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Digitizing Books

Barnes and Noble's Nook Steps into the Ring with Kindle

The Amazon Kindle's first real competitor saw the light of day for the first time this week, and it looks very, very impressive. The Barnes & Noble Nook launched Oct 20th, and it stands toe-to-toe with the standard that has been set by the Kindle, even exceeding it in many ways. The important...

Pulp Fiction

It's already mid-July and I'm still thinking about the programs, news, and events from the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans three weeks ago. This means either that it was an unusually important conference, or that I'm slow on the uptake and/or have serious conference closure issues.Two programs I'm still pondering are Kevin Starr's address ("Reading: The Essential Skill") at the ALA...

Wreading

About 250 years ago, soon after his dictionary of the English language had been published, Dr. Samuel Johnson was asked by a woman how the incorrect definition of a pastern had crept into the final, published product. According to James Boswell's biography of Johnson, "…instead of making an elaborate defence, as she expected, he at once answered, 'Ignorance, Madam, pure ignorance.'" If the...

I Owe My Soul to the Company Store

Like a puny but feisty kid trying to grow up and gain respect in a blue-collar town, portable electronic devices designed primarily for reading digital-textual documents, such as ebooks, are about to re-enter the general U.S. consumer electronic fray. When dedicated reading devices hit the U.S. market in the late 90s, they were soundly drubbed, or worse, laughed at and ignored. Will 2006 be...

January 1, 2007: A Fantasia

I am seeing some very good summaries about the year behind us—everything from top-ten lists to Roy Tennant's powerful rumination in LJ, "What I Wish I Had Known." But the date that popped into my head this morning as I huffed on the treadmill, working off the holiday gingerbread while my brain did the thirty-minute free-style, was January 1, 2007. I put myself there and asked, what do I want...

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Search Engine

Google's Book Search Library Project, the massive digitization project involving the “G5 libraries" (Michigan, Stanford, Oxford, the New York Public Library, and Harvard), has really touched a cultural nerve. Quite a few discussants have concentrated on the details of one or more facets of this project, i.e., fair use, the lawsuits, the digitization process and technology involved, Googleâ...

2006: The Year of the ...

December is almost here, which means that the calendar year as we know it is drawing to a close. This will unleash the urge—and the annual ritual of the popular press—to write reflective articles about the year just finishing and predictive articles about 2006. The top events in politics, the arts, athletics, and other areas will be rehashed and ranked. I predict that natural disasters will...

Squeezing the E-Turnip

Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal reported that Google and an unnamed publisher were having discussions about leasing access to e-books. The general idea is that users would pay approximately ten percent of the list price for the printed book to be able to read the e-book for one week. In other words, they're talking about a pay-per-circ digital lending library. When it comes to new...

Lemony Snippets

Lots of folks are sour on snippets. Google has made lemonade out of the old word "snippet" by using it to describe what will be presented to users when they perform a full-text search in the Google Print Library and retrieve hits for the search term in a work still protected by copyright. Here is Google's brief (and a little vague) description of how this works on the "common questions" page...

The Yahouyhnhnms Are Coming

There are so many organizations involved—ten at the time of the initial press release—in the Open Content Alliance that it's difficult to tell how each organization will be involved. At the very least, Yahoo probably will be a major financial backer and a major (if not the primary) distributor of the content. One way to understand the OCA is as Yahoo's response to the Google Library Project...

Fit to Print: What to Do with Printed Books?

Today's announcement of yet another massive digitization project for printed books, the Open Content Alliance involving Yahoo!, the Internet Archive, the University of California, the University of Toronto, U.K. and European Archives, and others, coupled with last week's announcement of an initial preview of the used book market by the Book Industry Study...