Typographers and Renaissance lovers, listen up! (Unlikely mix, I know).
What a find! I must have spent three hours last night on this website. I knew about the Project Gutenberg website before – that offers the plain texts of loads of classic novels (gutenberg.org) – but I'd never come across this one before:
The Open Library contains an amazing collection of texts, even in PDF form, for you to download or read online. I found some brilliant texts on the more neglected sides of Renaissance Florence, like the subject of the female writers of the time, and some interesting old editions of books that have people's hundred year old pencil scribbles on the pages.
I also found this awesome little book on advertising from the early 20th century that, as you'll see if you follow the link, shows us just how old the principles of layout etc have become.
Old typography/advertising book on 'Open Library':
Looking at some of the pages in the book linked above, I saw a distinct similarity to an excellent book I bought recently: they both break down examples of advertising and feature basic pencil reproductions of them. It's amazing to think they were published about 100 years apart!
Advertising theory etc book on Amazon (it looks a bit crummy and basic in the pictures, but believe me, it's a beautiful and very helpful book for serious designers and advertisers):
I'm sure, however, that I've only hit the tip of the iceberg on Open Library so I'm off to surf the web waves of literature some more. Enjoy!