In many cases digital books are preferable above paper copies: unique manuscripts, old, damaged, fragile books, heavy volumes, unstructured folios from the archives, works of reference, it is easy to make a long list of book types that would greatly benefit of a digital counterpart. Apart from obvious advantages like easy storage, multiplication and distribution, one should think of:
- Improved navigation.
- Integration of figures with text and vice versa: in many (reference) books images, figures and drawings are separated from the text. Using pop-up techniques the necessity disappears to page from the text to the appendix and back. The same counts for references to the Bibliography.
- Denormalisation of tables: decades before the invention of the computer the use of referential tables was already common place and many books contain large tables (of e.g. excavation finds) in which the properties of the items are given by codes or numbers. Denormalising these tables (that is: adding the relevant texts and figures to these tables using direct pop-up techniques) makes these tables also ‘human-readable’.
- Cross-referencing: see under 2. and 1., but the texts and figures come from other books which are referenced by the book one is reading.
- Specialised search engines: especially works of reference benefit from good indexes and cross-referencing.
One of the obvious problems in the OWINBO project are the copyright of the books. Therefore most of the digital books in the OWINBO library cannot be distributed and currently form part of a private collection. The techniques, however, are generic and therefore the NEWINBO project is searching for living authors and copyright holders who might be interested in co-operation.
Key words: Digital books