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Scribd Becomes a DRM-Optional E-Bookstore

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the going-legit dept.

Books 93

Miracle Jones writes "In an effort to compete with Amazon and Google, the document-hosting website Scribd will now be letting writers and publishers sell documents that they upload. They will be offering an 80/20 profit-sharing deal in favor of writers. Writers will be able to charge whatever they want. In addition, Scribd will not force any content control (although they will have a piracy database and bounce copyrighted scans) and will let writers choose to encrypt their books with DRM or not. This is big news for people in publishing, who have been seeking an alternative to Amazon for fear that Amazon is amassing too much power too quickly in this brand-new marketplace, especially after Amazon's announcement last week that they will now be publishing books as well as selling them."

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93 comments

where I get my books (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28005865)

I use Wolfram Alpha. At least for segments of 2001:A Space Odyssey....

Re:where I get my books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28009131)

My God, it's full of sh!t.

But the real question is... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28005889)

Will the money actually go to the rights-holders, and not just whoever uploaded it?

Re:But the real question is... (4, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28005921)

I wouldn't want my bank account tied to it if I'm profiting from commercial copyright infringement...

Re:But the real question is... (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28008771)

I wouldn't want my bank account tied to it if I'm profiting from commercial copyright infringement...

Which is probably where identity theft and money laundering come in.

Re:But the real question is... (1, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006279)

Did you miss the part about bouncing copyrighted uploads from sources other than the rights holders? Obviously, any such system will be playing catch up permanently, but there's not much more they can do without chilling effects. You however, can do much more by working on your reading comprehension.

Re:But the real question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28007773)

I think given the history scribd has had with infringing works that I'm inclined to be concerned about it.

Obviously you may see it differently.

Gutsy move in any case (1)

bukuman (1129741) | more than 5 years ago | (#28008271)

I assume they qualify for the DMCA safe harbor provisions - but so did YouTube and they were sued by Viacom and settled out of court.

Re:Gutsy move in any case (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28008359)

All that means is YouTube didn't want to pay the lawyers to win the case.

That being said, I'm not saying rightsexploiters (the traditional publishers) will be happy, but it seems clear they don't INTEND to let people upload other people's work for sale. As I said though, trying to police it themselves is a losing battle (short of restrictions on who can upload that will likely have chilling effects), and leaving it to rights holders to police will end in lawsuits.

However--book piracy (I mean actual piracy where, say, I sell stephen king books for money without paying mr king) doesn't make sense. Anything that sells enough to make money will be too obvious--bestsellers in the US sell only 5,000 copies a month normally. Everyone else--that much total if they're lucky. Pirating a bestseller in this fashion would be obvious, and anything small enough to not get caught wouldn't make enough money to be worthwhile. So I don't think it will be a real problem.

Re:Gutsy move in any case (1)

bukuman (1129741) | more than 5 years ago | (#28008595)

Good points all; but...

YouTube has deep pockets and scribd may not.

I agree that anything large enough to be a 'real' worry will be obvious and DMCA taken down in short order - but that argument also holds for music and video and so far I'm not aware of anyone who has stepped up to try to take a direct cut from a transaction like that. Actually I guess there are some analogous music selling sites, they could be predictors for what will happen in this case.

I also agree that anything small 'the publishers' 'should not worry about' - but *IAA will sue you for 9 songs ...

All in all it should be interesting.

Re:Gutsy move in any case (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28008905)

but *IAA will sue you for 9 songs ...

Well, somebody ought to be sued for that awful movie...

Good for you (5, Insightful)

dmomo (256005) | more than 5 years ago | (#28005907)

Now can you kindly get out of my search results? When I am looking for technical resources on-line, I don't want your stinking eBook. Focus your SEO on people who want your product.

Seriously. In the past month, they've been coming up more often and just getting in the way of useful info. I click on the link from Google because it looks like the info I want. Then I get this silly flash app that slows my computer down. The content in that app may well have relevant info, but that's not how I care to consume it when I am looking up references.

They've really cheapened themselves in my mind. This was my first impression of them. SEO Scum. Now when I see that they actually have an interesting product, I'm soured on them. Kudo's for taking on the Giant in the e-book space. Shame on you for littering the Web.

Re:Good for you (5, Informative)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 5 years ago | (#28005971)

> Now can you kindly get out of my search results?

So true! scribd is like applets used to be - when your browser freezes and no useful content comes up for 5 seconds, you know you've hit scribd and you quickly ctrl-w that tab.

Re:Good for you (2, Insightful)

e9th (652576) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006041)

I wouldn't worry too much. As Scribd starts to compete with Google, their search rankings will begin to shrink, almost as if by magic.

Re:Good for you (5, Informative)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006081)

Seriously. In the past month, they've been coming up more often and just getting in the way of useful info.

Agreed. Scribd is just a useless waste of space. They come up in results, but then you can't actually use the scribd documents like you would a webpage (say, searching and copying/pasting), or even a PDF. What's the point in having pages full of information if people can't get the information out of them?

Re:Good for you (1, Offtopic)

dmomo (256005) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006545)

Wow. So, I wrote that comment wondering if I would be modded as flame-bait. It's good to know I am not alone on this!

Not to say they are not doing something good, they're just cheapening their brand on the way. In doing so, they're garnering hate.

Re:Good for you (2, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011117)

No, it's definitely annoying... I actually made my custom google search page [google.com] to allow me to filter out certain domains, that one included. I wish google would allow you to not show certain domains you deem as worthless on their regular search though...

Re:Good for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28006909)

I don't know, in some ways its better than a pdf. It seems to load faster and is easier to flip through. But yeah, you can't save a copy or cut and paste.

Re:Good for you (1)

EricFenderson (64220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006183)

I opened a Scribd account just to write scathing things when they show up in my search results. I've also taken to reporting these hits as spam to google in the hopes that someone will investigate.

It's very frustrating - most of the time, my search terms only ever appear on the list of search terms that has brought others to the page. 95% of the time, it's just an SEO feedback loop.

Re:Good for you (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28006389)

This has happened to me. I got a paper totally unrelated to what I was searching for because I got a "keyword that led people to this page"

Re:Good for you (5, Insightful)

el americano (799629) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006403)

Ah, the infamous, "These terms only appear in links pointing to this page"

I blame Google for this more than Scribd. You might think if I took the time to customize my search by including words that won't appear on irrelevant sites then Google would actually check if the terms I've entered are there! When I search on a result page for a term and get nothing, only then do I realize I've been duped. I don't even see a way to work around this limitation. Using something other than Google seems to be the only solution.

Re:Good for you (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28008785)

Using something other than Google seems to be the only solution.

I don't get this. How is using a parrot the only solution?

Re:Good for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28008809)

I don't even see a way to work around this limitation.

Wrapping the term in quotes and adding a plus before them doesn't help?

Re:Good for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28017683)

A search for: +"american medical association" returns

6th place - http://www.aamc.org/ [aamc.org]
7th place - http://www.amsa.org/ [amsa.org]

although neither one contains the phrase. I'm only searching one phrase, and the page doesn't have it?!

Re:Good for you (1)

horza (87255) | more than 5 years ago | (#28009523)

You mean like Googeefree [googeefree.com] ? Just ask the author to add Scribd to Expert Exchange, the other cloaking SEO.

Phillip.

Re:Good for you (2, Informative)

colesw (951825) | more than 5 years ago | (#28015991)

Actually I find a lot of the time I do find the answer I want on a Expert Exchange link, you just need to scroll down to the bottom of the page (past the, please sign up stuff) to see the results.

I assume they had to do this so Google would continue to index their site (ie showing content to google, but not to people)

Re:Good for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28030157)

I used to see that too, but I guess it wasn't effective for them. I think the new tactic is to remove the answer, for humans and bots, once the page gets ranked. That will force more people to sign up if they can't find the answer elsewhere - in such cases, their answer is also likely to be inadequate, but you won't know until you register.

1) Get other people to answer questions for you
2) Wait until the good answers are ranked in search engines
3) Pull the answers into your members-only section
4) Profit!

Re:Good for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28011863)

It isn't just that, Scribd has a section on each document called "latest searches leading to this doc". It often contains things that have nothing at all to do with the document, but that tricks Google into thinking the page does have something to do with those things.

Re:Good for you (5, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006531)

I'd love to see Google's SearchWiki nonsense actually work in this kind of situation. You should be able to click the X and never see anything from that domain again. Your Xing shouldn't just affect that results to that one query.

Re:Good for you (1)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | more than 5 years ago | (#28007435)

http://www.customizegoogle.com/ [customizegoogle.com]

This Firefox extension has a lot of good uses; one of them is the "filter" option where you can list websites that you want to filter out of your search results.

Re:Good for you (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#28007271)

Is it just me or why do you blame a website for a problem with Google's index? If you're unhappy with the rankings, shouldn't you steer your anger to the provider of the rankings?

Re:Good for you (1)

amrittuladhar (824792) | more than 5 years ago | (#28007305)

Flashblock is your friend.

Re:Good for you (1)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 5 years ago | (#28009781)

Thank you. It's nice to know that I'm not the only person who finds scribd to be a truly awful machination. The concept and intent may be meritorious. The implementation sucks. Unreadably small type face that requires horizontal scrolling once you figure out how to get the text big enough to read. Lousy screen layout. Unlabeled icons that do stuff that nobody could possibly understand ... yech.

Re:Good for you (1)

backdoc (416006) | more than 5 years ago | (#28009925)

Not to self promote, but I wrote a firefox extension for just this purpose. You can block Google search results with any phrase. I don't get any hits from scribd, experts-exchange and about.com. It also highlights preferred results. It's in Mozilla's sandbox. You can download it there. But, you have to have a free sandbox account to get to it. I call it GoogleCleaner.

You can also get it on my website (a tiny DSL connection).

http://www.crotchett.com

Try it out and let me know what you think. The only downside is that it doesn't clean results until the whole results page is retrieved. I wish someone would fix that for me. I don't have time to fix it myself.

Re:Good for you (1)

parkrrrr (30782) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011849)

Now when I see that they actually have an interesting product, I'm soured on them.

So what's the interesting product? The summary makes them sound like just another vanity publisher, albeit on bits instead of on paper.

(I confess I didn't actually look at their site, as I generally don't follow links when the summary looks so much like a regurgitated press release.)

Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (5, Interesting)

Unoti (731964) | more than 5 years ago | (#28005937)

Is it just me, or is Scribd super annoying? Often this happens to me: I'm searching for information about something. I'm clicking through Google links trying to figure out the answer to my question. I click on a promising-looking link, and then I end up on a screwed-up looking site that's basically totally unreadable. I've learned to recognize such piles of crap as scribd documents.

There's a tiny little text box taking up like 6 cm by 5 cm of space with a scrollbar... I have multiple monitors, huge space on my desktop, and they're cramming all the content into this tiny little unreadable scrollable space. After a while I figured out that I could click a couple times and turn the content into something that was somewhat usable. But generally when a search puts me into a scribd document, I just hit the back button and look elsewhere. Only in a fit of pure desperation will I return to the scribd content, but usually I don't have to.

Am I alone in feeling this way? perhaps I'm hopelessly backwards or something, but scribd annoys me greatly.

Re:Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (5, Funny)

smbruce (813346) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006097)

I agree. I saw a "Sexy Web Design" book scroll across in the "What people are reading now..." section. Their web site designers might want to read through that.

Re:Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28006113)

Why would anyone use scribd over pdfs? You can't even change a scribd to a pdf without getting some stupid account.
You're right, they are annoying, and waste my time. I thought it was only me.

Re:Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006255)

bugmenot

Re:Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28006175)

You mean you actually see content? All I see is a blank page.

Scribd and Experts-Exchange. The more they pop up, the less useful Google gets.

Re:Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006199)

Trust me, you don't want an amateur sex change.

Scribd sucks, but generally their flash pdf viewer is faster than adobe's pdf viewer. Oh, shit! what if adobe rewrote their viewer in flash!@!@!!#1

Re:Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (1)

badkarmadayaccount (1346167) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022553)

*head assplodes*

Re:Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (4, Informative)

BKX (5066) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006379)

You can get experts-exchange for free by switching your user agent to GoogleBot's in Firefox (There's an extension for this.)

Re:Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28006419)

provide a link for a +5 informative, Posting Anon due to having mod points.

You could have them!

Re:Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (1)

el americano (799629) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006427)

Thanks for that, but I'd rather show my disapproval by not giving them traffic. What I'd really like is an easy way to remove those results from my searches - experts-exchange, about.com, and a few others.

Re:Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (5, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006447)

If you log into google, you can at least show your disapproval for those search results by clicking the "X" box next to them (not to be confused with the Xbox, ho ho ho.) If enough of us do it (and who but nerds even uses those things) then the ranks will change. Likewise you can rank up the results that were actually useful...

Re:Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (1)

iiiears (987462) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006649)

The choice of DRM or no DRM is great.
Scribd has a large selection.

Fictionwise is really nice.
Baen too.
Amazon enormous selection and instant gratification wherever you are with their reader.

I am going to miss the trips to a bookstore to wander aisles stacked to the ceiling with books. Inconvenient and charming.

Misrepresenting your user agent? - User agents are wrong. specifying screen resolution and frames per second ability. should be the only thing freely given to any information provider.

Re:Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (2, Informative)

YenTheFirst (1056960) | more than 5 years ago | (#28008665)

hmm. for me, If I just scroll down to the bottom of the page, the actual answer is there. I believe this is something of an open secret.

Then again, the given 'expert' answers are often no better than other random forum results.

Re:Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28008671)

It's easier to hit google cache.

Re:Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (5, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006329)

There's a tiny little text box taking up like 6 cm by 5 cm of space with a scrollbar... I have multiple monitors, huge space on my desktop, and they're cramming all the content into this tiny little unreadable scrollable space.

On my machine, it's 22 cm x 16 cm.

A lot of people are posting about how much they hate scribd's UI, but I don't see that as the big problem with scribd.

People have posted some of my books on scribd, and that's fine with me, because the books are free-as-in-speech. However, their system has some problems. For instance, if you search on scribd for "Newtonian Physics," which is the title of one of my books, the first 8 hits consist of 8 different uploaded copies of my book. Seems like a lot of scribd users don't bother checking to see whether something is already on scribd before they upload it. Now if I type in some text from my book as a search, only a few of the books come up, not all 8 -- don't ask me why. And when I click on the #1 search result, it's a version of the book from 2001, with an incorrect description and an incorrect license listed for it.

I think the fundamental problem here is that they're not serving one of the traditional purposes of a publisher, which is to act as a filter. Filters can be good or bad. A filter doesn't have to be all-or-nothing, and it doesn't have to be elitist or authoritarian. Google page rank is a filter. Slashdot's moderation system is a filter. Scribd doesn't seem to have enough useful filtering mechanisms. It just seems to act as a huge dumping ground, where anyone can put anything. The trouble is that finding anything there is like saying, "Huh, I need a new cartridge for my antique fountain pen. Maybe I'll go down to the town dump and dig around for one."

Re:Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (1)

Unoti (731964) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006631)

I do a lot of web development, and typically keep my browser around 1100px wide since that's around the size most of my target users use. If I get even more browsers, I may open that up a little...

Re:Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (1)

piojo (995934) | more than 5 years ago | (#28007373)

[Scribd] just seems to act as a huge dumping ground, where anyone can put anything. The trouble is that finding anything there is like saying, "Huh, I need a new cartridge for my antique fountain pen. Maybe I'll go down to the town dump and dig around for one."

Great analogy :). However, my girlfriend said (sounding offended) that antique fountain pens don't use cartridges, as they are a new invention.

Re:Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 5 years ago | (#28008005)

I think the fundamental problem here is that they're not serving one of the traditional purposes of a publisher, which is to act as a filter.

They're not filling one of the traditional purposes of a website either, which is to present content in a highly-portable markup language that is readable in all web browsers.

Instead, they used Flash to embed PDFs into a little window on a website.

With YouTube, Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, and now this, I really feel like the Internet is just getting stupider by the month. It's almost enough to make me pine for the days of AOL and GeoCities.

Re:Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012813)

They're not filling one of the traditional purposes of a website either, which is to present content in a highly-portable markup language that is readable in all web browsers. Instead, they used Flash to embed PDFs into a little window on a website.

There are several different issues here.

First there's the fact that PDF is almost completely nonproprietary (i.e., the functionality required by the vast majority of users for reading and writing PDFs is nonproprietary), whereas flash has a lot more proprietary stuff in the mix. However, the proprietary aspects of flash mostly have to do with patented audio and video codecs, which are irrelevant in the case of scribd. A lot more of flash used to be proprietary. What Adobe's been doing is to open up flash a lot more, while still keeping enough of the tasty bits proprietary so that nobody else can really compete effectively with them to sell development tools. There are, however, open-source apps for both creating (haxe) and running (gnash) flash. If the vast majority of flash developers don't see haxe as a viable alternative to Adobe's toolchain, and the vast majority of users don't see gnash as a viable replacement for Adobe's plugin, I think that basically just shows that the OSS community hasn't made it a priority.

Another issue is that there are certain types of documents for which html simply isn't the right tool. For example, if you want to make a printer-friendly, illustrated physics textbook, pdf is the right tool for the job, not html.

As far as the relative merits of displaying PDFs in a flash application or a PDF plugin, I think for the average user scribd's flash app may indeed be the more convenient and useful choice. Most people use Adobe Reader as their PDF plugin. AR is slow to load, and has a horrible history of security problems. Most people aren't propeller-heads, and don't know that there is any alternative to AR. For a large document, scribd's flash app also has the advantage that it loads without having to download megabytes worth of PDF data. For someone on a dialup connection, this is a big deal. Although it's true that the PDF standard has advanced features designed to allow the user to see individual pages without having to download the whole file first, in reality I don't think that's implemented properly in the majority of PDF documents you see out there in the wild, and I don't think it's implemented properly in open-source readers like Evince, either. (Evince has truly horrible performance on PDFs consisting of many scans of bitmaps.)

Keep in mind that scribd's killer app is, frankly, copyright violation. I'm sure they don't intend it to be used that way, but that's the big thing that users are accomplishing with scribd that they can't accomplish in any other way. For instance, search scribd for "feynman lectures," and you'll get a whole bunch of PDFs consisting of pages scanned from a copyrighted book. The performance of scribd's flash interface on this type of PDF file is much, much better than what you'd get with straight PDF.

Re:Is it just me, or is Scribd Super Annoying (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012821)

It just seems to act as a huge dumping ground, where anyone can put anything.

And again, the Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand, those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

Learn from Walmart (4, Interesting)

n00btastic (1489741) | more than 5 years ago | (#28005951)

Publishers just need to boycott Amazon if they don't want to be swallowed alive whole. Look at Walmart, who regularly forces it's will on suppliers and companies whose products they sell.

But which will authors choose? (1)

ComputerDruid (1499317) | more than 5 years ago | (#28005989)

It seems like it will be a hard choice for content owners to decide which to choose.

Those with strong opinions about copyright will choose based on their beliefs, but what about those who don't have strong beliefs? Will they choose to try to protect their work technically? Or will they choose to be more open.

It's going to be interesting to see.

Re:But which will authors choose? (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006299)

Given that for everyone except the far end of the power-law tail, openness is more profitable than control... And given that 80% of people are morons...fuck.

better article; non-event (4, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006021)

The Fiction Circus article linked to from the slashdot summary isn't as good as the NY Times article that it links to [nytimes.com] .

This is big news for people in publishing [...]

No, not really. One reason it's not big news is that scribd is currently too small a commercial entity to make any difference in this big marketplace. Another reason it's not big news is that other people are already selling digital books without DRM. Fictionwise and Baen are two examples that come to mind.

So, really, writers have absolutely no incentive to deal with Amazon anymore as their "bookstore," especially since the next generation of ebook readers will surely be touchscreen netbooks, making the Kindle look like a Tiger handheld next to the future's Game Boy.

Well, no. Amazon is a huge, profitable business that readers know about. Scribd isn't. That's a pretty strong incentive for writers to deal with Amazon -- or, more accurately, it's a pretty strong incentive for their publishers to. The author generally doesn't make any decisions about the distribution channels through which a book gets to the public.

Eh Sonny? (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006039)

Scribd? Are those guys the complete fucking morons that managed to turn what are pretty much normal PDFs into nigh-unreadable embedded flash monstrosities for no conceivable reason? Those guys?

I can sympathize with the video guys who went flash. Until HTML 5 finally lurches its way into ubiquity, it is pretty much the best option. But text? The stuff that the internet has been carrying just fine thanks since it was an ARPA project? WTF?

Re:Eh Sonny? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28006209)

Yup that's them. I'll go look now and try and find one advantage of "Scribd" over pdf.
***
-Favorites? Nope, that's what bookmarks are for.
-you can click a "share this" button and share on facebook! Oh wait, you can also link pdfs to facebook.
-You can embed-nvm.

I have come to the conclusion that the advantages are as follows:
-It requires an account to do all of the above.
-It loads slow.

Re:Eh Sonny? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28006867)

Scribd's "iPaper" [scribd.com] page is laughably false. I remember it being even worse before, but it's still bad now:

iPaper is a rich document format built for the web

Kinda like PDF?

iPaper will display documents in the same way regardless of whether you're using Windows, MacOS, or Linux

So, it's like PDF?

Your readers no longer have to download files or extra software to view your documents

Because every computer in the world comes with Adobe Flash and not Adobe Reader. No sirree.

But it gets worse:

You can convert just about any major document format into iPaper, including Word docs, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs,OpenOffice documents, and PostScript files.

Because apparently, PDF converters don't exist. There is no such thing as Acrobat Distiller or PDFCreator [sourceforge.net] .

Scribd documents are indexed by major search engines

That's kind of like saying that "Volkswagen cars use engines" and touting that as a feature.

Scribd's iPaper document viewer is embeddable in any website or blog

Conclusion: Scribd is a needless Flash-based frontend to PDF. In fact, I remember that when Scribd was launched, it actually used Macromedia's FlashPaper [wikipedia.org] , obviously used by Macromedia to turn people away from Adobe Reader (before they got acquired by Adobe, of course).

Re:Eh Sonny? (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006891)

This is copy protection at its finest. It's quite good as an anti-copying device, as it really makes attempts at breaking it not worth the time and effort, but not always necessary. Perhaps it should be up to the author what format in which the text appears.

Re:Eh Sonny? (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012137)

it really makes attempts at breaking it not worth the time and effort

From my experience with scribd.com, it's unnecessary. The content itself already accomplishes that.

Re:Eh Sonny? (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28007231)

It's so you can't copy & paste the text, dumbass. In addition, Flash ensures a consistent user experience, instead of relying on an untrustworthy browser to display content.

Re:Eh Sonny? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28043215)

I presume you don't know what a rhetorical device is, in this case meant to underscore the absurdity of the situation. Of course we know it's a DRM scheme. It's blatantly obvious. That's what makes it so annoying. You go on to say:

"In addition, Flash ensures a consistent user experience, instead of relying on an untrustworthy browser to display content."

AAAAAARRRRRRRGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

* Flash ensures that have to run CODE in your browser in order to retrieve DATA. Why?
* The web is not about 'user experience' in the sense of 'eye candy'. It's about interoperability and transparency. Go game if you want an 'experience'
* A browser is a lot more trustworthy than some proprietary random byte code running sandbox.
* The browser does not display PDF's, the Adobe PDF plugin does, so therefore, your argument is moot. Your 'user experience' will be 'consistent'.

Great... (2, Insightful)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006063)

Now everyone has a vanity press and considering Sturgeon's Law already applies to commercially-published books, I think it will have to be revised four percentage points. Thanks, internet.

wish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28006125)

i wish google would have an option to filter the scribd bullshit... whenever i see it start loading on a search result ive clicked on, I IMMEDIATELY hit the "back" button.. Its the biggest pain in the ass site with mostly useless information.

goto hell scribd..

thankyew.

-db

Re:wish (1)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | more than 5 years ago | (#28007459)

http://www.customizegoogle.com/ [customizegoogle.com]

This Firefox extension has a lot of good uses; one of them is the "filter" option where you can list websites that you want to filter out of your search results.

USA Only = useless (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28006155)

"Sorry, purchasing documents on Scribd is only available from within the United States"

Lost me right there.

Re:USA Only = useless (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28006801)

For me it's TV programming. I sure wish I could find a list of proxies that actually work. We gotta tear these fences down.

Paying on Internet = useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28009839)

"Sorry, purchasing documents--"

Lost me right there.

Re:USA Only = useless (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28014299)

YUDU.com has allowed you to buy and sell documents from the very beginning and it works worldwide. It allows you to change the currency depending on how you want to pay.

It also has a better interface, IMO, and allows you to add multimedia (video, audio, Flash) to a publication as well as have others promote your publication and get paid a commission. Also, the DRM is much better.

I think the reason why many people are complaining on this forum about Scribd documents coming up in search results is because of their readability and searchability. I think too many ePublishers are simply PDF converters and are not taking full advantage of the rich experience this format can give you.

This is the way that publishing is headed, but it will have its bumps and bruises along the way.

Web 2.0 (1)

garphik (996984) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006477)

Scribd and twitter, both from the web2.0 trend are not innovative technologies and there is very little need for such apps.

Re:Web 2.0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28006667)

"Searching for stuff" isn't innovative. Google turns a profit.

"Telling people shit" isn't innovative, and there's certainly little actual _need_ for such a service. Twitter is pretty successful.

The point about "Web2.0" as you obnoxiously insist on calling it; is that innovation can be replaced by making things REALLY FUCKING SIMPLE AND SHINY

Re:Web 2.0 (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28008279)

I really don't get the twitter hate. It seems like "blogs are just for internet attention whores" all over again. We've seen how that turned out already (I should know, I was firmly in the "what petulant crap, nothing of value will ever come of that" school of thought when I first heard about blogs--and I was wrong).

There isn't any NEED for a hell of a lot of shit we do--depending on how you define need. But twitter lands on Maslow's hierarchy as easily as fancy cars or painting. Far easier in fact.

I first started using twitter just to follow a few authors I like. But the turning point in its usefulness for me came during O'Reilly's Tools of Change publishing conference--I was sitting on my couch in Los Angeles and able to listen in on, and take part in, the discussion as it was happening. Everyone there was twittering from the panels--giving those of us who weren't the play by plays.

No other service could have done that.

Similar--and arguably more important--things took place during the San Diego wildfires in 2007, and the Australian wildfires in 2008. Residents were able to keep each other updated about the progress of the fires, and whether their homes were threatened in real time far more effectively than ever before. Having been a refugee from wildfires before, I wish I had been able to take advantage of that then.

The flipside is of course that there is a LOT of shit on twitter--but the same is true of blogs. Arguably there is more shit than quality content in the collective "blogosphere." That doesn't mean we should get rid of blogs. And it doesn't mean we should get rid of twitter. It has its uses--and they are largely things unimagined by its creators (which they themselves acknowledge).

Re:Web 2.0 (1)

garphik (996984) | more than 5 years ago | (#28008793)

True, it (twitter) can be at time surprisingly useful. Also I think one of prime moto of this kind of technology is to bring out as much personal info online as possible so that some one can do data mining on it as create business.

duke nukem forever is grinding my ballz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28006489)

my testicles have mutated into lobsters and smell of onion,
my penis, flaccid as grunion,
my eyes are wide and hungry,
for the duke nukem forever release,
when will it cum......?

Re:duke nukem forever is grinding my ballz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28006885)

...BURMA SHAVE

No Prestige (4, Insightful)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006593)

I don't know about you, but I didn't spend 6 years on a novel to piss it away on a free site. Anybody can do that. The standard of excellence will still remain publication by a major.

Re:No Prestige (1)

BinaryTB (1556521) | more than 5 years ago | (#28006985)

Tell that to Cory Doctorow, he gives his novels away for free. Even his latest Hugo Award nominated novel.

Re:No Prestige (2, Funny)

diablillo (635954) | more than 5 years ago | (#28007199)

Six years on a novel? Come on, what were you writting? The screenplay for Duke Nukem Forever?

Re:No Prestige (2, Insightful)

horza (87255) | more than 5 years ago | (#28009767)

One of my favourite novels, Catch-22, took eight years to write. Some authors like to reach depths in their novels greater than the Barbera Cartland. This is why it is important to find a way of rewarding authors online, if not by scribd as they seem to have wrecked their reputation then by somebody else. You can reward a musician by going to their concerts, even if you pirate their music. A movie has made its money back through the box office even if you download a pirate version instead of buying the dvd. However if everybody downloads the pirate ebook where does the author get his revenue?

Phillip.

Re:No Prestige (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 5 years ago | (#28008177)

I don't know about you, but I didn't spend 6 years on a novel to piss it away on a free site. Anybody can do that. The standard of excellence will still remain publication by a major.

Dude. I hardly think getting published is any kind of suitable benchmark for excellence. Have you not been to a bookstore? An author's biggest hurdle in achieving financial success from his/her work isn't dealing with piracy, it's dealing with obscurity.

I can't find an article to link to right now, but Cory Doctorow has had much to say over the years on how giving his books away for free on his website allowed him to reach a much wider audience than he ever could have otherwise. (And he says it also made him a shit-ton more money because many of the people who liked the first book actually bought the second. And third. And so on.)

Re:No Prestige (1)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28009597)

The only reason you've heard of Cory Doctorow is because he has published (or his father has) in the traditional way. I will stand by my decision to go the majors. Enjoy your obscurity...

Re:No Prestige (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28016685)

No, the only reason I've ever heard of Cory Doctorow is via xkcd.

Re:No Prestige (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034951)

The only reason you've heard of Cory Doctorow is because he has published (or his father has) in the traditional way.

Well, not really. I heard of Cory Doctorow because I heard him speak at a conference. He was invited to the conference because he's written some really well-received books that fit in with the theme of the con. The reason they were well-received was because he rose out of obscurity by giving his books away for free.

I'm not saying that giving content away is a sure fire way to be noticed. Far from it. Skill is still the most important asset by far, but if you have that skill, then giving the content away for free is a great marketing strategy as long as the thing you have to sell (such as a hardcopy of the book) is tangibly worth more.

Also, I found the article [forbes.com] that I was looking for. Doctorow explains the story a lot better than I could ever hope to.

Re:No Prestige (1)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28037859)

I have given away content for years. I have a website that gives away years of writing for free: Nebraska Writer [googlepages.com] . However, when you self publish--which is what giving away content is--you are on your own, re-inventing the wheel. Now, having working at B&N corporate in Manhattan, I have seen the great engines that publishers and booksellers have to market and sell books. If you want to do all that yourself--and have miserable results--be my guest. Cory Doctorow got his chance because he is the son of the famous novelist E.L. Doctorow. ("Ragtime"). So, his example is not relevant. Your average unknown has one chance to make it--sell a book to a major publishing company. If you want to try to go it alone, you may but it's not going to be fun. Speaking as someone who worked 6 years on a thriller novel and who now has an agent and will see publication, I'm happy that I did not end up in a self-publishing backwater. Food for thought.

so? (3, Insightful)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 5 years ago | (#28007905)

Scribd sucks. every time I've seen a link to it, it seems like it's trying to be as crippled and useless as possible. The whole site seems to operate on "allow users to upload someone else's copyrighted work, display it to people in such a useless fashion that any copyright holder who might complain would assume it's some officially sanctioned DRM-loaded crapware"

Re:so? (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28008329)

You might have hit on to something--maybe their plan is to go DRM free without anyone noticing because no one wants to use their site anyway.

This is a competitor for Lulu not Amazon (1)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 5 years ago | (#28009069)

To be a competitor to Amazon people will have to have heard about it and I reckon most Kindle owners aren't even aware of a world outside of the Amazon store.
Lulu and similar are the real competitors and I doubt they're too worried.

Scribd + flashblock is usable (1)

knarf (34928) | more than 5 years ago | (#28009093)

Just use flashblock to block that annoying PDF-reader-from-hell they embed in their pages and click the PDF link above the (now inactive) flash thingy. That way you can gain access to whatever they have to offer without having to suffer their misguided attempt at making it 'easy' to access it. Use Evince or gv or whatever to read the PDF (or a usable alternative if you're on an OS which is not supported by these, eg. Windows) and stay clear of Adobe's attempt to take over your computer.

In other words, navigating the web is like navigating a log-studded, crocodile- and parasite-infested river. Guide your canoe around the obstacles using the paddle you know and trust and you'll get where you want without any nasty surprises...

Stuff II have written has ended up on Scribd (1)

ed (79221) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010849)

And I sure as hell didn't put it there.

Will see what the takedown procedure it tonight

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