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Writer objects to Spare Rib digitization project’s imposition of a Creative Commons license
December 21, 2013 | 6:00 am

cc.largeWe’re familiar with Creative Commons as a tool for granting creators more freedom to choose what permissions they want to grant readers of their work. But even a tool for freedom can become constrictive if its use is required, and that seems to be the case with the project to digitize content of Spare Rib, “the landmark UK feminist magazine of the seventies and eighties.” Spare Rib contributor Gillian Spragg writes that the terms of the British Library’s digitization project leave a decidedly bad taste in her mouth. The BL is asking all contributors to agree...

The Future of Onscreen Words
June 18, 2013 | 8:01 pm

onscreen wordsBy Tom Chatfield What does the act of typing onto billions of Internet-connected screens mean for the future of language? Note: This is a specially edited and expanded excerpt from my new book about technology and language, "Netymology". I’ve never understood those who lament the Internet as a kind of death for the English language. From photos and music to games and videos, mixed media surround us as never before. But billions upon billions of words still begin, end and inform our reactions to almost every single item on our screens. From “likes” and comments to text messages and status updates, language lurks...

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Personal Ledger Now Online
April 29, 2013 | 2:54 pm

Fitzgerald The general public now has a rather unusual chance to see how F. Scott Fitzgerald’s mind worked when it came to some of the not-quite-literary aspects of his life. His handwritten financial ledger has been digitized and put on the University of South Carolina’s website, where anyone can access it. "This is a record of everything Fitzgerald wrote, and what he did with it, in his own hand," Elizabeth Sudduth, director of the Ernest F. Hollings Library and Rare Books Collection, told the Associated Press. The ledger comes at a time when many people will be talking about Fitzgerald and his most famous...

Digitizing the Backlist
April 22, 2013 | 10:15 am

digitizePublishers Weekly approaches the subject of the digital backlist with a fresh angle in a recent blog: They compile a list of the best-sellers of yesteryear and then see how many they can find Kindle editions for. The results? "Looking through PW’s archives at the top 25 bestselling books of both 1992 and 1982 in fiction and nonfiction (100 titles total), we found 56 books that had Kindle e-book editions. Between fiction and nonfiction, the former fared much better: 39 of the 50 fiction titles had e-book editions, compared to 17 of the 50 nonfiction titles." They propose several ideas to account for the disparity....

The Associated Press is digitizing its corporate archives
April 10, 2013 | 8:11 pm

Associated PressThis is something of a big story for old-school news geeks: Two days ago, an organization known as Gale, which is part of the Kentucky-based Cengage Learning, a digital solutions provider, announced an agreement with the Associated Press to digitize [its] corporate archives, "including millions of pages of news copy (some never-before published), bureau records, correspondence, the personal papers of reporters and more," according to a release. Gale has been involved in similar large-scale partnerships in the past with the Smithsonian Institution and the National Geographic Society. The company is referring to its partnership with the A.P. as an event that will help "Gale get one...

What the ReDigi case might mean for Amazon’s used content plans
April 2, 2013 | 4:37 pm

Numerous websites have been reporting on the latest twist in the ReDigi case (for example, here on Paid Content). The case sets an important potential precedent for other business plans involving the sale of digital content. I know Amazon has contemplated a move into this area, and I wonder if they might be the ones with the deep pockets, not to mention the legal might, to try and fight this one. The ruling was interesting in that, from what I've read, it didn't oppose the sale of digital media in principle. Rather, it opposed the 'first-sale doctrine' defense that ReDigi was using...

Popular Mechanics Predicts the Future of Digital Reading
December 29, 2012 | 7:01 pm

Over on the Popular Mechanics website, a fantastic roundup article appeared a few weeks back featuring 110 Predictions  For the Next 110 Years, organized by decade. This being Popular Mechanics, the majority of the entries are, of course, science- and tech-based. There are some interesting predictions regarding impossible-sounding futuristic apps the PM team suspects we may encounter at some point over the next decade or ten. But two of the entries are specifically e-reading themed, and we quite like the sound of them both. So we've reproduced them for you here. And by the way, if you have any e-reading or digital publishing predictions of your own...

The Power of Local Resources….Untapped Potential for Your Library?
February 29, 2012 | 5:14 am

While libraries everywhere are scrambling to come up with an ebook plan that can satisfy both their patrons as well as their long-term organizational goals, sometimes the greatest resources they can offer are already in their libraries.  What’s this?  Simply put, it’s the utilization of their local resources, of history, genealogy, and local authors.  This is the sort of information that is highly desired, yet sometimes falls off the radar, lost to the deluge of publishers, best-sellers and other more “trendy” technological items. It’s easy to dismiss local materials from any project planning, arguing there’s no budget, no staff and no...

Trading in paper books for e-books: Is it possible?
February 5, 2012 | 2:37 pm

In my email this morning, I received a notice from Quora that I had been invited to submit an answer for the following question: Are there any services or business models in which one can trade paperback or hardcover books for digital books, without having to pay full price again? After typing my answer, I thought it was interesting enough to repost here: Not that I've ever heard of—or no model that is legitimate under copyright law, anyway. The idea has been suggested by a number of people as something that publishers should...

Public-domain digitization projects increasingly have restrictive terms of use
December 30, 2011 | 4:15 pm

Digitization of public-domain works is a good thing, right? Most literature fans would be quick to agree. However, Glyn Moody writes on Techdirt that some of the new public digitization projects have terms and conditions that seem to be right out of the dark ages. The Cambridge University’s Digital Library, for example, places strict limits on what users can do with the books—non-commercial use only, no modification, no passing it on to third parties, and so on. A number of the works in Cambridge’s library date from well before the 1710 Statute of Anne invented modern copyright, suggesting that...

Archivists ask Obama to consider digitizing all government records
December 21, 2011 | 11:58 pm

John D. Podesta and Carl Malamud (of FedFlix) have written an open letter to President Obama calling upon him to launch an initiative to find out what it would take to scan and post the entire contents of the public-domain government archives so that more people would have access to them. Imagine if the riches contained in the National Archives, Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution, Government Printing Office, National Library of Medicine, National Agricultural Library, National Technical Information Service, and scores of other federal organizations were made available, becoming the core of a national effort to...

Obama orders government agencies to develop record digitization plans
November 30, 2011 | 10:26 am

President Obama has issued a 3-page memo directing government agencies to start using electronic record management. Digitizing records will provide better archives for future generations to study, and will also help reduce costs. Another goal is to give the general public better digital access to the workings of their government. The directive gives agencies one month to designate the official who will be in charge of the effort, and four months to come up with plans to do it. Computerworld notes that the government does not have a good track record with digitization, pointing to the failed ten-year effort...