New Zealand gets its first 1000 ebooks, available now

While commercial publishers work on their project to bring 1000 Great New Zealand ebooks to market, the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (NZETC) has been quietly working to convert its collection to free downloadable ebooks — 1150 of them available right now.

The NZETC is afilliated to Victoria University in Wellington and has been busy digitising works of historical and literary interest for several years.

According to Project Manager Jason Darwin, they had been following the ebook market’s development closely and decided the time was right to jump in and help. They made the excellent decision to convert their collection to the ePub format.

NZETC had already been storing their texts in an XML format for online viewing so it was a relatively straightforward step to convert them to the ePub format using an automated system, says Darwin.

Like any automated system, they won’t have the finesse of a carefully hand-crafted book but they are perfectly fine and readable. I’ve just downloaded My Life by Jean Batten to my iPod Touch. It’s great to have such a wealth of New Zealand material now to enjoy.

Epub is the same format that commercial New Zealand publishers are planning to use so it greatly expands the available market here. And there are some real classic gems. Here’s just a small sampling:

  • The Garden Party by Katherine Mansfield
  • The Life of Captain James Cook by J C Beaglehole
  • My Life by Jean Batten
  • The Story of a New Zealand River by Jane Mander
  • Man Alone by John Mulgan
  • The Godwits Fly by Robin Hyde
  • Coal Flat by Bill Pearson
  • The Maori Volumes I and II by Elsdon Best
  • The New Zealanders at Gallipoli by Colonel Fred Waite
  • The ‘Sure to Rise’ Cookery Book, third edition, 1914 [the Edmonds Cookbook that your great Gran used]

You can browse the whole list by title or by author. Note that the site is still being worked on and some pages are a bit slow to load so be patient.

How to access the downloadable ePub editions

The best ways are:

  • An ebook reader that supports the ePub format if you’re lucky enough to have one
  • iPhone or iPod Touch**, eg by using the Stanza ebook reader
    • go to the App Store on your iPhone, search for “Stanza” then install the free app
    • In Stanza, go to the Online Catalog
    • Tap the ‘+’ in the bottom right of the Online Catalog.
    • Choose ‘Add Web Page’
    • Type in “New Zealand Texts Collection” for name and “” for the URL
    • Go into the New Zealand Texts Collection custom catalog and browse for a book you want to download
    • From the Detailed Book Info page, tap the EPUB link.  This will start the download right into Stanza.
    • Note that you’ll need to be online, either your cellphone connection or in range of a WiFi connection
    • See below for details of how to find the URL for the ebook you’re interested in
  • Your PC or Mac after downloading Adobe Digital Editions.
    • You download the ebook file, eg to your “My Ebooks” folder in My Documents if you’re a PC user
    • See below for details of how to find the URL for the ebook you’re interested in
    • Start Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) the click on the Library link and then Add Item to Library, and select the ebook file you’ve just downloaded

How to locate the ebook file you want to download

Find the title you want, either by browsing the list by title or by searching. On the right hand side, there’s an information panel. Look under “Other Formats” for the ePub logo.

And remember, we’re all pioneers. It will get easier:-)

Thanks to the team at NZETC for this terrific initiative.

** The Stanza instructions have been updated from the original post. Thanks to Neelan Choksi from Lexcycle for pointing out a much better system than mine. Sometimes, it pays to read the manual.

Comments (7)

  1. Pingback: Family Holloway » Blog Archive » New Zealand gets its first 1000 ebooks free (including The Edmonds Cookbook!)

  2. Pingback: New Zealand gets its first 1000 ebooks, available now | RARWarez Blog

  3. Mike

    While I’d love to read some of the works created by the NZETC I understand that these ebooks will not be supported on the Kindle device.

    As you could imagine that I’m some what disappointed by this fact.

  4. peter pedrotti

    Hello out there in the airwaves. I want to purchase an ebook but only Dick Smith sells them. Maybe I’m greedy having a 24 inch Imac ,but I’d like to buy a bigger screened ebook than a 7 inch screen. What do you know?
    Cheers from Volcanic Auckland.
    (maybe our Rugby and Cricket teams should be called the Volcanoes?)

  5. Martin Taylor (Post author)

    Hi Peter. Sounds like your best choice is an iPad. About 150 x 200 screen size (10-in / 250mm diagonal) and offers a good ebook reading experience. I find I use it much more than I use my dedicated ebook reader.

  6. Bookbrainz

    Mike, presumably you knew when you bought your kindle that it was set up to only receive items from Amazon. However as time goes by Amazon may realize they are missing out – at present they are talking about coming to an arrangement with Overdrive [download platform company which supplies rentals to public libraries] to make their stock available to borrowers using other devices.

  7. Bookbrainz

    You can indeed buy 8 inch, 9.7 inch and 10 inch devices. Android devices are generally cheaper and work perfectly well. Acer has just released their Iconia which so far looks like a clone of the ipad and the same price – from Harvey Norman, Dick Smiths, JB Hifi et al. Try for alternatives and good advice. You can also check sites like Firstin for other offers – but not always good in the consumer protection category if you buy a dud.

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