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Last edited by AgentSapphire
May 31, 2023 | History

Internet Archive BookReader

The BookReader was developed by the Internet Archive and open source contributors to provide online access to scanned books. The Internet Archive has more than 1,000,000 scanned books available to read online. The BookReader is also used to provide access to materials from many other organizations.

Accessing the BookReader on Open Library

Look for the Read Online links to open a book in the BookReader. You can search for available books by checking the "Only show eBooks" checkbox in the Open Library search.

Accessing the BookReader on the Internet Archive

To use the BookReader, click on the "Read Online" link on the left side of an details page.

Using bookmarks in the online bookreader

A video tutorial is available here:

Download source code

The BookReader source code is available in the Internet Archive github repository.

Report a bug or request a feature!

Developer Info

Contributors to the Internet Archive Bookreader (2010-2017)

Contributors to older versions

Contributors to version 2 (gnubook, 2008-2010)

Contributors to version 1 (flippy, 2005-2008)

Examples in the Wild


The Bookreader is licensed under the GNU Affero General Public License v3.0. It is built upon these open source tools:

BookReader demo

Once you've downloaded the source code you can open BookReaderDemo/index.html in your web browser and you should see an example book. To use your own images you would modify BookReaderJSSimple.js to connect the BookReader with your book's page images and metadata.

Embed example

For books hosted on the Internet Archive the BookReader can be embedded on any site that allows you to add an iframe, for example using the code below.

<iframe src="" width="480px" height="480px"></iframe>

You can also link to a specific page and specify that two-page mode should be used:

<iframe src="" width="450px" height="400px"></iframe>


Serving Images

In the case of the Standalone Demo, operation is fairly simple. Images are numbered sequentially and stored in a directory called "StandAloneImages". The images are all the same size, and two functions in BookReaderJSSimple.js, getPageWidth() and getPageHeight(), return the page size. Scaling is done in the web browser.

For books scanned by the Internet Archive and stored on, bookreader operation is a bit more complex. During the book scanning process, each page is imaged using a high-resolution digital camera, and then each page is cropped and deskewed. The size of the cropped image is stored in a file called scandata.xml. During this process, some images, such as color cards, white cards, and tissue paper pages, are marked as pages that should not be displayed. This information is also stored in scandata.xml. The cropped and deskewed images are stored in JPEG 2000 format in a zip file called The raw images, the cropped and deskewed images, and the scandata.xml file are available for each book on

Because crop boxes can vary between pages for Internet Archive books, the getPageWidth() and getPageHeight() functions can return a different size for each image in the book. Also, since some pages are not supposed to be displayed, the getPageURI() function maps an "index number" that the book reader uses to a "leaf number" that corresponds to an image in the file. These functions use information from scandata.xml to determine size and url for each page.

Because web browsers generally cannot display JPEG2000 images, a piece of code called BookReaderImages.php performs on-the-fly JPEG2000 to JPEG conversion on the cluster. For efficiency, this code also provides server-side image scaling and other image processing.

More information on how BookReaderImages.php works.

Testing and Release Process

Bugs and feature requests against the BookReader can be filed in the BookReader Launchpad Bug Tracker. During development features and bugs in progress are targeted to the next milestone. Once all the bugs for the milestone are in the "Triaged" status and ready to test the code is given to QA for testing. Since Launchpad does not have separate QA bug statuses we use the tags "needs-qa", "qa-verified" and "qa-reopened" to designate bugs that are ready for testing, verified by QA or have problems with the fix.

Code in progress on a development milestone branch may be pushed to our openlibrary/BookReader GitHub account on that branch. Once the release candidate has been approved by QA it is pushed out to GitHub on the branch and also merged into master. The branch point is tagged with the release name which will automatically make it appear on our BookReader GitHub downloads page.

Unit Testing

The BookReader is starting to have unit tests, written in QUnit. We are setting up a BookReader TestSwarm server.

Extending bookreader functionality

To make is it easier to work with other sources, the bookreader can expect a book interface from the client with the following methods.


The book reader can have optional functionality which is enabled only when the book implementation has a specific method defined.
For example, bookmarks functionality can be enabled only when the book interface has getBookmarks method defined.


Typical usage:

<script src="/js/bookreader.js" type="text/javascript"/>
<script src="/js/archivebook.js" type="text/javascript"/>
<div id="book1"></div>
    document.onload = function() {
        var b = bookreader("book1", ArchiveBook("tomsawyer"));


May 31, 2023 Edited by AgentSapphire add bookmarking tutorial
May 31, 2023 Edited by AgentSapphire remove information about icon no longer in use
January 17, 2020 Edited by Drini http -> https
August 9, 2017 Edited by Richard Caceres Updated github link. Added myself to contributors.
September 15, 2008 Created by Anand Chitipothu book reader suggestions