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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Update on Library of America e-books

In response to increasing demand to make our books available in electronic format and to further our nonprofit mission to disseminate great American writing as widely as possible, The Library of America recently published its first e-book, and many more e-book titles will follow in the coming months.

The first offering—available in time for the holidays—is The 50 Funniest American Writers*: An Anthology of Humor from Mark Twain to The Onion (*According to Andy Borowitz). It is available for the Kindle, Nook, iPad, and Sony Reader, and will soon be available from Google ebooks and Kobo.

Two additional titles will be available in early 2012: The Civil War: The First Year Told by Those Who Lived It and The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael, followed soon thereafter by Ambrose Bierce: The Devil’s Dictionary, Tales, & Memoirs, Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy in America, the forthcoming volume The Civil War: The Second Year Told by Those Who Lived It, and many others.

The Library of America’s goal is to insure that its e-books are as authoritative and reliable as the print versions. To insure quality control, the entire text of each title will receive at least one round (and often several rounds) of additional proofreading to catch any formatting and typographic glitches that are unique to the e-book conversion process.

Update (12/19/11): The Age of Movies is now available for the Kindle and for the Kobo eReader.


  1. Will Library of America ebooks be available to check out from public libraries via OverDrive?

  2. Mike: In the short term, no. Until we have a "critical mass" of our books available as e-books, we are unable to make arrangements with OverDrive.

    Once we have several dozen titles to offer, however, we may be able to revisit this question.

  3. Thanks for your answer about libraries and OverDrive. I hope you do consider this soon. I think the library ebook market could supplement your efforts to increase access to these works through nonprofit publishing.

  4. Would you make available the anthologies or collected works? For example Shirley Jackson's short stories or Vonnegut Jr.'s novels and stories.

  5. Some author collections will also be made available, but mostly we are limited to writers who are in the public domain (such as the Ambrose Bierce volume mentioned above).

    For authors such as Vonnegut and Jackson, however, the original publishers retain the copyrights and have been (or will be) making their works available as e-books.

    In all, we hope eventually to make available as e-books as many as one-third of the volumes in the Library of America.

  6. I should add that, for a few authors still in copyright, where the LOA edition largely consists of items not in print or available elsewhere, we may be able to negotiate the rights to publish the e-book. We're looking into it.


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