The British Library has launched a new service for lovers of literature called “eBook Treasures”, with which iPad users can download entire rare manuscripts.
The first on offer is to be Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Arundel and Geradus Mercator’s Atlas of Europe. Both can be downloaded in their entirety via the app, allowing users to explore the manuscripts in-depth for the first time ever.
The eBooks have been developed in collaboration with Armadillo systems and will be displayed in high definition, with realistic page turning. The tomes can also be viewed offline, allowing users to spend hours poring over the kind of material they could previously only dream of seeing.
Book enthusiasts can also try the 19th Century Historical Collection app for the iPad, and a separate app called Treasures (for iOS and Android) which provides highlights from over 100 books or manuscripts held by the library.
The Codex Arundal is one of Leonardo’s notebooks which is filled with illustrations and written in “mirror script”. The British Library describes it as being “one of the most important sources for understanding da Vinci’s work as a natural philosopher, engineer and artist.”
It documents “scientific and technological practice before the scientific revolution” and is one of the few surviving manuscripts of the time (1508-10).
Gerardus Mercator put the Atlas of Europe together to plan the Prince of Cleeves’ tour of Europe. These were “painstakingly compiled using copies of maps”, he then put them together and pasted them into the atlas.
The Library will make 75 new titles available over the course of the next two years, some in their entirety whilst others will comprise of a selection of highlights.
Tomes will include Caroll’s handwritten and illustrated original work on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Willam Blake’s notebook from the 1700s and Jane Austen’s The History of England.
It will also include the first English language Bible to appear in print and Beethoven’s Pastoral Sketchbook.
eBook Treasures can be downloaded from the iBookstore and is available worldwide.