A treatise on a stuffed hippopotamus, an 18th-century English primer for Danish sailors, and a description of the first engine-driven submarine are among 250,000 books to be made available online in a deal between Google and the British Library. The agreement, announced today, will let Internet users read, search, download, and copy thousands of texts published between 1700 and 1870. It is a small step toward the library's goal of making the bulk of its 14 million books and 1 million periodicals available in digital form by 2020.
The deal with Google, which will see 40 million pages digitized over the next three years, will offer online researchers a selection of rarely seen works from an era of social, political, scientific and technological change that took in the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and the American war of independence. Google will pay to digitize the books, which are no longer covered by copyright restrictions. They will be available on the British Library and Google Books websites. Google's European rep declined to say how much the project would cost, beyond describing it as "a substantial sum." (Read more Google stories.)