Digital Research Books Beta

Digital Research Books Beta is an experimental project, now in early Beta testing, that collects digital versions of research books from many different sources, including Open Access publications, into one convenient place to search.

All the materials in Digital Research Books Beta are completely free to read and most of them you can download and keep, with no library card required. The books are either in the public domain, with no restrictions on your use of them, or under Creative Commons licences that may have some conditions, but only on redistribution or adaptation.

In addition to collecting these digital editions, we group all the editions of the same title together as a single “work.” For instance there are many editions of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, many of them available digitally. We group them all together under a single search result and try to make the differences between them--years when and places where they were published, for instance--easy to understand.

Sources and Data

The material in Digital Research Books Beta are drawn from several public sources, mainly HathiTrust, The Directory of Open Access Books, and Project Gutenberg. We are continuously adding more books from these and other sources. We then cross-reference them with library records from NYPL and WorldCat, using OCLC’s experimental Classify service to make connections between different editions of the same work.

What does Beta Testing mean?

It means that this is a work-in-progress. We are constantly working on the interface and trying new ideas to deal with the data. If you visit repeatedly, sometimes it may look different. If you search for the same thing often, the results may change--hopefully for the better as we refine how the search works. There may be errors. The cross-referencing is automated and based on millions of library records including some that are inaccurate. Part of what we are exploring is how to detect and adjust mistakes, and how to make sure we don’t introduce any new ones.

It also means that the project may change radically. We may change the URL. We may learn that a different approach is necessary. We may learn that it isn’t useful enough to anyone to continue. If you find books in Digital Research Books Beta that are especially useful to you, you should download a copy so that you have one no matter what becomes of this project.

Most of all, it means your feedback is important! Most pages have a feedback button in the bottom right corner. We want to know what you think. If there are things you like or dislike, if there’s a feature missing, if you find an error please tell us in the feedback!