Access

OSLO, January 18, 2014 (AFP) – Most books published in Norway before 2001 are going online for free thanks to an initiative that may have found the formula to reconcile authors with the web. At a time when the publishing world is torn over its relationship to the Internet — which has massively expanded access to books but also threatens royalty revenues — the National Library of Norway is digitising tens of thousands of titles, from masterworks by Nobel laureate Knut Hamsun to the first detective novels by Nordic noir king Jo Nesboe.

The copyright-protected books are available free online — with the consent of the copyright holders — at the website bokhylla.no (“bookshelf” in Norwegian).

The site currently features 135,000 works and will eventually reach 250,000, including Norwegian translations of foreign books.

National Library head Vigdis Moe Skarstein said the project is the first of its kind to offer free online access to books still under copyright, which in Norway expires 70 years after the author’s death.

“Many national libraries digitise their collections for conservation reasons or even to grant access to them, but those are (older) books that are already in