Free Old Books
We treasure our old beekeeping books for many reasons. We love the smell, the feel, and the knowledge that a beekeeper from days long gone kept this book on a shelf and referred to it in the course of their beekeeping activities (be it business or hobby).
Despite all the information available online, there is no substitute for a good book, and some of the best books in history have been written about bees.
There are more important reasons for having access to books than the look and feel. What old books contain cannot be replicated...primary source material.
The two most influential beekeeping books in the last 150 years are "The Hive and the Honeybee" by L.L. Langstroth, and, "The ABC of Bee Culture" by A.I.Root. Over the years, both of these works have been revised with newer, "better", and "more correct" material. Unfortunately much of the original spark gets lost in this process as well.
On its surface, the archiving and availability of many of these old books seems like a solution, and to some extent it is. Human nature, however will prevail. Eventually, we will accept these electronic versions of books as if they were the real thing, and when that happens, people (be they individuals or search engines) will decide to "improve" things by "fixing mistakes" and "clarifying hard to understand text"...no doubt changing the meaning at the same time.
Some books that are hard to find (and expensive) in physical form, but are available for free download. Two that are must reads:
The ABC of Bee Culture -by A.I. Root
Advanced Bee Culture -by William Z. Hutchinson