Archive for the ‘Digitizing books’ Category

Amazon revised the public domain publishing policy again, and I think it’s…

January 11, 2016

Amazon revised the public domain publishing policy again, and I think it’s…

great! ūüôā

Back in 2011, I wrote about

New guidelines for public domain content

for publishers (often one person) using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

At that point, they required that original material be added to public domain works for them to be published through KDP.

Let me explain that a bit more.

A “public domain” work is one that is not under copyright protection…in this case, that would often involve a book where the copyright term has expired. That work is no longer owned by the author or the author’s estate…the public now owns it (hence “public domain”).

Throughout the history of copyright in the USA, there has been a limited term of protection*. In fact, the idea of a limited time is in the original “copyright clause” of the Constitution:

“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

So, once a book falls into the public domain, anyone can publish it and sell it and do whatever they want with it, without having to get permission from or pay anybody who originally created it.

One advantage¬†of that to society is that it is a way for books (and magazines and newspapers) to become available to the public again. If you have a book in your garage which is out of copyright, you could digitize¬†it and put it online…legally.

This is, by the way, not quite the same as “orphan works”. You may hear about that. The issue there is books which are not in the public domain, are “out of print”…and have no one to “speak for them”. For example, a book might have been published in the 1950s by a¬†publisher that then went¬†out of business, but had no “reversion rights” (under which the rights would have gone back to the author or author’s estate). That is being reviewed at the national level.

The one big drawback to Amazon’s¬†2011 policy was that it likely had a chilling effect on the variety of books available to us…and may have lead to the loss of some material.

Why is that?

Quite simply, not everyone is a creator. If someone had a box of old magazines in the garage, they might have digitized them and made them available (for a price) through the Kindle store…but not if they had to write something new about them.

Under the 2011 policy,they might have just tossed them.

Well, I was looking today, and the policy has changed! It now says

“In order to provide a better customer buying experience, our policy is to not publish undifferentiated versions of public domain titles where a free version is available in our store.”
https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A2OHLJURFVK57Q

This should make more books available to us…and provide people with another way to make some money. The money can compensate them for the not inconsiderable work of digitizing a public domain work.

I have done that myself in my work with a non-profit (in the past)**.

In fact, this makes it quite a bit more likely that I will digitize some of the works I have for the Kindle store…and ones that aren’t available now. Don’t look for anything soon…it does take quite a while to do it reasonably well. It will be on my list of things, though. ūüôā

If you have some old books/magazines/newspapers, and are curious as to whether or not they might be in the public domain, I recommend starting with the

That can show you if a book is pretty definitely in the public domain.

If that doesn’t say it is the case, then you can go to

http://copyright.gov/records/index.html

and start researching there.

Within certain timeframes, you can determine if a work is in the public domain there.

It’s all gotten much more complicated since it became no longer necessary to include a copyright notice, among other things. Copyright is now automatic…you don’t have to register them, although it can help.

The Copyright Office is working on getting older records to be searchable online through the Digitization and Public Access Project…they are making progress, but they don’t indicate they are done yet.

Summing up, I think that this loosening of the guideline is a good thing which may save some works from being lost, give us more options for things to read, and provide another possible revenue stream for individuals and organizations.

What do you think? Do you read public domain works? Do you think it’s reasonable for someone to charge for a book they didn’t write or help to initially create? Do you have any works you might digitize? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this work.

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* I have explored the idea of permanent copyright in exchange for more robust Fair Use rules in Should copyright be permanent?

**One of the books I digitized (and Norberto Pellicci worked on it after me) was Behind the Flying Saucers [Annotated] (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping) I  added an afterword where I gave some of the historical context

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Amazon releases book digitizing software

February 3, 2015

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

Kindle Convert (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

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 not.

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:

The Xcanex: a better book digitizer

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

2015 BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness)

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.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

To Kill a Mockingbird going legally e July 8

April 28, 2014

To Kill a Mockingbird going legally e July 8

Update: now available for pre-order!

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile) $9.99, text-to-speech access not blocked

This is such exciting news!

Ever since the Kindle was released in 2007 (and honestly, before), readers have wanted to experience To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (at AmazonSmile: benefiti a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) as an e-book.

For many of us, it’s just because that’s the way we read books now. It’s not necessarily about the e-book bringing us something different: it’s that we want TKaM in our libraries, and our libraries are now digital.

For others, e-books bring an accessibility that p-books (paperbooks) do not. It might be because of the increasable font size, or physical difficulty with holding a paperbook, or just the inability to store a large number of p-books.

It won’t surprise me if this becomes one of the top 100 e-book bestsellers of the year.

As I’m writing this, it can’t yet be pre-ordered for its July 8th release date…either through Amazon or at the HarperCollins website.

When you can, though, I’ll link to it…assuming they don’t block text-to-speech access, which I think is very unlikely with this book.

Shockingly, according to this

AP story in USA Today

Harper Lee herself made a statement about it.

One narrative has been that Harper Lee regretted that the book was out there at all, and that people just didn’t want to approach her about making the book even more widely available.

The statement suggests that’s not the case.

The author is quoted in the article as saying:

“I’m still old-fashioned. I love dusty old books and libraries,” Lee, who turned 88 on Monday, said through her publisher. “I am amazed and humbled that Mockingbird has survived this long. This is Mockingbird for a new generation.”

In the past, when that new generation searched for To Kill a Mockingbird e-books, they either found analyses/study guides of/for the book (and there are many in the Kindle store), or pirated copies (ones produced without legal authorization).

At

eReaderIQ’s most watched

list, where you can sign up to be notified when a book has been Kindleized, To Kill a Mockingbird is (and has been) number one.

The top ten there?

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  3. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  4. The Great Book of Amber by Roger Zelazny
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird (50th Anniversary Edition)
  6. Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy
  7. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley
  8. The Far  Pavilions  by M.M. Kaye
  9. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
  10. Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey

Why aren’t all of these books in e-book form already? After all, Amazon early on stated a goal of “every book ever published”.

The key thing is copyright.

Most (but not quite all) countries recognize the right of an author to control (within certain limits) what they have written.

The authors then traditionally license the rights to sell their works to companies (publishers). They have done that by format (e-book separately from hardback separately from audiobook, and so on) and territory (some times a country, sometimes a larger geographical area).

If the author has not licensed the rights, they stay with the author (or the author’s estate) as long as the book would be under copyright protection.

Prior to about 2005, e-book rights were not commonly negotiated…in part because there wasn’t much of a market for them.

So, if a publisher licensed the p-book rights for the USA from an author, they didn’t automatically get the e-book rights. That means that the publisher would have to go back to the author/author’s estate for a new negotiation…where they would be in competition not only with other publishers, but with (increasingly) the author publishing the e-book themselves.

It’s those negotiations that can hold up the legal version of the e-book.

In the beginning, several big name authors resisted e-books…they may not have seen them as a good way to experience the books, or they may have been waiting for the market to mature so they knew how much to ask for them.

Ray Bradbury and J.K. Rowling famously held out…and then changed their minds later.

Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife actually is available legally as an e-book…just not through Amazon:

https://zolabooks.com/modals/book/the-time-travelers-wife

Eventually, unless the laws change, the other books will fall into the public domain. That is, they will no longer be under copyright protection, and the public will own them.

Anybody, at that point, can publish the book…without the author getting royalties, or having any quality control.

I don’t think a lot of authors are holding out under principle any more. I think they realize that not releasing the book legally adds to piracy. People, I believe, would prefer to buy the book legally where they regularly get e-books, than look for an illegal copy (which they may not even realize is illegal) somewhere else.

As I’ve said before, I think that the more you love books, the more you love e-books. I believe that deliberately not releasing a book as an e-book inconveniences unnecessarily people with physical challenges. I understand the desire to make a statement that you want to support physical bookstores (I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager), but if you believe that p-books are more desirable, then they can beat the competition without you making it a one-horse race.

Regardless,¬†I’m happy to see that this is happening during Harper Lee’s lifetime. I want the author to see the benefits: not just financial benefits, but the joy of seeing new readers of your work, and people getting to return to a favorite who might otherwise find it difficult¬†to do so.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Round up #248: write your way to a Kindle Fire, “me-colored glasses”

April 4, 2014

Round up #248: write your way to a Kindle Fire, “me-colored glasses”

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

“I’m not at Liberty to pay…”

“‘By reducing our preferred position and eliminating some of our related rights, Barnes & Noble will gain greater flexibility to accomplish their strategic objectives,’ Mr. Maffei said in a statement.”
–quoted in a New York Times article by Michael J. De La Merced and Julie Bosman

Flexibility? Yes. Capability? No.

Yes, I’m sure all that money you were giving them was reducing their choices. It’s like a parent saying, “You don’t like my rules? Fine. Then you can just get an apartment on your own and live your own rules. Of course, you might have trouble finding someone who will rent to a ten-year old…”

I don’t really see how to spin this and make it a good thing for B&N, and neither can the stock market…following the announcement, B&N’s stock took a more¬†¬†precipitous¬†¬†dive than an Acapulco cliff diver. ūüėČ

CNNMoney graph

That doesn’t mean that they won’t recover…but I would be very interested to hear what people think does mean that Barnes & Noble is going to get back to robust health.

I think this does make the continued existence of Barnes & Noble bookstores as we know them today less likely (and I’m speaking as a former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore).

The article was generally pretty good, but I doubt the folks at Books-A-Million liked this statement: “…Barnes & Noble, the nation‚Äôs last major bookstore chain”.

¬†Digitizing your paperbooks will be legal…in the UK

America’s copyright system is often relatively complex compared to many other countries’ systems.

I honestly don’t really expect us to lead on this front.

One could argue that it is due, in part, to us being so successful in creating intellectual property. Most countries in the world consume American media, even if we don’t return the favor in equal proportion. You can also see this in the use of our software.

So, I wasn’t surprised the the UK beat us to saying something that I’ve been hoping would get said here in the USA.

Starting 1 June 2014, it is legal to digitize your paperbooks (turn them into e-books) at home for your own purposes in the UK, according to this

Wired.co.uk article by Olivia Solon

This decision wasn’t specifically about p-books to e-books, but it does cover them (it also covers things like “ripping a CD” to digital).

It doesn’t allow you to do that for other people, but that’s fine. If I knew it was legal here, I’d probably start digitizing a lot more of my books (I do public domain ones now…just started on that with my new Xcanex scanner, although I did it with a flatbed for a non-profit).

I don’t think this is much of a threat to the e-book industry. Not very many people are going to scan a book when they can buy one already done and nicely formatted. I think, as would be the case with me, that it would be books that aren’t available otherwise in most cases. Certainly, some hobbyists might scan the books instead of buying them…but it would be a bit like saying that people who build their own computers are a threat to HP. It just isn’t going to be that large a group.

I hope this inspires a similar decision in the USA…

Amazon Fire TV

My Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile) should be here today. I meant to order it with one-day shipping, but apparently, in my haste (I would afraid they would sell out), didn’t click the button to switch it. That’s okay…I probably won’t really get to explore it until Saturday, and I’ll write more about it then.

Of course, many people don’t wait to explore it before they write about it. ¬†ūüôā

I was…intrigued with all of the 1-star reviews that showed up before almost anybody had the device. The vast majority of those were from people who didn’t have it yet.

1-star reviews for the Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile)

A lot of the “reviews” (I don’t believe you can actually “review” something until you have viewed it) had to do it with it missing something the poster wanted.

That just seems very self-centered to me. Its like giving Baskin-Robbins a 1-star review because, out of the 33 flavors of ice cream they have, they don’t have Banana-Coconut-Mango…and that’s your favorite! So, it doesn’t matter if their service is excellent, prices are good, and the vast majority of people who go there like their ice creams…the place sucks! ūüôā

Now, that’s not quite a fair comparison…arguably, at $99, Amazon is not a price leader on this (they are comparable to many¬†other devices in the category, although not the the Google Chromecast). It does seem like a very narrow focus…seeing the world through “me-colored glasses”.

One of the most commonly mentioned ones, and one that Amazon even includes in the comparison chart, is

HBO GO (at AmazonSmile)

That also messes up the analogy, because that’s a popular “channel”…it’s more like Baskin-Robbins not having strawberry ice cream. To me, that wouldn’t mean BR should get a 1-star review…there would still be a lot of good in that place, and a 1-star review is as low as you can go at Amazon.

Notice, though, that I have a link for HBO Go? That’s because you can get it in the Amazon Appstore…for your Kindle Fire.

That means that, if you have both a

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and an

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile)

you will be able to watch HBO GO through the AFTV, since you can mirror the Fire to it (display what’s on the Fire’s screen on your TV). I assume that will be true: I won’t be testing that specifically, since we don’t have HBO.

The app is free, by the way.

Equally worth noting: no reason to suppose the app won’t get added directly to the AFTV at some point.

I expect AFTV’s 3.1 star average to rise considerably in the next week, once the initial flood of negative reviews by people who don’t have it is countered. Don’t know where it will get, don’t know how good the experience is yet…but I think it has been front-loaded with negativity.

If you don’t have and don’t plan to get an AFTV, does this part of this post matter to you?

A bit…it’s making some changes on the Amazon.com site, and possibly pointing to some interesting strategic shifts.

First, the AFTV appears in the Kindle “family stripe”. That’s the thing at the top of a Kindle’s product page which shows you what other Kindles are available.

If you go to a Kindle Fire’s page, you now see the Kindle Fires…then a “show all device types” illustration, which includes a Fire, a Paperwhite…and an Amazon Fire TV.

I have said many times that I wish they hadn’t named the Fire a “Kindle”, since they are such different devices…I wish they had kept “Kindle” for dedicated EBRs (E-Book Readers).

While I had suggested the “Amazon Current”, I would have been much happier with the “Amazon Fire” rather than the “Kindle Fire”. ¬†It has created a great deal of confusion, with people wondering why they can’t read their “new Kindle” in the sun as well.

This family striping seems to be a step away from branding everything as a “Kindle”, which I think may be a good thing.

Similarly, while the links to

Manage Your Kindle (at AmazonSmile)

still work, the page is now branded, “Manage Your Content and Devices”.

Students: write your way to a Kindle Fire

I mentioned this briefly, but wanted to call it out more.

Amazon has a nice

student guide

to

Timebound (The Chronos Files) (at AmazonSmile)

One of the elements there is a contest:

This lesson will allow your students to write an account of an American History event as seen through a CHRONOS historian. Students can submit their work here to enter to win one of 5 autographed editions of Timebound. One lucky student will win a Kindle Fire. Submissions must be received by 12/17/2014. For more information on the content visit: http://www.chronosfiles.com/students.html.

This is, in my opinion, a good academic and creative contest. The rules will require some real research, and I see this as a legitimate school exercise.

What do you think? Should I cover the Amazon Fire TV at all in this blog? I do think I will do it some (not a lot), but I’m interested in your opinion. Will the USA follow the UK in legitimizing format shifting? Should they? What would be the impact? Were you ever given an assignment in school with a prompting question? If so, was it valuable? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

*¬†I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you‚Äôll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)‚Ķand the good feeling you‚Äôll get.¬†:)¬†Shop ‚Äôtil you help!¬†:)¬†By the way, it‚Äôs been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to ‚Äústart at AmazonSmile‚ÄĚ if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #247: Amazon announcement, win a book scanner

March 29, 2014

Round up #247: Amazon announcement, win a book scanner

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Win an Xcanex book scanner

I’ve written about my

piQx Xcanex Portable Book and Document Scanner (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

It’s a remarkable device for digitizing your public domain books (and lots of other things.

Well, they are currently them away!

They are in Round 4 of what is basically an essay contest. You say why you want one, and they pick a winner (the current contest ends April 4th, but they may keep going after that. You enter here:

http://www.piqximaging.com/

I paid over $250 for mine…I did enter the contest, but with the intent to donate it to a non-profit if I win.

Amazon announces…something to do with video

This coming Wednesday, April 2nd, at 11:00 AM Eastern, Amazon is going to announce something. According to the invitation, as shown in this

Droid Life post

it will involve “…AN UPDATE ON OUR VIDEO BUSINESS.”

That could be several things.

Amusingly, I see a lot of news reports referring to a “set-top box”.

I find that amusing not because I don’t think they will introduce video hardware, but because it is already an obsolete term.

The

Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player
(at AmazonSmile)

isn’t a set-top box…it doesn’t go on top of the set (there isn’t much of a top to many TV sets any more any…some of them just hang on the wall and are thin). It plugs into the HDMI port, typically on the side of it.

I know that being techie, but I always find it funny which words catch on and get used even when they don’t fit the situation.

I would expect them to introduce hardware here. I’m hoping for a Chromecast type stick (something small) that pairs super well with¬†my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That would mean it would have Miracast capability, most likely. I actually don’t need that right now, since my only TV that has an HDMI already¬†has a

NETGEAR Push2TV Wireless Display HDMI Adapter ‚Äď Miracast and WiDi (PTV3000) (at AmazonSmile)

which works well enough.

It would, though, give us more options in buying a future TV. Hm…I wonder if that might work for me at a hotel, as well? I’m guessing it would.

That would make enough news, especially if it was cheap enough to rival the $35 Chromecast.

Amazon is good at announcing more than what most people expect, though.

They may also announce something to do with video content.

This

The Wall Street Journal post by Greg Bensinger

created quite a buzz, suggesting Amazon might be doing a free (advertising supported) streaming music and video service.

Doink! Doink! Doink!

What’s that? The sounds of the jaws of cable operators hitting the floor. ūüėČ

Amazon has denied that since the report came out.

However, I could see them doing a few interesting things.

One would be to give us in the USA a model like they recently did with LoveFilm in Europe.

In addition to Prime, give a possibility to subscribe to video only for a monthly fee.

I’d also love to see them crack the live TV thing, but I’m not quite sure how. I’d like to be able to see some shows live. They could partner with somebody to do exclusive video…maybe The Washington Post, which Jeff Bezos recently bought?

On my

I can see news stories for free. They come from web-type sources, and they aren’t as slick as cable, but I could see dropping cable and making do with them.

Another way to go would be to do something like Kindle FreeTime through it. Create “channels” of videos for a monthly fee, and use profiles…you could make it work with all ready created FreeTime profiles, for that matter.

I do expect strong integration with the Kindle Fires, whatever they do.

“You¬†can’t buy that! The great e-book royalty war”

This

Salon post by Laura Miller

does a nice job explaining the difficulties in getting some older (but not public domain books) into e-book form. I’ve written about this before, but it’s a bit complicated.

Essentially, rights are considered to remain with the author in most cases, unless that author licenses them.

For books published prior to about 2005, contracts usually didn’t mention e-books…meaning that the e-book rights would stay with the author.

There has been a lot of debate about some clauses, and a judge recently (narrowly) ruled that Open Road did not have the right to procure e-book rights to

Julie of the Wolves (at AmazonSmile)

by Jean Craighead George.

That’s a little scary…I like there to be competition for e-book editions. However, it’s less scary than it used to be, because it used to be that large tradpubs (traditional publishers) didn’t have much interest in e-book editions. If they had the rights, we might not have the books.

That’s changed…the market value of e-books is much clearer than it was five years ago.

Still, the article points out that tradpubs are tending to stick to what can be seen as a somewhat low royalty rate…certainly, much lower than independently publishing through Amazon (where you can get 70%).

That may drive some authors away from them…they have to watch this carefully, or they could trip over their own feet.

Getting into a goodreads rhythm

Okay, I’m starting to use goodreads more effectively.

When I finish a book, I mark it as finished…and write a review.

For example, I just wrote this one

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/882763732

on

What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine (at AmazonSmile)

by Danielle Ofri.

Polls of my readers here have shown me that reviews are not people’s favorite posts in ILMK…but I know people do like to read them at goodreads (that’s how they capitalize the site on the site, by the way).

I thought that review came out pretty well. ūüôā

Several of you have become my “friends” there…I think you do that on my profile page:

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3037617-bufo-calvin

I am finding it interesting to see what my “friends” are saying…what they are reading and such.

I’m still a goodreads novice, but I’m finding this level of involvement fun, and worth the time.

What do you think? Do you wish I would write reviews here? What would you do with an Xcanex if you won one? What do you think Amazon will announce on Thursday…and do you care? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

===

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle. (Last weekend before recommendations close!)

===

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Round up #205: Best OCR, comics & KFHD on sale

September 16, 2013

Round up #205: Best OCR, comics & KFHD on sale

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later. 

Wanna buy a supervillain…cheap?

Right now, Amazon is having a

DC Comic Villains Sale

DC publishes Batman, Superman, and the Flash, among many others, and really has some of the coolest villains.

These are modern comics from current talents (Grant Morrison, Paul Dini, Gail Simone…).

Each one is ninety-nine cents. I’m guessing these would not be good for young kids, but I haven’t read any of these specific ones.

While I’m sure these would look better on a Kindle Fire (color can be important in comics), the “Only available on these devices” list is more robust than one might think:

  • Kindle
  • Kindle Touch
  • Kindle Paperwhite
  • Kindle Fire HD
  • Kindle Cloud Reader
  • Kindle Keyboard
  • Kindle for iPad
  • Kindle for Android
  • Kindle Fire (may or may not include 1st generation Kindle Fire; please check deliver to dropdown)

The Paperwhite, the Touch, the Mindle, and the Kindle Keyboard are all capable of showing comics effectively. Unfortunately, the Kindle DX, which is one generation farther back than the Kindle Keyboard, doesn’t have good software for it…unfortunate, because I think the larger size might be more effective.

This is a limited time sale, and might end at any point. As always, check the price before you click that “Buy” button.

Kindle Fire HD 7″ on sale again for $159…same as non-HD

While it seems pretty likely that a new Kindle Fire is coming soon (there have been supposed leaked pictures and stats), this is a good deal:

Kindle Fire HD 7″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers

It’s $159…the same as the non-HD.

I would consider this Amazon’s primary tablet right now…there are two larger versions (with and without 4G), and a less expensive one.

Basing it on reviews, it goes like this:

  • This one: 17,952 at time of writing
  • Non-HD: 10,839
  • 8.9″ non-4G or with 4G: 8,679

By the way, looking at those numbers, you can see what a low percentage of people actually write reviews. There have probably been millions of these sold (although Amazon doesn’t release specific numbers).

Again, this could end at any time.

Jonathan Franzen says that Jeff Bezos is not the antichrist

Jeff: “Um…thanks?”

ūüėČ

Note…that’s not a real quotation from Jeff Bezos…I want to be careful to make that clear. ūüôā

In this

article in The Guardian

Jonathan Franzen submits a different answer to my optimist/pessimist poll question…or at least, one can draw the conclusion that the author would. ūüėČ

Lest you think that the assessment alluded to in the headline for this story is an endorsement, the full line is

“In my own little corner of the world, which is to say American fiction, Jeff Bezos of Amazon may not be the antichrist, but he surely looks like one of the four horsemen.”

I’m going to recommend that you read the article, although you may want to be prepared to have it bring you down.

I think Franzen, as others have done, is seeing the world through the lens of the traditionally published author. While the opportunity to have someone else pay you significant money to license it so they can publish it may be diminishing (and I’m not entirely convinced that’s the case), the opportunity for authors to make money is considerably greater than it was before electronic distribution.

Many, many authors are, I’m sure, making more money than they would have in the old curated system. My intuition is that many more authors are making a living as authors, but I don’t have the stats to back that up.

To me, the world looks like it is getting better for authors.

One of the challenges will be for readers to find “better” books to read, of course, but for authors, the picture looks good…in my opinion, of course.

The best OCR I’ve ever used

I’ve been saying I want to get better OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software, and a better scanner. That’s so I can digitize public domain works I have.

Well, I’ve found one, and it’s astonishingly good!

What is it?

My new Galaxy S4 phone.

It comes with an app called Optical Reader.

You take a picture of text, and it can convert it for you.

Here is part of the results of a page I did from The Maybe Monsters, a book I believe to be in the public domain:

“tracks
of the two kinds of bears were not the right size, and,
besides, bears leave claw marks that do not appear in the
snowman’s tracks. Furthermore, bears usually remain down
in the valleys.
That left the langur. “The great black-faced monkey of
the Himalayan slopes,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle called it,
in “The Adventure of the Creeping Man” in The Case Book
<)/ Sherlock Holmes. “Biggest and most human of climbing
monkeys.’
Again, there was the question of size of the prints. Ship-
ton answered this one:
The tracks measured rather more than 12 inches, which
would suggest that they had been made by a creature
much larger than any langur known to science.
I understand that langur monkeys are vegetarians. Now
while a carnivorous creature might feed upon marmots
and tailless Tibetan rats which inhabit the lower reaches
of these glaciers . . . a vegetarian, other than a grazing
animal, would in these parts be very far from adequate
food supplies.
What in any case is a monkey doing wandering about
in these regions of permanent snow?
Still another argument against the langur is that the langur
travels in groups. The snowman, from his tracks,
walks alone.”

Is it perfect? No, but it’s much better than what I have used before.

From the time I opened the page to the time I had it e-mailed to me? I would guess it was maybe fifteen seconds. I’ll have to time it to be sure, but that’s pretty quick.

Obviously, it’s not recognizing the line spacing between the paragraphs, but that wouldn’t be hard to fix.

The bottom of the page did not come out as well, and I presume the page was a bit bent there or not lit as well. I just did this very spontaneously…just held it up and snapped.

The negative would be having different images for each page, but I may be able to work with that.

I’ll experiment a bit more and let you know, but this is promising. It might work especially well for magazines.

What do you think? Are you interested in unconfirmed stats and images of upcoming hardware? Unless it suggests something radical, I usually prefer to wait to get the official (radical can be a fun idea, even if it doesn’t come to fruition). Do you read comics currently? Did you read them in the past, but stopped? If you could OCR your p-books, what would you do with the p-books afterwards? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.


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