Amazon releases book digitizing software
I will update this later, because I am currently just on my phone.
Note: this post has now been updated.
Amazon has just released software intended to digitize your books and other items so that they are available for the Kindle. This is a major move. The software is currently about $20
I don’t know how they are addressing possible copyright issues, or if they are just thinking it is okay if it is for personal use. I will research more later today.
Update: I’ve had a chance to look at this now…and I’ve purchased it. I’ve also been able to look at the User’s Guide.
It’s both significant and intriguing…and likely to be misunderstood in two directions.
On the one hand, there will be people who buy Kindle Convert thinking it is going to be an easy way to take their paperbooks and convert them into Kindle books.
It’s going to take quite a bit of time and effort.
I’ve digitized books before, in my work with a non-profit. It’s much easier now than it used to be, but if you aren’t willing to tear your books apart (so you can scan the pieces more easily), you still have to at least turn the pages.
It says this will work with inexpensive scanners, and with a DPI (Dots Per Inch) requirement of as low as 300 (and up to 600, I think), that’s going to be true.
In my case, I’ll have the advantage of using my Xcanex:
which will speed things up.
Still, a single book project has seven steps…and number six is “Editing the text and formatting of your book”…that could be a doozy.
There will be a somewhat steep learning curve, I would guess, and some people may give up.
This will probably not be a better choice for most people than buying the e-book, if one exists in the Kindle store and is available in your country (Kindle Convert is only currently available in the USA, by the way).
For hobbyists, it will be fun.
For me, I have books that simply are unlikely to become available…and that I would like to preserve.
This can also be good for non-books: I’m tempted to take a “scrapbook” or travel photos I have and turn them into a book this way.
Misconception one: this will be easy.
Misconception two: it won’t be worth it.
That’s the side you’ll hear from tech writers, who will cleverly point out to you how hard this will be.
If they’ve never digitized a book, though, they’ll miss the advantages this is going to give you.
This is going to go into your Amazon account (that’s important…I’ll address that shortly).
A converted book will act largely like a book you might purchase…that includes Whispersync (reading progress synchronization between devices), increable text size and dictionary look-up.
I don’t see them saying it anywhere, but I assume text-to-speech will work in the converted version on devices that can do it. For me, that would be huge! There are books which I would love to hear in the car.
I would assess this this way: it’s going to be a chore to digitize a book with Kindle Convert, but in many cases, it will be worth it.
Now, as to that copyright question…
This part is especially interesting to me.
It has not been clear to me that the purchaser of a book which is under copyright protection has the legal right to scan and digitize that book, even for their own commercial use.
It seemed logical that they would (like timeshifting with a DVR), but I haven’t seen explicit case law supporting that.
I have to assume that Amazon has checked this out thoroughly, and is comfortable with it being okay.
They make it quite clear: you can not share the books with people outside of your account (unless you share a physical device with them…and I’m not sure if Family Library would work yet), and you can not do this for commercial purposes (you can’t plan to sell the scan).
Another important point:
I would assume that if you leave Amazon, you no longer have access to the Cloud version of the book…and that you can’t download it and take it with you easily.
For the small group of people who will do this, that will really bind them to Amazon.
If I digitize a non-public domain book with this, I’m reeeeally not going to want to leave Amazon and lose access to that book!
I would also expect we may get a condemnatory statement from the Authors Guild in the next day or two.
You might also be wondering why Amazon would do this, possibly losing a sale from someone converting a paper copy.
As I’ve mentioned before, stores look at the population of sales, customers look at individual sales.
Let’s say you convert a book instead of paying $9.99 for it.
First, you paid $19.99 (at time of writing…looks like it will cost $49.99 soon) for the software. Amazon might make $3 for that $9.99 book, so they are doing okay with that.
Second, you are committed more and more to Amazon…which means you might join Prime, and then they can really make money from all the extra purchases you make.
I’ll let you know how good the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is after I’ve done my first book, but I expect there will be a lot of buzz about this over the next month or so.
What do you think? Are you going to buy this? Would you buy a scanner just to use with it? What books would you want to digitize that you own? It’s going to preserve things like autographs and inscriptions (presumably as images)…any good stories about a book with annotations like that in your collection? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.
Bonus story: if you like to try to predict the Oscars, you might enjoy participating in my
No charge, and we are usually pretty accurate as a group…the more people who play, the more fun it is for me, but up to you.
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