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- Ping: Swampy Bogtrotter (for the Snake Lady)
June 2, 2006, 11:17 pm
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Way to add to Janet's ebook collection - (http://worldebookfair.com -
July 4 to Aug. 4.
Free chapter added to saga of e-books
By David Mehegan, Globe Staff | June 2, 2006
For much of the past decade, the publishing world has been trying to
figure out how to make money selling books in electronic form. Now a
private project wants to give e-books away for free.
Project Gutenberg, a 35-year-old nonprofit based in Urbana, Ill.,
announced yesterday it is putting as many as 300,000 books online,
where they will be available for free download. Called the World eBook
Fair (http://worldebookfair.com ), the program will last a month --
July 4 to Aug. 4 -- and will be repeated annually.
The catalog of available works will include fiction, nonfiction, and
reference books, mostly those that are no longer protected by
copyright. ``It will include the oldest books in the world, including
every author you have heard of in your life, other than current ones,"
said Michael Hart, Project Gutenberg's founder. The fair also will
offer classical music files, both scores and recordings, as well as
About 95 percent of the books are in the public domain and not subject
to copyright law, Hart said. The copyright holders of the remaining 5
percent have given permission for use of their works. Copyright law
generally protects a work for 70 years beyond the death of its
Roughly 20,000 of the books have been scanned by thousands of
Gutenberg volunteers -- and are already available at gutenberg.org --
but the majority will be loaned to Gutenberg for the month by more
than 100 e-book libraries, including the World eBook Library, which
normally charges a fee for temporary access. As many as 100,000 of the
300,000 books will remain available permanently. Gutenberg plans to
offer 500,000 books in next year's fair, 750,000 in 2008, and 1
million in 2009. Still, even these numbers are a fraction of the tens
of millions of books that have been published throughout history.
``Our stuff is all free," Hart said. ``We want people to take these
books and use them, to keep them in their PDAs. Our mission is to help
break down the walls of ignorance and illiteracy."
Efforts to establish a commercial e-book marketplace have stumbled.
Attempts to sell hand-held readers failed because they were clumsy and
delicate, downloadable books were few, and fees were high. Google
recently announced a plan to make millions of books searchable online,
but the company has faced opposition from publishers outraged over
potential copyright infringement. Attempts to reach publishers and
booksellers last night were unsuccessful.
In the World eBook Fair, the books can be downloaded and read on
almost any kind of computer -- even a cellphone or PDA . The idea is
not merely to lend or rent access to the book but to give it away so
that it can be kept in a library, copied, or shared with friends.
Hart said the major flaw with previous attempts to sell e-books was
the device. ``Those readers were dinosaurs before they were born," he
said. ``This generation grew up on Game Boy. The screen of a cellphone
is fine for them. The iPod had been out only a week when someone wrote
a program so you could read our books on it."
Hart, 58, has been the dedicated visionary behind the project since
its inception in 1971, working out of his basement in Urbana since
graduating from the University of Illinois. In a phone interview, he
spoke in evangelistic tones about the social virtue of the project.
``We want to increase literacy and education from the bottom up," he
said. ``I think of this as a blue-collar project. Our target is not
the erudite professor of Shakespeare -- it's everybody, as many people
as we can encourage to read."
Gutenberg volunteers -- who have been typing and scanning books into
computers for 35 years, well before anyone had heard of the Internet
-- have the passion of Wikipedians. ``I have 40,000 people to help,"
Hart said. ``There are no universities or corporations involved, just
a lot of people in attics banging on their computers. We have one
workaholic insomniac who has scanned 2,500 to 3,000 books by himself.
He buys them, scans them, and proofreads them."
Though Hart is the project's conceptual force, the unpaid CEO of
Project Gutenberg is Gregory Newby, acting chief scientist of the
Arctic Area Supercomputing Center at the University of Alaska in
Fairbanks. While more low-key than Hart on the phone, he was no less
fired with conviction.
``As we see it, if e-books are to succeed, readers have to be allowed
to do everything they can do with a real book," Newby said. ``If you
use Google Book Search, you can search text, but after a few pages you
can't read any more. If you try to use it like a book, you encounter a
lot of barriers."
Newby said he sees free e-books as the way of the future for classic
``It breaks my heart to go into Barnes & Noble and find Jane Austen
for sale in a trade format," he said. ``Where does that money go? It's
close to profiteering. No author is getting any money for it. I feel
sorry for schools, where kids are now reading Canterbury Tales or
Huckleberry Finn, and the schools are spending millions of dollars
from their budgets to buy the books. We're giving the stuff away for
David Mehegan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hofstadter's Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even
when you take into account Hofstadter's Law. - Douglas Hofstadter
Re: Swampy Bogtrotter (for the Snake Lady)
That's awesome....I'd heard about Project Guttenburg before, but hadn't paid
it much atention other than to bookmark the site.....
I can forsee some serious downloading in the next few days....
Cheers for the link :-)