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Frequently Asked Questions at Century Past

Is it legal to read books on Century Past?

Why use Century Past instead of Internet Archive?

‘Collection’ entries have hundreds of books.  That is too many.  Besides, my phone only lets me view 30.

Books at Internet Archive don’t fit well on the screen.

How do I look for novels by topic?

If a book I want at Internet Archive has been checked out, do I have to wait until it is returned?



Q. Can I legally read books on Century Past for free, even when they are modern and still in copyright?

Books on the site still in copyright (most books published since 1925) are nearly all hosted at the Internet Archive.  That site acts as a lending library for in-copyright books, and you can borrow them for an hour at a time or for 14 days.  See ‘Borrowing from the Lending Library‘.



Q. Since all the links on Century Past are for books hosted at other websites, why don’t I just use those websites? What’s the point of using Century Past?

If you’re looking for a particular title, it is indeed easier to go directly to those free book sites & use their search boxes.  But when you want to browse for books in a subject, I think Century Past works better. 



Q. A ‘Collection’ entry says it contains hundreds of books, but on my phone I can only scroll through about 30. Why?
In a ‘Collection’ of hundreds or thousands of books, how can I review so many?

The entries called ‘Collections’ on Century Past have links to search results for a subject at Internet Archive or Open Library.  Clicking the entry’s title opens the Internet Archive page with thumbnail images of all the books that it found in the search.  Often a subject search produces hundreds of books, from the 3 million books on the Internet Archive. On a PC you can scroll down through all the books if you wish, but a phone or tablet only lets you see about 30 of the books.  Here are ways to narrow search results to books that interest you, whether on a phone, PC or tablet.

Click an entry title so you’re on the Internet Archive page showing search results. In the PC view, you can see ‘Topics & Subjects‘ in the left column.  Click ‘More‘ at the bottom of that menu to bring up a full list of subjects within the subject of the ‘Collection’.  With a phone or tablet, you’ll find that same menu by clicking ‘Filters‘. 

In the opened ‘Topics & Subjects‘ list, click one or more boxes.  At the bottom, click ‘Apply your filters‘ to get the new search results.  If you later return to ‘Topics and Subjects‘ to use more filters, remember to clear the checked boxes.

Also in the left column is the ‘Year‘ menu that allows you to choose one or more years of publication, and a ‘Language‘ menu at the bottom.

A tool for sorting is the small box below ‘Filters‘ in the phone view, which on a PC appears as a horizontal box above the book images.  One of the menu items should begin with ‘Date …‘ Click it to reveal ‘Date Published‘, which brings the most recently published books to the top of search results. The small arrow on the left side of the box reverses the order.  You might not always find ‘Date Published‘ on the phone menu.

Log on to Internet Archive (its free) to search for books, so that when you find books that interest you, you can put them in your ‘Favorites‘ folder. To do that, click on a book, and you’ll find the ‘Favorite‘ icon on right side of the new page.  To access your ‘Favorite‘ books when you want to read them, look in the pull-down menu at your Internet Archive account name for ‘My Favorites‘.



Q. When I open a book in the Internet Archive and zoom-in enough to read it comfortably, I have to keep moving the book around the screen. Suggestions?

When you have the book open in Internet Archive, click the “one-page view” button at the bottom right corner of the screen, and then keep zooming in to make the type large and clear.  That one-page button also enables scroll-down with your mouse button. Note the three dots in a circle at the left edge of the book window, which opens to allow adjustment of brightness and contrast.
You can also read Internet Archive books in Adobe Digital Editions if you prefer.  There is guidance here.



Q. I want to look for works of fiction by topic. For example, how can I find a novel that takes place in a castle, or one that has something about genetics in the plot?

The majority of the Collection or Search Results entries on Century Past Non-Fiction pages contain both Non-Fiction and Fiction books, and also children’s books.  Use the Non-Fiction button at the top of the page, which takes you to the subject index.



Q. The book at Internet Archive that I want is already checked out for 14 days.  Is there a way to get the book sooner?

Try searching on Internet Archive for the title.  Sometimes they have more than one copy of a book.

Please feel free to make suggestions or ask questions, on our Contact page.

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