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Digital archive for SA books launched

Digital books are not new to the global market, but South Africa has yet to catch up. This is soon to change as, a division of Naspers, has launched a project that will see the creation of a digital book library. Through this initiative, the bulk of SA published books will be available in digital format in a few years’ time.

Channel manager Johann van Tonder believes that books as we know them today will not disappear in our life time.

“To the contrary,” he says, “technology has created wonderful opportunities for making books more accessible, even reviving certain titles. Our books need to be conserved for future generations, who will demand them in multiple formats. The digital format is clearly the answer.”

Full-text searchability will enable the public to search for any words which appear anywhere in the text of any book. According to Van Tonder, a longer term objective is to facilitate delivery of books in a number of new ways. “But for now, our focus is getting hold of all books ever published in South Africa and ensuring that our library is as extensive as possible,” he says.

Public can assist

With only 41% of all ISBN registered books published by conventional publishers, the rest of the books need to be sourced in different ways. Van Tonder is of the opinion that the public can greatly assist with tracking these books, especially books that are out of print and very old.

“We want to appeal to all South Africans to notify us if they are in possession of books that are not readily available anymore. Contributions will boost the creation of a lasting archive for generations to come and ensure maximum exposure of the South African literary legacy to a growing internet audience.” Books should preferably be duplicate copies as they would in most cases not be returned.

“Rights holders of books should also contact us to explore opportunities,” says Van Tonder. He emphasises that publishers and authors retain full rights to all books that are digitised.

Publishers, authors and book owners who believe that they can make a contribution to a digital library for South Africa can contact Shaakirah on +27 (0)21 481 8300 or email .

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