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When I was a kid I got books from the library too. Then, like most people who enjoy reading, I began buying books of my own. Libraries are fine when you just want to find some books you haven't read before but owning your own books has significant advantages, which I hope need not be restated here.

How this goes for authors depends on how Amazon are purchasing the rights to the ebooks. Having seen what streaming has done to music revenue I can't say I'm too optimistic about this. Some authors will do fantastically well, of course, but the much larger number of people who make a modest income from writing may well see it shrink drastically. The problem is that this doesn't necessarily improve things for consumers. Super-successful authors are often producers of lowest-common-denominator material. If high quality writers who appeal to a much smaller audience are no longer able to support themselves by writing, then they either move downmarket or take up another line of work, which results is a loss of quality for consumers.

The problem with streaming is that proponents treat creative output like a commodity and then point to the laws of supply and demand to justify economic upheaval. But pure supply and demand only applies in cases of perfect competition, where commodity goods are actually perfect substitutes; I have no particular reason to buy oil/ gravel/ corn from supplier X if supplier Y can deliver identical goods at a lower price. This is not the case for creative works.

PS I don't mean this as a dig against Amazon in particular, but there is a potential monopsony problem. I worry about this a bit less with Netflix because the economics of film production and distribution are enormously different than for other media, and Netflix is more like a peer among distributors.

> owning your own books has significant advantages, which I hope need not be restated here.

I had to get rid of several hundred of my books years ago when I went traveling. It was tough since I had a lot of attachment to my physical books, but upon examination I realized there were few advantages and in my case many disadvantages. Exceptions are books you habitually reread or reference, but most novels fail that test.

I have several thousand books. Many I've cut & scanned into pdf's. It is just marvelous to be able to take with me that library when I travel - I never lack for something to browse. I no longer have to read those wretched in-flight magazines.

My bookshelves are still crammed with books, but they've all got a date with the slicer! Mua-ha-ha-ha-haaaa!

BTW, for examples of books I've cut & scanned, see http://www.generalatomic.com (yes, I either acquired permission to post them or they are public domain).

That's basically what I ended up doing. After I got rid of the books, I imposed a rule on myself that except for rare cases where the book itself is an extraordinary artifact I would only buy books to cut and scan. My previous books were either replaced by ebooks or for the rarer books by buying new or used copies and cutting and scanning them. I was lucky enough that my employer at the time had an industrial-strength paper guillotine and high-volume scanner.

The paper guillotine was impossibly heavy to carry around and terrifying to operate.

This isn't about e-books vs physical books, but about the difference between subscription and purchase models.

I'm curious about this, I've got a bunch of books I don't want to throw away, but I'm tired of the space they occupy. Seems like scanning them would be a huge hassle though. Any special techniques that you use to do this? How long does a single book take to process?

You can build a book scanner: http://www.diybookscanner.org/

1dollarscan will cut&scan for $1 per 100 pages, they destroy the book afterwards. You can also ship to them directly from Amazon, etc. It's a way to buy electronic versions of older books which may never be on Kindle. Just cutting the spine from a book costs $2 at Staples.

I bought what's called a "stack slicer" used on ebay for about $300. It'll neatly slice the spine off and your finger! Man it's sharp, I found out the hard way. I do enough that it's worth the cost. You'll be sorry if you scrimp on this piece of equipment.

You'll also need a sheet feeding scanner with a hopper on it, that'll scan both sides at the same time. Otherwise, it takes far too long. The software with the scanner will OCR it automagically and create a PDF. I scan at 400 dpi, which looks real sweet on a retina screen. There are a lot of settings to tweak on the scanner, some experimenting will get you the best results. Make sure you turn the double feed detection on.

Use some denatured alcohol to regularly clean the window and rollers, I also use a solder sucker to blow the paper dust out of it.

And lastly, you'll never get 100% of a book to go through cleanly. Just rescan the screw-ups, and assemble the result using pdftk (a marvelous tool). I also like to scan the covers separately in color and fold them in.

Times vary, but I can scan an average paperback in 5 minutes. Turning the sheets sideways makes it go much faster.

> Turning the sheets sideways makes it go much faster.

Great tip, thanks - presumably it also reduces misfeeds.

Would you recommend a particular scanner?

How does pdftk help with rescanned pages, does it magically know where to reinsert?

My scanner is old and not sold anymore, but it's a Fujitsu and presumably their newer models are as good.

You have to explicitly tell pdftk what to do.


Ff you want some help using pdftk, check out the free 'PDF Succinctly' ebook from Syncfusion:


It explains use of iTextSharp, a C# library.

Just like the music industry, I think more writers are going to become acclimated to the book-signing aspect of the industry in order to support their themselves financially. Subscription based models and piracy that originated from the disruptive nature of new technology sounds like it would discencetivize writers from creating new works, but I think if you model the economics of future distributions, it will eventually favor the writers that create quality work. The best example I can think of is the existing state of stand-up comedy. Louis CK, Aziz Ansari, Joey Diaz can release a $5 special DRM free with low capital expenditures, and still make a significant payout. This model cuts out most of the pre-existing middlemen, and all that's left is artist and the audience.

Well known artists with a fanbase I'm sure are ok with charging $5, but authors spending years researching need that upfront money, and hopefully 25.99$ hardcover sales, followed by 7$ paperback sales. If they want to do this for a living I should say.

I'm curious to know how much of that $25.99 hardcover goes to the writer.

Not all, but enough that they are willing to sign a up front contract with a publishing company.

How do you sign an e-book?

You get your picture taken with the author/talent instead.

Do I want my Louis CK DVD autographed? Or do I want a picture with him? I'll take the picture every time.

I started getting into startups around when Lean Startup was the hottest thing out, led by Eric Ries. He was signing books after a talk and I asked him to sign my iPad case.

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