Thursday Threads: Personal Book Digitizer, Status of Book Piracy, Core Elements of Description

5 minute read

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It wasn't too long ago that the music industry was in an uproar about stories of how easy it was to copy digital audio files and make digital copies with high fidelity. It was predicted that we would see the same thing in other media forms, and this week's DLTJ Thursday Threads has two stories on the topic of book publishing. First is news of another inexpensive and simple (and now to be commercially produced) book digitizing system. Although the process of "ripping" a book from its physical medium might take longer than an audio track, these kind of devices are emerging that will make it simple to do. What happens with the digital copy after that? The second Thursday Threads pointer is to an interview with the founder of book publishing industry consultant about the state of book piracy, how it is measured, and why digital rights management software is a poor way to stop it. The last entry this week is a short excerpt of a brief summary of a study conducted by OCLC last year on the usage of MARC tags in cataloging records.

As a side note, apologies to DLTJ readers that had problems reading some of the content here over the past couple of weeks. A series of problems with my personal server -- driven by the fact, I believe, that the server was first set up about 10 years ago and all the patches, tweaks, and updates over the decade have finally driven performance into the ground -- prompted me to migrate this blog to Amazon's Web Services cloud. It is now running on a micro Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) virtual machine backed by Simple Storage Service (S3) and the CloudFront content distribution network. I've also been optimizing the snot out of configuration -- employing all sorts of new tricks for reducing the time it takes to deliver pages to your browser. I have another blog post in draft with the details for when anyone (even me!) wants to replicate it. Given enough personal time, watch for that in the next week or so.

All of that said, if you are seeing things that don't look or function right, please let me know.

Book Saver - A personal book digitization setup from ION

[caption id="attachment_2333" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Picture and Demonstration Video of the Book Saver from ION"]Booksaver from ION
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Book Saver has two cameras that take separate images in rapid succession of each page within an open book. Both cameras of Book Saver also have a flash for allowing the page to be fully illuminated during the scanning process. Book Saver’s cradle, where the book is placed during the scanning process, is also angled as to not require you to hold pages down to get a flat, even surface. While similar devices require up to seven seconds per one page, Book Saver takes only one second per two pages!

News of the new Book Saver product comes from Fiacre O'Duinn. It is a hand-held device for digitizing book materials. The promotional literature says it takes about 15 minutes to digitize a 200-page book. The product was announced in time for the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, but is not yet available. It is expected to ship this summer with a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $189 (I'm already seeing price points of $149 mentioned).

One of the "Key Features" listed on the product page is that the device "eliminates the need to purchase electronic versions of reading material you already own." As Fiacre points out in his post, this really brings down the cost (in equipment and in effort) of digitally reproducing books. Are we about to see a new wave of personal book sharing/piracy? And what will the impact on libraries be? In the higher education arena, it is already being mentioned as a way to digitize textbooks. It is conceivable that students would borrow textbooks from our libraries, digitize them in an afternoon, and return them -- or maybe just digitize them in the library. Do we need to get ahead of devices like this with education and policy initiatives?

Book Piracy: Less DRM, More Data

As digital book publishing continues to expand at a rapid pace to meet reader demands, piracy rears its head at the forefront of many a discussion in publisher circles. Many publishers respond to the perceived threat with strict digital rights management (DRM) software. But is this the best solution? And does it even provide protection from piracy?

In the following interview, Magellan Media founder and TOC 2011 speaker Brian O'Leary (@brianoleary) discusses the current state of book piracy, how measurement data isn't sufficient to determine its impact, and why DRM is a poor anti-piracy tool.

The same arguments in favor of digital rights management for the music sector are now being made in the book publishing sector. This interview comes from the perspective of why DRM is the wrong answer to the perceived problem of book piracy. The backdrop is O'Reilly Media's Tools of Change for Publishing conference to be held next month in New York City.

Core Bibliographic Description

Those “outliers” can be categorized according to three general purposes:

  • Provenance and Identity: identifiers (e.g. ISBN, OCLC, etc.) and cataloging source (040)
  • Elements useful for discovery: title statement (245), personal names (100, 700) and subject (650)
  • Elements useful for understanding and evaluation: publication statement (260), physical description (300), and notes (500)

That’s it. In a nutshell you have the very core of bibliographic description as defined by librarians over the last century or so.

This post by Roy Tenant briefly summarizes the work of OCLC Research staff member Karen Smith-Yoshimura. The research work was to gather evidence to inform changes in MARC metadata practices, and that project page includes a 72 page report [PDF] and an Excel spreadsheet of data tables along with audio and video of a one hour webinar on the report. In my FriendFeed posting of Roy's article, Walt Crawford noted a similar finding in his 1986 Bibliographic displays in the online catalog. As Walt notes, "somehow it's not surprising that it's still true in 2010."