Open Library is a project of the Internet Archive. Its goal is to have a web page for every book ever published. It is an open project which means the software is open, the data are open, the documentation is open, and they welcome your contribution. You can add catalog data, add a book, fix a typo or write a widget.
As part of those web pages, they have many scanned books available as free ebooks if they are in the public domain (typically before 1923). They have many other scanned books that fall after 1923 and you can gain access to them by coming to the ND State Library building. We are participating in their ebook lending program. Those books can only be accessed at our location because they are still protected by copyright and the restricted IP addresses keep Open Library within rights.
The post 1923 books that have been scanned are typically books that have been withdrawn from other library collections so most aren’t what you’d consider recent best sellers. However, if you are looking for something older–especially for research–there is a chance that you can find it in Open Library.
Open Library also has a collection of DAISY talking books–The Digital Accessible Information SYstem (DAISY) format is a means of creating digital talking books for people who wish to hear–and to navigate–written material presented in an audible format. DAISY helps those with “print disabilities,” including blindness, impaired vision, and dyslexia, to read electronic texts that have been converted into its format. As this is restricted to those with print disabilities, a person will need a device that can read DAISY files.
A great place to start with Open Library is the HELP menu. Here you will find FAQ’s and other useful information for navigating the website.