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Reader's Corner - The Library of Utopia + resource links

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Need more input? Then scan it.
I am sure that this is a Good Thing:

* Google Books team open sources their book scanner
* Build a Google Book Scanner
* Google Tech Talk - linear-book-scanner
* Resource: Linear Book Scanner Design document.
* Resource: Software Clone in the git repository.
This is a bit like someone just released the modern-day eBook equivalent of the Guttenburg Press, which device seems to have been hitherto controlled solely by the Publishing oligopolies and cartels.

In what looks like a breath of fresh air and clear thinking, Charlie Redmayne of Pottermore books seems to have a viable commercial solution to avoiding the prevailing tendency of the monopolistic **AA for mass Fascistic violence towards consumers.
Relevant and interesting post from goodereader copied below, with my emphasis.
Pottermore CEO Explains the DRM-Free Decision
By Mercy Pilkington, 2012-12-03

Charlie Redmayne spoke on two panels today in London at the FutureBook conference, the third annual conference put on by The Bookseller. Aside from the morning presentation in which he spoke on the importance of establishing a global brand for an author or a book series, Redmayne spoke quite vehemently in the later panel about how the practice of DRM-free ebooks can be better for publishing.

According to Redmayne, the Harry Potter ebooks were published without the restrictions imposed by digital rights management, allowing readers to put them on any device and allowing the sharing of the ebooks, similar to their print counterparts.

Despite some criticism about piracy concerns, Redmayne countered with evidence that piracy of the Harry Potter titles is actually 25% lower than when the titles were only available in print; additionally, he recounted incidences when the ebooks were actually placed on file sharing websites, but most were quickly removed when it became known that all of the ebooks are sold with an embedded digital watermark, essentially tracking the person who uploaded the pirated copy.

This ability to track an ebook stands to be a potential deterrent to piracy, especially if publishers are actually able to hold offenders accountable without creating a bigger problem in trying to prosecute offenders.

--- End quote ---

The ideal of the Library of Utopia seems to have just just inched a bit further away. After the above rather good news, you can now read about in the UK where Waterstones Screensaver on Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Draw Customer Ire (sic)
(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
Waterstones Screensaver on Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Draw Customer Ire
from Good E-Reader - ebook Reader and Digital Publishing News by Michael Kozlowski

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite owners normally take to social media to celebrate their new purchase. Customers in the UK are instead up in arms over new devices purchased from Waterstones. The company has put up a simple advertisement up promoting themselves via a firmware update that cannot be negated.

In the USA you can purchase a Kindle Paperwhite with Special Offers or Without them. If you pay the additional fee you are not served advertisements when your device is in standby mode or on the main screen. If you elect to save $30.00 you can purchase a model that will display these adverts. The Waterstones version does not really give customers the ability to opt in or out of the Special Offers program.

Customers are venting their frustration on the main Waterstones website. One person mentioned “I really enjoyed reading on it, but after a few days a software update was applied. This replaced the beautiful artwork the device displays when in sleep mode with some ugly advert for Waterstones. I hate it.” Another user chimed in and said”"Really a shame to force a Waterstones screensaver on a device that is supposed to be ad free. Whatever they may call this it is still advertising. I will be returning mine and ordering from Amazon.”

Waterstones sent an email to customers that said: “It is our view that this screensaver does not constitute advertising and differs substantially to the advertising-supported Kindles available to the US market. The Waterstones screensaver is a non-dynamic, static image that will change infrequently and not advertise any specific product, offer or website. It is not possible to remove the Waterstones screensaver to replace it with the former Amazon screensaver.” Waterstones added: “We apologize that this change was made without consultation, and hope it does not detract from or alter your reading experience.”

--- End quote ---
Some people might say (not me you understand), that that last line sounds a bit like "So long, suckers" - or possibly even something much more rude/offensive - but I couldn't possibly comment.

If the previous post/comment provides an example as to how commercial monopolists can drag things backwards by enforcing a change - something unwanted - on customers/readers alike, for apparently entirely self-serving reasons, then this following bit of news yanks the whole vector of change in a forwards direction:
(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
Programmer Begins Selling 100,000 eBooks on Amazon with New Algorithm
from Good E-Reader - ebook Reader and Digital Publishing News by Michael Kozlowski

When authors want to make a digital eBook, they have to sit down and write them. It often takes a fair amount of time to pump out the written work. Philip M. Parker who spearheads ICON Group International seeks to defy this convention. He has developed a new methodology to write non-fiction material based on an Algorithm. This has allowed him to list 100,000 eBooks on Amazon and his company close to 700,000.

This new computer system allows a full book to be written in close to twenty minutes. It is best suited to non-fiction and obscure technical documentation that might not exist. This includes business reports, technical, rare diseases and dictionaries. The company has developed a staggering number of Websters dictionaries for various fringe languages because of the open source nature.

The essence of this computer system is tapping into massive databases of content. It avoids plagiarism it rewrites the content and cross references other subjects written about it. You won’t get a creative perspective on any of the subject matter, but for technical documents it is unwarranted. Most people when studying a very specific subject just want the facts, graphs and statistics, something this system excels at.

The Singularity Hub mentioned that ”The success (and brilliance) of this system is that Parker designed the algorithms to mimic the thought process that an expert would necessarily go through in writing about a topic. It merely involves deconstructing content within a genre. He has some experience in this, as he has written at least three books the old fashioned way. It’s the recognition of how algorithmic content creation is (for the most part) that allows it to be coded as artificial intelligence.”
--- End quote ---

It really does seem as though monopolistic publishers would hold us all back from entering The Library of Utopia:
Simon & Schuster Agrees to Sell One eBook to a Library
(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images, with my emphasis.)
By Paul Biba - 2012-12-17

One of the things that Simon & Schuster is noted for is its antagonism towards libraries. Its policy is that it will not sell ebooks to them. However, in a great show of public spirit (sarcasm intended!), S&S has broken down and agreed to sell Jean Thompson’s The Year We Left Home in ebook format to libraries.

This is because the book was selected by the Iowa Center for the Book for its All Iowa Reads program. S&S does not have a large print version of the book available, and so All Iowa Reads was able to convince the company, evidently after a lot of work, that an ebook version was essential if readers with disabilities were to be able to participate in the 11 year-old program.  At least 100 Iowa libraries participate in the All Iowa Reads program.

One book down, the entire S&S catalog to go.

--- End quote ---


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