… 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 love my Kindle, and I’m happy I bought it. I haven’t completely given up on real books though. One of the reasons why is evident below:
This is not a new book, it’s a year and a half old. The Kindle price is higher than a brand new hardcover. This isn’t actually Amazon’s fault, the price here was set by the publisher. If Amazon had it’s druthers all these ebooks would be $9.99 or less (and they were until they lost that fight with publishers).
I’ll probably read this book, but I won’t buy it for the kindle. I’ll either get this from the Library or buy a used hardcover which I can then give to my parents as reading material. No incremental revenue to publishers, no additional sales.
I broke down and bought myself a Kindle this past week. I will say that I am definitely in like with the device, but not really in love with it yet. The major reason for that is because in the kindle I can see so much more potential, which Amazon clearly has no interest in. Sadly, their main competitor, the Nook, has fully abandoned e-ink for the glossy shiney promiss of interactive CD-ROM… oh, sorry, wrong decade. I think they are now calling it interactive magazines.
E-ink is beautiful. Just beautiful. It is a pleasure to read, creates no eye strain, it’s paper, but better.
The missing potential is around how completely locked down development is, and looks like forever will be, on the Kindle. I recently tried to get access to the KDK to play around with astronomy code on the Kindle. E-ink represents a unique value in astronomy, because it is a dynamic screen that generates no light. I’ve got 15 lbs of books that I take to every star part (and another 15lbs I leave at home) to look up targets, facts and figures, when in the field. Replacing that with a Kindle would be amazing. Having Where Is Io run on the kindle would just kick some serious butt.
But that’s not in the cards. While this time I actually did get a response from the KDK folks, the tone was clear. They don’t want a homebrew market on the kindle, they only are going to let folks in with a product plan in place. Kindle active content is going to be extremely limited because of this, which I think is Amazon’s intent. Given that they are the ones paying for the wispernet cellular connection in every device, they’ve got some incentive to keep very tight control on what people can do. I get that, but as an open source developer, I still don’t like it.
It does sadden me, because I can see so much more potential for this device. Maybe Amazon will have a change of heart in the future. For now I’ll just have to live with this being a really great reader, and possibly play with some custom authoring myself.
This is the Kindle Screen at 400x magnification, taken by Keith Peters with his USB microscope. He also has some pictures of the iPad, Newspaper, Magazines, and Books at similar magnification. Pretty cool.