Brave New eWorld

I just discovered that Google eBooks just released* an iPad (and iPhone and iPod touch) app that allows you to read eBooks on your device. Just like Kindle books. Just like pdfs. Which means...

I can now sit at home reading Jon Mombaer's Rosetum exercitiorum spiritualium et sacrarum meditationum (Milan: H. Bordonum et P.M. Locarum, 1603) without having to go to the Newberry Library to read their (admittedly older) copy (Lyon: Scabalerius, 1510).

From which I was only able to request 30 pages in photocopy the week before last.**

And now I have the whole thing, all 784 pages (in the 1603 edition), right here on my iPad.

I am in shock. On the edge of a whole new world of scholarship. Suddenly, all of those early modern printed editions (provided the libraries of the world are willing to scan them) are available to me.

I wonder if this is how the first subscribers to Migne's Patrologia latina felt when his presses started churning out their editions of the works of the Fathers of the Ancient and Medieval Church 160 years ago.

It's close to what I felt ten years ago when the PL was available on a searchable database (albeit by subscription only).

No more paying for photocopies. No more limits on how many pages one could photocopy so as to be able to read at home.

And now I am no longer limited to only those books reprinted by Migne. I can go beyond the twelfth century! Into the later Middle Ages! Even into the Early Modern!

Oh, this is a great day. Gutenberg would be pleased.

Now let's see what else I can find for my research....

*December 6, 2010, according to the App Store.
**December 4, 2010, in fact, when I was at the library for our seminar.


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