In writing my previous post, I really wanted to get the quote from Po Bronson’s Bombardiers right. So first off I looked for the book in my library, and couldn’t find it. Probably packed away already, I’m in the process of moving house. Oh well.
So I thought I’d try Amazon Online Reader. Found the book in Amazon, went to Excerpt, went to Search Inside This Book, and then entered “First Law” as my search term.
Bingo, I got a number of results returned, including the specific one I wanted, on page 81. Which I guess I could have linked to, which is what I have done here.
Seems completely fair use to me; I don’t have many readers, but if even one person buys Bombardiers from Amazon as a result of my post, then that’s one book more worth of revenue than Amazon or Bronson had before I did what I did.
This is me just experimenting on what could be, when everything is scanned and searchable, what Google and Amazon have been trying to do in different ways. The potential in education and in research is amazing.
Of course, there are obvious drawbacks. The population of books scanned is still relatively low. I can’t use highlight or print as yet. When something I want to quote happens to go beyond a page boundary, it is messy from a linking point of view, the physical page concept is deeply ingrained for obvious reasons.
But worst of all, there was no way for me to copy and paste, so the only thing I could do was to swivel-chair engineer it. Read it, memorise it in chunks, type it out. [Yes I know there are other drawbacks, some of which I mention later. Here I am concentrating on drawbacks to existing functionality, rather than missing functionality].
It’s great to be able to do what I’ve been able to do so far, so thank you Amazon. I’ve tried bits of this before, but this was the first time I did so “in anger”. [Wonder how that phrase came about. Must check. Odd].
Unfortunately, since I don’t live in the US, I have not been able to participate in the Amazon Upgrade program. But even if I could have, my understanding is that the program is restricted to books I personally purchased from Amazon directly. [Wry grin as I think about someone who lives in the US but buys books from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.de, and how the “system” will cope with that.]
What I would really want is a LibraryThing equivalent where I have a simple way of telling Amazon which books I have, leading up to some recurring fee with low frequency (like an annual season ticket) allowing me to have digital access to all my books; this fee should not care how many books I have, how often I use the service. What I pay for is the software-as-service; the books are mine; the information I generate is mine; but the process by which I transform what I have is something I have to pay for.
Such a service has to, just has to include books I have bought from sources other than Amazon. Cue Dick Hardt and Doc Searls and whose information it is.