About Early Indian Printed Books

This online exhibition is a part of Two Centuries of Indian Print, an international partnership led by the British Library to digitise rare material from its South Asian printed book collection.

The project has digitised and made available online rare Bengali printed books and will also make available in digital format printed books in Assamese, Sylheti and Urdu languages. This online exhibition features selected highlights from the digitised collection. For access to all of the books digitised through the project visit the British Library catalogue, selecting 'I want this' and 'View digital content online'. 

Two Centuries of Indian Print is a partnership between the British Library, the School of Cultural Texts and Records (SCTR) of Jadavpur University, Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, and the Library at SOAS University of London, involving collaborations with the National Library of India, and other institutions in India. 

The project has been generously funded by the AHRC Newton-Babha Fund and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.


The ‘Two Centuries of Indian Print’ project has made the library's collection of bound ‘Quarterly Lists’ freely available in digital format. These are descriptive catalogue records of books published quarterly and by province of British India between 1867 and 1947. The Quarterly Lists are available to download as searchable PDFs and as OCR XML via the British Library's datasets portal. 

Workshops & Symposium

In July 2017, we held a two-day academic symposium at Jadavpur Universtity on South Asian Book History which brought together researchers, scholars and Digital Humanities practitioners from the UK, India, Bangladesh and Nepal. 25 speakers across 7 panel sessions discussed cutting edge research in the field. View abstracts from the panel sessions or watch videos of the talks

Throughout the course of  the project we will deliver a series of digital skills workshops and training sessions at Indian institutions to support innovative digital humanities research within South Asian studies. More information about the workshops is available on the Training Resources page.

South Asia Seminar Series

We host a series of talks based on the 'Two Centuries of Indian Print' project and the British Library's South Asia collections. More details can be found on the Events page.

Transcription Competition

In 2017 and 2019 ‘Two Centuries of Indian Print’ ran competitions to find an optimal solution for automatically transcribing the Bengali books and Quarterly Lists that have been digitised as part of the project. Accurate transcriptions would enable researchers to search the full text of this valuable content. If you or anyone you know would like experiment with OCR of our collection, the combined dataset for both competitions can be freely downloaded from the PRIMA Research Lab. We would love to hear how you have found working with the dataset!

The Collection at SOAS

Through Two Centuries of Indian Print  a variety of rare Bengali books from the collection at SOAS have been digitised and made available through the SOAS Digital Library.

The Bengali language material at SOAS Library is one of the oldest and richest collections, consisting of about 6000 titles from the earliest periods to current day. 

Stay updated

Subscribe to the Asian and African Studies blog for information on recent discoveries and developments on the Two Centuries of Indian Print collection other South Asian collections. Explore updates from the project through the SOAS blog

Follow us on Twitter @BL_IndianPrint  to receive updates and highlights.

Please feel free to contact TwoCenturies@bl.uk if you would like further information, or to give feedback on using our digital collection.

Terms of use

The material from the British Library's South Asia printed books collection featured in this ‘Early Indian Printed Books’ resource (part of the Two Centuries of Indian Print project) is primarily intended for the purposes of non-commercial private study, teaching, learning and research. The use of digital image files for these purposes remains freely accessible without charge to readers.

The images are being made available under a Public Domain Mark which indicates that there are no copyright restrictions on reproduction, adaptation, republication or sharing of the content available from the site. The catalogue information is made available under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

We do ask that users treat the collection items on this website with respect, by considering cultural, religious and ethical sensitivities when using the material. The Library respects intellectual property rights, as well as ethical, moral and traditional knowledge concerns. To the best of our knowledge, all books made available online are free of copyright and there are no privacy breaches. If you have any comments or questions about copyrights, please contact us.