Daniel Reetz, the founder of the DIY Book Scanner community, has recently started making videos of prototyping and shop tips. If you are tinkering with a book scanner (or any other project) in your home shop, these tips will come in handy. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn0gq8 ... g_8K1nfInQ

Another Complaint About eBooks

Whatever.
StevePoling
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E-book readers owned: SONY PRS-505, Kindle DX
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Re: Another Complaint About eBooks

Post by StevePoling » 11 Jun 2010, 10:13

univurshul wrote:
StevePoling wrote:...This makes me think that DIY book scans are like cassette tapes were in the 1970s. I recorded songs off the air for free, or dubbed it off an LP, but the quality on the hand-lettered cassette just sucked.
--I've been thinking along these same lines, and I'm a serious vinyl collector! But you know: I listen to music most of the time on my iPhone. I take my music everywhere, and a ton of it. I transcribe my records to iTunes, I have all my albums finally transcribed.
I think there's a lesson here for booksellers and publishers. The cassette tape did not bankrupt the music industry. People have had access to the technical means to create low-quality copies of music for a long time. This did not hurt their business whatsoever. If everyone has a DIY Book Scanner in his basement, they might turn out ebooks that may even be word-for-word perfect after OCR (good luck, that), but they'll still lack the design touches that create the impression of quality.

ebook design is a big deal. It also affects commercially produced ebooks. I just read a book about the Depression. Most books like this have a section of about 10 to 20 pages of photos printed on glossy stock and bound into the middle of the book. This is done because binding individual glossy pages at random intervals in a conventional book is prohibitively expensive. But putting photos at any point in an ebook is trivial. The publishers of the book just put the photos into the ebook at the same point they would have bound them into the paper book. Lazy and stupid. At least they move the photos at a chapter boundary. The ebook is much easier to read if the publisher moves each picture to the first corresponding index entry. I had to skip through about 20 pages of images that showed up in a slapdash fashion, then pick up the chapter mid-sentence. On a Kindle that's the wrong answer.

spamsickle
Posts: 596
Joined: 06 Jun 2009, 23:57

Re: Another Complaint About eBooks

Post by spamsickle » 11 Jun 2010, 10:34

That's my biggest problem with ebooks as compared to traditional books -- the random access capability is just not as good. Yes, if you've done the OCR and you know the phrase or a relatively unique word you're seeking, it can be faster to find something specific. And yes, if you have a PDF and a reasonably good reader, you can bookmark pages of interest and get to them quickly.

It's hard to just flip around, though, and it shouldn't be. A screenful of data is a screenful of data, and a DVD presents them at 30 per second. I think it should be possible to create an ebook reader that performs comparably, but I haven't seen one yet. If I'm looking for a picture in the middle of a page, I can find it quickly on a hardcopy book. In an ebook, it's hit or miss. And setting a bookmark isn't as easy as just sticking your finger in between two pages so once you've found the picture, you can jump right back to the text you were reading before your search.

benjamin
Posts: 58
Joined: 04 Mar 2014, 00:53

Re: Another Complaint About eBooks

Post by benjamin » 15 Jul 2010, 18:41

StevePoling wrote:I figure someone could make a modest sum taking Gutenberg texts and cleaning them up, making them pretty, and then selling the product for a few bucks.
One of my side gigs is working on a project that does something similar. Identifying works in the PD that are either uncommon or poorly formatted, digitizing them, and adding value by making them more navigable and supplementing with original content (commentary, etc). It's a pretty great idea, but I'm told there's not money in it (yet) because most consumers- right now- tend to download a free version of the work over the $0.99 one (and then complain about the quality or write off ebooks entirely). I suspect this will change over time.

StevePoling
Posts: 290
Joined: 20 Jun 2009, 12:19
E-book readers owned: SONY PRS-505, Kindle DX
Number of books owned: 9999
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Contact:

Re: Another Complaint About eBooks

Post by StevePoling » 17 Jul 2010, 11:05

Benjamin is probably right. Perhaps after ebook readers are commonplace the demand for > $0.99 ebooks with greater quality will arise. I hope that sufficient demand can be whipped up by some vendor aiming for a $4.99 price point to pay an ebook designer for the time he'll take to prettify Gutenberg texts. Arguing against this is the fact that Amazon has a $9.99 target price for new books and folks are kvetching about THAT being unfairly high.

If I were selling a $4.99 ebook version of a Gutenberg title, I'd provide a link to the free version so the consumer could then see for his own eyes.

eBook design is an art form in itself. Perhaps someone who wants to train eBook designers, or some company with surplus ebook design resources, could take on prettifying Gutenberg titles as a class project. If I were angling for a gig as an eBook designer, I would take up a Gutenberg text to add to my portfolio.

spamsickle
Posts: 596
Joined: 06 Jun 2009, 23:57

Re: Another Complaint About eBooks

Post by spamsickle » 17 Jul 2010, 15:49

Ten years ago, I made about $1000 selling Gutenberg compilations on eBay -- didn't pretty them up at all, just wrapped them in HTML to facilitate finding them by author/title/subject. I did it because I hoped to get my kids interested in doing it themselves to make a bit of money. I stopped when their interest failed to materialize.

The big drawbacks to the Gutenberg text format is a lack of illustrations, and difficulty in handling the conventions of typesetting which facilitate study and reference -- things like footnotes, little "topic headings" in the margins, etc.

One possible way of handling the topic headings, anyway, for anyone who's developing an ebook reader and mining this forum for ideas, would be to add it to the book's hierarchy. In addition to chapters and pages, for instance, enable the reader to browse such headings in a list, without the accompanying text; clicking on the heading would bring up the full context.

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