Open Library is a rapidly expanding website with the goal of making every book that was ever published available to anyone, at any time. The creators behind the site are aiming to reach this goal by getting as many people involved as possible—letting users add books, descriptions, and details to the site’s growing catalog through a Wikipedia-style interface. In addition to the books that users contribute, Open Library features a database of millions of published books that users can read online, borrow from a local library, or buy from one of a handful of web-based retailers linked to on the Open Library site.
If your goal in using Open Library is to find a book to read, then get started by searching for a particular title or author. You can also browse through Open Library’s expansive database to find books organized by subject, place, person, or time period. When you click on a particular subject, you’ll be taken to a page showing the front covers of each book within that group, along with an interactive history graph that lets you narrow down the books you’re viewing by the time period when they were published. Once you find a book that looks interesting, click once to see a listing of all the different editions, along with a short description of what the book is all about. If the book you’ve selected is available in an ebook format, then you can read it online or download it as a PDF, plain text, Kindle, or ePub file.
Books that aren’t available to read online can be found in a nearby library by clicking on the Borrow tab. You can also choose to buy the book online, by clicking on one of the many retailers listed under the Buy tab in the right hand column. Users who are interested in contributing content to Open Library can help the site grow by adding their own book descriptions, excerpts, and tags. As Open Library continues to expand, there is no doubt it will become a go-to resource for anyone interested doing detailed research online.
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