Thursday, January 13, 2011

Book-Scanning Device Adding Fuel to “Death of the Book” Fire

From the Sky Is Falling Department: a new device dedicated to scanning whole books is grabbing headlines from journalists keen to illustrate how vulnerable the book has become. From The Ottawa Citizen:

A device coming from a Rhode Island company this spring promises to shake the publishing industry in the same way that CD burners shook the music industry and forever changed copyright laws in the early 1990s.

ION Audio's Book Saver looks like a miniature overhead projector combined with a cradle and can scan a 200-page book in less than 15 minutes.

"We guess that this is going to be the same debate they had in music: could you record a CD to digital?" said Nick Boshart, digital services manager with the Association of Canadian Publishers.
Except, of course, this is a discussion we’ve already been having: not in relation to a scanning device that can quickly burn a copy of a book, but in terms of the electronic reading devices that have already had such an impact on the publishing industry.

Carolyn Wood, executive director of the Association of Canadian Publishers, said the new Book Saver device is sure to open new copyright concerns for her members.

"It does raise questions," she said. "The whole business about what it means to own a book when it's in digital form is not the same as when it's in print form. I am interested in this."
Now that’s a different wrinkle, one that everyone who loves books needs to address. How do electronic books impact copyright and, especially, international rights deals? And how are sagging copyright laws holding up under the onslaught of technology?

In terms of electronic books, though, the sky is not falling and the conversation is already fully fueled. When we’re talking about electronic books, we’re no longer talking about the future. The future is now.



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