutenberg is a excellent resource that lets you access a plethora of public domain books through your usual web browser.
This isn’t technically a way of getting ‘new’ books, but it’s a way of reading books outside of your personal bookshelf and trying something that you wouldn’t usually pick up in a bookshop or library. Even though the people you’re isolating with may have different tastes and interests to you, the process of a book swap could open up new avenues for you to explore. Simply pick your favourite book, ask them to pick theirs, and swap! Start a discussion about what you’re reading, and nurture your passion for reading together.
I hope some of these ideas are useful; how are you accessing books in these unprecedented times?