This is very cool and the best kind of use of digital book scanning. The Library of Congress, in collaboration with The Internet Archive and using a $2 million grant from the Sloan Foundation, has scanned 60,000 delicate books from its vast collection and made them available for online reading–and download in various formats, including EPub and Kindle–for anyone who wants to check them out.
Here’s more from America.gov: “‘The Library chose books that people wanted, but that were too old and fragile to serve to readers. They won’t stand up to handling,’ said Michael Handy, who co-managed the project, which is called Digitizing American Imprints.”
The LOC also published a report on best practices for scanning fragile books and retired the scanned volumes to a safe storage facility. These books can now be accessed through the library’s online catalog. Check out the oldest book scanned, a record of two Presbyterian ministers’ trial from 1707.