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U of Michigan and Amazon To Offer 400,000 OOP Books 160

Posted by timothy
from the had-no-idea-so-many-people-loved-object-oriented-pumas dept.
eldavojohn writes "Four hundred thousand rare, out of print books may soon be available for purchase ranging anywhere from $10 to $45 apiece. The article lists a rare Florence Nightingale book on Nursing which normally sells for thousands due to its rarity. The [University of Michigan] librarian, Mr. Courant said, 'The agreement enables us to increase access to public domain books and other publications that have been digitised. We are very excited to be offering this service as a new way to increase access to the rich collections of the university library.' The University of Michigan has a library where Google is scanning rare books and was the aim of heavy criticism. (Some of the Google-scanned books are to be sold on Amazon.) How the authors guild and publishers react to Amazon's Surge offering softcover reprints of out of print books remains to be seen."
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U of Michigan and Amazon To Offer 400,000 OOP Books

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  • Wow... (Score:5, Funny)

    by vishbar (862440) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @04:26PM (#28799731)
    So how many books cover functional programming?
    • Sorry, these all come from the non-fiction section.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by tool462 (677306)

      Only one, but the catch is you have to pass it your own 'print' function.

    • At least 16, if you go back 3,000 to 4,000 years back (I think). Vedic Mathematics is actually a lot like functional programming. Also, in the 17th century, the term 'computer' used to refer to the human being performing the actual calculations (for calculating the trajectory of cannon balls for example).

      Variable collisions is actually quite problematic when you're doing mental math. That's what Vedic Math solves for you. It gives you all the algorithms necessary to do math in your head, so that you just ha

      • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jc42 (318812) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @10:21PM (#28802965) Homepage Journal

        Also, in the 17th century, the term 'computer' used to refer to the human being performing the actual calculations (for calculating the trajectory of cannon balls for example).

        That usage only died out recently. My wife likes to tell people that her first job title was "computer". This was around 1970, when she got a job working for a civil engineering firm, using their fancy new desktop calculators to do the math for surveying work. She actually only got out of that line of work in the mid 1980s, when the calculating was finally being moved over to those fancy new desktop computers. The use of "computer" as a job title had died out by 1980, though, as it had by then become widely known as the name of a kind of electronic device and was thus inappropriate to describe a human.

        Now she does computing work for medical organizations, which are finally being dragged kicking and screaming into the computer age. Her iMac is more powerful, and has more pixels on its screen, than any in use at her office. But it'll probably still be some years before your typical MD understands what can be done with those newfangled electronic gadgets.

  • by thewils (463314)

    I thought they were Object Oriented Programming books :( Had me going for a minute there...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CarpetShark (865376)

      I thought they were Object Oriented Programming books

      That's why you need to read these books ;)

      Every one.

    • by Eudial (590661)

      My mind also went there. But then I thought, no way there are 400,000 books written on the subject. I mean, sure, it's big, but it's not THAT big.

  • And the Kindle? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dmomo (256005) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @04:30PM (#28799783) Homepage

    We've been pushing to go from Paper to Digital. It's interesting that they're going in the opposite direction here. The article has no mention of the Kindle. I find it hard to believe that the Kindle doesn't play some big role in this. Perhaps they will offer these books for free on the Kindle to help push the device? Personally, I think they should be online and free.

    • by dmomo (256005) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @04:34PM (#28799829) Homepage

      I am curious about the right to copy a rare public-domain book. Let's say someone owns the only copy of a book. They do not allow anyone else to scan it. But, they do scan it themselves.

      Do they own the "scan". Can they copyright that? Could they sue me for copying their scanned version? Suppose they ran it through some OCR. Then they changed the layout but not the text. Now could they use that as a basis from stopping me from copying it? It's their font/layout configuration after all.

      I suppose further, I could run their scanned work through my own OCR, and since the text itself is not copyrighted, I could then distribute the text.

      Sounds silly and convoluted, but this is the kind of argument we can expect to see as information becomes easy to control and manipulate. And as more and more public domain items come into the light, there will be more and more "stake holders" trying to protect their cash cows.

      • by Hungus (585181) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @04:45PM (#28799989) Journal

        I am curious about the right to copy a rare public-domain book. Let's say someone owns the only copy of a book. They do not allow anyone else to scan it. But, they do scan it themselves.

        Do they own the "scan". Can they copyright that?

        yes

        Could they sue me for copying their scanned version?

        Yes

        Suppose they ran it through some OCR. Then they changed the layout but not the text. Now could they use that as a basis from stopping me from copying it? It's their font/layout configuration after all.

        Yes

        I suppose further, I could run their scanned work through my own OCR, and since the text itself is not copyrighted, I could then distribute the text.

        no because you used their work without permission An example of this is taking a photo of a work in the public domain. If it is your photo you can reproduce it and use it all you want. If it is someone else's photo you are SOL if you do not have rights to work with their photo.

        Sounds silly and convoluted, but this is the kind of argument we can expect to see as information becomes easy to control and manipulate. And as more and more public domain items come into the light, there will be more and more "stake holders" trying to protect their cash cows.

        you could however do it anyways and then they would have to prove that you used their copies to create your work. the problem is if it is a one of a kind and they can show you had access to it once again you are SOL.

        • Do they own the "scan". Can they copyright that?

          yes

          Bull. Scanning is only one half of the (modern) photocopying process. So if I'm "creative" enough to think of photocopying your book, I own the photocopy, and can sell it as a new work?

          • by Hungus (585181) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @05:14PM (#28800357) Journal

            Only if the original subject is in the public domain otherwise it is considered derivative. I was involved a few years ago with a rather stupid lawsuit where a publisher got ahold of a database containing tens of thousands of scanned pages of documents well into the public domain. (original documents were from the 17th and 18th century) They argued that they could publish the documents as they were in the public domain. The Owner of the scans argued that they were reproducing copyrighted work. The courts agreed with the owners of the original scans.

            • Juris-whose-diction? (Score:3, Informative)

              by tepples (727027)

              I was involved a few years ago with a rather stupid lawsuit where a publisher got ahold of a database containing tens of thousands of scanned pages of documents well into the public domain. (original documents were from the 17th and 18th century) They argued that they could publish the documents as they were in the public domain. The Owner of the scans argued that they were reproducing copyrighted work. The courts agreed with the owners of the original scans.

              The United States has a 1991 Supreme Court case to the contrary: Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service [wikipedia.org]. Which country are you talking about?

              • by Hungus (585181)

                Try reading the case all the way through and commenting again.
                for example:
                For example, a recipe is a process, and not copyrightable, but the words used to describe it are; see Publications International v Meredith Corp. (1996).[2] Therefore, you can rewrite a recipe in your own words and publish it without infringing copyrights. But if you rewrote every recipe from a particular cookbook, you might still be found to have infringed the author's copyright in the choice of recipes and their "coordination" and "

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Rene S. Hollan (1943)

          Oh, I disagree!

          They own the scan. They made it. But, I disagree that the scan is copywritable. It is not an original artistic work. It might be if it was a subsequently "cleaned up" version of the original, that was being re-released. Same, if it was OCR'd, but the issue would hinge on whether the OCRing was "merely transformative". Then, it would not be copyrightable.

          Of course, if you got their "only" scan in an illegal manner, and made copies of that, you might have committed the crime of theft, regrdless

          • by Hungus (585181) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @05:10PM (#28800305) Journal

            You may disagree all you want to but you would still be wrong. I was involved in a lawsuit 3 years ago that says otherwise. Scans are considered original works and are copywritable.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by PitaBred (632671)
              Then the courts fucked up and you should have appealed. Photographs of public domain paintings are also in the public domain [directorym.com] due to the work not being transformative, only technical.
              • Well, I used the wrong word. Perhaps I should have used "technical" instead of transformative, as that is what I meant.

                For example, it would be abusrd to argue that I can buy a CD, make a cassette copy, and sell the cassettes under my copyright because it does not impinge the copyright holder from selling CDs. (It does, of course, affect their ability to exploit the nature of the work, the performance, in cassette format, and may detract from CD sales as well.)

                In this case, providing the work for scanning s

                • by PitaBred (632671)

                  Just because it is in the public domain, does not mean the public has a free right to it

                  Actually, that's exactly what it means. I don't care who does the packaging of a public domain work... that does not confer the copyright, and therefore control of COPYING that, to them. A CD is a completely different issue... it's still under copyright. And music performance is transformative... if it's a new performance of old work, it has a new copyright. But Edison's "Watson, come here, I need you" is not under copyright, and anyone who has a recording cannot legally do anything to prevent copying of it

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Adrian Lopez (2615)

              You may disagree all you want to but you would still be wrong. I was involved in a lawsuit 3 years ago that says otherwise. Scans are considered original works and are copywritable.

              You say here [slashdot.org] the court ruled that the works in question constituted a copyrighted collection. That doesn't mean the individual scans are protected by copyright, but that the collection itself is so protected. From your own description of the case, your assertion that copying the scans or text of public domain works constitutes co

          • I know it's bad form to follow up one's own post, but I have additional thoughts.

            The issue of copyright hinges on making an artistic contribution when involved in a transformative work -- the idea being that the effort deserves reward and protection in order to encourage that such efforts take place.

            It can be argued that a simple scan (as I did above) is merely transformative, not artistic, and therefore not copyrightable.

            But, having made the scan, and releasing copies of it, someone else might undertake to

            • by SETIGuy (33768)

              I don't think, in this case, a new notion of a contingent copyright makes sense: it isn't necesasry. But I do thing a license on otherwise non-copywritable works does. EULAs, in principle, are not bad things, just because the historic pattern has been for them to be (a) draconian, and (b) shrinkwrapped (which, IMHO, makes them unenforceable, but IANAL).

              Such a license is only enforcable on the person who agreed to it. So A buys the book, agrees to the license, and loans it to B or gives it to B as a gift. B is under no obligation to agree to the license. B doesn't even have to read the license, unless the book can't be opened without agreeing to it. That would be a physically difficult mechanism to build.

          • Oh, I disagree!

            They own the scan. They made it. But, I disagree that the scan is copywritable.

            Gonna take a moment to smack you up-side the head.

            *smack*

            To describe something as "copywritable" is somewhat meaningless, of course - but to the extent it has any meaning at all, it would have the opposite meaning of copyright... Something "copywritable" would, presumably, be something you can copy. "Copyright" means that someone controls the right to copy something...

            • Copywritable, adj: able to be protected under copywrite.

              Something you can copy would be copyable.

              Similarly, something you can copywrite would be copywritable.

              Make sense now?

              • by antek9 (305362)
                No, makes no sense at all. Which implementation of the English language would that be? Please define 'copywrite'. Writing a copy, as in advertising? When you are making smart-assed comments, don't leave out the smart part. ;)
        • Juris-whose-diction? (Score:4, Informative)

          by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Thursday July 23, 2009 @06:37PM (#28801277) Homepage Journal

          Do they own the "scan". Can they copyright that?

          yes

          Under what law in what jurisdiction? In the United States, Bridgeman v. Corel [wikipedia.org] excludes photocopies of an uncopyrighted work from copyright because they lack originality.

          • by rnelsonee (98732)

            That's a photocopy, not a scan that we're talking about here, where the content may be presented differently. Apparently that decision only affects exact copies [englishhistory.net] as
            "There has been no independent creation, no distinguishable variation from pre-existing works, nothing recognizably the author's own contribution"

        • by omb (759389)
          No, it would be OK, but you forgot about The __OTIGINALITY__ test so your whole post is __CRAP__, read the law before posting!
        • by SETIGuy (33768)

          I am curious about the right to copy a rare public-domain book. Let's say someone owns the only copy of a book. They do not allow anyone else to scan it. But, they do scan it themselves.

          Do they own the "scan". Can they copyright that?

          yes

          They can put a copyright on the scanned version, but that doesn't mean that the copyright is valid. Is there any case law that says scanning a book is a creative process worthy of copyright protection?

          Could they sue me for copying their scanned version?

          Yes

          They can sue, but they might lose, which would prove that the copyright is invalid.

          Suppose they ran it through some OCR. Then they changed the layout but not the text. Now could they use that as a basis from stopping me from copying it? It's their font/layout configuration after all.

          Yes

          I suppose further, I could run their scanned work through my own OCR, and since the text itself is not copyrighted, I could then distribute the text.

          no because you used their work without permission An example of this is taking a photo of a work in the public domain. If it is your photo you can reproduce it and use it all you want. If it is someone else's photo you are SOL if you do not have rights to work with their photo.

          I highly doubt that. They do not own a copyright on the textual content of the work. How you obtain that textual content is irrelevant to whether you can use it. In your example (a picture of a public domain work) the pic

      • IANAL, etc etc.

        From what I understand, you're correct: you'd at most own copyright for the scan, not the text. So if I were to buy thte OCRed book off you, I'd be legally entitled to copy it word for word, and do whatever. Problem is, AFAIK you need to do something creative to actually qualify for copyright. So scanning the text doesn't give you copyright over the scans, but if you were to typeset the text, you'd have copyright over the layout itself, but not the text.

        I wonder how this would work with sound

      • by Jurily (900488) <jurily@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday July 23, 2009 @05:09PM (#28800293)

        Sounds silly and convoluted, but this is the kind of argument we can expect to see as information becomes easy to control and manipulate.

        No, this is what you get for treating information as property. Maybe the law needs to get in sync with reality once in a while.

        You can go on and on about how it costs money to create information in whatever form, but as long as it's free to replicate it (since the devices needed are common household items now), you need a different business model other than selling it. I'm generalizing here because it doesn't just apply to literature. Think software, music, movies, etc. That's the beauty of computers: all information can be represented as a sequence of bits, and as such, easily copied and modified. Add in the fact that most people don't have a moral problem with copying, and you have laws that are impossible to uphold without a police state.

        Oh, and let's not go into the finer points, like what happens when I write a program, and the compiler output played as audio happens to be a copyrighted song.

        • You can go on and on about how it costs money to create information in whatever form, but as long as it's free to replicate it

          Since it's not free to replicate, I quit reading - because the rest of your comment is obviously bullshit.

      • by nzodd (836093) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @05:16PM (#28800375)
        IANAL, but I suspect they would not own copyright on a scan of a public domain work, at least not in the U.S., because of the precedent set down in Bridgeman v. Corel. Corel distributed non-original photographs taken by Bridgeman Art of public domain art works, and Bridgeman sued them, claiming they owned the copyright to those images. According to the decision, because the photographs were slavish copies of public domain works, the photographs themselves had no original element and thus couldn't be copyrighted. as Wikipedia puts it: "Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp., 36 F. Supp. 2d 191 (S.D.N.Y. 1999), was a decision by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, which ruled that exact photographic copies of public domain images could not be protected by copyright because the copies lack originality. Even if accurate reproductions require a great deal of skill, experience and effort, the key element for copyrightability under U.S. law is that copyrighted material must show sufficient originality."
      • by Eivind (15695)

        It depends on the jurisdiction. Most places require some artistry, creativity, creation to go into a production of something for it to qualify for protection, and a technical reproduction in the form of a full-frame scan of a 2D-document is unlikely to fullfill that criteria.

        It requires *expertise* and it is a lot of *work* to make it, but you're not creatively creating, infact you're doing your darnest to keep the work as close to the original as possible. (i.e to *AVOID* significantly adding or subtractin

      • In Soviet America, public domain copyrights YOU!
      • by skeeto (1138903)

        This is exactly what happened with the National Portrait Gallery in the UK. They have old paintings, and don't allow any photography whatsoever in the museum. They made their own careful, high-res photography copies and put them on their website claiming copyright. Wikipedia used the images as public domain. The NPG wasn't happy about this and started hassling Wikipedia and its users [slashdot.org].

        The thing is, Wikipedia is right: copies of public domain works are in the public domain in the US, which the NPG acknowledge

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by noidentity (188756)
      I think it's better that they are in Permanent Paper instead of Disappearing Digital [slashdot.org] format.
  • by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @04:33PM (#28799827)

    So Amazon is going to be so nice as to offer us the chance to PURCHASE what actually belongs in the public domain? Wow. I am impressed and excited.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Duradin (1261418)

      The Count of Monte Cristo is in the public domain but if I want a dead tree version of it I have to be able to find a dead tree version of it and then generally will need to purchase that dead tree version.

      Now finding a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo is rather easy. Imagine trying to find a copy of something that is technically in the public domain but the book itself is rare enough to effectively not exist anymore (and there are no electronic copies of it) and the market so small that no one would bothe

    • If you go to Barnes & Noble, you'll find some racks of nicely bound inexpensive books, all public domain. You can buy these books, just as you can buy CD-ROMs with completely free Linux distributions on them.

      Alternatively, you can download the contents from Project Gutenberg or your favorite distro site, respectively. It's a matter of convenience.

      In this case, it's more difficult to get your own scans. However, if a lot of you get together, and one person buys the Amazon copy, you can get togeth

    • Sometimes the CRAP here is amazing:

      1. Google is scanning the books, which makes it much less likely they will be lost

      2. Someone, probably Google, will index all the books, so we can find them, IN PRINT or not.

      3. Amazon will print, on demand, at a very reasonable price,

      Please, dip-shit, tell me what is wrong with that, you clearly have not waited for an "inter-lending library lending system" to find a copy of a book you want to read. It took >3 years to get the UK copyright libraries to produce AE van Vol
    • by b0bby (201198)

      From my understanding, the books are out of print, not necessarily out of copyright. If they are out of copyright, you might well be able to get a free copy from Project Gutenberg, but if you you want it neatly bound and printed, Amazon will send it to you. This is the case with Notes On Nursing - you can get it here: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/12439 [gutenberg.org]. Maybe the U of Mich version is better edited, formatted, etc; there are lots of ways to improve on Project Gutenberg books. If they are merely out of prin

  • by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @04:34PM (#28799833) Homepage Journal

    They can't sell reprints unless they are public domain. How many people who published works before 1929 are still alive?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by eldavojohn (898314) *

      They can't sell reprints unless they are public domain. How many people who published works before 1929 are still alive?

      Not all of these books are in the public domain. While I do not have a list of them, the article said only some of them are in the public domain. There are plenty of non-public domain books that are no longer in print and difficult if not impossible to get a hold of even if you have money to pay for them. That was why Google paid the Authors Guild and publishers $125 million (see the article I linked that is related to this story).

  • A huge problem today is anything that is from the past and successful is viewed as valuable. New stuff? Not so much.

    Part of the problem is that there are actually few books today that are worth much. Authoring a book is hard. Authoring a good book is much, much harder and actually requires skill. So an accepted marketing technique is to reclaim something from the past that has quality and reissue it. Which is what is going on here. It is like a remake of a 1940s classic movie, only without the bad sp

    • Imagine a remake of Casablanca with new digital special effects.

      It's called Barb Wire. http://www.thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/thatguywiththeglasses/nostalgia-critic/9527-barbwire [thatguywit...lasses.com]

    • Re:Tried and True (Score:4, Insightful)

      by the phantom (107624) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @06:37PM (#28801275) Homepage

      Part of the problem is that there are actually few books today that are worth much.

      This is not a problem of old==good and new==bad. Start from the assumption that 95% of everything is crap. 95% of the books that were written 400 years ago were crap. However, only the good ones have survived. This gives the impression that older stuff is better, but this is a mistaken impression.

      On the other hand, much of the good and valuable stuff from the past is very hard to get ahold of. There are people that would really love to have a copy of Addington's guide to illustrating flaked stone artifacts [amazon.com], but they are difficult to find, as the book has been out of print for years (and is not into the public domain to boot), and those of us that own copies of the book are not likely to give them up. If Amazon wants to get the rights to the book and print off copies on demand, I would be happy to pay them for the service. As I see it, Amazon is attempting to fill a niche. Sure, they make money off of it, but I don't see it as a simple marketing ploy designed to capitalize off of nostalgia for the past.

    • . Imagine a remake of Casablanca with new digital special effects.

      Let's see... Maybe Sam gets remastered as a 3-eyed amphibious alien who plays his piano with 28 articulated tentacles.

      It could work.

  • Out of print? That probably doesn't mean out of copyright.

    Better hope no one torpedoes whatever you purchase, or you may awake one morning to your e-book gone and a feeble "Sorry!" note from Amazon in your inbox.

    • Nope, out of print is not equivalent to ooc. Google will be offering those books for free, directly from their Google Book Search service, I believe.

    • by Asic Eng (193332)
      According to TFA: 400,000 rare, out-of-print and out-of-copyright books.
  • I'm going to be wickedly pissed if all my hard re-CATPCHA [recaptcha.net] work was all so they could sell a book.
  • You know, I really don't have a problem with this as long as Google doesn't mind if someone takes one of their books, copies it straight out of the book and distributes it also. Regardless if it's more expensive, less expensive, free, etc. Google needs to remember that they do not own this public domain information and they are only a intermediary making this information more available. If they're ok with playing that role then more power to them.

    If they ever lift a finger to say that someone "copied" th
  • Already done (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This has already been done. There are several websites which do the same thing - reprint public domain content on the fly:

    http://bibliolife.com/ [bibliolife.com]
    http://www.kessinger.net/ [kessinger.net]
    http://www.publicdomainreprints.org [publicdomainreprints.org]

    Interesting enough, BiblioLife was founded by the same people who founded BookSurge.

  • I haven't RTA yet, are they saying how long until they take them back again? [slashdot.org]
  • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @05:12PM (#28800337)

    and subsequently delete them.

  • DRM Question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MarkvW (1037596) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @05:12PM (#28800343)

    The law makes DRM-cracking illegal. Does that mean that publishers can slap DRM on a public domain book (lapsed copyright or otherwise), and thereby for all practical purposes extend the copyright?

    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      Not a problem. Crack the DRM in a more reasonable country.
      • Not a problem. Crack the DRM in a more reasonable country.

        Such a typical programmer/geek response. It's still a problem - you just found a workaround. Doesn't mean it doesn't need to be fixed :-)

      • by tepples (727027)

        Not a problem. Crack the DRM in a more reasonable country.

        Then how does one cover the cost of taking residence in a country? As I understand it, most people need to be sponsored by an employer in order to apply for permanent residency in most developed countries.

  • by ZackSchil (560462) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @05:16PM (#28800379)
    I suppose since Amazon and Google are taking the time to scan, clean up, edit, typeset, and republish these books, they should feel free to sell them like they'd sell it like any publisher can with other public domain works. The fact that the books are rare doesn't change the situation legally. If someone wanted to buy the restored Amazon/Google reprint of a rare public domain book, scan it, run it through OCR, remove the formatting, and give it away for free, they could. If someone else then took that text and printed it out into a book and sold it, they could do that too.
  • not a new thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rogue Haggis Landing (1230830) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @05:58PM (#28800845)
    Other companies have been in the facsimile/reprint business for a while. The best known (at least in the U.S.) is probably Dover Press, but there are others. What makes it interesting is that this is Amazon doing the publishing, meaning that there will be an order of magnitude more titles available than what places like Dover can manage.

    My partner has ordered a few facsimile reprints of 17th century theological and philosophical works from Kessinger Publishing, works she wasn't able to get anywhere else. They're just poor facsimiles, almost photocopies, of old works, but even then manage to work in a little incompetence. Their printing of Sir Kenelm Digby's Of Bodies and of Man's Soul to Discover the Immortality of Reasonable Souls has on its cover (and as the title on the Amazon page!) one of the best editorial screw-ups ever [amazon.com].
  • by jandersen (462034)

    All out of print books in the public domain should automatically be scanned and made available CHEAPLY for the public (and probably BY the public as well, ie. by the state); the price should only cover the actual cost of scanning and storing - and for printed version, the print costs.

    And, I think books in general should either be kept in print or go into the public domain after 5 years.

  • I just recently picked up a 1906 edition of this book [archive.org] on Electricity and Magnetism. Having a scanned version available in no way diminishes the value of my hardback copy - in fact, it allows me to read passages that might otherwise be obscured by schmootz [wikipedia.org].

  • The quality of scans from Google Books seems very low to me; much lower than I'd use on my own Web site, http://www.fromoldbooks.org/ [fromoldbooks.org] - it's not uncommon for pages to be missed, and in one 19th century mechanics textbook I was looking at, the low scan resolution meant that most of the line drawings and diagrams vanished entirely.

    It's obvious to me that the Google work will need to be done again by people who care about the content. Note, by the way, that most flat-bed scanners destroy the binding of books,

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