German science, technology and medical publisher Springer Science+Business Media, will digitize its entire catalog of books back to 1840 by the end of the coming year, including works by Einstein, Niels Bohr and Sir John Eccles and Rudolf Diesel. (Yes, that Rudolf Diesel.)

The books, 70% of which are in English and nearly 30% in German, will total 65,000 titles when the project is finished.

The "Springer Book Archive" of historical books will be available on the company's Springerlink site, where its contemporary digital offerings currently reside, and will bring the total number of e-titles up to 100,000.

According to Springer CEO Derk Haank:

"Up to now, our past titles have been hidden away in our in-house library, but thanks to innovative technologies they can be made available again. We have made significant investments in this project and are convinced that the scientific community will find it useful."

The time frame is due, in part, the company says, to the fact that "Springer proactively contacts authors and copyright holders to clarify the issue of royalties for these digital editions."

Every substantial historical library that makes it online increases the ability of people around the world to gain access to the knowledge it contains. Springer is not a library, and it will cost, but at least these books will be readable whether you are in Berlin or in Pt. Barrow.