An Idea Whose Time Has Come Back [pdf]
Already a culture war reminiscent of the one surrounding Napster is shaping up in the world of digital books. My college-age son is in the contingent that reads e-books almost exclusively from free Web sites because of the greater flexibility offered by their unencrypted books. Such sites usually offer plain-text format, which allows him to print as many pages as he needs, or to copy a long quotation from a book electronically and paste it into his term paper. Free sites, at least the legitimate ones, are limited to books for which the copyright has expired. Yet they are popular, especially among students assigned classic works. The University of Virginia library, which makes 1,800 titles available free from its Web site, has sent more than 8.5 million downloadable books to readers since it started the service in August 2000.
Some believe that all e-books should be free of software protection limits. Cory Doctorow, an advocate for less restrictive digital rights at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, made his first novel available free online. He argues that digital content’s unique forms of adaptability — to e-mail, computerized cut-and-paste and software translation engines — are all areas where paper books lag. In his view, anyone who puts a software lock on an e-book is crazy.
And I wonder what Jenny would have to say about this:
E-books are creeping into our world in other ways. Libraries, a potentially huge market, have started to purchase e-books that patrons can download at home. Digital books are a librarian’s dream come true, because they don’t take up shelf space, don’t wear out and are automatically returned to the library on the due date. The New York Public Library introduced its first e-book collection on Nov. 1 with 3,000 titles. ”We put it on the Web site and almost immediately in the middle of the night people started checking them out,” a library spokeswoman said. The ”Kama Sutra,” the classic Indian sex manual, was one of the most popular books the first week. The White Plains Public Library, which started lending e-books in mid-August, reports more than more than 200 checkouts a month. Computer technology has been the most popular category, followed by health and fitness and then romance.
Slashdot: Upbeat on E-books