Our colleagues at Bloomsbury have been working on a new service for libraries which should equip them for the challenges of the 21st century. The result? A digital project, called the Bloomsbury Library Online, which is in association with Exact Editions and goes live on 4 May 2009.
As a user you’ll be able to access the Bloomsbury Library Online from public library terminals or indeed any web browser (including those on your iPhone or BlackBerry) anytime, anywhere in the UK. I’ve had a sneak preview of the service and this is what I found…
The books there are bestsellers such as The Suspicions of Mr Whicher (by Kate Summerscale) and the Death of Vishnu (Manil Suri), so you won’t be hard-pushed to find titles of interest. Books are to be organised into ‘themed shelves’ such as book group titles or international fiction (which strikes me as more like being in a bookshop than sorting through the Dewey Decimal classification), so you can browse intuitively until you find something that grabs you.
Because it’s online, you’re not restricted to being linear about your reading. A lot like making the switch from video to DVD, this means that yes, you can read your novel in a straightforward way (of course) but you can also search text (of either your selected book or all the titles), access author videos, reviews and press features, and link to printable reading group guides – all the sorts of add-ons we’ve increasingly come to expect in the digital age.
(Publisher, Yearbooks, A&C Black)