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Friday, May 22, 2020

DPLA, Free Ebooks Online for Everyone

If you are not aware of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), you should be. Even if your interests are limited to genealogy, you will find that their ever-increasing collections of free digital images are a valuable resource. However, one of their major developments is directed at increasing the availability of ebooks throughout the United States. This initiative is called "SimplyE." You can download the app for SimplyE for either iOS or Android from their respective websites. Here is a description of SimplyE from a recent email announcement.
SimplyE is an open-source ebook platform developed by the New York Public Library. Over the past year, we’ve seen a wave of interest in SimplyE from libraries who want to provide more diverse content for more people while maintaining control over the patron experience and protecting patron privacy. There are currently more than 150 library systems across the country that have launched SimplyE, and it’s being tested and deployed in Washington, Connecticut, Texas, Georgia, and Montana. In addition, Rhode Island, Hawaii, the Maryland digital consortia, and American Samoa have begun the process of rolling out the platform. We have been working closely with these libraries to put together statewide ebook collections that include a wide variety of materials from different providers, including ebooks with flexible licensing terms and public domain works available through the DPLA Exchange. 
You might have the mistaken impression that "public domain" books and online library books are limited in scope to the "classics" such as copies of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or whatever. If this is your impression, you have no idea of what is happening online with digital books. Many of us now read all our books online. Most of this access has come through public libraries' contracts with This option is very expensive for the local libraries, hence the initiative by the DPLA to expand the availability of books at a more reasonable cost to the local library systems. If all you read is current bestsellers, you probably have a subscription to Kindle books or Barnes and Noble but if your reading habits are more expansive, you can find a treasure trove of books for free online. 

The SimplyE app lets you subscribe for free to your local library if they are part of the system but there are already some huge libraries online such as the Internet Archive's Open Library.

Combined with the online free resources of the Internet Archive, this is probably the most extensive collection of books currently available. Yes, the Internet Archive is available on SimplyE. 

Maybe during this time of sequestration, it would be a good opportunity to broaden your reading interests and find the vast online collections of books that are free for the reading. 

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