Sep 8 2009
Did you have a nice vacation? I was almost completely untethered these past four days which was great while I was away. Unfortunately, the inbox doesn’t clear itself.
Here is a piece of news that I missed. According to a mobileread.com poster, Sony will replace all the LRX format books (books you bought at Sony Connect) with ePub when it makes the change. This is a great move by Sony.
Last week, a Boston Prep school decided to eliminate its library and replace it with a upscale coffee counter, plasma tvs, and 18 electronic readers at the cost of $500,000 for the remodel. I’m a big ebook supporter but even I am uncertain how I feel about this. It is true that long form narrative fiction and non fiction is the easiest content to read in digital format but to eliminate all the books and replace it with TVs and coffee shop?
When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books,’’ said James Tracy, headmaster of Cushing and chief promoter of the bookless campus. "This isn’t "Fahrenheit 451’ [the 1953 Ray Bradbury novel in which books are banned]. We’re not discouraging students from reading. We see this as a natural way to shape emerging trends and optimize technology.’’
Andy, a librarian, argues that its not as terrible as it seems.
But I think the real question that librarians and library professionals should be asking themselves is this: are we married to a medium or a message? If we fight to preserve books for the sake of books, are we adding argument to our own irrelevancy? Nowhere in the article is it stated that reading is being discouraged; in fact, there is a distinct impression by one of the commenters that using online or e-readers is a second class citizen of reading.
I’ll be talking more about this on Sunday.
Google is making concessions to European governments in regards to its plan to coopt the world’s out of print literature through the Google Book Settlement. It will limit the books made available online and allow a European publisher a seat on a board that oversees the Book Rights Registry.
Ars Technica has a piece about a kindler, gentler DRM system in which the consumer is allowed to share their purchases but only if they hand out a “playkey” which is linked to their media content. It seems as if this Digital Personal Property system is still some kind of DRM but I like that companies are thinking about balancing the concerns of the content creators with that of the consumer.
Digital content lends itself easily to the creation of identical copies, so crafting a system in which digital content can be “stolen” is trickier than it might sound. The idea is to make it a “rivalrous good,” one that, after being taken, deprives someone else of something.
Publisher in the Netherlands is shrinking its book size to that of a small moleskin. It’s a new take on the penny dreadful or mass market. Given the smallness of the print and the size of the book, it seems like this would only be good for serialized content or shorter works. Either that or people’s word count will be drastically slashed.
Called thedwarsligger – which translates as “sleeper” – the book is a hard copy and was described by Sean French as “the size of a match box, almost”.
All politics is local is the saying. Newspapers are trying to capitalize on this by creating local editions. Both the NYTimes and the Wall Street Journal intend to produce San Francisco versions of its papers. Huffington Post is also doing locality based web versions of its site.
James Boyle has a great article in the Financial Times about how copyright law is ruining cultural advancement and that if Congress won’t fix the system then perhaps the Google Book Settlement is the next best thing:
Once upon a time, three things held true. Copyrights were relatively short. You had to renew them (most people did not.) You didn’t get one unless you asked. Now none of those hold true. Copyright can last for more than 100 years. The result is that the world’s libraries are full of books that are still under copyright, commercially unavailable and, in many cases, "orphan works" with no known copyright holder. Copyright has exhausted its function, yet the works remain trapped in the cultural black hole.
Read for Pleasure blogs at Access Romance about the concept floated by Ursula Le Guin that more prizes should be handed out for literature instead of less. (They do this at Romantic Times).