Selected Sources for Electronic Texts

NLS Factsheets

Selected Sources for Electronic Texts 2005

This factsheet presents a selected list of sources for electronic texts. The online files are in a variety of formats ranging from plain text to digital audio and digital braille. Most can be downloaded and read offline. Electronic braille materials can also be embossed. Sites vary with regard to accessibility, and questions should be directed to the sites' webmasters. The web site address is given for each entry and telephone numbers and e-mail addresses are provided, when known, for further information.

Accessible Book Collection

(703) 631-1585

(775) 256-2556 fax

Provides high-interest, low-reading-level digital text in HTML to individuals with a documented disability that prevents them from reading standard print. Also serves government and nonprofit schools and rehabilitation centers. Has a $49.95 annual fee for individual subscribers; school district site licenses are available.

Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts

(574) 246-0639

Has a collection of free public domain documents from American literature, English literature, and Western philosophy. The earlier version supports author and title searches and the ability to download the text. The newer version is a work in progress with less content than the original Alex. It supports the ability to search within the texts of documents and has many more downloading options, including plain text, HTML, XML, PDF, PalmPilot DOC, eReader, Rocket eBook, and Newton Paperback.

(973) 837-2845


Includes twenty-five thousand digital audiobooks, radio shows, popular magazines, and newspapers in a broad range of subjects that can be downloaded to a computer. Readers can listen immediately, transfer files to an audio player, or burn them onto a CD. Items are spoken-word audio in a proprietary format. Cost: $14.95-$21.95 for a monthly membership plan or pay for individual titles.

Publishes the classics of literature, nonfiction, and reference books free of charge. Includes books of quotations, the 1914 Oxford edition of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, the Columbia Gazetteer, Gray's Anatomy, and Strunk's Elements of Style. Books are offered in various proprietary e-book formats. Ltd. and

Offers free online literature of classic fiction, drama, poetry, as well as short stories, contemporary articles, and interviews. Most books are in HTML format. The web site is not currently being actively maintained. The ex-employees keep the site running and hope to re-launch it should funds become available.

(650) 475-5440

Provides digital books in a broad range of subjects to United States residents who have a visual or other print disability. Individual subscriptions require completion of an online form, proof of disability, and payment of a $25 sign-up fee and a $50 annual subscription fee. Fees for institutional access ($300-$600) depend on the number of downloaded book titles. Books are in DAISY format with text content and in contracted braille. Most text files are presented with XML markup and the site includes tools for reading these files.

Braille Book Files

Has books at all grade levels that are submitted by teachers and transcribers; the site is maintained by the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Access is password-protected and limited to individuals who have a visual or other print disability and to members of a nonprofit organization or governmental agency that provides specialized services to such individuals. Books are in MegaDots, Duxbury, and ASCII format.

Presents free works of fiction, nonfiction, children’s literature, drama (including Shakespeare), poetry, short stories, and Greek and Roman classics for which copyright protection has expired. All books are in HTML; includes a plain-text format that eliminates most graphics.

Has thousands of popular, professional, and academic titles from a variety of publishers that can be purchased as whole books, chapters, or pages of books and downloaded by customers anywhere in the world. The contents of eBooks in the database can be searched by key word, title, author, ISBN, and category. Book descriptions and sample texts are available for browsing.

Electronic Text Center

(434) 924-3230

Combines a free online archive of thousands of SGML- and XML-encoded electronic texts and images in the humanities with a service at the University of Virginia Library that offers hardware and software suitable for the creation and analysis of electronic texts. Site includes tools for reading these file types.


(973) 701-6771

Publishes and distributes fiction and nonfiction in a variety of proprietary e-book formats. Costs range from 49 cents for short stories to $4.99 and up for lengthy works. Also manages, which supports eBooks for the eBookwise-1150 reading device, and, which offers an eBook Lending Library to libraries, corporations, and groups.


Has more than two thousand books, stories, poems, plays, and religious and historical documents in HTML format. Readers can read online at no charge or can purchase the entire collection on CD-ROM for $19.99.

International Electronic Braille Book Library
(410) 659-9314

Contains more than one thousand titles of electronic braille books, including classics and publications of the National Federation of the Blind. Files, which are in contracted braille ASCII format, may be read online or downloaded for viewing offline or embossing.

netLibrary, a division of OCLC Online Computer Library Center


Offers thousands of publicly accessible titles in subjects such as arts, business, history, literature, religion, science, and technology to academic, public, and corporate libraries that purchase a collection of titles. Patrons must create an account with an affiliated library in order to access the collection. Books are in a protected Windows Media Player (WMA) format.

The Online Books Page

(215) 898-7091

Includes more than twenty thousand English works that are available online at no charge. Has a listing of foreign language resources and an archive of serials. Books are in HTML.

Page by Page Books

Has hundreds of free classic books that are in the public domain, including United States historical documents and presidential inaugural addresses. Books can be read online one page at a time.

Project Gutenberg

Has light literature, serious literature such as the classics, reference works that are in the public domain, and titles under copyright for which permission has been obtained. Most books are in text or HTML format; a few require proprietary e-book reading software. Free download to residents of the United States; outside the United States, individuals should check the copyright laws of their country.


(713) 358-2600

Has a collection of books and journal articles in the humanities and social sciences selected by professional collection development librarians. Uses dynamic HTML and Javascript. Offers monthly ($19.95), quarterly ($44.95), and annual ($99.95) subscription plans.

Tiflolibros: E-Books for the Blind

Provides more than eleven thousand digital books in Spanish to individuals worldwide with a documented disability that prevents them from reading standard print. Books are downloaded using a personal password. Spanish is the official language of Tiflolibros, but there are books in other languages, including English.

Tumble Readables: Online Large Print Library  general information  orders

(416) 781-4010

(416) 781-2764 fax

Offers a collection of large print classics, children’s literature, fiction, and nonfiction to read online without downloading text. Uses Macromedia’s Flash 7 software, which may be downloaded as a free plug-in. The font size can be adjusted up to 34-point type.

Tumble Talking Books: Online Audible Library  general information  orders

(416) 781-4010

(416) 781-2764 fax

Provides an online collection of unabridged audiobooks for public libraries and schools that includes classics of American and world literature, children’s literature, fiction, and nonfiction. The books are accessed from a link on the library or school web site and can be listened to from any computer with an Internet connection.

Unabridged: Digital Audio Books for the Blind

(816) 228-6406

Conducts and evaluates a two-year pilot project that provides a web-based library of narrated digital audiobooks to blind, visually impaired, and physically disabled library users in Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Oregon. Eligible patrons in the participating states can download digital audiobooks and play them on the computer with the OverDrive Media Console and Windows Media Player (WMA) or transfer the content to CD or MP3 players or other WMA-enabled devices.



Provides braille magazines produced by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), press-braille books produced by NLS since 1992, and braille music scores. Access is password-protected and limited to NLS patrons (residents of the United States or American citizens living abroad who have a visual or other print disability) and eligible institutions. Files, which are in contracted braille ASCII format, may be read online or downloaded for viewing offline or embossing.

Selected List of Additional Resources

Digital Librarian: A Librarian's Choice of the Best of the Web

Has links to electronic texts and primary sources that are maintained by Margaret Vail Anderson, a librarian in Cortland, NY.

E-Digital Books, LLC

Provides a clearinghouse for writers to place their electronic literature online. Readers can download a book to a computer hard drive or obtain on CD-ROM; price varies by size of the file.

EFTS (Electronic Full-Text Sources), University of Chicago

Provides access to and information about full-text scholarly resources available at the University of Chicago; texts are arranged by language, subject, and searching interface.

Electronic Books and Monographs, University of California, Santa Barbara

Has links to encyclopedias and dictionaries, other reference books, and collections of books in electronic format.

Electronic Text Collections, Hanover College

Has links to historical and literary sources from different time periods in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States.

Electronic Text Collections in Western European Literature

Lists Internet sources for literary texts in western European languages other than English.

Electronic Texts and Documents, University of Washington

Has links to a variety of topics, such as African American history, the Irish famine, Mark Twain, the Vatican files, and the Vietnam project.

Offers electronic contemporary fiction and nonfiction books, newspapers, and magazines for reading on a handheld computer.

Humanities Text Initiative, University of Michigan

Includes the American Verse Project, different versions of the Bible, and the collected works of Abraham Lincoln (hosted for the Abraham Lincoln Association).

LETRS: Library Electronic Text Resource Service, Indiana University

Provides humanities-related electronic texts via the Internet and in the LETRS Humanities Computing Lab, Indiana University.

Library of Congress Full-Text Resources

Includes American Memory, historical collections that consist of primary source materials relating to American culture and history;  the full text of country studies handbooks on ninety-one countries; and Meeting of Frontiers, a collection in both English and Russian, that tells the story of the exploration and settlement of the American West and of the Russian Far East and Siberia.

Includes links to electronic texts, virtual encyclopedias, virtual newspapers, and fast facts such as almanacs, quotations, and thesauri.

Selected Bibliography, 2002-2005

".... and e-books for all." Retrieved May 10, 2005.

Cavanaugh, Terence. "E-books and accommodations: is this the future of print accommodation?" Teaching exceptional children, v. 35, Nov.-Dec. 2002: 56-61.

Crabb, Nolan. "Now you can take your reader everywhere!" Dialogue, v. 42, winter 2003: 71-76.

"Digital libraries: electronic journal and text archives." Retrieved May 10, 2005.

Dresner, Anna. Finding e-books on the Internet. 2d ed. Boston, MA: National Braille Press, 2004. $14. Available in large print, braille, computer disk, and Portabook. (88 St. Stephen Street, 02115).

"Facts: Web-Braille." Washington: Library of Congress, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, 2003. 2p. Free.

Kendrick, Deborah. "How do I read thee? A librarian expands the ways." AccessWorld, v. 5, July 2004.

Kendrick, Deborah. "A new page that speaks volumes." AccessWorld, v. 4, Jan. 2003.

Kendrick, Deborah. "A site for sore ears: a review and tour of Audible.Com." AccessWorld, v. 6, Mar. 2005.

Kutsch, Jim. "Books on tape without the tape!" AccessWorld, v. 4, Jan. 2003.

Leventhal, Jay. "A library in your hand: a review of the Book Port and the BookCourier." AccessWorld, v. 5, July 2004.

Leventhal, Jay, and Janina Sajka. "Read me, read me not: a review of four DAISY book players." AccessWorld, v. 5, Jan. 2004.

Leventhal, Jay, and Janina Sajka. "A rosy future for DAISY books." AccessWorld, v. 5, Jan. 2004.

Peters, Tom, and others. "An overview of digital audiobooks for libraries." Computers in libraries, v. 25, July-Aug. 2005: 6-8, 61-64.

Reeder, Penny. " a community for sharing and reading." Braille forum, v. 40, Feb. 2002: 17-25.

"Sources for online texts from the Internet Public Library." Retrieved May 10, 2005.

Thomas, Karen Lynn. "Reading with netLibrary and other e-book collections." Dialogue, v. 43, spring 2004: 89-93.

Compiled by
Carol Strauss
Reference Section
Judy Dixon
Consumer Relations Officer

2003, revised 2005

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Posted on 2010-08-25