Via BoingBoing, a review of a book about romance via online chat, written in the 19th century. Not a metaphor, it’s what the book is really about — telegraph style! Sweet.
But to read something that long, I’d really prefer a properly typeset copy, say in PDF so I can easily read it on my laptop or ipad. Maybe ePub, although frankly I’d rather have PDF, I’m pretty unsophisticated when it comes to e-reading. (I almost always prefer to read books in print — when they’re available in print!)
Google Books has got the full text freely available to read online in their page scroller. But if Google Books still offers free PDF or ePub downloads of out-of-copyright works, I can’t figure out how. Clicking on the “Free” button, after a popup that seems to promise it’s going to give me PDF and ePub versions — takes me to ‘Google Play’, which says it’s been ‘added to my library’, and I can now download an Android app to read it on my Android device. Um, I have no Android device. I just want to download a file, man! Like I said, it kind of seems like there might be a actual PDF and/or ePub download hiding around there somewhere, but they sure don’t make it easy to find if so, and I can’t confirm.
HathiTrust has got it (via the same Google Scan), and will let you view it on an online page-scroller same as Google. If you want to download it as a complete PDF — they’ll let you if and only if you are affiliated with a HathiTrust member institution. I am, so I have now downloaded it, woo. If you are not affiliated with a HathiTrust member institution, you are out of luck. I have been clearly told by HathiTrust folks that this is not by their choice — it’s a contractual restriction they have with Google. The limited number of public domain full text HathiTrust has that has not come from Google, they let anyone download as PDF.
So, this out of copyright book from the 19th century has been re-discovered because it is public domain, and online. Nobody would know about it or be able to read it if it weren’t for this. But if you actually want a fascimile of the original typeset copy to use in the manner and on the device of your choosing — Google’s commercial interests sure don’t make it easy, despite being no longer under copyright.