New Zealanders can now freely download—and store in their pockets—hundreds of our most well-known books, courtesy of Victoria University’s New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (NZETC).
More than 1000 New Zealand electronic books (eBooks) are now available for download on the NZETC website giving people easy access to some of the great works in New Zealand literature including Katherine Mansfield’s The Garden Party and Other Stories, Bill Pearson’s Coal Flat, and Robin Hyde’s The Godwits Fly.
NZETC Project Manager Jason Darwin says the release marks a significant step in New Zealand’s eBook revolution.
“The convenience of modern eBook readers means that users are able to carry large numbers of eBooks with them on pocket-sized devices, often supporting features which make their reading more pleasurable than with previous electronic devices. These features include long battery life (7,000+ page-turns), non-reflective screen for easy reading under all lighting, and wireless access for downloading eBooks,” says Mr Darwin.
Although New Zealand does not yet share the same choice of eBook device hardware as available overseas, devices sold locally such as Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch make the reading of eBooks a simple and portable experience.
The New Zealand eBooks, made available using the major emerging ePub standard, represent many of the texts already accessible for online browsing on the NZETC website, and are suited to viewing on modern eBook devices such as the iPhone, Sony Reader, and IRex ILiad.
The ePub standard is an open standard supported by many major publishers and hardware vendors, with many of the major online bookstores making titles available for purchase in this format. Waterstones bookstore, one of the largest chains in the United Kingdon, offer more than 12,000 titles exclusively in the ePub format, while Sony has stated it’s intention to sell only books in the ePub format by the end of this year.
Moves such as this are seen as countering the early advantage gained by Amazon in the market for modern eBook readers with its Kindle, which relies on a propriety non-ePub format.
Mr Darwin says with the continuing acceptance of the ePub standard and the release of more and more eBook devices, the local book publishing industry is facing an “iPod moment”.
“Just like music, New Zealand books will soon be easily available online for purchase, download and use on portable readers.”
Some of the major titles released this week by the NZETC include:
• The Life of Captain James Cook, by J. C. Beaglehole
• The Garden Party and Other Stories, by Katherine Mansfield
• Coal Flat, by Bill Pearson
• The Godwits Fly, by Robin Hyde
• We Will Not Cease, by Archibald Baxter
• Infantry Brigadier, by Howard Karl Kippenberger
• Tutira, by William Guthrie Smith
• My Life, by Jean Batten
The NZETC is a free online archive of New Zealand and Pacific texts and heritage materials, based at Victoria University. It offers an ever expanding, fully searchable, set of images and full-text books, manuscripts and journals. The NZETC collaborates with organisations interested in digitising their collections and making digital content available online, providing expertise and technical assistance, and is interested in projects aiming to make content more widely available to a New Zealand audience through the use of open standards.