My DRM-Free Year, Month 4: The Internet Archive and my first DIY
April 30, 2013 | 11:19 am
By Joanna Cabot
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I am four months into my DRM-free year, and so far have spent just a fraction of my usual book budget. In my highest year—the year agency pricing came out, and I binged in preparation—I spent $1,300, for an average of $108 per month. This year, I am down to less than $20 per month, and most of it spent on a handful of Kindle Deals of the Day, and the odd indie read. So, where has my book spending—and my reading time—gone in April?
My one book purchase this month was a study guide for a course I’m taking. That was it! I read my usual number of library books—the new memoir by Nia Vardalos, and another by the niece of the head of Scientology made for an especially eclectic pairing! But my main project this month was my first DIY!
I wrote last year about Dina Berland’s new translation of a book called Hours of Devotion, which was a German book of spiritual prayers for women that was published in the 19th century. I badly wanted to read this book, but the Kindle version—in addition to being full paper retail price—was so full of typos and formatting errors that it was unreadable. I wrote to the author and pretty much got an ‘oh well!’ in response. So I took matters into my own hands and have been slowly working through a proofread of M. Mayer’s 1866 translation, which is available at the Internet Archive and is in the public domain.
It’s been hard work! Mayer uses some quirks of punctuation which are no longer in style. He’s very fond of em-dashes and exclamation points, and his use of standard capitalization and of italics to set off scriptural quotation is inconsistent. I’ve had to edit this line-by-line, comparing to the PDF page scans, and making a few judgements calls when anything was amiss. I did standardize the italics usage somewhat, but I left the original punctuation intact and am giving the book a final proofread on my Kobo before I share it.
It’s been an educational process for me. I got some feedback from a kind soul at MobileRead and am not sure I have the technical skills to implement his suggested improvements (embedded fonts for the random Hebrew bits, style sheets to improve the line breaks and section breaks). But I am proud of this first effort, and I am happy to soon be able to share the book as an alternative to the costly and error-filled Kindle translation they are selling in the Kindle store.
I have some vacation time coming up this summer and will be reading like a fiend. I welcome suggestions for some fresh book sources I can check out for good material.
Will I be buying some great indie books, or will I be spending my summer formatting oldies off the Internet Archive? We’ll see what new stuff I can track down between now and June!