Bookmarking books

October 27th, 2010

James Bridle has been thinking about what's missing from the current generation of ebooks:

[While…] traditional books are physical objects, that's not the core of our relationship with them. The truth is that books are essentially not physical objects, but temporal ones.

[…]

[The…] real problem with the ebook as it stands is that it denies us many of these temporal aspects, which produces a kind of cognitive dissonance. And there's a social layer that forms around this, another timeline of reading reviews and discussing with friends, that the ebook could actually exploit better than the physical book, if we work on it some more. We really need to look at how we address this temporal mode with ebooks.

[…]

Well, the thing I've been thinking about a lot, the thing I keep coming back to, is Bookmarks. Bookmarks in all their forms: as underlining, dogears, annotations, notes and references. User-generated tags and footnotes. A horrible phrase, but. There is something there. […]

All of which, as well as being interesting in its own right, acts as a launchpad for Bridle's Open Bookmarks project:

Open Bookmarks is a project to discuss, develop and design an open framework for saving, storing and sharing bookmarks, annotations and reading data in ebooks. When established, Open Bookmarks will champion the new standard and support widespread adoption.

We want to work with publishers, software developers, hardware manufacturers, merchants, and anyone with an interest in the future of the book.

Here's hoping the publishing houses have learned something from the experience of their friends in the music and film industries. Something other than "wrap your content in as much platform-specific DRM code as you can find and hope for the best", I mean.

[Via Phil Gyford]

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Seller's remorse

July 17th, 2009

Have Amazon just sounded the death knell for the e-book?

This morning, hundreds of Amazon Kindle owners awoke to discover that books by a certain famous author had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid for – thought they owned.

But no, apparently the publisher changed its mind about offering an electronic edition, and apparently Amazon, whose business lives and dies by publisher happiness, caved. It electronically deleted all books by this author from people's Kindles and credited their accounts for the price. […]

Alternatively – just possibly – could this be a devilishly cunning plan by Amazon to rid the world of DRM by providing a highly visible demonstration of exactly how little it means to 'buy' an e-book when it's 'protected' by DRM, thereby prompting a boycott of the Kindle that'll persuade publishers that their customers just won't stand for such strongarm tactics?1

Just another reminder that the 'Rights' referred to in the phrase 'Digital Rights Management' are those of the publisher, not the customer.

[Post title stolen from a comment by ross_teneyck.]

[Via James Nicoll]

  1. No, I don't think so either. As far as I can see the book publishing world is still – with a few honourable exceptions like the Baen Free Library – a decade or two behind the music industry on DRM. They'd probably be quite relieved if the level of demand for e-books would please disappear for a decade or two so that they could carry on selling books the old-fashioned way.

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