Reproduced courtesy of The Internet Mole
Date: 4th July 2000
Copyright © 2000 Molemag Ltd.
We recommend the following site: ClassicBookshelf.com
Read classic books on-line
This new site is an excellent example of how software is developing to improve our experience of computers. It allows you to read an entire book, unabridged, on-line. That in itself is not new - many other on-line libraries exist - but no other site, in our experience, has developed such a successful way of displaying the text on your screen. Hitherto, many people have found that reading long texts on a screen has been a rather unsatisfactory experience, but ClassicBookshelf.com have gone a very long way to overcoming the problems.
The site is especially clever in that it automatically sets itself to display only as much of the text as will fit your screen. This avoids the need for unnaturally short lines of text or "scrolling" up, down or across the page. To turn the page, all you do is click on the "Next Page" button on the screen and it immediately displays the next section of text that fits the space. A secret tip: after you have clicked the "Next Page" button once, pressing the space bar on your keyboard will also turn the pages.
Press the "Contents" button, and you will be offered a Contents page for the book you are reading at the time.
It keeps your place, too; if you return to a particular book on a second visit, the site should open it up at the point you left it last time.
There is a choice of three typefaces (click on the "Font" button) and you will probably want to reduce the size of the text from the first offering. Click on the appropriate "Text" button until the print is at a size you want. Do not go too small, however; you may find that it is easier on the eyes to read a larger print size leaning back in your chair than squinting at small print close up.
You should also change the colour of text and background to suit your eyes; click on "Color" until you find a combination that you are happy with. There is a choice of nine and it might be worth considering changing the settings at different times of day, to suit the light levels around you.
The library itself is growing fast. There are almost two hundred classic books included at present, and forty-five authors ranging from Jane Austen to Mark Twain, and including Tolstoy, Wilde, Hardy, Kipling, Bunyan and Flaubert. They are being added to all the time - indeed, the editors welcome suggestions for books to include, and will act on them if possible. There is no limit to the eventual size of the collection.
ClassicBookshelf.com went live only six weeks ago and it is still evolving fast. The creators believe that a good web site should, above all, be easy and quick to use, and to that end have avoided all delaying irritants such as registering, passwords and so forth. Traffic to the site is growing fast, and in due course it will support itself with advertising and the marketing of other products currently under development. The on-line books, however, will remain free they told us.
Our advice is to visit the site and get to know it, and see if you agree with our view. In any event we recommend that you make a point of coming back from time to time to see how it has developed. It is definitely one to watch.