Free Books! The antipodes of the super-deluxe editions that we secretly lust after but profess to despise.
And now we can hope to have more of them! I am a long time fan of Project Gutenberg, even if I haven't been a big time user. Whether or not you are familiar with it, I'm sure my fellow Book-Loopers can imagine the limitations of such an open source-style effort to publish works of literature in the public domain (don't quote me, but that's how I've always understood the 'Project'--not that the problems derive from the Project as much as from the books that have found their way into the public domain, especially if you think your copy of Proust is obsolete, Ben).
But perhaps help is on the way from Ben's good friends out in the Pacific Northwest! I saw this report on my homepage in regards to something called Google Book Search. I'm too lazy to try it out just now, but I'm hoping that when I look for it, it won't be hard to find.
According to the AP report: "Google's Book Search service is the product of its Books Library Project, which is digitizing books from major libraries around the world in order to make them searchable online. Its partners include the University of Michigan, Harvard University, Stanford University, Oxford University, the University of California[,] the New York Public Library [and] a pilot project with the Library of Congress." (And look who leads the list! Lo and behold, it's the University of Michigan. I commend you, gentlemen, for having attended such a fine and forward-thinking institution of higher learning.)
Anyway, it's not much to go on, but I hope this means we can all look forward to a new era of free books on the internet. And in the meantime, Ben, if you're ever stranded on a desert island somewhere without your 1922 translation of Swann's Way, but with your laptop, a power source, and a strong enough wi-fi signal, you can still read your book, courtesy of Project Gutenberg--it will always have a place in my heart as my original source for free on-line literature.