… with robots… wait, what?
Peter Purgathofer, an associate professor at Vienna University of Technology, built a Lego Mindstorms robot that presses “next page” on his Kindle repeatedly while it faces his laptop’s webcam. The cam snaps a picture of each screen and saves it to a folder that is automatically processed through an online optical character recognition program. The result is an automated means of redigitizing DRM-crippled ebooks in a clear digital format. It’s clunky compared to simply removing the DRM using common software, but unlike those DRM-circumvention tools, this setup does not violate the law.
You can read more about it over at Boingboing.
I really do expect that your ebook pricing is going to be at least 50% lower than you list price for your print book. O’Reilly’s 20% lower model just doesn’t do it for me, and the fact that I can buy the dead tree copy of almost any of ora’s books at Amazon for less than the ebook directly from the publisher, makes no sense.
Why is it that I demand this price differential? Because the book is not lendable. I’ll be a good citizen and not hand around your PDF to friends, at least not if I keep a copy, because I do get that that violates the spirit of the sale. I’m actually ok with that, because I like your content and I want you to keep making it, and am happy to tell others they should buy a copy of the PDF as well. But that limitation limits the value of the book substantially.
I’m also not buying anything with DRM, period. There is no way I’m buying something that’s tied to a device that is going to go out of fashion some day. And, if I buy something electronically from you I expect that you’ll keep a copy of it for me forever. Pragmatic Programmers does quite a good job on most of these fronts.
Otherwise, I’m going to keep going to the library, like I’ve been doing. It has many of the advantages of ebooks, i.e. not taking up space in my house, and it’s 100% discounted. Plus, the Librarians are one of the few groups that are trying to ensure we have a sane copyright policy in this country.
This comics comes timely as I attempted to figure out how to make Audible.com work on Linux this weekend, and gave up. I don’t get why vendors don’t switch from DRM to watermarking (like a lot of people doing eBooks now). Watermarking makes your customers part of your enforcement, as their name gets badly spread around if their files get out in bittorrents, and it doesn’t prevent your customers from using their purchased items in all the legitimate ways they want.