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Electronic Book Libraries

News Recommended Links Computer book libraries Self Publishing Open Content Alliance
Project Gutenberg Google Library  “Million Book Project” Project Bartleby Amazon
Michael Hart ePUB Format Notes on Kindle publishing  Humor Etc

There are several major open book libraries projects:

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - December 14, 2004 - As part of its effort to make offline information searchable online, Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) today announced that it is working with the libraries of Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan, and the University of Oxford as well as The New York Public Library to digitally scan books from their collections so that users worldwide can search them in Google.

"Even before we started Google, we dreamed of making the incredible breadth of information that librarians so lovingly organize searchable online," said Larry Page, Google co-founder and president of Products. "Today we're pleased to announce this program to digitize the collections of these amazing libraries so that every Google user can search them instantly.

"Our work with libraries further enhances the existing Google Print program, which enables users to find matches within the full text of books, while publishers and authors monetize that information," Page added. "Google's mission is to organize the world's information, and we're excited to be working with libraries to help make this mission a reality."

Today's announcement is an expansion of the Google Print™ program, which assists publishers in making books and other offline information searchable online. Google is now working with libraries to digitally scan books from their collections, and over time will integrate this content into the Google index, to make it searchable for users worldwide.

"We believe passionately that such universal access to the world's printed treasures is mission-critical for today's great public university," said Mary Sue Coleman, President of the University of Michigan.

For publishers and authors, this expansion of the Google Print program will increase the visibility of in and out of print books, and generate book sales via "Buy this Book" links and advertising. For users, Google's library program will make it possible to search across library collections including out of print books and titles that weren't previously available anywhere but on a library shelf.

Users searching with Google will see links in their search results page when there are books relevant to their query. Clicking on a title delivers a Google Print page where users can browse the full text of public domain works and brief excerpts and/or bibliographic data of copyrighted material. Library content will be displayed in keeping with copyright law. For more information and examples, please visit

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Old News ;-)

[Jan 29, 2018] Books Jerome K Jerome

Jan 29, 2018 |

[Dec 18, 2017] The Capability Approach: an Open Access Textbook

Dec 18, 2017 |

by Ingrid Robeyns on December 11, 2017 the PDF for free at the publisher's website , and that the paperback version is also about half the price of what a book with a university press would cost (and a fraction of the price it would cost if published by one of the supercommercial academic presses whose names shall not be mentioned here).

I am not going to sell you my book – in a literal sense there is no need to sell you anything since you can download the book (as a PDF ) for free from Open Books Publishers' website (and I have no material interest in selling you hardcopies since I will not receive any royalties). And in a non-literal sense I should not sell this book either, since it is not up to me to judge the quality of the book. So I'll only make three meta-comments. [click to continue ]

[Nov 29, 2017] The week after Open Access week by Ingrid Robeyns

Notable quotes:
"... knowledge is for sharing ..."
Oct 30, 2017 |

It was Open Access week last week, but I was too busy trying to meet the deadline today for submitting my book manuscript to Open Book Publishers . That sounds like a good excuse if one cares about open access, right? I slept too little for too many days, so don't expect any creative thoughts or subtle analyses from me tonight. But here's two interesting things I discovered while having a look on the web figuring out whether anything interesting happend during Open Access week.

First, Cambridge University digitalised the PhD dissertation of Stephen Hawking and put it online. Apparently the website crashed when that got announced. Any Cambridge University alumni who want to make their PhD dissertation Open Access are invited doing so (no more need to go to the reading room and sign a fat notebook that one has accessed a particular PhD dissertation, as I once did. Although, I should confess, it felt like an adventure. But it's highly inefficient obviously).

Second, for some weeks now, Open Book Publishers has been offering the PDFs of all of their books open access, to celebrate the 100th book they published (their regular regime is to have the books as html open access and selling the PDFs for a few pounds, or else the author can pay a fee for making the PDF open access).

Importantly, this may only last for another a day or two (I am drawing from my memory when I saw a tweet on that about two months ago), so while it lasts it may be worth checking out their collection of books in the humanities and the social sciences, such as Naom Chomsky's Delhi Lectures , Ruth Finnegan's book on Oral literature in Africa or textbooks on maths for university .

All for nothing. Because, as their slogan goes, knowledge is for sharing .

ccc 10.30.17 at 10:54 pm ( 1 )

Worth mentioning in this context: the CORE project released the final version of their impressive economics textbook "The Economy", freely (as in CC by-nc-dd licensed) available at

A great writeup about it by Samuel Bowles and Wendy Carlin (two of the authors) is here

Ingrid Robeyns 10.31.17 at 7:25 am ( 2 )
thanks ccc! I didn't know about this and it looks great.

Anyone should feel free to post other major "Open Access week additions" in this thread.

Steve 10.31.17 at 11:32 am ( 3 )
I think that having open access publishers is great, and I would love to have books published this way. Here's the concern: I suspect that my University's promotions committee, etc, will view this kind of publication as "inferior" to one with some snazzy University Press.

I was wondering whether anyone has any advice about how to handle the fact that there are perverse incentives to publish your work in a format which will cost someone £70, rather than for free?

Harry 10.31.17 at 1:23 pm ( 4 )
I don't see a way of changing the situation Steve mentions except by having well established scholars who don't need to worry about those kinds of thing take the lead. Eg, Ingrid. and David Velleman (who has two books with Open Book, which I greedily downloaded). And Sam Bowles! -- thanks for the tip ccc, I knew about this from Bowles and had seen parts of it, but not the whole thing which looks great!
Ingrid Robeyns 10.31.17 at 6:31 pm ( 5 )
Steve, I fully understand the worry – and even for me (tenured full professor) there is a "status cost" to be paid by not publishing with an established University Press. But it's a vicious circle that has to be broken – and I agree with Harry, that those of us who can "afford" to publish Open Access, should do so, in order to try to contribute to the status of the Open Access Press.

I should say that in terms of refereeing – I've published two co-edited books, one with OUP, one with CUP – and the refereeing process at Open Books was the same, if not better. And a very important advantage of publishing with a publisher such as Open Books is the much shorter time between delivering the final manuscript and publication – if you do all your work properly, it's a matter of weeks or a few months, not, as with the established University Presses, (almost) a year (I've always wondered what the hell happens in that year, especially if they turn back the proofs which are full with typo's!)

I've been thinking someone should write a paper with the title: "If you have tenure, why don't you publish Open Access?"

SusanC 10.31.17 at 7:45 pm ( 6 )
@3,4: Possibly the switch to open access needs to be done at an institutional level, rather than by individuals.

e.g. A declaration by government evaluations such as the REF that publications won't be counted unless they are open access, followed by a declaration by your department that publications from now onwards won't be counted for promotions unless they are open access, might create the right incentives.

[There are potential issues regarding fairness towards academics who are moving between universities . how do you fairly compare job candidates when one is from a university that demanded open access publication, and another is from a university that didn't?]

John Quiggin 11.02.17 at 7:46 am ( 7 )

Not to make too much of the obvious, given that I'm writing a blog comment, but blogs offer some great opportunities here.

CT readers got to see nearly all of Zombie Economics before the book appeared, and if I ever finish Economics in Two Lessons it will be long after much of it was posted here.

[Jun 15, 2016] Libraries are not inexpensive to run, but I use so many of their services that I definitely feel I'm getting my 3% worth every year


Do you pay for the libraries in your real estate taxes? I do. Here we pay 0.3% of the value of the home to support our local library. So, for a $220,000 home, you would pay $360 per year to support the library. The free library card entitles you to all library services: 3M and Media Mall online books, online music, free access to Consumer Reports,, three dozen different magazines, free concerts and presentations at the library, plus a phenomenal collection of videos, a decent collection of music, a decent collection of books (plus the ability to obtain any book or video from the surrounding libraries if the local library doesn't have it), and a dozen library computers. Additionally, there is a budget for videos and books. You can request that the library purchase a particular video–say a foreign film award winner–and, next thing you know, the video is on the shelf. Also, whenever more than 5 people are on hold for a book, the library automatically orders another copy. The library provides notary service, photocopies, and also all the tax forms you might ever need, plus all the state driver publications (how to pass the license tests, etc.). Libraries are not inexpensive to run, but I use so many of their services that I definitely feel I'm getting my 3% worth every year. If you are only being charged $40 for a library card, without any supporting taxes, you're getting away with a very good deal.

[Jun 04, 2016] Two valuable Russian electronic libraries

  1. Библиотека Комарова -- mostly Russian classic
  2. Русские поэты -- poetry

[Apr 06, 2015] 70 бесплатных онлайн-библиотек

Apr 06, 2015 | matveychev_oleg
Художественная литература Дизайн и фотография Программирование Бизнес и экономика История Психология и медицина Законодательство и право Детская литература Энциклопедии


April 6 2015, 08:52:47 UTC today - лучший ресурс. Есть OPDS каталог, для программ-читалок.


April 6 2015, 09:03:25 UTC today

+ 3 очень важных источника:
- (преимущественно - психология нормальная и свалка всякой эзотерики впридачу)
- - наше ВСЁ после ухода либрусека в мутный "абонемент"
- - там зеркала полных архивов либрусека и флибусты, ежемесячно обновляемые


April 6 2015, 14:11:30 UTC today -- огромная библиотека бесплатных книг на различных языках -- множество бесплатных аудио-книг на различных языках

[Jan 12, 2014] Computer Algorithm Seeks to Crack Code of Fiction Bestsellers
Inside Science (01/08/14) Joel N. Shurkin

Stony Brook University researchers have developed an algorithm that can predict which books will be successful with 84-percent accuracy. They used stylometry to generate a statistical analysis of literary styles in several genres of books, and identified characteristic stylistic elements more common in successful stories than unsuccessful ones. A book was considered successful when it was critically acclaimed and had a high download count from Project Gutenberg, a database of 44,500 books in the public domain. The books chosen for analysis represented all genres of literature, from science fiction to poetry. The researchers took the first 1,000 sentences of 4,129 books of poetry and 1,117 short stories and then analyzed them for various factors, including parts of speech, use of grammar rules, the use of phrases, and distribution of sentiment. The research found that successful books made greater use of conjunctions to join sentences and used more prepositions than less-successful books. The researchers also found a high percentage of nouns and adjectives in the successful books, while less-successful books relied on more verbs and adverbs to describe what was happening. Communications researchers believe journalists use more nouns, pronouns, and prepositions than other writers because those word forms give more information, according to Stony Brook researcher Yejin Choi.

[Jul 14, 2013] Class of 2013 The Public Domain Review

Top Row (left to right): Stefan Zweig; Bronislaw Malinowski; Francis Younghusband
Middle Row (left to right): L.M. Montgomery; A.E.Waite; Edith Stein; Robert Musil
Bottom Row (left to right): Grant Wood; Bruno Schulz; Franz Boas; Eric Ravilious

Pictured above is our top pick of artists and writers whose works will, on 1st January 2013, be entering the public domain in those countries with a 'life plus 70 years' copyright term (e.g. most European Union members, Brazil, Israel, Nigeria, Russia, Turkey, etc.).

An eclectic bunch have assembled for our graduation photo – including the two founding fathers of anthropology from different sides of the Atlantic, an Army officer turned "premature hippy", the painter of one of America's most iconic images, and a canonised Catholic saint who studied with Martin Heidegger.

The unifying factor bringing them all together is that all died in the year of 1942, many sadly as a result, directly or indirectly, of the Second World War.

... ... ...


Stefan Zweig (November 28th 1881 – February 22th 1942) was an Austrian writer who at the height of his literary career in the 1920s and 30s could lay claim to being one the most famous writers in the world – extremely popular in the USA, South America and Europe, though not so much in Britain.

He mixed with the intelligentsia of his time, befriending Sigmund Freud, Arthur Schnitzler, and being a particular favourite of the composer Richard Strauss, for he who's The Silent Woman he wrote the libretto. Zweig's style as a writer was simple and easy – his plaudits emphasising its humanity and grace, his critics (mostly in Britain) seeing it as effected and pedestrian. He is best known for his novellas such as, The Royal Game, Amok, Letter from an Unknown Woman); his novels such as, Beware of Pity, Confusion of Feelings, and the posthumously published The Post Office Girl and his biographies, Erasmus of Rotterdam, Conqueror of the Seas: The Story of Magellan, Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles and also posthumously published, Balzac.

Being Jewish he spent the 30s in exile from the encroachment of the Nazi regime, first to England and then in 1940 to America, a flight which he recounts in his autobiographical The World of Yesterday. On February 23rd 1942 he and his wife were found dead of a barbiturate overdose in their house in the Brazilian city of Petrópolis, holding hands. In despair over the destruction of his beloved Europe he and his wife had taken their own lives.

In a suicide note he wrote:

"I think it better to conclude in good time and in erect bearing a life in which intellectual labour meant the purest joy and personal freedom the highest good on Earth. I send greetings to all of my friends: May they live to see the dawn after this long night. I, who am most impatient, go before them."

[May 08, 2013] Vast 'Digital Public Library Of America' Opens Today by Annalisa Quinn

NPR, intended to provide free open access to materials from libraries, museums, universities and archives across the country, launches at noon ET on Thursday. The project began as an initiative at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, and was funded by foundations including the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Robert Darnton, Harvard University librarian and history professor, in The New York Review of Books that "at first, the DPLA's offering will be limited to a rich variety of collections - books, manuscripts, and works of art - that have already been digitized in cultural institutions throughout the country. Around this core it will grow, gradually accumulating material of all kinds until it will function as a national digital library."

Library portal, library platform

The Digital Public Library of America, which I wrote about last year in the MIT Technology Review article "The Library of Utopia," will be launching later this month. I had the opportunity to discuss the ambitious undertaking in a new Digital Campus podcast with newly appointed DPLA director Dan Cohen, DPLA technical advisor David Weinberger, and host Amanda French. You can find the MP3 here.

There's a great deal of excitement surrounding the DPLA launch, but there's also some wariness, as I described in the article and discuss in the podcast. Some public libraries, already under budget stress, worry that the arrival of a "national" public library may make it even harder for them to protect their local funding. Why invest in local initiatives, particularly ones involving online services, when there's a central portal for searching collections and performing other library functions? Weinberger argues that the DPLA will strike the right balance between providing a central portal and acting as a platform that local libraries can build on. That's the hopeful scenario, but as we've seen over and over again on the web, there's a centripetal force at work that often leads to the consolidation of traffic at high-profile central sites.

The DPLA leadership is sensitive to this tension, sometimes to the point of defensiveness. In announcing his appointment, Cohen wrote, "The DPLA will in no way replace the thousands of public libraries that are at the heart of so many communities across this country." Yet the first sentence of the DPLA charter reads, "The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) will make the cultural and scientific heritage of humanity available, free of charge, to all." It's hard to see how the DPLA will be able to fulfill such a broad mission without treading on the turf of local public libraries. Beyond its impact on libraries, the way the DPLA's dual role as portal and platform plays out promises to provide a case study in web dynamics.

Search in not the only one overhyped in Google

"The Thomson Gale publishing group has put together a comprehensive review of Google Scholar, and they find it highly lacking compared with similar offerings from Highwire Press, Scopus, and The Web of Science. Will Google's overhyped offerings drive these superior services out of the market?"

Free Kindle eBooks Online (Legally)

Among other things that I do here at TechSupportAlert, is look for free ebooks online that are available legally. During my looks around the web, I often run into people looking for free books for their Kindle device and that is why I decided to put up this separate page for free Kindle ebooks, which I believe is the most comprehensive guide for free Kindle ebooks on the web.

You do not have to have a kindle device to read kindle books. A kindle application is available for every major smartphone, computer and tablet. Additrionally, Amazon has a Kindle cloud reader available, so you do not have to use software or download the ebook to read (free registration and residency requirements).

A major source of free Kindle ebooks is Amazon. These are generally only available to those residing in the countries where Amazon operates and free registration is required.

However, there are many other sources of free Kindle ebooks on the web, where no registration or residency requirements exist.

The links here provide all their works in Kindle compatible formats. I did not include PDF works as many Kindle users complain that those do not display properly.

My main listing of free ebooks page (as of now with 471 sites) will have links to these sites and to sites that offer some of their works in Kindle compatible formats. There are also 17 genre pages associated with that listing to help narrow your search. There will be a large number of free Kindle compatible ebooks available there, but it will take some additional looking.

If you are looking for audio books for your kindle, then check out the listings at 100 Places For Free Audio Books Online. the genre pages above also contain listing for free audio books with each genre.

Also, if you just came here looking for free ebooks, I would suggest that you take a look at the rest of the site. The free ebooks listings are a small part of the great information available here. This site is mainly for review of free softwares. Each of the reviewers is a volunteer and has a personal interest in their software category, so you will get an unbiased review from an enthusiast of that software type. In almost all cases, a free software can do the task of any paid software just as well, if not better.


There are many thousands of free ebooks at Amazon. Finding them all can be confusing, but hopefully this article will help. As I live in the USA, and the Amazon USA site is the only one that I can search accurately, the links here are for the USA Amazon site. However, using Jungle Search and the hints here, you may use the information here for any of the Amazon sites.

Amazon Limited Time Offers

I have set this at the top as this is the listing of free Kindle ebooks at Amazon that are only available for a limited time. There are genre listings for these free listings in the left side of the page. The number of free offerings varies, but appears to be over 200 free books at any given time. At the time this article was created, there were 231 free ebooks listed. Click on link above to access.

If you find a title you like, then grab it as these offers do expire. There are sites that monitor Amazon for these free offerings listed below.

Amazon Best Sellers

Amazon also lists the 100 best selling ebooks in many of the genres available there. In addition, they also list the best sellers (I assume most downloaded) that are free. Some of the genres will have the full 100 and some will not, but this will get you to some more of the free Kindle ebook listings at Amazon. Supposedly, these are updated hourly

On the left hand side is again a listing of various genres and by clicking on those you can get to the free listings for that genre.

I will give the basic ones that you can work from:

On each one of those, you will be able to navigate to sub-categories to find additional free Kindle ebook listings.

Amazon Free Popular Classics

As the title says, this is Amazon's listing of free classic Kindle ebooks. This is pretty much going to be the same batch as the public domain search through Jungle search, but should provide a way to access more of the over 15,000 free classics (again due to the 400 page limitation). Again, using the sort options should help to access more. Click on link above to access.

Amazon Price Low to High

You may also go to the regular Kindle ebook search at Amazon and use the sort option of Price Low to High to find futher free Kindle ebooks available. I put up the basic links for this below. Once you are at any of these links you may click on the departments, or genres, on the left and you will be taken to the Low to High sort page for that department or genre.

Jungle Search

Jungle Search is a search engine designed for searching at Amazon. The link above is for the USA search, but they also have a search engine for France, Germany, United Kingdom and Canada (links at top of page). I assume that if you are not in any of these countries, then Amazon will not be available to you and only the listings for your country will be available. The information below is regarding the USA Amazon free Kindle eBooks.

Jungle search may be used to find free Kindle ebooks at Amazon by entering a 0 in both of the price range boxes on the Kindle Search tab. If you enter the 0s and select the bottom option to include public domain works, you will be taken to a page which indicates that there are over 50,000 free Kindle ebooks at Amazon (first link below).


I have put together a page for Free ePub Books Online



No, but I could put one together. What book format does the Nook work with? Is it ePub?



Yes, PRINCIPALLY ePub, but it also handles Plain text, PDF, HTML, and eReader. ePub works the best in the readers though.

There is a nice table far down in this article at

A Reader:

hank You so much for all the work and thought you have put into compiling this list. I wonder if you also know about the great work in digitizing books by the clever staff at Adelaide University. They have some very beautiful books available in a variety of formats. The link is

happy reading!

[Apr 16, 2012] 1.5 million pages of ancient texts to be made accessible online by Megan Geuss

Apr 16, 2012 | Ars Technica- The Art of Technology

A collaboration between University of Oxford and Vatican libraries will allow some of the earliest printed books, manuscripts from Homer and Plato, and early Christian texts to be viewed by anyone online for free.

This week the University of Oxford and the Vatican announced a plan to collaborate in digitizing 1.5 million pages of rare and ancient texts, most dating from the 16th century or earlier. The project is expected to span about 4 years and was made possible by a donation of £2 million (approximately $3.1 million) from the Polonsky Foundation-a charitable organization that supports higher education, medical research, and other general matters in the arts and sciences.

Specifically, the texts will include pages from Oxford's Bodleian Libraries and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (BAV). The digitized pages will include early printed books-called incunabula-from Rome and the surrounding area; Greek manuscripts including early church texts and works by Homer, Sophocles, Plato, Hippocrates; and Hebrew manuscripts from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. "With approximately two-thirds of the material coming from the BAV and the remainder from the Bodleian, the digitization effort will also benefit scholars by uniting virtually materials that have been dispersed between the two collections over the centuries," a statement from Oxford read.

The aim of the project, as envisioned by the Polonsky Foundation is "to democratize access to information, [seeing] increasing digital access to these two library collections, among the greatest in the world, as a significant step in sharing the wealth of resources on a global scale." This is not the Polonsky Foundation's first gift to digitize rare and ancient texts, either. An earlier gift to the Bodleian Libraries from the Foundation allowed the Oxford libraries to upload images of 280,000 fragments of Hebrew manuscripts, called the Cairo Genizah Collection, which are now available to search and view for free online.

[Apr 12, 2012] Cut in E-Book Pricing by Amazon Is Set to Shake Rivals By DAVID STREITFELD

New York Times

The government's decision to pursue major publishers on antitrust charges has put the Internet retailer Amazon in a powerful position: the nation's largest bookseller may now get to decide how much an e-book will cost, and the book world is quaking over the potential consequences.

As soon as the Department of Justice announced Wednesday that it was suing five major publishers and Apple on price-fixing charges, and simultaneously settling with three of them, Amazon announced plans to push down prices on e-books. The price of some major titles could fall to $9.99 or less from $14.99, saving voracious readers a bundle.

But publishers and booksellers argue that any victory for consumers will be short-lived, and that the ultimate effect of the antitrust suit will be to exchange a perceived monopoly for a real one. Amazon, already the dominant force in the industry, will hold all the cards.

"Amazon must be unbelievably happy today," said Michael Norris, a book publishing analyst with Simba Information. "Had they been puppeteering this whole play, it could not have worked out better for them."

The government said the five publishers colluded with Apple in secret to develop a new policy that let them set their own retail prices, and then sought to hide their discussions.

After that deal was in place in 2010, the government said, prices jumped everywhere because under the agreement, no bookseller could undercut Apple.

HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster settled the charges Wednesday, leaving the other two, Penguin and Macmillan, and Apple to fight.

Amazon, which already controls about 60 percent of the e-book market, can take a loss on every book it sells to gain market share for its Kindle devices. When it has enough competitive advantage, it can dictate its own terms, something publishers say is beginning to happen.

The online retailer declined to comment Wednesday beyond its statement about lowering prices. Asked last month if Amazon had been talking to the Justice Department about the investigation - a matter of intense speculation in the publishing industry - a spokesman, Craig Berman, said, "I can't comment."

Traditional bookstores, which have been under pressure from the Internet for years, fear that the price gap between the physical books they sell and e-books from Amazon will now grow so wide they will lose what is left of their market. Barnes & Noble stores, whose Nook is one of the few popular e-readers that is not built by Amazon, could suffer the same fate, analysts say.

"To stay healthy, this industry needs a lot of retailers that have a stake in the future of the product," Mr. Norris said. "The bookstore up the street from my office is not trying to gain market share. They're trying to make money by selling one book at a time to one person at a time."

Electronic books have been around for more than a decade, but took off only when Amazon introduced the first Kindle e-reader in 2007. It immediately built a commanding lead. The antitrust case had its origins in the leading publishers' struggle to control the power of Amazon, which had one point had 90 percent of the market.

Apple's introduction of the iPad in early 2010 seemed to offer a way to combat Amazon.

... ... ...

The government suit, filed in United States District Court for the Southern District in New York, made clear that the publishers were resentful and angry about the way that their relationship with Amazon had evolved. The retailer started out a customer of the publishers, but became a competitor. Even as the publishers and Apple negotiated in early 2010, the suit said, Amazon announced its own publishing program.


The main reason I purchased a Kindle was to reduce my carbon footnote. However over the years, since Apple stepped into the picture, I have ordered few ebooks. I find it extremly greedy on behalf to the publishers to charge $1 less for an ebook than the hardcover. They are making millions with less and less overhead expenses.

To that, I am also so disgusted with Apple users, No matter what Apple does, people continue to buy their products. If any other manufacturer pulled the stunts, there would be a massive boycott.

Fernando Houston, TX

I, for one, applaud the way things are moving. The production, distribution and storage costs of e-books are TINY compared to those of traditional books. The final price should reflect that. Besides publishers should realize that lower prices do not necessarily mean less money: there are a lot of people out there that will not buy a book that's priced at $20, but will probably buy it at $5. I'm pretty sure that the optimal price that maximizes profit for publishers is below the current value. That's how apple started to make millions by selling apps at low prices.


this is the first in probably many shakedowns as the world decides what a book that isn't printed is worth. When a publisher no longer prints, their services are reduced to being arbiters of taste by selecting manuscripts, editing those manuscripts, which is pretty meager these days, and providing advertising. If the value publishers put on their services is wrong for the reader or wrong for the author, they will go elsewhere. At the current price of e-books there's plenty incentive to leave.

[Mar 28, 2012] JK Rowling blows up the eBookstore business, by Joshua Gans

...Today, JK Rowling finally joined the eBook party on her own Pottermore website. ... I want to concentrate on what all this means for eBook publishing.

First, some facts. (i) You can only purchase Harry Potter books from Pottermore. Go to Amazon ... and you are directed to the Pottermore site. You then go through a process of linking your Amazon account but then can download the book straight on to your device.
(ii) You purchase once and you can get the book on any device. And I mean any. Kindle, iPad (through iBooks), Google Play (whatever that is) and Sony who appear to have provided the technical grunt to get this working. There is no other major book that is available this way. Actually, probably no other paid book available this way.
(iii) What about DRM? That is hard to parse. Here is what I know. I ... downloaded ... direct to my computer (in ePub format) and it appears that with that version I can put it on as many readers as I like. The site says I am limited to 8 downloads but once I have that ePub version there does not seem to be any limits.
So what does this mean? The whole concern over eBooks was potential device lock-in. We are worried about being tied to Amazon or Apple or what have you forever. This same thing is preventing entry or inroads by others such as Sony. The Rowling initiative breaks through all of that. It is device independent for the first time in this industry. One can only imagine the negotiations that occurred that allowed that to be possible - particularly with Amazon. Also, I can't imagine that Amazon or Apple are getting their 30% cuts in this deal but let's wait and see on that.
The point is that once one author ... can prove all this possible, there is the potential for floodgates to be opened. It will be interesting to see where this leads.

D. C. Sessions

"There is no other major book that is available this way. Actually, probably no other paid book available this way."

Actually, no. Baen Books ( has been doing something similar for several years. And the books are also available in multiple formats, no DRM.

Baen, in their field, is not a minor publisher.
This is a "Monkeys and Coconuts" problem. You can catch a monkey by staking a coconut filled with rice out where they feed. Drill a hole in the top just big enough for the monkey to get his hand in, but not out when it is clutching the rice. Tie the coconut to a stake, than wait. Soon enough a monkey will find the rice but through greed, grab all he/she can hold and not let go, even when monk, nut and all are dropped in a cage. Greedy publishers lock up ebooks as tightly as possible and get minimum results. Like the monkey thaey are trapped by format, changing technology and the barriers they impose on use. Rowling is doing the ebook equivalent of just dumping the rice out on the ground. Some may spill and some may be lost to "friends" helping themselves, but most will end up in the monkey...or wizard.

[Sep 25, 2011] New Jersey ebook libraries.

  • Cherry Hill -- Available to residents of nearby counties in the state of New Jersey.
  • Somerset County -- Available to residents of Somerset County (Bound Brook, Bridgewater, Hillsborough, Mary Jacobs, North Plainfield, Peapack Gladstone, Warren Township, and Watchung branches).
  • ListenNJ -- Available to patrons of Berkeley Heights Public Library, Cranford Public Library, Clark Public Library, East Brunswick Public Library, East Orange Public Library, Educational Testing Service/Carl C. Brigham Library, Hoboken Public Library, INFOLINK-CJRLC, Keansburg High School Library, Kearny Public Library, Libraries of Middlesex Automation Consortium, Linden Free Public Library, Mercer County Library System, Middletown Public Library, Millburn Free Public Library, Monmouth County Library, Montclair Public Library, New Jersey State Library, Newark Public Library, Ocean County Library, Princeton Public Library, South Orange Public Library, South Plainfield Public Library, Springfield Free Public Library, Summit Free Public Library, Trenton Free Public Library, West Orange Public Library, Westfield Memorial Library, and Woodbridge Public Library.
  • ListenNJNW -- Available to patrons of Bergen County Cooperative Library System, Bernardsville Public Library, Centenary College: Taylor Memorial Library, Hunterdon County Library, M.A.I.N. (Morris Automated Information Network), PALS Plus Library Catalog, Phillipsburg Free Public Library, Sparta Public Library, Sussex County Community College, Sussex County Library System, and Warren County Library System.
  • South Jersey Regional Library Cooperative -- Digital Download Center available to cooperative member libraries (Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic County Library System, Audubon Public Library, Avalon Public Library, Bridgeton Public Library, Burlington Township Libraries, Camden County Library System, Cape May County Library System, Cherry Hill Library, Collingswood Public Library, Cumberland County Library, Deptford Public Library, Gloucester City Library, Gloucester County College, Haddon Heights Public Library, Haddonfield Public Library, Linwood Public Library, Margaret E. Heggan Library, Margate City Public Library, Millville Public Library, Moorestown Library, Mount Laurel Library, The Ocean City Free Public Library, Pennsauken Free Public Library, Pennsville Public Library, Salem Free Public Library, The Free Public Library of Monroe, Vineland Public Library, Washington Township Public Schools, West Deptford Free Public Library, Willingboro Public Library).

[Sep 25, 2011] DigitalLibraryNJ

[Sep 25, 2011] M.A.I.N. Locations

[Sep 10, 2011] Michael Hart (1947 - 2011) Prophet of Abundance by Glyn Moody

September 08, 2011 | Open Enterprise

I've never written an obituary before in these pages. Happily, that's because the people who are driving the new wave of openness are relatively young, and still very much alive. Sadly, one of the earliest pioneers, Michael Hart, was somewhat older, and died on Tuesday at the age of just 64.

What makes his death particularly tragic is that his name is probably only vaguely known, even to people familiar with the areas he devoted his life to: free etexts and the public domain. In part, that was because he modest, content with only the barest recognition of his huge achievements. It was also because he was so far ahead of his times that there was an unfortunate disconnect between him and the later generation that built on his trailblazing early work.

To give an idea of how visionary Hart was, it's worth bearing in mind that he began what turned into the free etext library Project Gutenberg in 1971 - fully 12 years before Richard Stallman began to formulate his equivalent ideas for free software. Here's how I described the rather extraordinary beginnings of Hart's work in a feature I wrote in 2006:

In 1971, the year Richard Stallman joined the MIT AI Lab, Michael Hart was given an operator's account on a Xerox Sigma V mainframe at the University of Illinois. Since he estimated this computer time had a nominal worth of $100 million, he felt he had an obligation to repay this generosity by using it to create something of comparable and lasting value.

His solution was to type in the US Declaration of Independence, roughly 5K of ASCII, and to attempt to send it to everyone on ARPANET (fortunately, this trailblazing attempt at spam failed). His insight was that once turned from analogue to digital form, a book could be reproduced endlessly for almost zero additional cost - what Hart termed "Replicator Technology". By converting printed texts into etexts, he was able to create something whose potential aggregate value far exceeded even the heady figure he put on the computing time he used to generate it.

Hart chose the name "Project Gutenberg" for this body of etexts, making a bold claim that they represented the start of something as epoch-making as the original Gutenberg revolution.

Naturally, in preparing to write that feature for, I wanted to interview Hart to find out more about him and his project, but he was very reluctant to answer my questions directly - I think because he was uncomfortable with being placed in the spotlight in this way. Instead, he put me on his mailing list, which turned out to be an incredible cornucopia of major essays, quick thoughts, jokes and links that he found interesting.

In one of those messages, he gave a good explanation of what he believed his Project Gutenberg would ultimately make possible:

Today we have terabyte drives for under $100 that are just about the same size as the average book.

10 years ago, in 1999, most people were using gigabytes in their systems rather than terabytes.

10 years before that, in 1989, most people used megabytes.

10 years before that, in 1979, most people used kilobytes.

My predictions run up to about 2021, which would be around the 50th anniversary of that first eBook from 1971.

I predict there will be affordable petabytes in 2021.

If there are a billion eBooks by 2021, they should fit the new petabytes just fine, as follows:

Premise #1:

The average eBook in the plainest format takes a megabyte.

Premise #2

There will be a billion eBooks in 2021 or shortly after.


A billion eBooks at a megabyte each takes one petabyte.

You will be able to carry all billion eBooks in one hand.

As this makes clear, Hart was the original prophet of digital abundance, a theme that I and others are now starting to explore. But his interest in that abundance was not merely theoretical - he was absolutely clear about its technological, economic and social implications:

I am hoping that with a library this size that the average middle class person can afford, that the result will be an even greater overthrow of the previous literacy, education and other power structures than happened as direct results of The Gutenberg Press around 500 years ago.

Here are just a few of the highlights that may repeat:

1. Book prices plummet.

2. Literacy rates soar.

3. Education rates soar.

4. Old power structures crumbles, as did The Church.

5. Scientific Revolution.

6. Industrial Revolution.

7. Humanitarian Revolution.

Part of those revolutions was what Hart called the "Post-Industrial Revolution", where the digital abundance he had created with Project Gutenberg would be translated into the analogue world thanks to more "replicators" - 3D printers such as the open source RepRap:

If we ... presume the world at large sees its first replicator around 2010, which is probably too early, given how long it took most other inventions to become visible to the world at large [usually 30 years according to thesis by Madelle Becker], we can presume that there will be replicators capable of using all the common materials some 34.5 years into the future from whatever time that may actually be.

Hence the date of 2050 for the possibility of some replicators to actually follow somebody home: if that hasn't already been made illegal by the fears of the more conservative.

Somewhere along the line there will also be demarcations of an assortment of boundaries between replicators who can only make certain products and those who can make new replicators, and a replicator that could actually walk around and follow someone, perhaps all the way home to ask if it could help.

The fact that it was ~30 years from the introduction of eBooks to those early Internet pioneers to the time Google made their big splashy billion dollar media blitz to announce their eBook project without any mention of the fact that eBooks existed in any previous incarnation, simply is additional evidence for an educated thesis mentioned above, that had previously predicted about a 30 year gap between the first public introductions and awareness by the public in general.

So, when you first start to see replicators out there set your alarm clocks for ~30 years, to remind you when you should see, if they haven't been made illegal already, replicators out for a walk in at least some neighborhoods.

Notice the comment "if that hasn't already been made illegal". This was another major theme in Hart's thinking and writings - that copyright laws have always been passed to stop successive waves of new technologies creating abundance:

We keep hearing about how we are in "The Information Age," but rarely is any reference made to any of four previously created Information Ages created by technology change that was as powerful in the day as the Internet is today.

The First Information Age, 1450-1710, The Gutenberg Press, reduced the price of the average books four hundred times. Stifled by the first copyright laws that reduced the books in print in Great Britain from 6,000 to 600, overnight.

The Second Information Age, 1830-1831, Shortest By Far The High Speed Steam Powered Printing Press Patented in 1830, Stifled By Copyright Extension in 1831.

The Third Information Age, ~1900, Electric Printing Press Exemplified by The Sears Catalog, the first book owned by millions of Americans. Reprint houses using such presses were stifled by the U.S. Copyright Act of 1909.

The Fourth Information Age, ~1970, The Xerox Machine made it possible for anyone to reprint anything. Responded to by the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976.

The Fifth Information Age, Today, The Internet and Web. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps even a million, books from A to Z are available either free of charge or at pricing, "Too Cheap To Meter" for download or via CD and DVD. Responded to by the "Mickey Mouse Copyright Act of 1998," The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, The Patriot Act and any number of other attempted restrictions/restructures.

Hart didn't just write about the baleful effect of copyright extensions, he also fought against them. The famous "Eldred v Ashcroft" case in the US that sought to have such unlimited copyright extensions declared unconstitutional originally involved Hart. As he later wrote:

Eldred v Ashcroft was previously labeled as in "Hart v Reno" before I saw that Larry Lessig, Esquire, had no intention of doing what I thought necessary to win. At that point I fired him and he picked up Eric Eldred as his current scapegoat du jour.

As this indicates, Hart was as uncompromising in his defense of the public domain as Stallman is of free software.

Most of his best writings are to be found in the emails that were sent out to his mailing list from time to time, although there is a Web page with links to a couple of dozen essays that are all well-worth reading to get a feeling for the man and his mind. There are also more of his writings on the Project Gutenberg site, as well as a useful history of the project.

However, it's hugely regrettable that Hart never published his many and wide-ranging insights as a coherent set of essays, since this has led to a general under-appreciation of the depth of his thinking and the crucial importance of his achievements. Arguably he did more for literature (and literacy) than any Nobel Prize laureate for that subject every will.

Fortunately, Project Gutenberg, which continues to grow and broaden its collection of freely-available texts in many languages, stands as a fitting and imperishable monument to a remarkable human being who not only gave the world great literature in abundance, but opened our eyes to the transformative power of abundance itself.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or, and on Google+

Open Content Alliance (OCA)

The March 16, 2010 New York Times reported that C-Span, the television network that has covered 23 years of US government meetings and events, is making its entire video archive available, free and open, on the Internet. This is news of monumental importance, not only for history buffs but in support of a democratic society. Openness is happening, and that's a Good Thing.

Openness in our world of metadata is also happening, although we're less likely to read about it in the newspaper. Over the last few weeks and months numerous libraries have freed their data from its dark web data store and made it available for open access. What has been a trickle from library catalogs may be turning into a wave.

70,000 books from Cornell Libraries online now

December 16th, 2009 by brewster

Today Cornell and the Internet Archive announce that over 70,000 public-domain books are available free online (many still to come). These are beautiful books that are now available with no restrictions. Thank you Cornell, Kirtas, and Microsoft. The Internet Archive has reformatted and re-OCR'ed the books to be compatible with the books scanned by the Internet Archive and many of the other collections available on the site.

Thank you to Anne R. Kenney, Oya Yildirim Rieger, William R. Kehoe Jr. all of Cornell; Jay Girotto, Danielle Tiedt of Microsoft; Lotfi Belkhir of Kirtas; and Hank Bromley of the Internet Archive, for making all of this happen.

Posted in News | 4 Comments "

Samuelson: Google Books is Not a Library

October 13, 2009


Amen. (worthwhile)

Posted in News | 2 Comments "

Google Claims to be the Lone Defender of Orphans: Not lone, not defender by brewster

October 7, 2009

At a press conference that Google held today, Techcrunch reported these statements by Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt. They deserve correction.

Google Founder Sergey Brin said: "[T]he companies that are making objections about out of print books are doing nothing for out of print books, MSFT and Amazon."

This is twisted at best. There are around 400 objections to the settlement objecting to Google's treatment of out-of-print books– companies, libraries and even countries. And many of us are objecting because we have been working together for years on the mass scanning of out-of-print books– and have worked to get books online for far longer than Google– and Google's "settlement" could hurt our efforts. A major part of our efforts have concentrated on changing the law so everyone would benefit.

The Internet Archive's effort to free "orphan works" (a name that I coined in the books context for when the rightsowner is unknown or not available to negotiate for use of the work), had been an active project for years before Google announced they were scanning library books. As early as 2002 the Archive was participating in the Million Books project when we acquired a hundred thousand books for scanning. Because many of these books wound up being orphans, their digitization was partial and significantly delayed. Today, the Million Books project holds over 1.4 million books that have been scanned at public expense, but are not publicly viewable because of the lack of clarity on orphan works.

In March of 2004, the Internet Archive filed a suit in a Federal Court in an attempt to free the Orphan Works in a challenge of current U.S. copyright legislation.

Google announced their library scanning project in December 2004 - therefore, they did not even publicly start until the Gordian Knot of orphan works had been a very public and ongoing problem for those of us already trying to make books available to the public.

Google's CEO Schmidt said the opponents should: "propose an alternative to solve the problem"

There is an alternative, and they know it - orphan works legislation - that up until the last session of Congress had been working its way through the House and Senate. It was not perfect, but was getting close to what we need. Best yet, it passed one house - at least until Google effectively sideswiped the process with their settlement proposal. The settlement has been seen as solving the orphan books issue, which has served to enervate efforts to pass a bill. If Google were to abandon its attempt to grab these books for its own private gain, then technology companies and libraries could speak with a strong voice, speaking in unison, working together to get proper legislation passed.

That is the alternative and Google could help, and I hope now does help, and stop hurting the process.

Lets free the orphans, not have them pass from their legal limbo into a life controlled by Google and its proposed Books Rights Registry.

Orphan Works and Mass Scanning Timeline:

Million Books scanning partially halted based on this problem: 2002.
Public Domain Enhancement Act to deal with this introduced: June 2003.
Orphan Works complaint filed: March 2004.
Google library scanning was announced in December 2004.
Copyright Office starts formal inquiry into Orphan Works Jan 2005.
proposed legislation from them on Jan 2006.
Google sued Sept 2005
Orphan Works Act introduced to Congress May 22, 2006.
Archive and Libraries Announce out-of-print scanning October 2007.
Orphan Works Act 2008 passed in Senate: Sept 2008.
Google Settlement announced Oct 2008.

[Apr 02, 2011] Over 1.8 Million Free, Out-of-Copyright, Pre-1923 titles

Over 1.8 Million Free, Out-of-Copyright, Pre-1923 titles Over 1.8 million free, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books are available to read on Kindle, including titles such as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Pride and Prejudice, and Treasure Island. Learn more

With over 850,000 titles, the Kindle Store contains the largest selection of the ebooks people want to read including New York Times® Best Sellers and most new releases from $9.99. And Amazon provides limited time promotional offers and thousands of the most popular classics for free with wireless delivery in under 60 seconds to your Kindle, computer, or other mobile device.

But of course, the Internet is huge and there are lots of older, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books online. We wanted to make it easier to find these collections, which today represent nearly 2 million titles. See the sites and instructions below to download free classic and other out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books and transfer via USB to your Kindle device or read on Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac.

Note that these large collections of older free ebooks are typically created from scanned copies of physical books and can have variable quality.

The Amazon Kindle Store lets you choose from limited-time promotional offers and thousands of the most popular classics all available for free with wireless delivery in under 60 seconds via Whispernet.

1. Visit Limited-time Promotional Offers or Kindle Popular Classics.

2. Browse for a title just like a normal Kindle ebook.

Internet Archive - Over 2.5 million free titles

Internet Archive is a non-profit dedicated to offering permanent access to historical collections that exist in digital format. Provides over 2.5 million free ebooks to read, download, and enjoy.

1. Visit

2. Search for a title or browse one of the sub-collections like American Libraries.

3. When viewing a title, click the link on the left labeled "Kindle (beta)" to download the file to your computer.

4. Attach your Kindle to your computer using your USB cable and drag the file to the "Documents" folder on your Kindle. You can also e-mail the file to your Kindle using Whispernet for wireless delivery (charges may apply).

5. Open the ebook from your Kindle's home screen and enjoy.

Open Library - Over 1 million free titles

Open Library's goal is to provide a page on the web for every book ever published.

1. Visit

2. Search for a title and make sure to check the 'Only show eBooks' checkbox.

3. When viewing a title, click the 'Send to Kindle' link next to the edition in which you're interested.

4. You will be directed to to choose a device for wireless delivery using the Kindle Personal Document Service (charges apply).

5. Open the ebook from your Kindle's home screen and enjoy.

Project Gutenberg - Over 30,000 free titles

Project Gutenberg, one of the original sources of free ebooks, is dedicated to the creation and distribution of eBooks.

1. Visit

2. Search for a title or browse the book shelves by topic.

3. When viewing a title, scroll down to the 'Download this ebook for free' section and click the download link for 'Mobipocket' or 'Mobipocket with images' format.

4. Attach your Kindle to your computer using your USB cable and drag the file to the "Documents" folder on your Kindle. You can also e-mail the file to your Kindle using Whispernet for wireless delivery (charges may apply).

5. Open the ebook from your Kindle's home screen and enjoy. - Over 26,000 free titles provides free ebooks as a service to the Internet community at large.

1. Visit

2. Search for a title or browse by genre.

3. When viewing a title, choose the "Kindle (.azw)" option on the right hand side and click the 'Download' button.

4. Attach your Kindle to your computer using your USB cable and drag the file to the "Documents" folder on your Kindle. You can also e-mail the file to your Kindle using Whispernet for wireless delivery (charges may apply).

5. Open the ebook from your Kindle's home screen and enjoy.

Have you seen another great collection of free Kindle ebooks on the web? Drop us a line.

Google's Next Stop May Be in Congress - by CLAIRE CAIN MILLER

March 23, 2011 |

Google, which declined to discuss the case on Wednesday, has called the opt-in solution unworkable. Google would not be interested in such an agreement because it already allows publishers to join with Google to show more of their digitized works, and the point of the original settlement was to automatically opt in vast quantities of books, said people briefed on the settlement who were not authorized to speak publicly about it.

The settlement also would have given Google exclusive access to millions of orphan works. By agreeing to an opt-in arrangement, Google would lose those books because there are no clear copyright owners to opt in.

Scholars estimate that half of all books may be orphans. These range from privately published autobiographies to books that are vital for academics and researchers and are stored in university libraries.

Congress has twice considered legislation to address orphan works, spurred on by a 2006 report by the United States Copyright Office that recommended free use of orphan works if there had been a diligent search for the owner. But the legislation was stymied because policy makers were waiting for the outcome of the Google Books settlement, Professor Samuelson said.

Judge Chin pointed to such efforts in his ruling, saying that "the establishment of a mechanism for exploiting unclaimed books is a matter more suited for Congress than this court."

Advocates of open access to orphan works cheered the rejection of the settlement, saying it could pave the way for legislation that would let anyone - not just Google - use the books..

"If Congress can wake up to the importance of this issue, there's a good chance they will pass orphan books legislation, and they will do so in the interest of the general public, not favoring any enterprise," said Robert Darnton, director of the Harvard University Library, who is helping to lead a project to create a nonprofit digital library.

Google has endorsed such legislation in the past, and people briefed on the negotiations said they expected Google to now aggressively pursue it in Congress.

That might be the only thing all sides agree on, said Hadrian R. Katz, a lawyer who argued against Google on behalf of his client, the Internet Archive. "I think there'd be a renewed effort to get that kind of legislation, which would probably be in everybody's interest," he said.

[Dec 13, 2010] Scitable and the Course of Open Courses - Brainstorm - The Chronicle of Higher Education

A couple of weeks ago I noted that the number of college students taking online courses is on one of those steadily rising trajectories that are invariably under-remarked-upon even as they fundamentally change the world in which we live. It's also worth noting that formal online coursetaking doesn't represent the full extent of how information technology is changing higher education. Take, for example, Scitable.

Created by Nature Publishing Group, who bring us Nature, Scientific American, and many scientific journals, Scitable is a "free science library and personal learning tool" that focuses on topics like cell biology and genetics. It's a species of open courseware, free online materials including text, video, audio, problem sets, and forums for student-to-student interaction that can be used either by self-directed learners or adopted by teachers at secondary and postsecondary schools as part of regular courses. Other examples include MIT OpenCourseWare, Open Yale Courses, the Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative, iTunes U, and many more.

Google Lets You Custom-Print Millions of Public Domain Books Epicenter By Ryan Singel

September 17, 2009 |

What's hot off the presses come Thursday?

Any one of the more than 2 million books old enough to fall out of copyright into the public domain.

Over the last seven years, Google has scanned millions of dusty tomes from deep in the stacks of the nation's leading university libraries and turned them into searchable documents available anywhere in the world through its search box.

And now Google Book Search, in partnership with On Demand Books, is letting readers turn those digital copies back into paper copies, individually printed by bookstores around the world.

Or at least by those booksellers that have ordered its $100,000 Espresso Book Machine, which cranks out a 300 page gray-scale book with a color cover in about 4 minutes, at a cost to the bookstore of about $3 for materials. The machine prints the pages, binds them together perfectly, and then cuts the book to size and then dumps a book out, literally hot off the press, with a satisfying clunk. (The company says a machine can print about 60,000 books a year.)

That means you can stop into the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vermont, and for less than $10, custom-order your own copy of Dame Curtsey's Book of Candy Making, the third edition of which was published in 1920 and which can only be found online for $47.00 used.

Dane Neller, On Demand Books CEO, says the announcement flips book distribution on its head.

"We believe this is a revolution," Neller said. "Content retrieval is now centralized and production is decentralized."

Neller said the deal was clearly about the long tail of books, a reference to Wired magazine's Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson's theory that hits become less important when distribution costs drop. One of the main benefits, according to Neller, is letting local book stores compete with by reducing their need to have expensive inventory.

Other current retailers include the University of Michigan Shapiro Library Building in Ann Arbor; the Blackwell Booksn href="">Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt; the University of Alberta Bookstore in Edmonton, Canada; and Angus & Robertson Bookstore in Melbourne, Australia. The company hopes to sell 60 more printers in the next year, bringing the number of machines globally to about 90.

On Demand Books suggests that book stores price the books at about $8, leaving retailers with a $3 profit after both Google and On Demand Books collect a buck-a-book fee. Google plans to donate its share to a yet-unspecified charity, which might be a reaction to its messy legal and public policy fight over a copyright settlement that covers books that are still in copyright. (All the books that are being added to On Demand Books repertoire in this agreement are out of copyright in the country where it will be printed.)

Starting Sept. 29, Bostonians can stop in the privately owned Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and have their books printed in front of them. Or they can order it over the phone and have the store deliver it - by bicycle.

There's a certain irony to that, too, according to Google spokeswoman Jennie Johnson, since the bookstore is right next to Harvard's library, one of the libraries that partnered with Google to turn its millions of books into an online library of the future.

"Most people can't get into the Harvard Library, but you can print their books next door," Johnson said.

Or put another way, On Demand Books is betting that in the future, every old book will have 15 readers.

What's of interest in these old books?

Plenty, according to Google.

One knitter discovered a long-lost book about knitting, and recreated the heirloom pieces and even built a loom from a long-lost design. Another reader, who works with subsistence farmers in Africa, currently uses PDFs of old farming techniques to teach still-relevant skills.

Google already uses the public-domain books in search results, and users can read those books in full online and even download them as PDFs for free.

Neither Neller or Johnson cared to speculate on how many of these books they expect to sell, but Johnson says some 80 percent of the public-domain books are looked at in a given month.

Unfortunately, it's unlikely that the number of public domain books will grow larger anytime soon, since Congress added two decades to existing copyright protection in 1999. Copyright, which originally lasts about 14 years, now extends to the life of an author plus 70 years for newly created works.

As for their quality?

They feel like a typical paperback, and are printed using typical 20- or 24-pound paper, with heavier stock for the inkjet-printed cover, which currently all share one design.

While turning bits back into paper seems a bit of a stretch for Google, Johnson said it fits with the company's goal of organizing the world's information.

"We think people should be able to find and read these books," Johnson said. "We don't care how people end up reading them."

Neller said he'd love to see the day when Google Book Searchers can press a button next to a search result and find the closest local printer, but Google says that's a long way off.

So for now, book buyers of the future who want to buy books from the past will need to walk to a bookstore - or get Harvard Bookstore to use the bicycle, a 19th-century invention, to bring them a book printed with 21st-century technology.

Photos: PrintOnDemand Espresso printer, image courtesy PrintOnDemand. Printed Books from Google's Book Search, Snyder

See Also:

[Apr 21, 2009] BBC NEWS Entertainment UN puts global treasures online

Currently pretty disorganized and of extremely varying quality (some junk)

A website offering free access to rare manuscripts, books, films and maps from around the world is being launched by the UN's cultural agency.

Unesco says the World Digital Library will help to promote curiosity and understanding across cultures.

Among the artefacts are a 1,000-year-old Japanese novel and the earliest known map to mention America by name.

About a tenth of the 1,200 exhibits are from Africa - the oldest an 8,000-year-old painting of bleeding antelopes.

But this is an ongoing project in its early stages, and the collection is expected to grow substantially.

The World Digital Library was first mooted in 2005 by James Billington, librarian at the US Library of Congress, the world's biggest library.

The project hopes to expand access to "non-Western" items - though the largest number of items digitised so far are from Europe.

The material is drawn from about 30 libraries and archives across the world, and will be made available in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

By making cultural treasures accessible to a huge audience, Unesco also hopes to reduce what it sees as a digital divide between rich and poor.

The project is the third such big digitalisation project. Last year the European Union's digital library crashed within hours of its launch, but it is up and running now.

See World Digital Library Home

[Dec 22, 2008]


Computer science is the overarching title attributed to the discipline of utilizing computation and information in computer systems. Whereas computer programmers create source code and use programming language to make software, the computer scientist uses these software applications for practical purposes and to understand and utilize computational systems.

Computer Science Books

To master computer science, you will have to do a lot of reading on the subject. While your specific program may recommend certain computer science books to you, you will do well to read as many of the best computer science books as you can get your hands on. Some good texts to start with include 'The C Programming Language' by Brian W. Kernighan, 'C++ Primer' by Stanley B. Lippman, 'Introduction to Algorithms' by Thomas H. Cormen, 'Introduction to the Theory of Computation' by Michael Sipser and 'Concrete Mathematics, a Foundation for Computer Science' by Ronald L. Graham. Places to find computer science books online include, and your school library website.

Computer Science Articles And Databases

A terrific source of computer science articles is the Citeseer.Continuity database. This database lists all the most cited articles in computer science from 2006 back to 1990, so you have a great chance of finding the article you need, whether it be for research, information or to verify a theory. The database, is updated on a regular basis.

Online Computer Science Journals

Of course, most of the key computer science articles will be found in leading computer science journals. There is no shortage of computer science journals out there, many of which may be accessible through your school libraryís web page, the web pages of other libraries or through other computer science resources online. Some of these include Artificial Intelligence, Computer Graphics, IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation, the Journal of Web Semantics and Logical Methods in Computer Science.

[Apr 26, 2008]Competition In the Free Textbook Market


"The NYTimes has an editorial plugging Flat World Knowledge, a startup that will offer college textbooks inexpensively (~$30) in print, and free as PDFs. They plan to make their profits from add-ons like podcast study guides and mobile phone flashcards. Books will be licensed under CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike. Mashups and customizations are encouraged, but the NC license is incompatible with strong copyleft licenses such as the GFDL used by Wikipedia. Other companies trying to find a workable business model for free textbooks include Ink Textbooks (revenue from online homework) and Freeload Press (revenue from ads inside the books). So far, none of these companies seems to have succeeded in building up much of a catalog of books; it seems more common for authors of free textbooks to take a DIY approach, putting PDFs on their own web pages, and sometimes arranging on-demand printing with vanity-press publishers like Lots lots of web sites exist to help people find free textbooks, and CalPIRG has an active campaign pushing for affordable textbooks."

  • free textbooks useless without problem sets (Score:2)

    by Aeron65432 (805385) <> on Saturday April 26, @03:28PM (#23208460) Homepage

    Free textbooks are great and all if you want to learn the subject, like Yale/Harvard's free classroom recordings. But if you're taking a class at a university, most of the time these aren't going to be useful. Economics, engineering, calculus, all classes I've taken in these various subjects have had all the homework directly from the problem sets in the book. I bought one edition earlier than the one recommended for my economics class and I've had to borrow my friends text to do all the work. Great idea, but I don't see it being useful unless you can somehow get all the college professors to start adopting them/copy the homework separately. (Given that a lot of books are written by the professors themselves, they are unlikely to drop a major revenue stream)

Thank F'n God! It's about time! (Score:2, Interesting)

by iamsamed (1276082) on Saturday April 26, @03:31PM (#23208484)

What irritated me most in College and especially 'B' school was that these textbooks would run for $80-$130 a piece (and many were soft cover!) and the exact same material was available in some layman's book for under $50. AND, the next Semester rolls around and guess what? Yep, the instructor is using the "new" edition and you have to buy the "new" edition. It was usually a new cover and higher price...that's about it.

Now, someone once argued with me that information changes and you need to have the latest info. Well, I replied, there's several years lead time from writing to publishing a text and therefore, it's out of date before it's published. And besides, tell me what advances in business that are occurring that requires those in B-school to have the "latest" info? Hmmm? (Even in the group psychology class where you'd think with the social sciences improving there'd would be a need for up to date info. Nope. I had to buy a $120 paperback that told us about Myers-Briggs and when you had a problem with an employee, the correct answer for everything was send him to "sensitivity training". I'm not fucking kidding.) If you have to teach the latest info, then you shouldn't use textbooks.

  • Here are my suggestions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by line-bundle (235965) on Saturday April 26, @03:44PM (#23208558) Homepage Journal

    One of the reasons textbooks cost so much is because professors' salaries are bad. There is a very very good incentive for a professor to charge a lot for their book.

    Also I am not too keen on the lower cost electronic versions of the books unless the publishers are monitored carefully. The electronic editions I have seen cost slightly less than the paper edition, and expire after 6 months. Students then are poorer as a result.

    • Re:Here are my suggestions (Score:5, Informative)

      by bcrowell (177657) on Saturday April 26, @04:11PM (#23208686) Homepage

      One of the reasons textbooks cost so much is because professors' salaries are bad. There is a very very good incentive for a professor to charge a lot for their book.
      Speaking as a college professor, I think you're wrong on both points. Professors' salaries are actually very reasonable these days. Also, very little of the retail price of a $130 goes in the professor's pocket. Most textbooks do not make any significant amount of money for their authors -- the exceptions are home-run books aimed at the most popular freshman courses, and there just aren't that many of those. The typical motivation for a professor to write a textbook is that he doesn't like the choices that are already available.

      The reason for high textbook prices is profit-taking by publishers. In the last 25 years, textbook prices have risen much, much faster than can be explained by inflation.

  • Prices in the 60's (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jeff1946 (944062) on Saturday April 26, @03:46PM (#23208572) Journal

    My second semester freshman physics text (Sears and Zemansky, the standard of its day (1965)) has the price of $7.50 stamped in it. This was about 4x the miniumum wage. It has ~500 pages, weighs 2.2 lbs (1 kg), and no color.

    No reason why this book could not be used today, except a conspiracy by publishers to raise profits by adding lots of extra material, color photos etc, frequently changing editions to devalue used copies.

    Life was good then, the was no tuition at the University of California where I attended and gas was $0.29 a gallon (6 gal = 1 hr minimum wage). The biggest downside was no word processors.

  • Economic forces (Score:2)

    by #23208614) Homepage

    One of the main problems of the textbook market is that the buyer has usually no choice but to buy the book.

    The real choice is made by the instructor, who has NO incentive to choose a cheaper textbook. Intructors (I am one of them) are heavily sought by the publishing houses (in my experience once exception is O'Reilly, the worse Pearson Education).

    The second hand market is one of the few attempts to lower prices. Publishes counter-act it by dropping frequent updates (usually needless).

    The only way to counter act this inflation is with the help of the instructors who have little motivation (except ethical) to help.

    One of the few ways I think this can change is if instructors ask for an old version of the textbook. The problem of course, is availability. And you really want to make sure everybody has the same textbook

  • Do Students Actually Buy books anymore? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrSteveSD (801820) on Saturday April 26, @04:08PM (#23208668)

    Back in the mid 90s when I was at Uni, there was a lot of complaining over the price of books, e.g. £25 for each volume of the Feynman Lectures on Physics. There was also a lot of anger towards copyrights. I remember a sign in the college Library with a cartoon cat warning students not to photocopy sheet music, and people had written underneath "Music is not just for fat cats to make a profit".

    If we could have magically just duplicated our books, we would have been handing them around to everyone and spending the money on beer instead. I'm not saying it's right, but we definitely would have done it. Today that "Magic Duplication" is very easy to do since I'm sure most books have been scanned in by somebody. I can imagine DVD's with thousands of books on them being passed around colleges all over the world.

  • All depends upon authors (Score:1)

    by balrogkernel (1019546) on Saturday April 26, @04:10PM (#23208684)

    Sure this is a nice service, but it is dependent upon instructors/authors to upload books to Flat World Knowledge. Most professors, in my experience, like money more than spreading knowledge and competence. They will likely choose not to participate unless there is some incentive for them to actually upload the book PDF.

    This gets back to the whole reason why some need the services Flat World Knowledge in the first place: avarice.

    Publishing companies and authors could easily make their materials more accessible to professionals and students. However, they choose to use the most costly, self-enriching, wasteful, and inaccessible medium possible. Imagine how much better life would be for a person who is blind to use voice-recognition software on his or her computer to listen to his or her SAT, GRE, or national certification exam book. Why limit it just to people with blindness? What about the college student with cerebral palsy (yes, they do exist) that doesn't have the motor control to turn the pages of a book, but with a PDF and the right software, can read the text just as effectively.

    I could go on forever with examples. Here's the bottom line: there is absolutely no reason for publishing companies and authors to limit their books to paper format in the first place. They can even make a profit off of this new technology. But I guess they would rather continue with current practice, which only serves to truncate innovation and progress.

  • Many online resources exist in mathematics (Score:2)

    by Brad Lucier (547713) on Saturday April 26, @06:01PM (#23209258)

    There are, by now, many free online resources of good quality, especially in fields like mathematics.

    For example, although Ben Crowell, the original poster, doesn't mention it, he himself founded The Assayer [], a site that lists free books, carries reader reviews, etc.

    Since 2001, I've been publishing a number of original mathematics textbooks as ebooks at the Trillia Group [], all of which are DRM-free and freely licensed for student's self study. I'd hoped to license the "bits", rather than use dead trees as DRM, and have universities buy perpetual site licenses for $300. That business model hasn't worked; American universities are used to paying nothing for the textbooks they use in the classroom (even the books that the professors and teaching assistants use to teach the course are given to the universities free by the publishers), and for the most part the universities can't comprehend transferring the small cost for a site license for a text from the students to themselves.

    Some academic publishers, including Cambridge University Press [], allow some of their mathematics authors to distribute texts freely on the web even while the book is published in hard-cover editions. Perhaps this will become more common in the future.

  • Connexions (Score:1)

    by #23209682)

    Connexions [] from Rice University allows authors to write interconnected modules that do not necessarily follow a linear path. A student can read the material online or create a PDF. One of its main drawbacks from an author's standpoint, that input from LaTeX [] was not accepted, seems to be on the way to being solved. Still, it is clear that from looking at some of the better modules there that at least in the sciences and engineering, a significant amount of time and expense in writing a good textbook go into making quality illustrations, figures, and for online textbooks, animations or videos.

[Jan 8, 2008] MIT's OpenCourseWare Model is Proliferating Online

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology OpenCourseWare effort has been offering free lecture notes, exams, and other resources from more than 1800 courses per its website. Some of their courses offer a substantial amount of video and audio content. I remember stumbling across this resource via my employer's intranet about a year ago. Frankly speaking, I didn't think the concept would go very far because you couldn't earn credit…

Well, I was wrong. It's catching fire and over 100 universities worldwide have setup similar models and some are top tier schools such as Johns Hopkins and Tufts.

I was searching for a good UNIX course but I haven't found one yet. Surprisingly, it appears MIT's Linear Algebra course is quite popular with the OpenCourseWare community.

By the way, I don't have any affiliation with OCW or any of the higher learning institutions mentioned.

Added later:

UC Irvine OCW
Notre Dame OCW
Utah State OCW
Osaka OCW
Japan OCW Consortium

[Nov 28,2007] Digital Library Surpasses 1 Million Book Goal LiveScience

One and a half million books in more than 20 languages, including Chinese, English, Arabic, and various Indian languages, are now accessible via a single Web portal.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Nearly a decade ago, computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University embarked on a project with an astonishingly lofty goal: digitize the published works of humankind and make them freely available online.

The architects of the Universal Library project said Tuesday they have surpassed their latest target, having scanned more than 1.5 million books - many of them in Chinese - and are continuing to scan thousands more daily.

"Anyone who can get on the Internet now has access to a collection of books the size of a large university library,'' said Raj Reddy, a computer science and robotics professor at the university who led the project.

Much of the recent work in the Million Book Project has been carried out by workers at scanning centers in India and China, helped by $3.5 million (euro2.3 million) in seed funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation and in-kind contributions from computer hardware and software makers.

The United States, China and India each have contributed $10 million (euro6.7 million) to the project, undertaken with partners at China's Zhejiang University, India's Indian Institute of Science and Egypt's Library at Alexandria.

At least half the books are out of copyright or scanned with the permission of copyright holders. Excerpts of copyright-protected works are available, though organizers expect complete texts to become available eventually.

The project is not the first of its kind. Online search engine operator Google Inc. and software giant Microsoft Corp. have begun similar endeavors, though Carnegie Mellon representatives say theirs is the largest university-based digital library of free books and that its purpose is noncommercial.

It is a step toward the creation of an online library that would make traditionally published books available to all, said Reddy. "The economic barriers to the distribution of knowledge are falling,'' he said in a statement.

Michael Shamos, a Carnegie Mellon computer science professor and copyright lawyer working on the project, said the library's mission included making vast amounts of information freely available and preserving rare and decaying texts, among other things.

Books have been borrowed for scanning from various institutions and individuals worldwide, though institutions in Europe declined to participate, he said.

The library so far has books published in 20 languages, including 970,000 in Chinese, 360,000 in English, 50,000 in the southern Indian language of Telugu and 40,000 in Arabic.

[Feb 9, 2007]

Welcome to the eLibrary - Open Ebooks Directory.

We are directory of most ebooks, sold in the Internet.
You can quickly find the ebook of your interest on this site, read a review, made by those, who have read the ebook.

Clicking to "visit" you'll move to the sellers (or the author's) site. There you'll be able to buy the ebook or ask the questions on the contents of the ebook.

We invite you to make a review of the ebook you have read for other people to get to know your opinion and make the right choice.

Ebooks readers:
- You can search and view the description of our eBooks in just a few seconds.
- Feel free to browse thousands of eBooks in 58 categories.
- We offer 270+ free eBooks! Or Link to eLibrary and Get 'The eLibrary Package' for Free! 1000+ ebooks and articles!
- You can view a current list of the Top Rated eBooks.
- You can view most popular eBooks.
- You can vote for any eBook.

Ebooks authors and publishers:
- You can add your Ebooks to our eLibrary for free.
- You can modify your listing anytime.
- Generate and place rating form to your site

[Jan 17, 2007] HK University Theses Online

The Hong Kong University Theses Collection holds 15,031 titles of theses and dissertations submitted for higher degrees to the University of Hong Kong since 1941. The first recorded thesis was dated 1928, though all theses prior to 1941 were lost during the occupation of WWII. HKUTO includes works in the arts, humanities, education and the social, medical and natural sciences. Many of them deal entirely with or focus on subjects relating to Hong Kong. The collection is primarily in English, with some in English and Chinese, and others in Chinese only. Almost all HKU theses are included in HKUTO. Missing ones might be located in HKU departmental libraries. HKUTO now includes 12,248 fulltext electronic theses.

[Oct 20, 2006] Slashdot Charles Darwin Online

eldavojohn writes "The entire works of Charles Darwin have been made available online. It includes scanned works that were owned by his family - many of which were signed by the author. The University of Cambridge hopes to have this completed by 2009 and is only estimated to be about half way done. If you have any love for books whatsoever, I suggest you take a look at how they present the user with each book. Take the very first edition of On the Origin of Species, for example, where they use frames to display the text on the left with the original image on the right. From the Reuters article: 'Other items in the free collection of 50,000 pages and 40,000 images are the first editions of the Journal of Researchers, written in 1839, The Descent of Man, The Zoology of the Voyage of HMS Beagle, which includes his observations during his five-year trip to the Amazon, Patagonia and the Pacific, and the first five editions of the Origin of Species.'"

[May 8, 2006] NYT/Some Publishers of Scholarly Journals Dislike Bill to Require Online Access to Articles - New York Times By SARA IVRY

Scholarly publishing has never been a big business. But it could take a financial hit if a proposed federal law is enacted, opening taxpayer-financed research to the public, according to some critics in academic institutions.

The Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006, proposed last week by Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, and John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, would require 11 government agencies to publish online any articles that contained research financed with federal grants. If enacted, the measure would require that the articles be accessible online without charge within six months of their initial publication in a scholarly journal.

"Not everybody has a library next door. I don't mean to be flippant about it, but this gives access to anybody," said Donald Stewart, a spokesman for Senator Cornyn. "The genesis of this was his interest in open government and finding ways to reform our Freedom of Information laws and taxpayer access to federally funded work."

Some members of the scholarly publishing industry are wary of the legislation. Howard H. Garrison, the director of public affairs at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, an organization whose members collectively publish approximately 60 journals, argued that the legislation would weaken the connection between the journals and their readers and that journals could lose subscribers and ad revenue if articles were available online.

"People won't be able to gauge how many people will be reading the articles and that has ramifications for advertising, promotion," he said. "Does it reach 1,000 scientists, 2,000 or 50? If the articles are on a government Web site, your readership may be halved."

Scientific data is easily misinterpreted, said Joann Boughman, executive vice president of the American Society of Human Genetics, publisher of The American Journal of Human Genetics. "Consumers themselves are saying, 'We have the right to know these things as quickly as we can.' That is not incorrect. However, wherever there is a benefit, there is a risk associated with it."

A year ago, the National Institutes of Health introduced a policy encouraging scientists who had received N.I.H. financing to submit published articles within a year to a central database at the National Library of Medicine. Fewer than 4 percent of researchers have complied.

Catherine McKenna Ribeiro, the deputy press secretary for Senator Lieberman, said mandatory compliance would "foster information sharing, prevent duplication of research efforts, and generate new lines of scientific inquiry." She said in an e-mail message that the bill would, in effect, allow agencies to better monitor what publications were a result of their grants.

Betsy L. Humphreys, the deputy director of the National Library of Medicine, said she was not surprised that researchers had not always complied with N.I.H.'s request. "I think it's like anything else in the lives of busy people who prefer to spend their time doing science," she said.

[Apr 27, 2006] LWN Learning the lesson open content licensing This article was contributed by Glyn Moody

As the previous feature on open content noted, the need for an appropriate license was felt from the earliest days. Strangely, it was not Richard Stallman who filled this gap: even though the GNU General Public License dates back to 1984, it was only in 2000 that the corresponding GNU Free Documentation License was created. As a result, the honor for the creation of the first formal non-software open license goes to David Wiley.

In the summer of 1998, Wiley had joined the graduate program in Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University, where he began doctoral work on "learning objects" - small-scale, reusable computer-based educational materials designed to be used in a variety of settings. This was just a couple of months after the term "open source" had been devised at the Freeware Summit, and Wiley realized that what was needed was a kind of open source for instructional content.

He contacted people like Richard Stallman and Eric Raymond to ask their advice, and drew up his first license in July 1998. Wiley decided to call his approach "open content" - a term which he seems to have been the first to use consistently. For Stallman, the idea of "open" as opposed to "free" is anathema, and he also refuses to refer to works as "content", so ultimately he wanted nothing to do with this new "OpenContent License", even though he and Wiley had previously worked together in an attempt to tweak the GNU GPL for content. Raymond, by contrast, was an important influence on the fledgling open content idea, as the following passage from the newly-created site indicates:

OpenContent advocates adoption of the principles Eric S. Raymond outlines in his essay "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" for use in the development of Content. ... The Bazaar model for Content development will bring these same benefits to online instructional content; namely the creativity, expertise, and problem-solving power of a potentially infinite team of instructional designers and subject matter experts. A development effort of this kind will fill the Internet with high quality, well-maintained, frequently updated Content.

More input was provided by Tim O'Reilly and Andy Oram, making the license more palatable to publishers so that online versions of printed books and journals could be distributed for free. The result was the Open Publication License (OPL), released in June 1999. Appropriately enough, Raymond's "Cathedral and the Bazaar" was released under the OPL (as was his "Brief History of Hackerdom"). A number of other books, mostly in the field of computing, adopted the license, including GTK+/Gnome Application Development by Havoc Pennington, and Grokking the GIMP, by Carey Bunks. It was also adopted for Bruce Perens' Open Source Series, published by Prentice Hall.

Although the OPL led to a modest increase in open content being made available, the license still had some problems. One was that it came in four versions – OPL, OPL-A, OPL-B and OPL-AB - according to which, if any, of two optional clauses were included. These dealt with the thorny issues of "substantively modified works" and whether the work or derivatives of it could be published in book form for commercial purposes. The combinations obviously made it harder to be sure what exactly an OPL license permitted, and meant that users were forced to refer to the license to find out what their rights were. What was needed was some legal input to produce a series of open content licenses that clearly delineated what could and could not be done with them.

Fortunately, in the second half of the 1990s, a group of lawyers were becoming increasingly interested in the interrelated issues of copyright, intellectual property, digital content and the public domain. Pioneers here include Pamela Samuelson, James Boyle and Yochai Benkler. But the person who has become most closely associated with this whole area is undoubtedly Larry Lessig.

He rose to prominence with his book "Code and other laws of Cyberspace", which asserted that the Net's software codes necessarily implied legal codes. From this early interest in architectures and their growing power to affect everyday life, Lessig's focus gradually shifted back to the legal domain, where he sought to counter the threats posed by the music and film industries to the new creative possibilities opened up by the Net.

His first attempt at a solution was the creation of Copyright's Commons in 1999, "a coalition devoted to promoting the public availability of literature, art, music, and film." Its principal instrument was the use of what it called "counter-copyright", which "strips away the exclusivity that a copyright provides and allows others to use your work as a source or a foundation for their own creative ideas. The counter-copyright initiative is analogous to the idea of open source in the software context."

When Copyright's Commons became involved in the Eldred vs. Ashcroft lawsuit – which tried to block the extension of US copyright by 20 years - it also pioneered what it called "openlaw", where legal arguments were posted online for open discussion.

It was Lessig who argued the Eldred vs. Ashcroft case in court – and lost, much to his chagrin. A more positive outcome from this work was the creation of a second, more ambitious, organization called Creative Commons, and the drawing up of a series of formal open content licenses. Like Wiley's Open Publication license, these Creative Commons licenses allow several options. While this lends them great flexibility, it also means that there is now a confusing array of Creative Commons licenses. Indeed, Richard Stallman no longer supports the Creative Commons project because not all of these licenses meet his requirements for freedom.

Despite Stallman's concerns, there is no doubt that the Creative Commons licenses have transformed the open content scene. They offer creators a range of rigorous licenses that have been drawn up by lawyers with a deep understanding of the issues of copyright in the Net age. An important recent court case in the Netherlands has confirmed their legality, at least in that jurisdiction.

Wiley's original licenses were created for educational materials, and among the first applications of the Creative Commons licenses were two major open content projects in the field of what has come to be called open courseware, both funded by the Hewlett Foundation. Just as open source avoids re-inventing the wheel by building on existing code, so open courseware aims to save time, effort and money by making educational material freely available for others to re-use, extend and improve.

The first such project, Connexions, came from Rice University. It was the brainchild of Richard Baraniuk, professor of electrical engineering, who was directly inspired by the example of open source. Connexions uses a content creation platform called Rhaptos, which is released under the GNU GPL. The other major open courseware project came from MIT. One of the people behind the OpenCourseWare idea – which arose out of an earlier failed attempt to make money from selling MIT courses online – was Hal Abelson, who is also one of the founders of Creative Commons. This joint involvement simplified the issue of licensing, something that was a major issue for Rice initially, until it too adopted a Creative Commons license.

MIT does not use an open source platform, but David Wiley has started a project called eduCommons, based on Plone, that offers this facility. Another of his free software projects, called Open Learning Support, and now part of eduCommons, provides Rice's Connexions and MIT's OpenCourseWare with online discussion boards. Baraniuk, for his part, is working on a range of ancillary open source software, including systems to aid translation, and a rating system for courses. It is also worth mentioning the free software course management package Moodle, which is widely used around the world, and Sakai, a similar project, funded by the Hewlett Foundation.

Although both Connexions and OpenCourseWare allow course materials to be modified, they do not make any provision in their platforms for true collaborative development. The final article in this short series will explore how this issue has been addressed by open content projects.

Glyn Moody writes about open source and open content at opendotdotdot.

Posted Apr 27, 2006 6:42 UTC (Thu) by subscriber tzafrir [Link]

> [...] there is no doubt that the Creative Commons licenses
> have transformed the open content scene. They offer
> creators a range of rigorous licenses that have been
> drawn up by lawyers with a deep understanding of the
> issues of copyright in the Net age.

Despite them being drawn up by experienced lawyers, and despite the several versions the CC licenses had so far, they still seem fail to apply to the Debian Free Software Guidelines. The GFDL has basically the same problem, basically. Some of the issues involved seem to be quite practical (e.g: too strict anti-DRM clauses may cause problems when storing the file in an encrypted filesystem).

Version 2.0 of basically all the CC licenses share those problems. See . That link seems to sum the discussions of the debian-legal mailing list from April 2004.

I can't find any later source, though the wordings of the relevant clauses in 2.5 has practically remained the same. Other people I have asked seem to believe that those issues still stand. But IANAL and probably non of them is either.

Any newer and more authorative opinions?

open content licensing and the DFSG
Posted Apr 27, 2006 15:47 UTC (Thu) by subscriber smoogen [Link]

I doubt they have changed. At this point, I think the Debian people need to come out with a license that meets their needs and that writers can then follow.
Freedoms of users of works

Posted Apr 27, 2006 23:13 UTC (Thu) by subscriber bignose [Link]

Part of the problem seems to be that artistic or informative works are many years behind the "mind share" of required freedoms that programs currently enjoy. It's no longer the case with program authors that they find the ideas of the GPL to be foreign, but this is commonly the case with other types of works.

Authors seem to seek the CC licenses that prevent commercial redistribution, or prevent derivative works. Musicians seem more enlightened about derivative works, but still commonly want to prevent commercial redistribution. Artists of graphical works are commonly not prepared to share the "source" of the graphical work, so that others can work with it.

This is very similar to the mental landscape faced by free software twenty years ago. A core group was trying to educate copyright holders of the benefits to giving users of their programs the four freedoms iterated by the FSF. It took much patience and much working against deep-seated fallacies to bring the majority to the view that at least it's not *crazy* to give up so much control, even if one doesn't choose to do so oneself.

Sadly, the FSF seem to be themselves stuck near the beginning of this curve; they espouse the view that users of some kinds of useful information (programs) are more deserving of freedom than users of other kinds (e.g. books), with the result that they promote a license for books that is more restrictive to its recipients than the license they promote for programs.

It seems artists of works of authorship, graphical, audio, and other creative works need to go through a similar education period as software authors have been through.

Posted Apr 27, 2006 20:50 UTC (Thu) by subscriber k-squire [Link]

If you're interested, you can check out a recent Google Tech Talk presentation presented by the Connexions people.

I recently saw this presentation elsewhere, and was quite impressed. They have gotten to the point where they can take online texbook-quality material and produce a bound copy for a fraction of what textbooks cost today.

Their content coverage is a little uneven--lots of Electrical Engineering, Bioinformatics, and Music, little Computer Science. But there's quite a bit there, almost a critical mass in some areas. Good stuff!


[Apr 2, 2006] 19 Nov 01 ebooks and etexts


Last week we highlighted Roberto Casati's contribution to the online text-e symposium about the book, print and reading in the digital world. The latest contribution is paper on Skyreading and Skywriting for Researchers: A Post-Gutenberg Anomaly and How to Resolve It by publishing gadfly Stevan Harnad.

Harnad's distinguished by passion and ingenuity in a crusade to free publishing, in particular scientific journals, from the clutches of commercial publishers. His latest paper revisits arguments made in the often heated debates about scholarly publishing, for example in the Nature online forum highlighted in our Electronic Publishing guide.

He argues that

There will be a profound and fundamental dividing line in the PostGutenberg Galaxy, between non-give-away work (books, magazines, software, music) and give-away work (of which the most important representative is refereed scientific and scholarly research papers).

It is the failure to make this distinction that causes so much confusion, and that is delaying the inevitable transition of the give-away work to what is the optimal solution for scholars and scientists: that the annual 2,000,000+ articles in all 20,000+ refereed journals across disciplines and languages and around the world should be freed on line through author/institution self-archiving: ... questions about copyright, peer review and other controversial issues can be clarified if the give-away/non-give-away distinction is made.

Works such as Towards Electronic Journals: Realities for Scientists, Librarians & Publishers (Washington: Special Libraries Association 00) by Carol Tenopir & Donald King or their recent Lessons For the Future Of Journals paper suggest that Harnad's polemic is overstated but if you are grappling with issues as an author, reader, publisher or custodian it's worth a look.

We suggest that you read his paper in conjunction with Tenopir & Kings' responses to criticisms of their Towards Electronic Journals study.

OCLC to the rescue?

Last month we noted worries about the apparent collapse of netLibrary, one of several dot-coms that crashed and burned after problems in the online college library market. Critics speculated that institutions might be left without access to the texts once the smoke cleared.

Dublin (Ohio) based OCLC has now announced a bid for netLibrary, accepted in principle but to be approved by a Colorado bankruptcy judge. OCLC will continue to provide access - for a fee.

And in line with recent dot-crashes, netLibrary is being sued by investors who claim that they were deceived about its finances.

Etext standards

The US National Information Standards Organization (NISO) is encouraging development of a Digital Talking Book Standard (DTBS) to ensure compatibility among competing systems for formatting and providing audio access to text.

As we've discussed in our Accessibility guide, many surfers with poor/no vision rely on speech readers - facilities that convert onscreen text to a synthesized voice. For most people that's more effective than a device that provides a braille output.

Unfortunately, most readers have difficulty in dealing with many web pages - one reason why structure and tools such as ALT tags are important - and are incompatible with the proprietary systems used in ebook devices. An exposure draft of the proposed standard was released by NISO earlier this year.

It suggests that the structure of a digital talking book should consist of three elements:

an audio file, coded using several standard formats

a text file with XML tags for word spelling and text searches

an integrative file in Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL) to synchronize the audio and text elements.

[Dec 15, 2005 ] The Open Content Alliance - December 15, 2005 - Library Journal

About a year ago, Google announced a project to digitize large numbers of books from five research libraries. Dubbed "the Google Five," the University of Michigan, Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, and the New York Public Library signed an agreement with Google to provide portions (or, in the case of Michigan, all) of their collections to Google to be digitized. A year later we still don't know much more about their procedures, but now Google is being sued for digitizing material under copyright while out-of-copyright books are beginning to appear on the Google Print web site.

By contrast, a similar initiative was recently announced about which we already know much more. Maybe that's why it's called the Open Content Alliance (OCA), put forward by the Internet Archive, Yahoo!, and a number of large libraries, including my employer, the California Digital Library. Microsoft shortly thereafter announced support as well, and additional libraries likely will join. Yahoo!, Microsoft, and the libraries themselves are paying the Internet Archive to digitize materials at 10¢ a page-an excellent price for nondestructive scanning. The resulting files will be made available at the Internet Archive web site and likely at other locations.

Open and accessible

Since the OCA is focusing on out-of-copyright material, it is dodging the legal fight that Google is taking head-on. This means that all OCA content will be viewable in its entirety online. But the project goes further. The digitized files and their associated metadata will be available for complete downloading, thereby allowing anyone to create singular presentations of this material. Some books are already available for downloading and printing.

... ... ...

The OCA effort, unlike that of Google, is based on respect for collections and the principles behind mass digitization of library materials. Research libraries, writes Dan Greenstein of the California Digital Library in a draft principles document, must "clearly and unambiguously begin articulating what public goods are served by massive digitization of their holdings," plus "articulate and agree to adhere to a set of principles" to ensure that the resulting products "support and promote these public goods."

It's unclear whether the OCA project will rival the Google Library project in size. Since it is easier for organizations to participate, the OCA will easily have more participants, but the Google project may lead in the number of digitized volumes if it fulfills its promise. Only time will tell. In any case, more digitized content is likely a better thing overall.

The agreement between the University of California and the Internet Archive emphasizes that the initiative is collaborative, as both parties must agree to a protocol that will set up procedures for, among other things, moving the books to and from the Internet Archive digitization shop, identifying and attaching appropriate metadata to the scanned files, and assessing the scanned files against appropriate standards.

Collaborations among participating libraries are also likely, if for no other reason than to minimize duplication. There are other opportunities for collaboration and not just among OCA libraries but with the "Google Five" and many other institutions involved with digitizing content. Open digitized content, after all, is a growing boon to all of our libraries and the users we serve.

[Oct 27, 2005 ] Open Content Alliance The World's Books For All

SAN FRANCISCO -- Search is on a mission these days.

It's no longer enough to be able to index and point to everything that's loaded on a Web server somewhere. Search has moved into a new era in which content owners and search providers are hustling to digitize information moldering on the shelf.

"The World Wide Web gives us access to more information, but almost everything on the net has been written since 1996," said Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive. "I think folks before 1996 also had something to say."

Kahle spoke to an audience of librarians and journalists for the kick-off of the Open Content Alliance (OCA), a group with a plan to scan as many out-of-print books as possible, then work up the chain toward books under copyright. The OCA was announced on October 3.

The digitized books will be made openly available for search on the Internet Archive Web site or through other search services.

"Having an open library allows different projects to build new and different interfaces without having to ask permission," Kahle said.

The archive created an elegant reading interface that uses a page-turning metaphor. Entering a term in the search query box produces a yellow tab on each page on which the term is found. Clicking on a tab takes the user to that page, where the term is highlighted in yellow.

At the event, held in San Francisco's Presidio, Kahle's staff demonstrated the "scribe station," a system for scanning books that he said would cost around ten cents a page. The system uses a 16-megapixel digital camera that produces images at 500 DPI. Software color corrects the images and provides thumbnails so the operator can make sure all of the pages have been scanned.

The OCA has more software to help determine whether a particular book might be under copyright, and if so, to connect with another database created in partnership with libraries to find the copyright holder. "Copyright issues are tricky, but they're doable," Kahle said.

Rather than shipping books to a central location for scanning by a single company, OCA members will for the most part handle their own scanning, then upload the digitized documents to the archive.

OCA membership includes prestigious libraries and research institutions that have pledged to digitize priceless collections and make them available for search.

For example, the Smithsonian Institution will contribute its current digital collection and work to digitize materials with a focus on history, culture and biodiversity. The Missouri Botanicals Garden will scan rare botanical prints and books kept under lock and key in its archives. The Natural History Museum of London, the New York Botanical Garden and Royal Botanical Garden of London will contribute materials, as will the libraries of Columbia, Emory and Johns Hopkins Universities.

While Yahoo was a founding member of the OCA, and MSN announced its membership at the event, Google (Chart-->) was conspicuously absent. Google is being sued by the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild for scanning library books without the consent of their copyright holders. (Google says its activities fall under fair use principles.)

Founding OCA members are The Internet Archive, Yahoo! Inc., Adobe Systems Inc., the European Archive, HP Labs, the National Archives (UK), O'Reilly Media Inc., Prelinger Archives, the University of California, and the University of Toronto. Fourteen new members were announced at the event.

Several new OCA members said they wanted to make sure that these public troves of knowledge remained owned by the public.

Daniel Greenstein, executive director of the University of California's California Digital Library, said, "We want to make sure these works don't become commodified."

Doron Weber, director of the Sloan Foundation's programs for public understanding of science and technology and history of science and technology, said, "We cannot risk having world knowledge privatized. We believe an open, non-proprietary approach is better. To private companies, we say, 'Rein in your impulses.'"

[Oct 26, 2005] Roget's Thesaurus - As distributed by Project Gutenberg

Classic E-text of Roget's Thesaurus No. Two, which is derived from the version of Roget's Thesaurus published in

[Oct 26, 2005] Microsoft to start online book searches - Tech News & Reviews -

SEATTLE - Microsoft Corp. is diving into the business of offering online searches of books and other writings, and says its approach aims to avoid the legal tussles met by rival Google Inc.

The Redmond-based software giant said Tuesday that it will sidestep hot-button copyright issues for now by initially focusing mainly on books, academic materials and other publications that are in the public domain.

Microsoft plans to initially work with an industry organization called the Open Content Alliance to let users search about 150,000 pieces of published material. A test version of the product is promised for next year.

The alliance, whose participants also include top Internet portal Yahoo Inc., is working to make books and other offline content available online without raising the ire of publishers and authors.

Danielle Tiedt, a general manager of search content acquisition with Microsoft's MSN online unit, said the company also is working with publishers and libraries on ways to eventually make more copyright material available for online searches.

She said Microsoft is looking at several options, including models where users would be charged to access the content.

Microsoft said it has no plans right now to have targeted ads located in the search results, but the company cautioned that it was still working out the details of its business model. "I think about the 150,000 books as a test," Tiedt said.

(MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)

Rival Google has taken a markedly different approach, with plans to index millions of copyright books from three major university libraries - Harvard, Stanford and Michigan - unless the copyright holder notifies the company which volumes should be excluded.

The Association of American Publishers, representing five publishers, and The Authors Guild, which includes about 8,000 writers, have both sued the search engine giant over the plans.

Google has defended the effort as necessary to its goal of helping people find information - and insists that its scanning effort is protected under fair use law because of restrictions placed on how much of any single book could be read.

Responding to Microsoft's plans to offer its own book search, Google said in a statement that it "welcomes efforts to make information accessible to the world."

Tiedt said Microsoft is coming at book search from a different angle in part because the software maker itself is so often the target of copyright infringement. Pirated versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system are widely available in developing countries for only a few dollars.

Microsoft's approach has the potential to backfire, however, if Google ends up having more content available or begins offering ways to search content for free while Microsoft pursues a model that requires people to pay for it.

Microsoft acknowledges it is far behind Google. Tiedt said she expects it will take years - and require a substantial investment - to solidify the MSN product, working out all the complex issues around searching through books and other materials online.

"This is not a money-maker for the company," Tiedt said. "This is very much a strategic bet for search overall."

The effort marks Microsoft's latest effort to play catch-up with Google on various search technologies ranging from basic Internet search to localized queries.

But Google remains by the search leader by far, accounting for 45.1 percent of all U.S. Internet searches in September, according to Nielsen/Net Ratings. Microsoft's MSN Search ranked third, accounting for 11.7 percent of U.S. searches during the same period.

eSchool News online - Yahoo to upstage Google's library plans

Internet powerhouse Yahoo Inc. is setting out to build a vast online library of copyrighted books that pleases publishers--something rival Google Inc. hasn't been able to achieve.

The Open Content Alliance, a project that Yahoo is backing with several other partners, plans to provide digital versions of books, academic papers, video, and audio. Much of the material will consist of copyrighted material voluntarily submitted by publishers and authors, said David Mandelbrot, Yahoo's vice president of search content.

Other participants in the alliance, which was announced Oct. 3, include Adobe Systems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., the Internet Archive, O'Reilly Media Inc., the University of California, and the University of Toronto.

Although Yahoo will power the search engine, located at the Open Content Alliance web site, all of its content reportedly will be made available so it can be indexed by other major search engines, too, including Google's.

By joining the project, Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo is hoping to upstage Google, which has a one-year head start on scanning and indexing books so more literature and academic research can be accessed with an internet connection from anywhere in the world.

"My feeling is we are doing something new here," Mandelbrot said. "We are building a collaborative effort that will make a great deal of copyrighted material available in a way that's acceptable to the creators. That is novel."

The alliance won't include any copyrighted material unless it receives the explicit permission of a publisher or author. That restriction means the alliance is bound to be missing much of the material available in brick-and-mortar libraries.

In an effort to be as comprehensive as possible, Google plans to index millions of copyrighted books from three major university libraries--Harvard, Stanford, and Michigan--unless the copyright holder notifies the company by Nov. 1 about which volumes should be excluded from the search engine index.

Google's opt out provision has outraged many publishers, who contend the company is flouting long-established copyright laws. The Author's Guild Inc., which represents about 8,000 writers, sued Google for copyright infringement last month (see "Authors: Google infringing on copyrights"). Google maintains its scanning represents "fair use" allowed under the law because it allows web surfers to view only excerpts from copyrighted books.

Some of the most strident critics of Google's library project are endorsing the Open Content Alliance, or OCA.

Patricia Schroeder, president for the Association of American Publishers, described the alliance's approach as "very encouraging."

Sally Morris, chief executive for the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, said she hopes Google follows the alliance's example. "The OCA's model of allowing rights holders to control which of their works are opened up ... and where they are hosted may encourage others to do so."

Google also applauded the Yahoo-backed alliance. "We welcome efforts to make information accessible to the world," the company said.

[Aug 12, 2005] Google pauses library project CNET

update Google will temporarily stop scanning copyright-protected books from libraries into its database, the company said late Thursday.

The company's library project, launched in December, involves the scanning of out-of-print and copyright works so that their text can be found through the search engine's database. Google is working on the project with libraries at Stanford University, Harvard University and other schools.

The plan has come under fire from several groups, including publishers, who object to what they claim are violations of their copyrights.

Google said on its blog late Thursday that, following discussions with "publishers, publishing industry organizations and authors," it will stop scanning in copyright-protected until November, while it makes changes to its Google Print Publisher Program.

The publisher program also involves scanning copyright books. In that program, books are scanned--at the publisher's request--to let Web searchers view excerpts from books, critics' reviews and other book data, with links back to publishers' Web sites or other places where the books are for sale.

Google said it is adding new features that will let publishers submit a list of books that, when scanned through the library project, will be added to the publisher program. It is also adding a feature that lets publishers present a list of books that should not be scanned through the library project.

"We think most publishers and authors will choose to participate in the publisher program in order (to) introduce their work to countless readers around the world. But we know that not everyone agrees, and we want to do our best to respect their views too," Google said on its blog.

Google was not immediately available for comment. (Google representatives have instituted a policy of not talking with CNET reporters until July 2006 in response to privacy issues raised by a previous story.)

But Google's move apparently did not satisfy all publishers' concerns regarding the project.

"Google's procedure shifts the responsibility for preventing infringement to the copyright owner rather than the user, turning every principle of copyright law on its ear," Patricia Schroeder, CEO of the Association of American Publishers, said in a statement.

"Many AAP members have partnered with Google in its Print for Publishers Program, allowing selected titles to be digitized and searchable on a limited basis pursuant to licenses or permission from publishers," she said. "We were confident that by working together, Google and publishers could have produced a system that would work for everyone, and regret that Google has decided not to work with us on our alternative proposal

[Jun 30, 2005] Something fishy with Google library project


Join Date: Jun 2004, Posts: 115

Location: Texas


Something fishy with Google library project

Something fishy is going on.

In the NYT on December 14, 2004, "Google Is Adding Major Libraries to Its Database," by John Markoff and Edward Wyatt:

"Each agreement with a library is slightly different. Google plans to digitize nearly all the eight million books in Stanford's collection and the seven million at Michigan."
"At Stanford, Google hopes to be able to scan 50,000 pages a day within the month, eventually doubling that rate, according to a person involved in the project."

50,000 pages a day is 2,083 pages per hour.

Let's double this rate, as Google will do "eventually," and call it 4,167 pages per hour. How many years will it take to do 8 million x 200 pages per volume?

8 million x 200 = 1,600,000,000 pages to be scanned.

1,600,000,000 / 4,167 = 383,969 hours to scan Stanford's library at the speed they hope to attain "eventually."

Let's run 24-hours a day (three shifts of temp workers at minimum wage!) and assume that the wizards at the Googleplex will never have any down time. How many days is this? 383,969 / 24 = 15,999 days.

How many years is this? 15,999 / 365.25 = 43.8 years. Even their cookie won't last that long!

But there's another army of temp workers at Michigan. Let's look at the Michigan figures. According to University of Michigan librarian John Wilkin, as reported in the Detroit Free Press on December 14 by columnist Mike Wendland:

7,000,000: Volumes in the U-M library to be digitized.
2,380,000,000: Estimated number of pages.

Hold it right there, Mr. Librarian! Are you saying that each volume has an average of 340 pages? Well okay, you're the librarian!

I have to adjust my Stanford figures. I assumed 200 pages per volume for 8 million volumes. If it's really 340 pages per volume, then the Stanford project will take 1.7 times longer. Instead of 43.8 years, Stanford will take 74.46 years! (Two back-to-back cookies are needed!)

Then Mr. Wilkin goes on to say, "Going as fast as we can with the traditional means of doing this, it would take us about 1,600 years to do all 7 million volumes," he said. "Google will do it in six years."

Wow, I'm impressed. Google really is God. What's the scan rate for 7 million volumes over 6 years, if you run around the clock?

7 million x 340 pages per volume = 2,380,000,000 pages
6 years = 365.25 x 24 x 6 = 52,596 hours
scan rate = 2,380,000,000 / 52,596 = 45,251 per hour

For 24 hours, that comes to 1,086,024 pages per day. Now remember at Stanford, Google will "eventually" double the rate of 50,000 per day, which means 100,000 per day when they do this. Recall from above that this means 4,167 pages per hour.

In other words, even running full-speed 24 hours per day, the scan rate Google will have to achieve at Michigan in order to pull it off in six years, is 10.86 times greater than the rate they will "eventually" achieve at Stanford.

But of course, the Mike Wendland column also says this:

"The size of the U-M undertaking is staggering. It involves the use of new technology developed by Google that greatly speeds the digitizing process. Without that technology -- which Google won't discuss in detail -- the task would be impossible, says John Wilkin, the U-M associate librarian who is heading the project."

Wait a minute, the NYT piece said this:

"At least initially, Google's digitizing task will be labor intensive, with people placing the books and documents on sophisticated scanners whose high-resolution cameras capture an image of each page and convert it to a digital file."
"The company refused to comment on the technology that it was using to digitize books, except to say that it was nondestructive. But according to a person who has been briefed on the project, Google's technology is more labor-intensive than systems that are already commercially available."

So their secret sauce isn't even ready for tasting! Better hurry, the clock is ticking....

Is it possible that the NYT piece dropped a zero and the rate is really ten times the figure they reported? I doubt it, from what I know about the technology. If anyone thinks this is possible, the NYT will probably be happy to check out their source again and run a correction if they goofed.

[Jun 17, 2005] Google Library Peril For Publishers ? By Susan Kuchinskas

Google is digitizing entire university libraries. Book publishers haven't decided if the Google Library Project means exposure to new readers or copyright infringement on a massive scale. It's a question the Supreme Court may have to decide.

In October, the search goliath announced Google Print, a program that lets publishers work with Google to digitize books to which they hold the rights in order to make them available for search. Google promises publishers they can earn money when searchers click on contextual ads that appear alongside the book pages.

But book publishers were taken aback when they heard about Google Library, a project that had been under way since 2002 with the University of Michigan. Harvard University, Stanford University, Oxford University and the New York Public Library also are in the process of letting Google scan parts or all of their collections.

Google broke the news in December, the same day officially went live. The Library Project was positioned as an extension of Google Print, but some publishers saw it as more of a collision with it.

Deals with Google were struck one publisher at a time, but they included restrictions on the amount of material from a work under copyright that Google could show in search results, maintaining a fair-use argument for the search engine's use. When searchers click on a listing, they might be able to read anywhere from several pages to only a few sentences containing the keywords. Listings also include a shot of the book cover, links to online booksellers and ads.

But if Google copies a library book instead of making a deal with the publisher of that book, it's likely the publisher would be cut out of any ad revenue share. Google could not make executives available for interviews, but John Wilkin, associate librarian for the University of Michigan and head of its Google Library Project, said his library had no agreement to share ad revenue with Google.

In other words, all the ad money would stay in Google's pocket.

"Having reached these agreements with publishers for the use of books under their copyright, Google now announced they'd scan works from several libraries -- including works that are currently under copyright -- without requesting the permission of the copyright owners," said Allan Adler, vice president for legal affairs for the Association of American Publishers (AAP). "Imagine the consternation that caused among publishing houses who realized the possibility that books they had agreed to provide to Google under contract might nevertheless be scanned by Google without those agreements."

Adler said AAP members were wondering why Google had sat down with them, then announced two months later that it didn't really need publishers' permission to scan.

"Google has said publishers can opt out works from the Library Project," Adler said, "but we understand that to mean not that Google wouldn't scan them in their entirety and include them in its database, but only that they wouldn't use part of the works in response to a search query."

The librarians saw the project as a way to make their collections more accessible to a digital-centric public. They also were lured by Google's offer to give them their own digital copy of each book. Universities around the world have begun their own digitization projects, but Google's muscle and money could put those projects on Internet time.

University of Michigan's Wilkin said, "We had focused on the hard 10 percent of the problem. Google swooped in and did the easy 90 percent."

While Google will only make snippets of the libraries' copyrighted works available through search, the University of Michigan plans to make entire digital copies of works not under copyright available to library users.

Google and the libraries insist they're respecting copyright and acting inside the law. Said Wilkin, "For everything for which there are no rights issues, such as pre-1923 works and U.S. government publications, we'll allow multiple online users to access our copies at once. But for works under copyright, we're not going to be able to provide full digital access for even our own users."

The AAP's Adler said the publishing community wasn't focusing on the murky fair use question, but rather on Google's plan to make money from books it hadn't bought.

"Google's use of these copyrighted works in order to expand the kinds of responses it offers to users of its search engine is clearly going to be used to enhance its ability to sell advertising in conjunction with the operation of that search engine," Adler said.

The American Association of University Presses (AAUP) sent a critical letter to Google, complaining that Google Library could cut into the presses' earnings. According to the AAUP, on average, university presses recover 87 percent of the cost of publishing scholarly books from sales, with payments for permission to reproduce works in such things as anthologies, paperback editions, course packs, electronic reserves and document delivery services adding to that take.

The AAUP came in for its own share of criticism for not consulting with all its members before firing off the letter -- and for providing a copy of the letter to BusinessWeek before Google had received it. Peter Givler, the AAUP's executive director and the author of the letter, didn't respond to requests for comment.

John Wiley & Sons was one publisher that went directly to Google. "We see potential issues and potential opportunities that could have an impact on our authors, customers and the business," said Susan Spilka, Wiley's director of communications. "Were' talking to them directly and also through our trade association."

She said Wiley is in the process of learning more about the Google Print for libraries program and exploring both the issues and the opportunities.

The crux of the copyright issue, according to Adler, is not whether supplying anywhere from a few sentences to a few pages of a book to searchers is covered by the admittedly murky fair use provisions of U.S. copyright law. Rather, the Library Project seems like a way for Google to profit off books without buying them.

A court date is likely, said Lee Bromberg, a partner in Bromberg & Sunstein, a law firm specializing in intellectual property. The key question, he said, is whether the issue is more like Sony versus Universal City Studios (1984) or like Basic Books versus Kinkos (1991).

In other words, is Google like Sony, providing technology that might be used to infringe copyright but which also has substantial non-infringing uses? Or is it more like Kinkos? In that case, the courts decided that Kinkos violated publishers' copyrights when it reproduced pages from their books and sold them as reading lists to university students -- with the intention of making a profit.

It's a great time to be a lawyer, in any case. Said Bromberg, "Technology seems to continually outpace the copyright law."

[May 24, 2005] Publishers protest Google library project - Tech News & Reviews -

SAN FRANCISCO - A group of academic publishers called Google Inc.'s plan to scan millions of library books into its Internet search engine index a troubling financial threat to its membership.

The Association of American University Presses said in a letter to Google that the online search engine's library project "appears to involve systematic infringement of copyright on a massive scale."

The association, which represents 125 nonprofit publishers of academic journals and scholarly books, asked Google to respond to a list of 16 questions seeking more information about how the company plans to protect copyrights.

[Dec 27, 2004] Google's Library Project Questions, Questions, Questions

- Librarians, academicians, journalists, information industry pundits, and real people continue to ring in with comments, concerns, quarrels, and commendations for Google's new library program. "This is the day the world changes," said John Wilkin, a University of Michigan librarian working with Google. "It will be disruptive because some people will worry that this is the beginning of the end of libraries. But this is something we have to do to revitalize the profession and make it more meaningful." Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan, told the Free Press: "This project signals an era when the printed record of civilization is accessible to every person in the world with Internet access. It is an initiative with tremendous impact today and endless future possibilities." When asked whether Google is building the library to replace all other libraries, Google representatives-after saluting the role of librarians-said they had "no such plans at the moment. There was too much work to do."

Here is a roundup of some of the questions asked and answers posited:

  • Will the content Google derives from this library program become part of Google Scholar?
    • A Google representative had no answer at this time; however, he did say that it seemed "a natural intersection."
  • What will this cost Google?
    • Many questioned the technology and techniques it would require to perform the Herculean effort-and the costs entailed. Some observers conjectured that performing the project in a 6-year time frame would require an average scan rate of 3,200 volumes a day (365 days a year) for the University of Michigan's 7 million volumes alone; others applied the same work schedule and came up with 2.25 books per minute. When asked about feasible costs for digitization (estimated by some at $10 per book), Gordon Macomber, president and CEO of Thomson Gale (which has extensive experience in digitizing its Eighteenth Century Collections Online and Nineteenth Century Collections Online licensed products), indicated that $10 per book was below Gale's experienced cost. All agreed it was a huge undertaking.
  • How will Google handle duplicates between the libraries?
    • Google staff had no answer. However, Jay Jordan, president and CEO of OCLC, pointed out that OCLC has a digital registry-available for a nominal fee-that lists what has been digitally preserved and what's in the queue. The University of Michigan is reportedly harvesting catalog records for its content contributions.
  • Is this project English-language only?
    • Michael Keller, Stanford's library director and director of academic information resources, stated that Stanford planned to contribute non-English texts-in particular, European languages using Roman alphabet characters. But he pointed out that Google can process in other alphabets, e.g., Kanji or Arabic.
  • What about archiving considerations? How durable will this electronic library be?
    • The participating libraries have announced robust efforts to protect the digital collection copies Google will return to them. The University of Michigan will store files on gold CD-ROMs with a stress-test life of 3 centuries. Stanford will keep at least three copies of magnetic tape cartridges that will be continually tested and maintained.
    • I did not ask, but I assume Google will protect its bread-and-butter content, especially content as expensive to acquire as this, with due diligence.
  • What effect will this library-based digitization have on Google's relationships with publishers? Is it designed to push publishers into joining the Google Print program?
    • Google representatives rejected any charges that this project was meant to hammer publishers into joining Google Print. However, they did point out: "[P]articipating in the original Google Print does offer significant benefits, namely by creating a book-selling link, using the publisher log, providing links back to the publisher's Web site, and additional reporting. It also allows us to show more than just the snippet view, which can lead to greater purchase decisions." Also, currently, books retrieved from the publisher contributions to Google Print do not have a "Find It in a Library" link as material from the scanned library collections does.
    • OCLC's Jordan didn't think Google had to "herd anyone" among the publishers. "With the exposure Google Print offers publishers, they can't afford not to be there, because other publishers are. It's the Chicken Little syndrome."
    • Patricia Schroeder, executive director of the Association of American Publishers, commented on winners and losers as Google enters this field. She saw it as giving a "huge pump to print-on-demand" and said this development could "solve the returns problem. In fact, it could solve a lot of supply chain problems." Building acceptance of reading electronic texts, she thought, would encourage book sales by lowering prices for e-books. But overall, Schroeder thought it would not threaten publishers. "At the end of the day, what we can produce is creative, and that's harder than techies think it is. We will still need publisher staffs." Schroeder considers reprint houses and libraries to be vulnerable, however.
  • How might Google's competitors, such as Yahoo! or Microsoft, respond to this challenge?
    • Unless someone can come up with a deal with the Library of Congress and/or The British Library, it's hard to see how anyone could counter this massive infusion of content. Will large research libraries soon have Microsoft or Yahoo! knocking on their doors? Perhaps. And not just those current competitors. What about Amazon, itself a digitizer of books for its "Search Inside the Book" program? After Google finishes its titanic project, it will have created-at the very least-earth's largest out-of-print bookstore, a mammoth electronic re-issuance of copyrighted and non-copyrighted publications from publishers around the world. Permissions from publishers could clear the way for Google to enter the electronic bookselling arena in a big way. (Again, Google representatives had nothing to say about future marketing plans in this area.)
  • What impact could this project have on current digitization projects?
    • One observer who runs a digital library project of 175,000 documents in approximately 10 million images commented that his and every other digital library project had now become "small-scale." He considered that Google and its participating library partners had "broken through mental barriers of scale, technology, and copyright law. This rocks the world." A representative of a leading research library consortium predicted that the new project could table or even kill current digitization projects at libraries, while the librarians waited tsee if their planned projects were necessary or, assuming their content was unique, if Google might someday digitize that content for free.
    • On the other hand, Marjorie Hlava of Access Innovations, a consulting and software house for library automation, considered the new program could only help them. With Google "lowering the bar" and simplifying digitization, she expected more people to get interested in such projects. She expected even more interest in Access' software offerings to provide the needed precision through taxonomies, source coding, customization, etc.-the precision that Google lacks, according to Hlava.
    • Other ways to get online books clearly exist-ways that allow for downloading public domain books, e.g., Project Gutenberg, the Online Books Page from Ockerbloom at the University of Pennsylvania, and even the "Million Book Project" between the Internet Archive, Carnegie Mellon University, the Library of Congress, and other libraries. Libraries can license book collections from fee-based services such as OCLC's netLibrary, which has a public domain component, or ebrary's fee-based library service. However, the most any of these projects-fee or free-currently offer is tens of thousands of books, not millions.
    • As for digitization projects produced and funded by library vendors, I asked several executives from among the database aggregators what impact they thought Google's effort would have over time. The general public position seemed to follow the maxim of "a rising tide lifts all boats," rather than the tsunami image. Macomber of Thomson Gale forecasts that sales would stay robust for the company's public domain historical collections. "Anything and everything that draws the attention of people interested in scholarly reference content helps our business and that of other publishers of scholarly works. We've never had a time where scholarly content was in such a bright light. There's opportunity there. It's now a matter of realizing the greater demand and serving the greater market. The fact that it's a smaller share, but of a much larger market, that's the important change." He also expected to win through providing added value, e.g., the Shakespeare Online spinoff of other digitization with multiple imaged versions of the plays, critical essays, biographical material, etc., all collected in one compact online product.
  • Will librarians be threatened by the new development?
    • The Internet doesn't scare Carol Brey-Casino, current president of the American Library Association. In a Wall Street Journal interview, she said: "We had this conversation when the Internet began to get popular, and what's happened is that library visits have doubled in the last decade to 1.2 billion." Consulting firm Outsell did point out ("Google to Digitize Library Book Holdings," that, despite the efforts of "consortia and library groups that have been working on digitization issues in libraries for years … it took an outsider third party, Google, to pull this off." While admitting that the possession of vast financial resources enabled Google to take on such a task, Outsell also attributed the development to the fact that "Google is the only player with the audacity to act on the grand vision … it took an outsider to really go after the content buried in books." Outsell does not think the development will destroy libraries as we know them. In fact, the company's leaders think that process is already well under way, and they welcome the change. "This isn't a death knell for libraries; it's another shove to get librarians out from behind the stacks and harness their expertise, including subject-matter expertise, and to enhance users' ability to find, use, and access information in any format. Getting out of the business of simply storing books should be a welcome goal."
    • Google doesn't scare Michael Gorman, dean of library services at California State University at Fresno and president-elect of the American Library Association. Gorman had almost nothing good to say about the Google library project in an op-ed piece published in the Los Angeles Times ("Google and God's Mind," Dec. 17, 2004) and picked up by other newspapers. He starts off his piece referring to "the boogie-woogie Google boys" and goes on from there, concluding "that enormous databases of digitized whole books, especially scholarly books, are expensive exercises in futility based on the staggering notion that, for the first time in history, one form of communication (electronic) will supplant and obliterate all previous forms." Gorman does state his approval of online access to reference material and digitization of unique manuscripts and images, although Google's library partners do not make the latter material available for the project. (Other remarks in the piece seem to indicate that Gorman has not tested Google Print search results specifically.) Gorman says it is "premature to prepare to mourn the death of libraries and the death of the book…. This latest version of Google hype will no doubt join taking personal commuter helicopters to work and carrying the Library of Congress in a briefcase on microfilm as 'back to the future' failures, for the simple reason that they were solutions in search of a problem." Instead, he suggests people should accustom themselves to a "short wait" for "the active and developed interlibrary lending system that supplies thousands of books daily to scholars, researchers, and dilettantes worldwide." (I asked OCLC's Jordan whether OCLC had plans in the works to make ILL delivery nationwide with a quick turnaround. He confirmed OCLC employees were working on the issues, but-at this point-they do not have a way for libraries to verify credit cards, which would seem a necessary, "deposit fund" precondition for any massive transfer of assets by the nation's libraries.) By the way, a recent Library Journal story indicated that Gorman has "taken LIS education as the theme of his presidency."
    • John Berry of Library Journal viewed the Google library program as "another great leap forward for access to information, a paradigm shift in our time." As for the future of librarians, Berry said: "Every time anything like this comes even close, the role of librarians is strengthened and made more central. This will happen again. We'll go back to our basics-evaluation and provision of information sources, helping people authenticate currency, comprehensiveness, accuracy, and so forth."
    • Marjorie Hlava pointed out a practical consideration. "It costs $200 a square foot to maintain a library collection (heating, utilities, building costs, staff, etc.). If I had 132 miles of shelf space and someone offered to digitize half of it, I'd be real interested." And, after the digitization, Hlava expected people would be tempted to downsize their physical collections. OCLC's Jordan agreed. He expected the libraries in the program to "re-purpose" their funds, for example by building up their special collections.
    • Mary Case, library director at the University of Illinois at Chicago, cut to the chase: "If we dig in our heels, we'll just look stupid. It's coming. We must use it."
  • What's next for Google? Are there any other prized content collections in its line of sight?
    • I asked Google representatives about other kinds of public domain books, e.g., "copyleft" (author's permission granted in advance) or government documents, e.g., GPO Access content. They indicated that "all of that is on target. It's a matter of prioritization."
    • Other collections of material would seem tbe logical extensions to the library program, e.g., ProQuest's compilation of a century or more of doctoral dissertations and masters' theses. The Pennsylvania Library Association held an October debate on the relationship between libraries and Google at its annual conference (Brian Kenney, ed. "Googlizers vs. Resistors," Library Journal, December 2004, pp. 44–46). At that panel session, Googlizer Richard Sweeney, university librarian at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, described a test of putting 3,600 theses and dissertations online and into Google's hands. In the first 3 years, users went from 50 to 500,000. I asked ProQuest's Suzanne BeDell, vice president of higher education publishing (and a Resistor on the panel), and Mary Sauer-Games, director of publishing, whether ProQuest would consider opening up its collection to Google Print. Another branch of ProQuest is apparently in conversations with Google Print. BeDell said, "Any opportunity for us at ProQuest to help increase usage of data [that] librarians are already subscribing to-and Google can really help to do that as can any Web-based search tool-is a real opportunity." She also reported that ProQuest has purchased and installed a new high-speed scanner for digitizing microform content. "Yes," said BeDell, "Google is a disruptive technology. This Google project will fundamentally change what we do in our business, but, that being said, it's a great opportunity. It's bringing so much to the table in one fell swoop; the opportunities are outstanding."

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Michael Hart

Michael Stern Hart (b. 1947) is an American best known as the founder of Project Gutenberg, which makes electronic books freely available via the Internet. At least one version of each book is a plain text file that can be displayed on virtually any computer. Most of the early postings he typed in personally. Today the e-texts are produced (usually scanned) by Project Gutenberg's many volunteers. The collection includes public domain works, as well as copyrighted works if the owner permits.

A gifted student, Hart received a bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1973), in an independent-study program, but dropped out of graduate school. In 1971 he combined the interests of his parents (his mother is a mathematics education professor and father a Shakespeare professor). At that time the University of Illinois computer center gave him free access to its computer, and he foresaw that the future of computers would be information retrieval, not number-crunching. He began posting text copies of such classics as the United States Declaration of Independence, the Bible, and the works of Homer, Shakespeare, and Mark Twain; this was the beginning of Project Gutenberg.

As the founder of Project Gutenberg, Hart was approached about being the lead plaintiff in the case that eventually became Eldred v. Ashcroft. However, his desire to focus on attacking the greed of copyright owners in legal briefs for the case was resisted by attorney Lawrence Lessig, so Hart declined to participate.

Hart is also an author, and the works he has written are available free of charge on the Project Gutenberg server.

See also History of the Internet.

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The Last but not Least

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