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The Future of Digital Books

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the new-library-at-alexandia dept.

256

Tabercil writes "The New York Times has an article about the mass scanning of books, which argues that actions such as Google's Book Search project are an inevitable outgrowth of the internet." From the article: "Scanning technology has been around for decades, but digitized books didn't make much sense until recently, when search engines like Google, Yahoo, Ask and MSN came along. When millions of books have been scanned and their texts are made available in a single database, search technology will enable us to grab and read any book ever written. Ideally, in such a complete library we should also be able to read any article ever written in any newspaper, magazine or journal. And why stop there?"

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256 comments

fucking shit (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15332286)

i want an ebook of taco's boys to fuck, a seperate peace

nigger word up

gnaa fp

E-academic books (5, Insightful)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332291)

What I would like to see is academic books in an electronic format (on a disc distributed with the hard-copy perhaps) so that I could search the text for a phrase or quote that I did not get the page number for. This would make referencing much easier. Of course having a lot of newspapers and books online from other countries also aids academic researching.

Some such texts already exist (5, Informative)

golodh (893453) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332336)

See e.g.:

-MIT's Open Courseware at: http://ocw.mit.edu/index.html [mit.edu]

-Textbook revolution at http://textbookrevolution.org/ [textbookrevolution.org]

-Physiscs texts at: http://www.phys.uu.nl/~thooft/theorist.html#langua ges [phys.uu.nl]

-The assayer at http://www.theassayer.org/ [theassayer.org]

-Open content at http://www.hewlett.org/Programs/Education/Technolo gy/OpenContent/opencontent.htm [hewlett.org]

I also know a number of econometric and statistics texts that are also available as free Ebooks, but they are of interest only to specialists.

Lots of computer books do this. (2, Informative)

Grendel Drago (41496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332661)

A good number of computer programming books at the local Borders have a PDF copy of the book on a CD in the back, convenient for searching and such.

Cold Books vs. Cozy Books (4, Interesting)

reporter (666905) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332711)

There are two types of books: cold (paper-based) books and cozy (paper-based) books.

Examples of cold books are the books that you use at work. You have no attachment to these books. They are there to provide information.

Digital books will wipe out the market for cold books. Digital book have one crucial advantage over cold books. You can use a search engine to search the content of a digital book.

In the bad old days, an investment analyst may have remembered reading an insightful analysis about hedging. She wants to re-read the analysis but, unfortunately, cannot remember which bloody book contained the analysis.

In the present day, that same analyst can just use a search engine to find the precise book by quickly scanning the list of books that she has read.

The opposite of cold books is cozy books. These are books that you read while you are curled up in a comfy sofa or bed. As you sip hot chocolate spiked with whipped cream, you devour every word of the book. You lovingly flip the pages as you quickly follow the heroine of your chick-lit novel.

No computer or search-engine will ever replace the cozy books. There will always be a market for cozy books. The phrase, "curling up with your high-performance notebook computer popping up page after page of the novel", just does not have that same cozy feel.

Note that the notions of "cozy books" and "cold books" are relative. A female engineer may consider a book about advanced quantum physics to be a "cozy book" for leisure reading, but a middle-aged housewife may consider a romance novel to be a "cozy book". The point is that digital books will never eliminate all paper-based books simply because cozy books will continue to survive in the digital age.

Re:Cold Books vs. Cozy Books (1)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332780)

I wholeheartedly agree. I find it very tiring to read books on screen (no matter how good the dot pitch gets) and I thoroughly enjoy reading books in my living room.

Paper books will continue to be popular until the paper is too expensive (scarce) to print them. by then hopefully there will be a digital solution that "feels" similar to the real thing. (a small folding tome consisting of two pages facing each other, which displays digital text at 600 DPI, mimicing the coloring and fiber of paper... :)

That or downloading the story directly into my brain in a book-paced trickle, for enjoyment purposes. :)

--Mike

free login? (4, Interesting)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332297)

Will all these books and articles require we login to view them first? I think having every book, article, movie, song, etc available for use anytime is a great idea and important for society but I don't want to have to login and leave a paper trail of everything I'm looking at. Searching should be powerful, access private, and making payments for work still under copyright easy and affordable.

Re:free login? (-1)

qbwiz (87077) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332368)

*Free* login for all these books? You wish.

Re:free login? (5, Insightful)

patio11 (857072) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332396)

Yeah, thats not happening. If you've got content-for-money and don't want to trust the tip-jar model, you need some sort of system to separate people who have paid from people who haven't paid. You could take pains to totally split your content server from your authentication server. Imagine a carnival where you buy tickets in one booth and buy access to attractions with tickets only. The booth selling you tickets only needs to know that your money is green and that you are buying some service in the carnival, and the booth letting you into Heather's House of Horrors only knows that you've got a ticket whose hash is valid. However, assuming that someone actually *cares* that you went into HHH, they'll just get your subscription and ask the HHH attendant, and you've got no guarantee he doesn't remember you. In the same manner, the feds could always just subpoena server logs and grep for your IP address.

The other problem is that no content provider, and few customers, actually benefits from this system. They use it at the carnival because they don't trust their minimum-wage employees with money and some other ancillary benefits of microcurrencies (makes you spend more than you intended, what have you). But for an online business, "what our customers buy" is not just useful, its their *lifeblood*. Take a look at the value Amazon gets out of cross-referencing buying habits, both in aggregate ("People Who Like Harry Potter like ...") and specific to you (recommenations, which are basically taking the aggregate data and splicing that with what they know about you from past purchases). Heck, their database is probably as important to them as their tech or brand name.

Nor do most customers care. There was never a golden age of privacy in commercial transactions, since you always have to arrange delivery of the goods and payments and that always leaves records (even if they're only memories). Even if there had been a golden age, hello, credit cards, supermarket value cards, and data mining software. Its dead and most people couldn't care less. Sure, you can scare people a little with "Dubya and the NSA can subpoena your library records" but that ceases to scare (mostly because the dangers of it are vastly oversold and the usual suspects warn about this every two weeks whether they need to or not -- see the +5 mods which are probably already above and below this comment).

Scanned Books? No one is interested! (5, Interesting)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332441)

I've scanned about ten of my favorite books a few years ago and have put them into my Kazaa shared folder for anyone to download.

      In three years there hasn't been one single download of any of these books. Maybe my tastes are completely different from the people who use Kazaa, or, maybe it hasn't occurred to the KaZaaistanis to actually look for books on what is primarily a music downloading library.
    I've offered Gore Vidal, P.J. O'Rourke, Trevanian, Harry Turtledove, and others, but again, no one has the slightest interest.

      So whenever you hear a book publisher claim that putting books online for download for free would devastate the industry, just remember that the people who read books are definitely not the people who download files from P2P resource libraries. The claim that online downloading of so-called e-books for low price or even free would hurt the book publishing industry seems on its face to be reasonable and prudent, but in reality it is totally without merit. The people who buy books and read them don't download files from Kazaa and the P2P filesharers don't read anything without having some teacher require it as part of their final grade. They'll download comic books, yes, maybe, but actual books of coherent text and prose, not a chance.

    Such it is as it is. And I don't believe that this situation will change in the coming years as more people outside of the geek community discover the P2P global library resources that are available.

I can't believe someone modded this up (-1, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332588)

For fuck sake. You might as well say no-one likes porn because you tried to give it away at your local church and no-one wanted it.

So who's the bigger idiot, the idiot or the idiot who mods him up? (or the idiot who replies, now shut up).

Re:Scanned Books? No one is interested! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15332599)

In three years there hasn't been one single download of any of these books. Maybe my tastes are completely different from the people who use Kazaa,


Let me stop you right there, no it's not about your taste - it's the file permissions.

Re:Scanned Books? No one is interested! (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332682)

In three years there hasn't been one single download of any of these books.
I don't think that proves what you think it does. You don't think people like quality texts? Project Gutenberg [gutenberg.org] uploads over 2 million e-texts each month! The reason is simple, people know to go there when they want certain kinds of texts. The odds of finding the books you want on Kazaa are so tiny, why would anybody try? But if it gained popularity, people would learn to search there. The numbers might never be huge, yet they still might be a sizeable percentage of the market for such books, which is what the publishing industry fears.

Re:Scanned Books? No one is interested! (4, Interesting)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332781)

I always forget about Project Gutenberg. I think it'd be nice if some popular current authors would place some of their books there for free. I don't know how copyrights work in the publishing world, so I don't know if they're even allowed to, but it would be nice. Maybe not right after a book is published, but maybe a year or two after it goes on sale. That way most people who really want the book would already have bought it, and the price would be down enough so that it would be cheaper to buy it than use ink to print it at home.

That wouldn't exactly work with technical and reference books, because their prices are usually relatively high, but maybe putting them up without figures or something would work.

I guess there are people who would read entire books online, but I think a lot (most?) people would prefer to read things over a few pages on printed paper.

It'd be nice, but I doubt it'll ever happen. Publishing companies are probably too paranoid about lost profit.

Re:Scanned Books? No one is interested! (2, Informative)

Vadim Makarov (529622) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332699)

P2P networks is the last place I'd look for a book (in fact, I wouldn't look there at all). You put your books in a wrong place. Right now all the music and movies are on P2P, and all the books are on the Web where they can be found via a plain search engine. This may change, but today it is this way.

Perhaps if book publishers put the same kind of pressure to eradicate scanned books form the web, books will move to P2P networks. However I doubt they ever do: enough people prefer reading books from paper, and dislike electronic texts (unlike music which is just as good when downloaded).

Re:Scanned Books? No one is interested! (1)

Bombula (670389) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332713)

Your personal annecdote is good evidence in support of the idea that this resource would be used primarily as a research tool and not as a mechanism to displace the existing market for traditional boks.

Re:Scanned Books? No one is interested! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15332721)

Obviously you didn't name the files correctly. All those books would be going like hotcakes if you named the files something like 'donkeydongdoesdebbie.avi'.

You must market to your audience. ;)

Re:Scanned Books? No one is interested! (1)

obnoxiousbastard (239578) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332756)

>>I've scanned about ten of my favorite books a few years ago and have put them into my Kazaa shared folder for anyone to download.

Well see, now there's your problem. Unless it is porno or stolen or better yet stolen porno, most Kaaza users simply aren't interested.

Re:free login? (3, Insightful)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332464)

If we can get all of these things available for viewing, then overcoming the login will be the trivial aspect. We have a lot of anonymizing technologies and we have a lot of "convenience" techonologies such as "bugmenot" where you don't actually have to log in as yourself. This can eliminate the paper trail, obfuscate the paper trail, or reduce the trail to "there was some sort of file transfered, but it was encrypted".

In addition, once the content is available at all, it can easily be copied. (For the same reasons real DRM is impossible.) Then we can set up an encrypted p2p network and serve it up anonymously. In the case of pure text, the storage space required is incredibly small, less than 1 MB for an entire book. So I can store about 9,000 books on a single DVD and over 500,000 on a hard drive and share it on an anonymous, encrypted p2p network. The small size also means bandwidth isn't a big issue for text.

Bandwidth may be an issue for movies, but you can fit over 100 movies on a single hard drive, and as long as you don't want to watch the movie right at that moment, bandwidth for movies shouldn't be a problem either. (People download movies all the time over p2p.) With proper p2p, anonymizing and encryption, there is no information that can be gained about the actual information being transferred on the network.

Searching shouldn't be a problem since we could adopt a hierarchical system similar to DNS but based on some library category system. Instead of .com and .org servers we could have psychology or physical sciences or music servers. They could tell you where to find the item in question and could index those works that are in their domain. (search.psychology.lib or maybe google.psychology.lib). A broad query could just hit multiple servers to look for the information. For our p2p model, we can use a central directory or a broadcast model for indexing.

Copyright would be a nightmare since the holder of the copyright is the one that sets rates, and can charge different rates to different people. However, since different countries don't have the same rules regarding copyrights, you could access the material from a country where it wasn't copyrighted or where it has expired. This really isn't a solution, but it is a workaround.

The biggest issue I see is that artists and authors have the rights to their own work and don't want to give it away - they like to get paid for what they have done. In addition, the storage cost for everything would be quite high. Maintaining petabytes of active storage is expensive and being able to serve it at a decent rate is also expensive, so there has to be some revenue model or at least public funding.

Re:free login? (2, Interesting)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332523)

If we can get all of these things available for viewing, then overcoming the login will be the trivial aspect.

    I respectfully and humbly disagree. There is nothing trival about overcoming any login or technologically-based restriction for the vast majority of educated and interested people who could be persuaded to use and download on-line books.

    Unless people have a solid background in computer systems and network software techniques and stategies, they will be blocked by even the simplest digital restriction.

    Authors and artists are going to have to adjust to a world of massive digital copying by learning to massively increase their output, or finding private wealthy patrons and sponsors as in the middle ages. Or, they can publish full works as books and then also maintain nearly daily blogs and weekly commentaries on their books such as James Howard Kunstler does at www.kunstler.com.

    As far as learning to massively increase their output goes, are there any authors who actually use speech-to-text software to create their works? Or are most of them still grappling with the issue of whether to use computers or typewriters to do their writing? I heard a talk by author Gay Talese last week where he mentioned that he writes out everything that he published in longhand script and sends it to his publisher a hundred pages at a time. But he's nearly eighty years old and still traveling and writing, so we should give him some slack. But some 25 year old writer should definitely be just dictating prose to her laptop and have it immediately uploaded to her website.

Re:free login? (1)

Device666 (901563) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332670)

I hope we don't see the same censorship issues with books, like we have already seen with the normal web and China. History books, fiction books, etc. Would Google change our stories?

Rewrite of the century.

Re:free login? (1)

John Gagon (974158) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332755)

Another issue with books being online is that some books will be more prone to censorship by ranking (should that become less objective as time goes on). Seems downright Orwellian, albeit well aligned to the current trend. Other avenues of book sharing and the ability to copy books thus needs to be preserved. As long as other venues are not restricted or eventually replaced by this selective, mass scanning system, it seems to be fairly benign. I doubt anyone would let it happen today but who knows what the future generation might allow.

future = all downloaded (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15332302)

I already use limewire to get my books "on tape". I used to pay for them, sometimes $50! lol

Star Trek replicators (5, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332308)

What I always found interesting about the Star Trek universe was the concept of a 'replicator'. You press a button and speak your order (e.g. Tea, Earl Grey, Hot) and get your order instantiated out of seemingly nothing. What would the consequences of such a device be if we could replicate anything at no cost? Not just information, but physical objects like cars and houses too.

Would we do away with all human suffering? Hunger wiped off the map? Who would endeavor to explore space or do research into new materials and computation? Would money be useless?

We have today costless information. As time rolls on, we'll have more of it. Those who currently own that information are slowly but surely losing their grip on it as it is becoming easier to replicate it with no cost.

The course of action thus far has been to build more protections into the information itself that prevents it from being copied easily. Will the same thing happen with actual replicators when they are invented?

Re:Star Trek replicators (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332341)

In such a world those who control energy would rule the world.

Re:Star Trek replicators (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332348)

those who control energy would rule the world.

Welcome to Earth 2006.

Uh huh. (1)

Grendel Drago (41496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332671)

Yeah, those Norwegians [doe.gov] (third biggest oil exporter in the world, above Iran and Venezuela!) are really sitting atop the world...

Re:Uh huh. (1)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332767)

So Saddam's WMDs are now in Norway I suppose?

I think I smell a campaign. (1)

Grendel Drago (41496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332787)

Those Norwegians hunger for the sweet taste of American freedom! We must fight the terrorists among the fjords so we don't have to fight them here!

Re:Star Trek replicators (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332365)

What would the consequences of such a device be if we could replicate anything at no cost?

You would be immediately executed, and the device confiscated for a number of potential future paths.

Re:Star Trek replicators (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15332410)

For an interesting voyage in the possibilities of replicators, I'd recommend Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age. It explores a world where ubiquitous nanotechnology essentially makes everything free.

Re:Star Trek replicators (2, Interesting)

Kineel (315046) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332418)

We have today costless information

So there is no cost for transferring information to electronic media? No cost to delivering Broadband Internet access to every house? No cost to store information?

COOL, what Universe do you live in? And can we all get a visa?

It's about the marginal cost. (2, Interesting)

Grendel Drago (41496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332686)

I think the point is that the marginal cost of doing most of these things is pretty much nil. Scanning the books is definitely not free, but when you've got hundreds of GB of space, and the bandwidth to download hundreds of MB of porn a day, the cost of downloading a few hundred KB of text with your already paid-for broadband is small enough to be imperceptible, and thus to be, in the mind of the consumer, free. Which was the original point.

Infinite food != end to hunger (4, Insightful)

patio11 (857072) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332431)

We already produce enough food to feed the world, and there are still starving people. Whats the contradiction? Bad government. Take a look anywhere in the world where you see starving people and you will see a well-fed army/secret police which is appropriating all the food supply (including the *prodigious* amounts of aid the well-fed countries of the world throw at the problem), and, likely as not, the disruption in food production which triggered the famine was probably brought on by stupidity or deliberate sabotage in the first place (either democide-by-famine in the Soviet Ukraine, or "hey, I've got an idea, lets throw all the white farmers off their land, then we'll give it away to our political base -- no possible downside!").

The real world introduction of replicators would see well-governed nations (which are mostly already rich) get even richer, and poorly-governed nations (which are mostly already poor) get even poorer as their governments confiscated their replicators and used them for the benefit of the power-elite (more phasers to oppress the masses and cheaper rates on ballots for one-party elections! Sweet!). And lots of Western academics would say "See, this is why we need socialism, look at how capitalism produces rich and poor people and inequitably distributes the wealth of the world", because academics who have never actually had their stuff ganked by a totalitarian mob have a very rozy view of the whole process.

Re:Infinite food != end to hunger (1)

Propagandhi (570791) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332510)

Not even bumbling beuracracy could keep people in poverty were the GP's replicator a reality. At some point it becomes impossible to hold the masses down, hopefully we'll reach that point within our lifetimes*.

When resources are no longer scarce, then socialism will be inevitable. Only the greedy will think otherwise, and they'll be dismissed rather quickly... There's no need for a Walmart when your neirghborhood EE can just set up a replicator.

*if you're really old, sorry but you're outta luck.

Re:Infinite food != end to hunger (2, Informative)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332619)

Resources - as everybody ought to know by now - are always limited. A replicator working at "no cost" as the OP envisioned is therefore impossible. Matter can not be created out of nothing, and to transform matter into something useful will consume energy.

You can transform the nutrients of the soil, a seed and water into a tomato while using solar energy when you plant and care for that seed. The matter contained in the tomato must come from somewhere, a certain amount of energy will be needed to accomplish the transformation. A replicator could do that differently, theoretically even more efficiently (though that's not very likely). What the replicator could not change is the fact that a certain input is needed to generate an output. It will have to obey the laws of physics.

Also, not everything of value is a produceable good. There are other things of value e.g. services, health and space. Once the Ferrari becomes available at "zero cost" the oceanfront property will be in even higher demand.

Re:Infinite food != end to hunger (1)

cnflctd (69843) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332761)

Come the Singularity, we will all be uploaded into computers, and then the replicators will work just fine. Then everyone will move to southern California, drive Ferrari's and sleep with Pamela Anderson.

Did you miss the Star Trek episode which revealed the Enterprise was only 6 inches long?

Physics != Politics (2, Interesting)

ahfoo (223186) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332831)

Here's a quote from a guy who considered himself qualified to discuss politics with authority. He seems to think that if we had automated means of producing objects of desire and need that we would essentially be in a position to do away with class in society.

There is only one condition in which we can imagine managers not needing subordinates, and masters not needing slaves. This condition would be that each (inanimate) instrument could do its own work, at the word of command or by intelligent anticipation; as if a shuttle should weave of itself, and a plectrum should do its own harp playing.

Aristotle, The Politics 350 BCE

We obey the Laws of Thermodynamics on this site! (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332435)

What I always found interesting about the Star Trek universe was the concept of a 'replicator'. You press a button and speak your order (e.g. Tea, Earl Grey, Hot) and get your order instantiated out of seemingly nothing. What would the consequences of such a device be if we could replicate anything at no cost? Not just information, but physical objects like cars and houses too.
Given that whatever you create CANNOT result in an increase of energy, there would be limits to this "technology".

If it takes 1 gallon of gas to drive this thing to make 2 gallons of gas, well, you can see the problem there.

So this would be self-limiting based upon the energy/matter required to "create" whatever it is that you're creating.

How this changes anything would depend upon how efficient the machine would be and what types of energy/matter it would use.

Re:We obey the Laws of Thermodynamics on this site (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332461)

Given that whatever you create CANNOT result in an increase of energy, there would be limits to this "technology".

If it takes 1 gallon of gas to drive this thing to make 2 gallons of gas, well, you can see the problem there.


Yes but what if it takes 1 litre of Captain Kirk piss and produces 1 pound of gold?

Something to think about...

Re:We obey the Laws of Thermodynamics on this site (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332483)

it takes 1 litre of Captain Kirk piss and produces 1 pound of gold

I hope they'd work on some other form of fuel, though. I don't want to have to carry around Kirk's piss everywhere I go.

Re:We obey the Laws of Thermodynamics on this site (2, Funny)

Lordpidey (942444) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332495)

Wait, its not normal to carry around.... Err.... this is awkward.... uhh these jugs contain apple juice, yah... apple juice.

Re:We obey the Laws of Thermodynamics on this site (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332594)

Wait, its not normal to carry around.... Err.... this is awkward.... uhh these jugs contain apple juice, yah... apple juice.

Now that you've convinced yourself, wanna have a cup of apple juice from those jugs you're carrying?

Re:We obey the Laws of Thermodynamics on this site (2, Informative)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332497)

Yeah, but really, the problem with energy is in moving it from place to place.

If we can replicate, then presumably we've cracked the problem of turning energy to matter and back. If we start running out of energy, we convert some more matter into energy.

If we start to run out of matter, we go get some from any of the many celestial bodies nearby. It's not like Jupiter is doing anything terribly important with it's extra matter (I'm assuming that if we can do all that other stuff, why not space travel as well)?

Re:We obey the Laws of Thermodynamics on this site (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332634)

If we can replicate, then presumably we've cracked the problem of turning energy to matter and back

Not necessarily. I'm not a trekky, so I don't know how these things work in detail, but there's two different ways they could work. Firstly, by transforming energy into matter, or secondly, by transmuting one type of matter in to another.

Besides, there may well be incredible inefficiencies in the technology. It may be efficient to generate matter from energy, but trying to reverse the process may be significantly more inefficient.

Re:Star Trek replicators (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15332444)

...(e.g. Tea, Early Grey, Hot) ... get your order instantiated out of seemingly nothing. What would the consequences of such a device be if we could replicate anything at no cost?

"Woman, Britney Spears, Hot!"

Re:Star Trek replicators (2, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332445)

What I always found interesting about the Star Trek universe was the concept of a 'replicator'. You press a button and speak your order (e.g. Tea, Earl Grey, Hot) and get your order instantiated out of seemingly nothing.

Do we look like seemingly nothing to you, sir? I'm insulted and demand an apology.

- The Tiny Dwarfs Working in Replicators Syndicate (TDWRS)

Re:Star Trek replicators (3, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332490)

I'm guessing you've never played Second Life [secondlife.com] . The creator of any given object in Second Life can set bits that say whether or not you can copy/edit/sell that object. The game then enforces those bits. As it is done on the server and only the compiled textures and polys are sent to the client, there's no much you can do to get around this form of DRM. The end result is a pretty distopian vision of the future. You walk around in this world where you are free to conjure anything you want out of thin air, but you are prevented from using the things you see around you as a base for your creations by absentee content owners. Often an object of some beauty will be created by someone who has left the game entirely. There is absolutely no way for a regular player to get the DRM removed from the object so it can be reused. There are some players who release all their work with none of the DRM bits turned on, but they are few and far between. I can imagine a time where this ability to conjure things into existance will be provided to us in the real world using nanotechnology or some other new technology. Will our creations be DRM infested? Surely they will, because we all still live under the belief that we have some innate right control what others do with our creations.

Re:Star Trek replicators (1)

LionKimbro (200000) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332493)

I was always more intrigued with the holodeck.

Who needs to run about the ship, when all you need is in the holodeck?

Fooling sensory systems has got to be cheaper than actually positioning physical molecules.

Re:Star Trek replicators (1)

masterzora (871343) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332672)

*insert insightful statement about the Matrix*

Re:Star Trek replicators (1)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332788)

Fooling sensory systems has got to be cheaper than actually positioning physical molecules.
About a dollar per pill, I suppose.

Re:Star Trek replicators (2, Insightful)

mblase (200735) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332494)

What would the consequences of such a device be if we could replicate anything at no cost?

You're assuming we have limitless access to energy to power the thing, right?

Personally, I foresee a rampant culture of hedonists and drug addicts. There are plenty of people who, given the ability to replicate anything on a desk at no cost, will ask for heroin or coke or porn without even thinking twice.

Most of the rest will ask for bars of solid gold, because they're not smart enough to realize twelve million other people have already done the same thing.

Re:Star Trek replicators (4, Insightful)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332513)

C.S. Lewis - the guy who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia wrote a book that addresses this idea in the beginning of his book, The Great Divorce, which is an allegory for Heaven and Hell...sort of.

Anyway, his description of hell before judgement day is a place where people can make absolutely anything they want just by imagining it. People are imperfect, though, so their imaginings are also - and so nothing works great. Also, with no economic forces holding people together, bickering with neighbors drives people further and further away from each other (since they can always find a strech of land and think up a new house for it).

It's an interesting notion.

Re:Star Trek replicators (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15332593)

That description of Hell sounds pretty nice. The interesting thing about dystopias is more of what they tell you about their creators than anything else. Consider Brave New World, where the reader is meant to be offended by the prospect of total sexual promiscuity starting at childhood. Where a complacent population engineered to be happy with its lot in life is supposed to be disturbing. For many people, that world would be preferable to this one. I would rather like a Hell in which I were limited only by my imagination, and the horrible thing was that I'd grow distant from my neighbors. If that's Hell, sign me up. A world without death, without suffering from a lack of food or medicine. A world where I can write the reality in any way I wish. That's better than real life.

Re:Star Trek replicators (2, Interesting)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332582)

What I always found interesting about the Star Trek universe was the concept of a 'replicator'. You press a button and speak your order (e.g. Tea, Earl Grey, Hot) and get your order instantiated out of seemingly nothing. What would the consequences of such a device be if we could replicate anything at no cost? Not just information, but physical objects like cars and houses too.

Not only that, but what about using such a device to create items which are considered dangerous? What do gun control laws mean if anybody can get an AK-47 at the push of a button? What about producing infectious diseases like anthrax or ebola, or even creating a nuclear weapon? Does anyone know if Star Trek (or other sci-fi) ever analyzed such issues?

Finally, if replicators can easily create new replicators, how can anybody possibly hope to keep such things from becoming widespread?

Re:Star Trek replicators (1)

Alicat1194 (970019) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332673)

What do gun control laws mean if anybody can get an AK-47 at the push of a button? What about producing infectious diseases like anthrax or ebola, or even creating a nuclear weapon? Does anyone know if Star Trek (or other sci-fi) ever analyzed such issues?

Not sure about other sci-fi, but in the Star Trek universe, replicators were blocked from producing weapons and other dangerous goods (not to mention, even if they could produce a phaser, they wouldn't be able to produce the power pack for it since they can only replicate matter, not energy)

Re:Star Trek replicators (2, Funny)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332805)

Finally, if replicators can easily create new replicators, how can anybody possibly hope to keep such things from becoming widespread?
Natural selection.
Picture this: Some guy with a replicator ordering: "Plutonium, weapon grade, 50Kg".
Now picture the look on his face when his newly replicated plutonium becomes supercritical only a few metres away from him.
Nobody and their neighbours makes such a mistake twice.

Re:Star Trek replicators (2, Interesting)

Skroggtar (940321) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332855)

Does anyone know if Star Trek (or other sci-fi) ever analyzed such issues?

In Transmetropolitan, the Makers (essentially the same idea; a rather sentient machine that transforms matter into goods) had to be upgraded because they were creating drugs for their own consumption. IIRC, the machines were programmed to disallow recreation of copyrighted material or anything overly dangerous...but due to their sentience, some of the seedier ones just did as they pleased.

Re:Star Trek replicators (2, Informative)

BillyBlaze (746775) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332615)

I recommend you read "Wetware" by Rudy Rucker. It explores the idea of what would happen if humans got a hold of replicator-like technology.

Re:Star Trek replicators (2, Insightful)

wkitchen (581276) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332636)

The course of action thus far has been to build more protections into the information itself that prevents it from being copied easily. Will the same thing happen with actual replicators when they are invented?
If the current trend holds, we'll DRM the hell out of everything, be it physical or virtual, creating artificial scarcity to replace natural scarcity.

Perhaps the current trend will not hold in the long run. But it could still be very ugly for a while. As I see it, the fundamental problem is that no current economic system is designed to deal with goods that have no natural scarcity.

Capitalism is about competing to get a bigger piece of the pie, and letting this motivate the pie's production.

Communism is about distributing the pie evenly, with production being centrally planned and dictated.

Most economies in the real world have some elements of both.

All assume that there's either not enough pie to satisfy all desire, or at least that the cost of doing so is prohibitive. But when people can make for themselves all the pie they want at almost no cost or effort, the system breaks down. The problem is that while it may take practically no effort or expense to reproduce pie, it still takes considerable effort to develop new kinds of pie. Especially really good pie.

We need a different economic model. But in the mean time, we'll keep trying to force an increasing number of non-scarce goods into the existing scarcity-based models. Which is very unfortunate, as this simply cannot be done other than by reducing freedom.

Re:Star Trek replicators (1)

Bob of Dole (453013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332776)

Exactly! No one seems to get this.
If we had machines to make things out of thin air, WE WOULDN'T BE ALLOWED TO.
The makers of Earl Grey tea would enforce their copyright and keep you from duplicating it.

If you want to see what a world with stuff-made-at-no-cost (or near zero cost, you've still got energy/bandwidth/etc), look at digital information. If I make an mp3 of my off key singings, I can effectively produce an infinite number of copies of it for just about no cost. Anyone can get their own copy for just about free... Just like your magical replicator!

Ten minutes after replicators were invented, there would by a p2p network sharing "pirated" objects. Twenty minutes after that, it would be illegal to copy your objects. There goes the replicator...

Re:Star Trek replicators (1)

obnoxiousbastard (239578) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332794)

Replicators would be a disaster for humanity.

Many would kill themselves in very short order by having endless free supplies of highly addictive drugs.

Next the economy would be turned completely on its head in the chaos of workers not having to work, no demand to supply and every person having no motivation to do anything other than personal hobbies. Very quickly, many humans get so fat, dumb and happy no one can remember who built the replicators and how they work.

Soon radicals discover the more sinister implications of replicator technology and begin mass producing weapons. Then street gangs are armed with apache helicopters and cruise missiles.

Mankind fades into brutal, radioactive extinction when rival gangs start heaving h-bombs at each other.

Game over, no replay.

Easy. (-1, Offtopic)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332309)

10001010100101001010000001010111101001010010100101

Re:Easy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15332466)

100010101001010010100000010101111010010100101001 01

Hmm...translates to..

S" W¥)

WTF? is that like, ebook speak or something?

Re:Easy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15332467)

"W¥)"? i dont get it

If Anyone . . . (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15332320)

If anyone has the right plan for online digital book distribution, it is the folks at the IOCDP. Their plan is absolutely brilliant, involving many facets of academia and the internet backbone to make sure that digital content in the form of literary works is spread as efficiently and reliably as possible. If only ICANN could work out their problems with standardization as well as the IOCDP Digital Library Council has been able to, the Internet would be a better place for us and all of its netizens.

IANAL, but does anyone else think that some of these other new plans for e-books seem just a LITTLE bit in violation of fair use clauses found in many content treatises? I would like to see some of these issues dealt with in a court of law, just for the sake of getting a definitive ruling.

Break Stupid Laws (5, Interesting)

mfh (56) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332327)

Scanning books is ideal for rapid human progress. While we're at it, the concept of the library is also the epicenter of p2p. Yet, money -- better yet, grant money, restricts the natural development of humanity. Therefore if power is a weed, the ultimate power must be anarchy (or should I say LIBERTY).

True story and a kind of interesting local example of what I'm talking about:

I live on a very long dead-end road. They fixed the mouth of the road I live on a while back -- it used to be a fork but now it's a 3-way stop. There was once a very dangerous fork at the mouth of the street and some neighbours complained about drainage problems when it rained (then sent the flooding bill to the town hall). The town met on the subject, and figured they would simply kill two birds with one stone, so they rebuilt the fork to make it less dangerous when they reconstructed the drainage for the whole area.

Because my street is LONG, the bulk of the people in the area live on the road that feeds up the NEW stop sign. When it was a fork, there was a YEILD sign so you could quickly look down the TINY side street and quickly go.

You would understand if you could see the way they reconstructed this area -- it makes no sense whatsoever to have a stop sign there. It should be a thoroughfare.

Guess how many people stop at the new stop sign now that the street has been "repaired"? About one in fifty.

If a law is stupid, you are obligated to break it because that is the essence of what liberty is!

Re:Break Stupid Laws - not the only avenue (2, Interesting)

erbmjw (903229) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332550)

YOu should first try to get the law (etc) changed, then if necessary try to get the law challenged through acts of civil disobidience. True civil disobidience means that you are willing to pay the price of breaking the law as long as your actions will bring further attention to the mistake{s} of the law/practice in question.

Re:Break Stupid Laws - not the only avenue (1)

fido_dogstoyevsky (905893) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332694)

YOu should first try to get the law (etc) changed, then if necessary try to get the law challenged through acts of civil disobidience.

Being in the country populated by criminals, I've seen civil disobedience used as a first option work in the past. Sometimes quick, easy and only costly to the a***holes^w politicians who forget who is really responsible to whom.

True civil disobidience means that you are willing to pay the price of breaking the law as long as your actions will bring further attention to the mistake{s} of the law/practice in question.

Unfortunately I've also seen it not work, and it's been expensive to those who try.

But we don't stop trying. It is, after all, our civic duty.

And why stop there? (1)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332331)

I don't get it. What are you trying to say by asking that? Are you arguing this is a bad idea and saying "Why stop there?" as in this wrong?

This is a good idea and to be able to cross reference and get multi sources is wonderful. I'm all for it. Not to mention it's great for college students who just can't get to the library because they need to work to pay for the text books and food while at college. It's open 24/7. Of course the other end of the spectrum is it's an excuse to wait til the last moment because they don't have to worry about the book being checked out.

Re:And why stop there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15332430)

I have one, four-word acronym for you.
RTFA.

Globalization... (3, Interesting)

crazyjeremy (857410) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332339)

I see this as simply another push for globalization. First, if America doesn't scan all the books, China or another country with lax copyright laws surely will. It will be simple to visit a site that contains all of this information even if it is in China (GO INTERNET!)
FROM THE ARTICLE:
The Chinese scanning factories, which operate under their own, looser intellectual-property assumptions, will keep churning out digital books. And as scanning technology becomes faster, better and cheaper, fans may do what they did to music and simply digitize their own libraries.

Second, many countries will ban certain types of hardware (without macrovision, drm, etc) and other countries will get some of our business (at least mine) when we opt to purchase superior hardware that isn't limited. From the article again:
But the reign of livelihoods based on the copy is not over. In the next few years, lobbyists for book publishers, movie studios and record companies will exert every effort to mandate the extinction of the "indiscriminate flow of copies," even if it means outlawing better hardware.

Bottom line is some of us will always buy the DRM protected stuff and only a few of us will purchase overseas if necessary to ensure we can get a device that will truly record to or from anything. The scanning of millions of books, magazines and other articles will only push change in laws, but it will take some time. Whoever wins, I'm still going to be purchasing devices that aren't locked down, even if I have to learn a bit of Japanese, Chinese or Korean to do so.

Re:Globalization... (4, Funny)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332372)

China or another country with lax copyright laws surely will.

Yeah, but then we have to deal with crap like "Animar farm" and "The Bibre"

Re:Globalization... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15332422)

you can't even make culturally insensitive jokes correctly.

Re:Globalization... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15332663)

Libraries = Napster for books!

don't support those bastards! stop pirating books, do your part and burn down a library today!

Don't believe them (-1, Offtopic)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332347)

Don't believe these people... This project is simply part of the Government's control on teh people.... They are working on a time machine, soon this database will also be able to read books that haven't even been written yet, books that are from the future... Once they can do that, THEY WILL CONTROL US...

STOP THE GOVERNMENT STOP GOOGLE!!!

You have been warned...

Payment and doctrine of first sale (3, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332359)

This is part of the move by the publishing industry to kill the resale market.

OK, that is a bit cynical. However, for high-end items like college textbooks, constant revisioning, cd/book bundles, and book/exclusive-web-site bundles are already killing the resale market. In 5 years schools will simply purchase 1-semester licenses to online materials and tack it on to the tuition as a "class materials fee."

Re:Payment and doctrine of first sale (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332548)

Universities are already largely irrelevant. It's what you put into it. If your only goal is to survive four years then make it rich you'll get the least from a formal education.

Besides, sharing text books is how you make friends.

I remember in my software engineering class we had to pick up a 150$ text book. [yeah I know, big spender]. So my project team just paid our shares and we brough the book with us to the classes and study groups.... works wonders.

Tom

It could be a huge help (5, Insightful)

martonlorand (938109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332376)

I personally dont like to read from the screen, and LOVE reading or listening to books on tape but theres pretty good tools out there to read the text for you in english like openbook.

But I have a blind friend and certainly can see how something like this could help him, because I see how he struggles to find good books he can read and has to jokearound with his scanner just to read something that is not available electronically. He does good now, has two diplomas but he had his mom was scanning books for him like 24/7...

Think outside the box a bit...

something I'd pay money for (3, Insightful)

kongit (758125) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332391)

If there became an online library consisting of most if not all books, I would be willing to pay for a subscription. I believe that there is a large market of people that want unusual or hard to find in print books. This would allow people to search for these books. Along with helping that niche market, there would also be the vast benefit to researchers and college students. Why buy a book for 20 dollars just for one paper because your library doesn't have a copy when you can use a service with all the books already there for a small set fee. Overall this would be cheaper for the end user of small print books. The only pitfall is in the major money makers of the publishing industry, bestsellers and textbooks. However, I don't think that having then in ebook form would greatly hurt their sales. Books, as in those on paper, have unique advantages. One they are highly and easily portable. I don't want to read on my laptop while taking a crap. I also use the margins in textbooks. There is nothing like having a real book in hand. But having the availability of books hard to come by along with books used infrequently or once briefly per person would greatly benifit all those literate.

2 words... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15332411)

IN MY ASS!

sir thats 3 words... ...it's ok, it's electronic we can just edit it!

Why stop anywhere? (1, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332417)

Ideally, in such a complete library we should also be able to read any article ever written in any newspaper, magazine or journal. And why stop there?

Let's leave no poem on a toilet paper or a speeding ticket unscanned!

Re:Why stop anywhere? (4, Insightful)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332641)

Let's leave no poem on a toilet paper or a speeding ticket unscanned!

Don't we have blogs for that already?

From the folks who brought you Times Select (2, Informative)

dhartshorn (456906) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332419)

The Times could start by making all their articles & commentary available at no cost.

The solution of course... (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332420)

is just communism. If you wrote a book for the sole fact that that is what you do, you're an author and you got compensation from the state (which is the people after all) in the form of food, clothing, entertainment and lodging stipends you'd be set. :-)

I kid. Stick with what we know best. Capitalism with a side of cheating.

As a soon to be published author who is making little money on the deal I don't see the big incentive for me to get all upset about my work being distributed. I mean I don't because I want my publisher to print the books but financially I have nothing riding on the books...

And perhaps with media like that that's the way it should be...

Tom

Fast forward to the future (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15332474)

Executives in Hollywood watches in awe as Google creates sequels of books with targeted advertisement and tailored endings that suits each individual users. "With this technology, we didn't have to do sequels of 60s, 70s and 80s movies that no one wants to pay $6 to watch, but tailor each sequel with targeted advertisement for each individual user." said an executive who wanted to remain anonymous. "It will be the golden crack pipe from Hollywood... everyone will want to get more of it." he continued.

He's just tryin to save his own arse (1)

kaufmanmoore (930593) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332491)

Ideally, in such a complete library we should also be able to read any article ever written in any newspaper, magazine or journal. And why stop there?

I guess this author is hoping he can get some fees from this project while he scrounges for a job when the NY times downsizes him cause newspapers are on the way out.

ISBN Scan And Search (3, Interesting)

Doug Dante (22218) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332504)

I would love an "ISBN Scan and Search" Service where I could run my book's ISBN #s through a scanner, and search those in Google's (whomever's) database.

I recently had to give a talk and the information I wanted to convey was scattered throughout about 50 books. I wasn't able to do a good job, and I desperately wanted to do a keyword search on each of them.

This would be a great service for a library which would allow a patron to do a full text search on all books in the library.

Imagine writing a paper on the literary impact of "The Beatles" or "Star Wars" scattered throughout diverse materials like romance novels or physics textbooks in a large library.

Re:ISBN Scan And Search (1)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332648)

[scan and search in books] Imagine writing a paper on the literary impact of "The Beatles" or "Star Wars" scattered throughout diverse materials like romance novels or physics textbooks in a large library.

So ... are arguing for or against that feature? :-)

*Hell* No !! (0)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332516)

ISTR back in 1995 CE or thereabouts, when I first "discovered" the 'net. ISTR the first things that I thought of were the lost libraries of Alexandria and Toledo. And Cairo, Memphis, Thebes. Let alone Athens, Rome, Berlin, London, Paris, and the LOC. Ya know what my hope is? I hope that the 'net "library" cannot be burned nor sacked.

I learned something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15332574)

digging holes for construction projects: using a shovel will never be replaced as the way to dig a small hole. I spent hours trying to think up a "better shovel" and then I realized humankind has had a long time to improve on the shovel and they haven't. Likewise, books as physical objects are not going to go away: they are the solution which is also the most simple.

Re:I learned something (4, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332718)

using a shovel will never be replaced as the way to dig a small hole

I don't know. On our street the crew was fixing a broken water line. They used a vac and water jet truck to make mud and suck it up. It made a nice small hole about 8 inches in diamater and about 2 feet deep.

I found they use it because it can't cut into nearby underground phone/electric/gas/cable service. A shovel is too dangerous for many curbside utility repairs. They were not permitted to use a shovel.

Conspiracy Theories (5, Interesting)

brotherash (4278) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332585)

Digital information has certain properties that distinguish it from atomic information:

1) It is infinitely easier to distribute.
2) It is significantly easier to index.
3) It is significantly more malleable.

In most cases the digital-information-haves cast these properties as inherently benevolent in nature. Unfortunately this is not the case. These properties are instead morally neutral. While a universally accessible, fully indexed, fully accessible digital archive of all the books on earth sounds like an idea which on the whole will benefit humanity we can not ignore the darker side to digital information.

1) Information that is infinitely easier to distribute can lead to infinite information being available. The more information there is available the more we depend on gatekeepers to provide us what is relevant.

2) The index of information is a form of information in it's own right (meta information) which itself contributes to the glut of information previously mentioned.

3) The more malleable information becomes the more it is subject to alteration. Each version of an altered document adds to the information glut leading us back to a greater dependency on information gatekeepers.

As the technology for digital books develops and less people find books as convenient as their counterpart in the digital world people will inevitably begin replacing their books or simply stop buying printed books. I don't think this is as much a science fiction dream as it may sound. How many of you still read a printed newspaper?

We may need no convincing to burn our books. They may never need to be outlawed. They will instead be subtly subverted by the insidious desire for "convenience". The kings of convenience will then be free to rule using the most powerful political tool in the information age: FUD.

yeah whatever (3, Insightful)

ohzero (525786) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332719)

I can barely get through a slashdot briefing in a web browser, let alone war and peace.
Noone reads ebooks as it is now, because a screen is an impractical medium for books.
Indexing them all will be neato bambino for quick searches and whatnot, but most people don't want to be glued to a screen for that long. Besides, books smell cool and computers do not.
 

housed in the ministry of truth (4, Insightful)

pintomp3 (882811) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332728)

not that /. needs any more references to 1984, but this could make it a lot easier to alter the text. unless there were multiple databases controlled by sources with conflicting interests (some sort of checks and balances) or the database had some non-defeatable version tracking, how would you know that the content is genuine?

50 Petabytes on an Ipod? (0, Offtopic)

moultano (714440) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332743)

I may be old fashioned, but doesn't that seem a bit outlandish? I mean, I know, people would have said that about gigabytes in the days of yore, but still. When do we reach the fundamental limit of information density per unit space? Anyone with knowledge on this care to comment?

Shift, not paradigm change ahead for books (5, Interesting)

Bombula (670389) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332750)

I think one thing that separates books from DVDs and CDs is that books are their own content delivery system.

With DVDs and CDs (ie: video and music) you need a hardware system to access the content. With a book, the hardware is in the pages and the binding. So when we're talking about e-books, we're talking about changing the playback hardware, not just the distribution channel for the content.

This is important because for music and video the internet (file sharing) has only really altered the distribution channel for content, not the playback hardware.

I think e-books have not taken off because the market likes the existing playback hardware: paper pages and binding. I don't think that is likely to change as long as prices for books remain affordable. Unless the point of production of the playback hardware shifts to the end-user (ie: a home book-binding color laser printer or something like that), this is likely to remain so. And even if such devices were possible, people would probably still buy 'the real thing'. After all, there have been home cappucino machines for a long time, yet Starbucks is booming. These are probably the main reasons why books and bookstores have been a booming business since the inception of the internet, and not the other way around.

The situation may be different in places where books (and Starbucks) are not affordable, like in - say - Bangladesh. And this electronic resource will be wonderful for serving those communities. But giving such markets access to books electronically doesn't constitute any loss of sales since they aren't buyers in any case.

For all of these reasons, I suspect this resource is going to be a fantastic research tool, but I doubt it is going to be a paradigm change so much as a subtle shift for the distribution of the written word.

old tech (3, Insightful)

obnoxiousbastard (239578) | more than 8 years ago | (#15332807)

I have tons of online help BS on my computer but when I really need to figure something out, I still reach for Kerningham's C book or Knuth's Art of Computer Programming.

Sigh... I'm like sooo last century.

Where's best to read? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15332829)

So what's the best way to read an eBook? Not on my computer I hope, I sit here too long as it is.
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