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Update Your Shelf: BitLit Offers Access To Ebook Versions of Books You Own

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the ink-is-kind-of-a-committment dept.

Books 82

First time accepted submitter Peter Hudson (3717535) writes Cory Doctorow writes on boingboing.net "BitLit works with publishers to get you free or discounted access to digital copies of books you own in print: you use the free app for Android and iOS to take a picture of the book's copyright page with your name printed in ink, and the publisher unlocks a free or discounted ebook version. None of the Big Five publishers participate as yet, but indies like O'Reilly, Berrett-Koehler, Red Wheel Weiser, Other Press, Greystone, Coach House, Triumph, Angry Robot, Chicago Review, Dundurn, and PM Press (publishers of my book The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow) are all in."

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What could possibly go wrong (2, Interesting)

photonic (584757) | about 4 months ago | (#47342227)

Great, one guy who actually owns the book takes a high resolution scan and puts it on the internet, everyone else prints it out and signs it ....

Shhhh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47342229)

Don't mention this until AFTER everyone is on-board.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (0)

Threni (635302) | about 4 months ago | (#47342269)

Pop in the bookshop and take a photo. Sign it digitally at home (superimpose a signature on a white -> transparent background). Or sign an acetate and hold it over the book in the bookshop.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (2, Informative)

Peter Hudson (3717535) | about 4 months ago | (#47342289)

There are probably easier ways to get a free eBook (e.g. BitTorrent) that don't involve a GIMP and printing on acetate. Just saying...

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | about 4 months ago | (#47342305)

Just signing the acetate with a pen (normal, cd-writing pen etc). Hold the sheet over the book and take the picture.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

maryalicee (3717561) | about 4 months ago | (#47342331)

Definitely easier ways to get a book. But more to the point, BitLit activates the flash when you're taking a photo, which bounces off the acetate, and invalidates your proof. Nice try though!

Re:What could possibly go wrong (2)

Ken_g6 (775014) | about 4 months ago | (#47342359)

My phone is so cheap it doesn't have a flash, you insensitive clod!

Re:What could possibly go wrong (2)

sumdumass (711423) | about 4 months ago | (#47342593)

Mine has a flash. I generally have my finger over it though.

You don't need a cheap phone. You do need to know how to take a picture with it though.

Re: What could possibly go wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47342453)

Because there is no way for you to put your finger over the flash?

Re: What could possibly go wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47342493)

Thanks, DMCA.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 months ago | (#47343567)

I wonder how often you will need to repeat this to keep your eBooks from deactivating....

Otherwise... you could use a removable ink.... and when you've got your eBook, remove your name, and sell the physical book.

Or for that matter... your 'qualifying physical book' might be a library book, or piece you've loaned from someone else.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

BalthCat (2472732) | about 4 months ago | (#47367389)

I opened the PDF I got with SumatraPDF, which I'm pretty sure means it has no DRM. I still haven't found a MOBI or EPUB client that doesn't make me want to spit fire, so I'm not sure if either of those are DRM (can they even be DRM?).

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

ourlovecanlastforeve (795111) | about 4 months ago | (#47342347)

How are they even going to know it's a real copyright page?

Do you think they own every book they have an ebook of?

Wait a second...

Re:What could possibly go wrong (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47342327)

Yeah, you have to be REAL desperate to consider opening GIMP just to get a free ebook...

Re:What could possibly go wrong (4, Interesting)

mfh (56) | about 4 months ago | (#47342425)

People aren't evil. The simple fact is if a publisher sells a book at a fair price people would rather pay money than simply download the book.

Case in point against DRM are the musicians and comedians who are offering a "pay what you want" model that is so successful these guys make MORE money than they would through a traditional publisher, with less advertising and less overall effort. Time is money.

So yeah some guy will offer the book for free... and a few people will see the link and realize they can BUY the thing, and they'll do that instead. The people who download it wouldn't have bought it anyway. How many books do you read at Chapters? Do you buy EVERY BOOK?

Nope.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (3, Interesting)

davester666 (731373) | about 4 months ago | (#47342577)

Pretty much the only musicians/comedians who make money with "pay what you want" or even with their own web site selling their wares for similar or even lower than the 'regular' price of similar merchandise are the ones who don't need the money and who have already 'made it'. They already went through the process of going through labels or promoters, dingy nightclubs, and made it big, so that lots of lots of people already know about them and what to expect from the product they buy. And they also get a whole bunch of free advertising by doing it. Louis CK offers a video of his standup for a couple of bucks, lots of web sites published articles about how cool it is that he is doing it all on his own. Joe Blow comedian does the exact same thing, NOBODY NOTICES and/or CARES. His mom will buy a vid, but that's about it.

But this is only about your DRM thing. The rest of your comment is reasonable.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 4 months ago | (#47342609)

People aren't evil.

Sure they are. But this has nothing to with DRM or free books. its just nature, and we ARE evil to the core.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (4, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | about 4 months ago | (#47342713)

Not all books are the same. There are two major categories non-fiction versus fiction. I would have to be honest and say when it comes to say text books, I want to download them for free and never pay for them. I don't want a text book written by one author that only lasts a couple of years. I want one where hundreds even thousands of people expert in the field have collaborated on and update once a year. A government funded exercise, where it is not about generating a profit but saving money by reducing cost for education for every citizen. So open collaborative text books free of copyright hassles beyond keeping plagiarists under control.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 4 months ago | (#47343149)

People aren't evil.

Welcome to the internet! You'll first want to take our new users orientation, where you study such schools of thought as this... [penny-arcade.com]

Re:What could possibly go wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47342523)

Some people will jump through hoops to try and rip off a media publisher.
But get this: many of the books are not free on BitLit (all the O'Reilly stuff seems to be $5 a go, for instance).
So perhaps your scammer jumps through hoops and then buys an ebook at a discounted rate. What has the publisher lost?
The scammer probably wouldn't have bought the book anyway.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

1u3hr (530656) | about 4 months ago | (#47343495)

If anyone wants to download a bootleg Kindle edition, you can easily find them online very shortly after publication
(And many books with no official ebook edition have homemade versions of varying quality as well.)

Most Kindle books are 500kB or so, less than a hi res scan of a page.

So this scan/print/sign/register/download method is much more work than what you can already do now.

SCROTUM to weigh in on this like Aereo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47342273)

And you know how that turned out.

Thanks bitcoin! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47342307)

Thanks bitcoin!

Bitlite offers access to ebook versions of books you buy via bitcoin! Rock on you trademark fiends!

Physical books are great (5, Interesting)

redmid17 (1217076) | about 4 months ago | (#47342311)

but they take up a lot of room, and when traveling I find it much easier to bring my kindle fire. With as much as new books cost, especially hard covers, there is no real reason to not bundle an ebook with the physical copy. The last few years I've shelled out $15-$30 on brand new hardcovers (preorder to impulse buy). I enjoy reading them and then stick them in my bookcase. I don't really want to get them torn up while traveling and they are huge. That gives me three options: purchase another physical book in paper back, buy the ebook, or download an ebook. I've already spent upwards of $30 on the book, so giving more money isn't really an enticing option. The $30 is probably enough to buy the hard cover, paperback and ebook a year after it comes out.

Just bundle them. Do it as a pre-order thing. People might even be enticed to pre-order something they wouldn't otherwise.

Re:Physical books are great (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 4 months ago | (#47342401)

I used to buy many books second-hand. Then came the great bookshelf collapse. Nearly broke an arm when that thing fell on top of me.

I donated them all to the school I was a student with at the time to start the sixth-form library. Over the next two years I saw them used as paper plane material, soaked and stuck to the ceiling as paper wads, thrown, used to prop furniture and stuffed in a toilet. I never actually saw a student read one of them, though the teachers did.

Re:Physical books are great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47343803)

"I used to buy many books second-hand. Then came the great bookshelf collapse. Nearly broke an arm when that thing fell on top of me."

I got hit by the wife's 'We need that room with the 6000 old books in it, dump them!'

Re:Physical books are great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47344033)

"I used to buy many books second-hand. Then came the great bookshelf collapse. Nearly broke an arm when that thing fell on top of me."

I got hit by the wife's 'We need that room with the 6000 old books in it, dump them!'

I would have dumped her instead.

Re:Physical books are great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47349975)

"I used to buy many books second-hand. Then came the great bookshelf collapse. Nearly broke an arm when that thing fell on top of me."

I got hit by the wife's 'We need that room with the 6000 old books in it, dump them!'

I would have dumped her instead.

Yeah, I don't get that kind of crap, unless one person is a hoarder they can get rid of some of their own crap if they want more room. I bet you don't give a crap about the bedroom set and a matress in a corner is good enough for you. Start with that. Obviously this will seem insane to her, inform her that's how she sounds to you.

Re:Physical books are great (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47343755)

"With as much as new books cost,"

What the hell does that even mean? Oh, wait - you're AMERICAN, so bastardising the English language is par for the course for you... You idiot.

I think your tiny, AMERICAN brain meant to write; "With books costing as much as they do". You fucking idiot.

Re: Physical books are great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47423219)

This is the sort of impertinence up with which Americans will not, or Churchill would not, put.

Not a chance (4, Insightful)

stevez67 (2374822) | about 4 months ago | (#47342315)

"None of the Big Five publishers will EVER participate ..." FTFY

Wtf?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47342325)

Sign in with Google+?!!

Hahahahahaha. No.

brb going to the library (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47342341)

Seriously... If I just need a picture with a signature on it, I can take the picture and photoshop the signature.

Re:brb going to the library (1)

Peter Hudson (3717535) | about 4 months ago | (#47342381)

Is that a GPS in your smartphone? or are you just happy to read?

This app is incompatible with all of your devices (2)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 4 months ago | (#47342437)

Well, it is still considered Beta, but it has a big failure. I get the message "X This app is incompatible with all of your devices" when i go to download it, even though I have several Android devices it should be compatible with. I expect this is the same problem as I have seen with a few other apps, they are using a specific list of compatible devices and my Lenvo tablet just isn't in there. When are developers going to learn to be more inclusive in their supported devices, or at least let users download the apk file and trying installing it at their own risk?

Re:This app is incompatible with all of your devic (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 4 months ago | (#47342961)

you may be able to get the apk.. look for it on alternative stores like slideme.

Re:This app is incompatible with all of your devic (2)

anubi (640541) | about 4 months ago | (#47343025)

That one thing, Sir:

I get the message "X This app is incompatible with all of your devices"

is by far the PRIMARY motivator I have of pirating anything. Second is having to reveal my banking transaction codes in order to make a purchase, when I have no trust of either my own system, my connection, or my vendor, third, and LEAST, is the PRICE.

It has been my experience that DRM'd stuff is so finicky and unreliable I might as well throw it away like an old screwdriver whose shaft slips in its handle. Its simply not good for anything. Maybe I can superglue the shaft to the handle to get an operable screwdriver - someone will cry foul, but you know, I'm gonna do it anyway, because I have a screw I need to install and the damned screwdriver won't work.

Re:This app is incompatible with all of your devic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47343047)

The problem most likely isn't your device, but your country. If you click the install button and then click on the "Choose a device" combo box, it will probably say "This item cannot be installed in your device's country" below your device's name.

Re:This app is incompatible with all of your devic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47343529)

They lost me at "app". I used to hope "app" would one day mean "web app" but apparently that was a pipe dream. How is it that you need to install a vendor-specific application just do download and read a document? What did we invent interchangeable formats for? I have no intention of installing one of these spy-OSes on my phone, and I have no use for an "app" that doesn't run on open systems.

Re:This app is incompatible with all of your devic (1)

BalthCat (2472732) | about 4 months ago | (#47367313)

The app is provided for the verification process. Once you're verified it sends you a download link.

Islam is a cancer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47342439)

And Islam should be cut out of the world and treated with radiation.
 
If you worship Allah and you put your stock in a child molester called Mohammad then I urge you to let yourself starve to death.

Book Resale value (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 4 months ago | (#47342529)

So, i have to physically damage my book by writing in it, and it will prevent the next guy down the line from ever participating in such a scheme.

Re:Book Resale value (3, Informative)

Nyder (754090) | about 4 months ago | (#47342619)

So, i have to physically damage my book by writing in it, and it will prevent the next guy down the line from ever participating in such a scheme.

um, photoshop the writing in?

Re:Book Resale value (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 4 months ago | (#47342647)

I get the feeling you have to use their app to take the photo. But there are always workarounds.

Ink on a peel-able piece of transparent tape comes to mind.

Re:Book Resale value (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 4 months ago | (#47342649)

"Following the rules"

Re:Book Resale value (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 4 months ago | (#47343157)

No no, as the commenter above said, "People arent evil." Noone would actually work around this system, its all hypothetical!

Re:Book Resale value (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47344051)

That's the point.

The publisher wants to give the original buyer, who they've already recieved money from, a discount or incentive towards buying a digital copy. If there wasn't a way to restrict it to a single use, anyone could go to a library or book store and get the discount without ever paying for the book.

For the original sale of the book, it's trivial to include a single-use code with the book. There's not a lot of options for applying this retroactively to owners of the book.

Re:Book Resale value (1)

murdocj (543661) | about 4 months ago | (#47347505)

This is the dictionary definition of looking a gift horse in the mouth. Someone offers you another copy of your book for free, and your are pissed off. If it's really that onerous and awful, here's a thought: don't take that free thing you are being given.

See, that was easy.

Re:Book Resale value (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 4 months ago | (#47353603)

1 - Most of what i saw was not free.
2 - Why should my want of 'freeness' supersede the poor sap that buys my used books? Books that now have a reduced value. ( both due to it being tied to me, and that i have defaced a piece of literature )

Re:Book Resale value (1)

BalthCat (2472732) | about 4 months ago | (#47367377)

Lots of people already write their names in books. I wasn't really one of them, but I'm becoming unenamoured with physical media lately. And the point is that you are indeed supposed to prevent someone else from using the same book for this purpose. That's not really unreasonable. If you give it away or resell it, they're not making any money off that, so why would they give you the ebook free or discounted?

Fails to account for collector's. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47342531)

Write my name in the front of my 1st edition of Dune? Yeah I'm the kind of moron who'd love to do that! Wait, no, I'm not..
Writing your name in the front of your book immediately devalues it. Depending on the book possibly many many times the value of a digital copy.. and a discounted digital copy?.. Yeah right!

So they harvest some data, get you to fuck up your possessions, and then give or sell you things already have the right to.

There are some cool DIY book scanners out there. Hey look how fast google is! http://www.diybookscanner.org/ [diybookscanner.org]

Re:Fails to account for collector's. (1)

BalthCat (2472732) | about 4 months ago | (#47367333)

I'm fairly sure it's not intended for old printings. Your old edition of anything won't work. It needs to have the copyright page from the edition in question. Lots of people already put their names in books, this isn't any different.

Google+? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47342645)

I was interested in this until it tried making me sign in through Google.

No iPad version (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | about 4 months ago | (#47342667)

Yes, there's an iOS version, but it's only for the iPhone. An app that displays books that doesn't work on an iPad whose larger screen size if so much better for reading books? Seriously?

Write your name with a pen? (4, Insightful)

metlin (258108) | about 4 months ago | (#47342741)

Really? Some of us really enjoy our books -- as someone who has a personal library with ~4,000 books, I would be appalled if I had to write on any of their pages with a pen.

Not because I am planning on selling any of them, but because to me, I just see it as damaging the book.

A good many of them are autographed or antiquarian books, and the last thing I'd ever want to do is sign them with a *pen*.

I find the whole deal oddly disturbing -- maybe it's just me as a bibliophile, but writing on a book sounds like a sacrilege.

Re:Write your name with a pen? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47342907)

Use a business card with the picture and tell them why you have an aversion to defacing a book - they should probally like that as much as the written in pen, since it gives them much more information than they requested and they should appreciate the 4000 book personal library enough to understand your principalled stance

Re:Write your name with a pen? (1)

metlin (258108) | about 4 months ago | (#47342939)

Indeed. That is a great idea. Thank you.

Re:Write your name with a pen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47345327)

They'll probably appreciate the money given to them, I don't see them giving an inch. The whole point of this is to stop the potential loopholes which include:

1. Selling a book after getting the digital copy for free or at a discounted cost.

2. Claiming a book that isn't yours as yours. (Library books, books from friends, etc.)

Among others. There's no way they'd accept anything less than the defacing ink on the book.

Re:Write your name with a pen? (1)

BalthCat (2472732) | about 4 months ago | (#47367343)

I'm dubious old editions will work in the first place. You need to take a picture of the copyright page, and it will likely want to match to the specific editions in question. Also when I emailed to make a suggestion about being able to re-take your copyright page signature picture, he commented on how I was naughty for using a pencil :P

Re:Write your name with a pen? (1)

keith_nt4 (612247) | about 4 months ago | (#47342917)

I have only just heard of this app so I haven't actually tried it yet. With that in mind I bet you could figure out some hack to make it appear in the pic as if you had written your name when if fact it is just a bit of photography trickery. Something in the physical world to create the illusion in other words. Of course if that were the case I guess people would go to book stores and do this to get free/cheap ebooks. Nobody do that. It was just idea to avoid physically writing in beloved books.

Re:Write your name with a pen? (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | about 4 months ago | (#47342923)

If you don't want to participate in their program, you're welcome to format-shift the book yourself. They're giving you a free bonus here, not trying to make something that you're entitled to more difficult to get.

Re:Write your name with a pen? (2)

metlin (258108) | about 4 months ago | (#47342953)

Yes, clearly I was unaware of this fact when I made this comment. Because, you know, it's an all-or-nothing world where people offering product features tell their users to do it their way or stick it.

If you cannot offer a helpful suggestion when someone questions something they aren't comfortable with, perhaps you should cut down the snark and just ignore the comment.

Re:Write your name with a pen? (1)

clickety6 (141178) | about 4 months ago | (#47343757)

So print your signature on a piece of transparent plastic and lay it over the page before you photograph it...

Re:Write your name with a pen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47343809)

"Really? Some of us really enjoy our books -- as someone who has a personal library with ~4,000 books, I would be appalled if I had to write on any of their pages with a pen."

This article badly needs a 'stupid' tag.

Re:Write your name with a pen? (1)

david.given (6740) | about 4 months ago | (#47343829)

I think that's the point.

I suspect the reasoning is that one physical copy == one license. By having the physical copy tied to you, by putting your name in it, they ensure you can't pass it on to anyone else, which means the license becomes non-transferrable. That means it's safe for them to give you a digital copy of the book, covered by the same license, in the knowledge that nobody else can claim a digital copy from the same physical book, without buying a new copy.

I would also be entirely unsurprised if each ebook was personalised, containing the image of your signature, so that if you gave a copy to someone else they'd know. I also see no mention of DRM (but the FAQ mentions using Calibre to convert ebooks, which suggests they don't use it).

Re:Write your name with a pen? (1)

Reziac (43301) | about 4 months ago | (#47345095)

One of my small treasures is a copy of the Complete Works of Byron. One of the wonders it contains is the signature and dedication written in it by the original owner, who gifted it to a family member -- in 1847.

Even so, the notion of writing my name in my own books (probably 5000 or so volumes) gives me the quivering shudders. Not to mention the most horrid case of writer's cramp.

Re:Write your name with a pen? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 4 months ago | (#47346087)

I suspect, FWIW, the complete works of Byron are in the public domain and can be downloaded for free anyway...

(That said I'm aware that it doesn't matter. If I had a complete copy of the works of Asimov, signed by the good Doctor himself, I wouldn't want to vandalize it either.)

Re:Write your name with a pen? (1)

BalthCat (2472732) | about 4 months ago | (#47367355)

If a publisher doesn't have a current edition of it, you can't get it. So there's no point in bemoaning your 1987 edition of anything let alone 1847.

Re:Write your name with a pen? (1)

Reziac (43301) | about 4 months ago | (#47368583)

Eh? No, we were bewailing a requirement of defacing our books, but then it occurred to me that such signatures might be valued by future owners, as I value my antique the more because it has a history.

(Just for S&G, I tracked down the original owner's descendants -- turns out they still live in Boston.)

Re:Write your name with a pen? (1)

BalthCat (2472732) | about 4 months ago | (#47368921)

Sorry, I pretty clearly misread you. My bad.

Re:Write your name with a pen? (1)

Reziac (43301) | about 4 months ago | (#47370211)

No problem... after all this is slashdot, you're *supposed* to misread stuff !! ;)

Unfortunately, US only (1)

hherb (229558) | about 4 months ago | (#47342913)

That offer is only valid for those who have a USA address for either google play or itunes,
Good concept, but useless for the vast majority of us who don't happen to have an address in the USA.

Re:Unfortunately, US only (1)

Peter Hudson (3717535) | about 4 months ago | (#47345565)

Available in US, Canada, and UK (for now).

Steam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47343285)

Now if only Steam would do this with XBox games...

There's an easier way with O'Reilly (2)

chrism238 (657741) | about 4 months ago | (#47343297)

I note that with BitLit the 'price' of an eBook from O'Reilly is $4,99.

However, if you sign up with O'Reilly (free), determine the ISBN of any of their physical books (which is on the physical copy that you bought, and O'Reilly keep a 'backup' copy of the ISBN on their website), you can receive an eBook copy of that book for - wait for it - also for $4.99.

How does this compare to Amazon's Kindle MatchBook (1)

ayesnymous (3665205) | about 4 months ago | (#47343649)

How does this compare to Amazon's Kindle MatchBook?

Re:How does this compare to Amazon's Kindle MatchB (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47344059)

MatchBook's an interesting idea but not a single title out of the dozens of books I've purchased through Amazon qualifies.

Re:How does this compare to Amazon's Kindle MatchB (2)

Peter Hudson (3717535) | about 4 months ago | (#47345589)

Matchbook only works for books you buy on Amazon.com and only works if you have a Kindle registered under the same account... For an average reader, the physical books they've purchased on Amazon is a relatively small percentage of the books on their shelf. BitLit works for all books regardless of where you acquired them. Excuse me while I don my fireproof suit and remind /. comment thread readers that they are not average.

beta sucks balls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47343721)

to mush space

So... (2)

LSDelirious (1569065) | about 4 months ago | (#47343875)

All I have to do is head to Barnes & Noble with a disappearing ink pen?

Re:So... (1)

Peter Hudson (3717535) | about 4 months ago | (#47345573)

A smartphone has a GPS... so taking a picture with a smartphone inside B&N (disappearing ink or not), might not be such a great idea. Just saying :)

Re:So... (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about 4 months ago | (#47349611)

You can (and should) disable that feature.
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