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Paperless Research

Everything You Need to Write and Publish Your Book using NYPL's E-Resources


Woman posing with giant typewriter
NYPL Digital Collection: ID 1685589

The New York Public Library prides itself on supporting writers of every kind.  It doesn't matter if you are writing a comic book, a biography, or the next great American novel, we have the tools to help you succeed. In addition to thousands of print resources, NYPL also offers a large number of electronic resources to help you research, write and publish your work. Below is only a sampling of the over 500 online research options available, many accessible from home with a library card.


Whether you are writing science fiction or historical fiction, all great books start with research. The New York Public Library has online research tools to help you develop all of your great ideas, here are just a few:

Books and Authors - Someone wise once said, "a great writer reads more than they write." In the Books and Authors database you will discover more than 70,000 book recommendations, including fiction and non-fiction titles, for all age levels. You can discover the popular and contemporary writers in your genre and see what the new bestsellers are. You will not only have the benefit of learning from the best writers and getting those sparks of inspiration, but when it is time to send your work to agents you will have an understanding of where your work fits into the current book scene.

Gale Virtual Reference Library -  Are you writing a legal drama and need a quick understanding of the Supreme Court? Does a character in your book suffer from a rare heart condition and you need a basic understanding of the cardiovascular system? Or do you need a map of the galaxy for your Space thriller? This e-resource is perfect for getting a foundational understanding on hundreds of topics.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers -If you are writing about past events or want to have a better understanding of what life was like in another decade, historical newspapers are an excellent place to start. Read hundreds of digitized newspapers spanning from the American Revolution to the early 21st century. These newspapers cover all geographical areas of the country as well as different ethnic groups, including African American historical newspapers, Jewish historical newspapers and Irish historical newspapers.


You have completed all of your research and now you are ready to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). The New York Public Library's e-resources can assist you during every stage of every draft.

Oxford English Dictionary  - Why do you need a dictionary when you can just Google how to spell  handkerchief? The Oxford English Dictionary will help you take your writing to the next level. Not only can it help you with spelling and usage, but the OED can explain when and how a word entered the English language, so your medieval heroine isn't calling her love interest "sweetie" (which didn't enter the OED until 1778).   If you really want to do some fancy wordplay explore the OED's Historical Thesaurus, which, "groups senses and words in the OED according to their subject, and orders them by date of first use."

Flipster - This database allows you to access online or download two great writing magazines, Poets & Writers and Writer's Digest. These two magazines offer writing exercises, tips on character development and plot structure, as well as interviews with your favorite authors offering their writing advice. There is also great information on getting agents and submitting to writing competitions for when you are ready to put your work out there.

The Dictionary of American Regional English - Would your character living in Cleveland say soda or pop? The Dictionary of American Regional English can help you find the answer. Through this database you can browse different geographic regions of the United States and understand how different words or phrases vary from place to place.


Don't forget that the book trade is not only about great writing, but is also a multi-billion dollar industry. If you want to make a living off of your work, you have to educate yourself about the business aspect of publishing, and NYPL's e-resources can help.

Publishers Weekly Archives - You can learn the most current publishing industry news about the U.S. and British book trades.  Find out about the latest book deals, who the industry movers and shakers are, new publishing imprints and which books are topping the bestsellers lists for each genre.

Business CollectionIn this database you will find hundreds of articles on many different areas of business within the publishing and self-publishing industry.

Publishers Directory - When it is time to get your work out to the world make sure you know who all the players are. The Publishers Directory has an extensive list of U.S. and Canadian publishers.

TECHNOLOGY - Are you interested in creating your own e-book or self-publishing? can help you learn everything there is to know about digital publishing. These online courses range from beginner to intermediate publishing concepts. Here are some of the online classes offered:

  • Ebook Foundations
  • Learning Ebook Publishing
  • Creating EPUBS from a Word Document
  • Adapting a Print Layout for Digital Publishing
  • Ebooks: Distributing and Marketing
  • iBooks Author Essential Training
  • Creating Fixed-Layout Ebooks for the Kindle
  • InDesign: Fixed-Layout EPUB Interactive Techniques & Publish Online
  • Designing a Digital Magazine
  • InDesign: Publish Online
  • Learning Metadata for Book Publishing

This list will get you started, but take the time to explore more e-resources, visit a writing group at an NYPL branch,  or attend an author talk.  With everything the New York Public Library has to offer there is no excuse not to get started!



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