I now use curly quotation marks when proofreading

There are currently two things that are annoying me about Wikisource books. These are: the inclusion of hyperlinks (to be all 1990s about it, with using that word); and the usage of straight quotation marks.

Links I can forgive, or even actively enjoy, in non-fiction; but in fiction, they have no place. (So think I, anyway.) Especially when they link to a sodding dictionary term! I know how to look up a word I don’t know. Sigh.

The curly-vs-straight argument is an odd one. We only have straight ones thanks to typewriters (or their manufacturers, I guess) not wanting to have two sorts for each type of quotation mark. So why we persist I cannot say! No, I can say… it’s mostly to do with ease of typing, on common systems, I think. It’s annoying to type the opening and the closing glyphs, when there’s only one button on the keyboard. But really! That might hold sway where there’s no automatic system for handling these things, but we have those systems and they work admirably. And certainly, when it comes to typesetting books that are going to be read by (we hope) very many people, it’s worth putting a bit more effort in to make them look nice.

Because that’s what it’s about, ultimately: making the text beautiful! For how many hundreds of years have people been taking terrific care over making books look nice?! Let’s not give up on that.

I’m not really sure why I’m writing this, today. (Probably due to the glass of White Rabbit I’ve just here.) It’s that I’m firing with the zeal of the converted! I am, you see. I used to not care about quotes, and think they should be left straight — now, I stand on speakers’ corner and holler to confused passersby!

So, would that ye enjoy yr ebooks?! Then set them with loveliness!

Right… where’s that beer…

GITenberg

This is a project that I’ve wanted for years, and now it’s here: https://gitenberg.github.io/

Project GITenberg is a Free and Open, Collaborative, Trackable and Scriptable digital library. It leverages the power of the Git version control system and the collaborative potential of Github to make books more open.

40,000 Project Gutenberg books have been uploaded to GitHub, and can now be forked, fixed, and fed back to the world’s biggest library of public domain ebooks. Other alliteration is also possible.

I’ve just sent my first pull request, for a typo I found in Gissing’s The Paying Guest.

The only thing lacking now is the original scans of these books, so that the ebooks can be verified against the source.

20 million books in my library

I really like digital, online, libraries. Like Wikisource and Project Gutenberg. They make me feel like I’ve got a huge personal library, that I can delve into whenever I feel like it. They’re not quite as good as, say, Chifley, from the point of view of strolling calmly along the stacks and discovering something exciting and new quite by chance… but then, there isn’t the satisfaction in a big library, of (once one’s found something exciting) reading absolutely-everything-else-that-author-wrote!

So I like helping add to these libraries — mainly Wikisource, because it’s easier and I like the page-by-page comparison of the scanned and digital texts — because I feel like I’m adding to my own library. Which is exciting, because then I’ve got more to read (and there’s no big library around here).

http://openlibrary.org/