Open Access Books

oabooks copyWe have launched a Web site for NYU Press to provide open access to some of their books. The site, located at, offers several dozen books for reading on a computer, tablet, or phone. It’s powered by Readium, a javascript-based, open-source package for handling EPUB files in a browser. The requirements for this project were interesting: we needed to provide a good online reading experience for users without allowing them to download the books. As it turns out, we don’t know of anyone else who has a project quite like this one. Most EPUB-related software is focused on allowing users to read the books they have on their devices (i.e., books they have downloaded). Even Readium was designed originally for this purpose, but it’s flexible enough that we were able to use it for our project. We will be adding features to the site over the next few months, and NYU Press intends to add more books over time. We have also built the site in such a way that we can use the EPUB-reading platform more generally. If other EPUB collections come along, we will be ready to receive them.

2 thoughts on “Open Access Books”

  1. Thanks, Carol! I’m curious, are you tracking usage? From my own perspective and feedback I’ve gotten from users, downloading, i.e. being able to read offline, is valued. It is one of the biggest complaints from our users, when they discover that not all books can be downloaded (=checked out for a one- or two-week period) from the ebrary platform in their entirety. Though in those cases, chapter downloads, up to a specific page limit, are offered. Evelyn

  2. Hi Evelyn, we are tracking usage through Google Analytics. However, in order to find out whether users are frustrated with the reading environment, we would need to come up with another way to elicit that information. U/X testing as such is in our sights, but we need to come up with a schedule and detailed plan.

    I’m wondering about your users’ complaints. What is that they are trying to do that they cannot do through the platform? Is it a desire to read offline, or something else?

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