Library Review: ForgottenBooks.org

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A couple of days ago, I was given a subscription of the site and was invited by Forgotten Books (based in Hong Kong) to review their collection. Frankly, I was overwhelmed by the awesomeness of this site.

I had previous experiences with subscribed digital libraries (Elsevier, PubMed, Lancet etc) via UKM Gemilang and frankly this site really made me want to go back to university and just fall back on the bed and read all day long.

First of all, was the collection of the books. They boast about their 1,000,000 free books and I know, this is internet and you can find almost everything but one of the things I notice is that their books consisted of a wealth of non-fiction work – in EVERYTHING!

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Sure,  a lot of fiction in this site are classics available on Gutenberg or The Archive. But they doesn’t even hold the flame to this site’s collection of non-fiction works in EVERYTHING. 

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I’ve spent several hours on the site just browsing and searching random terms before I had to go to my grandmother house for Eid and it have everything even if some of it was older edition but there are a lot of things I wanted. From Greek and Norse mythology reads, to books on rabbits, to music sheets to cookbooks to criminology books to nursing books, medical books, biological books, mathematics, wicca etc. I was one of those girls who haunt libraries for books and spent hours in it browsing and picking tonnes of random books to read. How can these be free when I have a hard time finding them before?

This digital library also have some compiled journals and dissertations which are perfect for academical setting. I could tell you the hours I’ve been inside this stuffy (occasional overbearing hot and ice cold with broken toilet) campus library for months trying to find volumes of compiled chemistry journals books. And the site have it all

I could spend half a page describing all the finds I had through the catalogues and it is safe to say, if you love reading all types of books and a writer, ‘Forgotten Books’ have everything even banned books.

Of course, its not flawed. Its named Forgotten Books for a reason. A lot of these books are essentially very high quality copyrighted scanned books and some are really old. You hardly see popular books and I didn’t really need this site for them.

Although the app for Android and iPad are not available yet but all of the books are PDFs which can be read on most ereaders. I have downloaded several books for Kindle and I was amazed by the clarity of it.

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You can adjust the contrast on the pdf and frankly the its very good read.

And you could still read on the site themselves with their own online reader.

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I did do heavy reading on non-fiction (recently its veterinary medicine books) on most daily basis. But mostly I just skim over and rarely even review them on this site (try checking for ‘Reference’ in the tag cloud).

Other than books, the site also offer additional features like image search on the books which are way better than Google as it came with the exact book’s reference. If you are a university student, you should know that these citations can mean life and death of your thesis.

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They also provide word data obtained from their collection which can be useful for librarians or infographers or statistician.

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I am pleased to find great collection of academical books which I normally find on university libraries which is one of the biggest perk as a university student. I’m quite disappointed that I didn’t have this site and its resources while I was actually studying in university (but it took me a lot of time of thinking but I’m thinking of going back to school to try another degree as I’ve already been taking university classes on Coursera and love learning).

Of course, this site aren’t all free. Once you’ve registered, you’re entitled to a free book per day but if you subscribed to the site monthly or yearly, you’ll get an even more bargain and advantage than online newspaper membership. Plus, even the cheapest option $2.99 (RM9) is even cheaper than Kindle deals. Honestly, this site is a fraction of what university libraries across the country spent on subscribing. If you’re a medical or literature student, this site is a definite life saviour.

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The site work on its own download credits for each of the books they offered. They also offered rollover so that you could accumulate the downloadable limit amount each month. I do think 10-20 is good enough for individual usage especially on certain books you could only find on this site.

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I hardly find any flaw in the site which seems fairly new but working completely as a digital library. The direction to the sites are straightforward and easy to surf through although there were some features unavailable on the site (Besides Kindle, I have access to Android, Apple and Windows 8 but I couldn’t review all of its Apps services) but so far the site is more accessible and more user-friendly than a bunch of digital libraries and galley sites I’ve encountered.

If you’re like me, who have been through university libraries of failed links of ebook sites, this site will make your endless googling life a lot easier. As it is quite affordable for individuals like me (the $5 per month subscription for 100 downloadable rare books, anyone??), it wouldn’t be hard pressed for university libraries and university students to consider this.

So far, I’ve recommended the sites to doctors, students, book clubs and writing groups about the ease of its service in researching and also reading materials. There are plenty of resources useful in this site.  As I am an active reader of a lot of mythological folklore and also of science and medicine and also random topics depending on my mood, I do feel the site cater a person of multiple of interest in mind – like me – obviously.

If you are looking for an alternative site for subscribing non-fiction reading material without all the frills, this site is perfect for you.

Disclaimer : Every screencaps with its content are linked and belonged to the ForgottenBooks.org. Every word in this post are my own personal and honest opinion.

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