You know what would be awesome? If you bought a hardcover book, and it came with a micro SD card carrying a digital, non-DRM’d, copy of that book. How awesome would that be?
Last couple of months (maybe the last year), I’ve been thinking about buying a dedicated e-reader. I read and re-read a lot of books, and I noticed that even the hardbacks that I keep on a special shelf are suffering just from the act of me reading them. E-Books are becoming quite popular (more than I would have thought 5 years ago) especially with the advent of the Kindle, and now others like it. The only problem I have with the Kindle (or the Barnes & Noble Nook etc), is that its DRM’d up the ARSE!
and now… a bump! click MORE, for, well… MORE!
[See my previous post about DRM.]
What I really want is a way to read my books without destroying them, preserving them, so-to-speak. Like with my CDs, I would like to ‘rip’ them to an electronic format and be able to read them on whatever device I’d like. If the price were right, I’d probably even re-purchase copies of books that I already have! [But the publishers insist on charging up the ass for each copy.] After looking around for a decent Open or even semi-open reader, I think I’ve decided on one of Sony’s new mid-level readers… although I haven’t made a final decision yet.
A thought had occurred to me earlier this year, what if I did in fact buy a reader, and simply scanned all my books to .pdf files? A few other questions presented themselves as I thought about this.
A) would it be legal? Kinda, sorta, maybe…Some people at least are doing it. Google has gotten some bad press from the publishing industry over this same idea (actually more like a digital library than any thing.) The Digital Millennium Copyright Act DMCA allows for the copying of digital material purchased for non-profit personal use. As long as you don’t have to get around some stupid DRM first (anti-circumvention clause and exceptions). Does the DMCA cover books? Probably not, but a book is a physical item, and you can do what you like with it, as long at it’s for personal use. In Theory any way. You can actually re-sell the thing too if you want (right of first sale).
B) How hard is it going to be to do this, and can I do it without destroying my physical copy? Using a flat-bed scanner came to mind first, as I have a couple of old ones under my desk at home. BUT, scanning each page of a 400+ page book could be tiring and frustrating. Much like how in the late 90’s ripping music from an LP was neither fun nor easy. I have a feed scanner at work that is pretty fast and easy, and I’ve been thinking of getting one of my own for scanning records and things at home. That would indeed be fast and easy, but wouldn’t I be destroying the book I want to keep? Kinda, yeah… of course, there are other options.
C) Screw scanning and just ‘Pirate’ the book. OK, well, I wouldn’t ACTUALLY pirate it, thats illegal… but its way to freaking easy to find and download eBooks for Pete’s sake. Even though it’s been argued that it is *morally* ok to *illegally* download a book, if you actually own a physical or digital copy already. (In the case of digital I would say its ok because you want one that will read on a non-kindle or non-B&N etc reader, but then again there’s the anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA!
So, a while back I was reading a TechDirt article about how this kind of scanning is pretty popular in Japan (not sure what’s all involved). **re-read article** TD’s obvious slant is about how certain industry folks and politicians in Japan want to make this illegal etc. (Actually, one of the big points in the article was NOT weather or not it was legal for people to do this themselves, but legal for other companies to do it FOR them. i.e.: the cutting of the books, then scanning and compiling the data correctly etc. What I love is them saying that the LAW is way behind the technology… DUH)
At the end of the original article is a slight blurb from someone saying “If you are a publisher and you don’t want your books copied like this, then they should give away an electronic copy with the physical copy.” [Trying to quote the original article which seems to have vanished into 404 heaven] This started me thinking about what could be done by publishers instead of making the laws and complaining about people wanting to consume their content in other ways. If it was me running a publishing company wanting to update my business model and hence, sell MORE books this is what I would do:
I would have a special edition of the book [Hell, even a regular or paperback edition…] that was basically a nice hard cover copy with some cool art, maybe a special introduction or whatever. BUT, it would also include either a link to download the eBook version (I know others have done this), OR even better in my estimation, a micro SD card with a digital copy! Almost every reader has some kind of SD or other external memory slot (not sure about kindle… check on this). Just like some music publishers tried with their offering in Wal-Mart (what was that called again?). Because sometimes, when you are in a store looking for books, you just want to read it right out the box. You don’t always have access to a computer….
i could go on, and on and on with this, FOREVER.
In the end, I suppose it doesn’t matter. Eventually the publishers will come to their senses and price their ebooks sensibly, as will all other digital media content creators, and we won’t really have these issues. right?
Also, don’t forget the awesome nostalgia of the feel of a physical book in your hand. Maybe it won’t be there in a hundred years (Star Trek.. Picard often read ‘real’ books).