Even before he lost his job as a software engineer with a dot-com company, John Hare had started building the Internet Sacred Text Archive (sacred-texts.com).
''I started the site as an intellectual challenge,'' said Mr. Hare, who, from his home in Santa Cruz, Calif., scanned the contents of more than 1,000 books on religion, folklore and mythology, all in the public domain, including scriptures from the world's major religions (as well as many minor ones). Here you can find anything from The Ramayana in Sanskrit to a 1941 book by Archibald Cockren, ''Alchemy Rediscovered and Restored.''
''It was after 9/11 that my site really started to get a lot of hits, particularly because I have the complete works of Nostradamus and several translations of the Koran,'' Mr. Hare said. ''Since then the traffic has grown geometrically. ''
Visitors are ''overwhelmingly supportive,'' said Mr. Hare, who, since losing his job, has made the site his main work; he sells copies of the texts on a CD-ROM to subsidize the cost of maintaining the site. Buyers are from around the world, he said, and from a variety of backgrounds. ''I very rarely get anything but high praise from visitors, even if they're writing about a typo or lost package in the mail.''