Like cool old books but just don’t have that extra million to get your rare manuscript collection going? Or maybe you don’t like having to put on gloves just to turn the page? Here are some great sites with full digital scans of rare and valuable books you might have to travel thousands of miles to see in person…
The University of Pittsburgh lets you browse the celebrated images of Audubon’s Birds of America. You can even order prints of your favorite bird.
The British Library has digitized two beautifully illuminated copies of the Gutenberg Bible — the first major book created with the modern printing technology of moveable type. You can look through them page by page and even compare them side by side.
The University of Cambridge’s Digital Library lets you see the handwriting of a genius in Isaac Newton’s notebook from his student days at Trinity College. What isn’t written in Latin can still be hard to read but the site does offer transcriptions of some of the text.
The Digital Library of Illuminated Manuscripts brings together scanned manuscripts from several institutions. You can view 12th – 16th century works such as the Book of Hours and St. Augustine’s Confessions, all hand-written and elaborately decorated.
Looking for something just as convenient but a little less rare? Project Gutenberg offers free e-books of more than 30,000 public domain works.