The Internet and the Library

Written by Sam Vaknin

"In this digital age,repparttar custodians of published works are atrepparttar 108503 center of a global copyright controversy that casts them as villains simply for doing their job: letting people borrow books for free."

(ZDNet quoted by "Publisher's Lunch on July 13, 2001)

It is amazing thatrepparttar 108504 traditional archivists of human knowledge -repparttar 108505 libraries - failed so spectacularly to riderepparttar 108506 tiger ofrepparttar 108507 Internet, that epitome and apex of knowledge creation and distribution. At first, libraries,repparttar 108508 inertial repositories of printed matter, were overwhelmed byrepparttar 108509 rapid pace of technology and byrepparttar 108510 ephemeral and anarchic content it spawned. They were reduced to providing access to dull card catalogues and unimaginative collections of web links. The more daring added online exhibits and digitized collections. A typical library web site is still comprised of static representations ofrepparttar 108511 library's physical assets and a few quasi-interactive services.

This tendency - by both publishers and libraries - to inadequately and inappropriately pour old wine into new vessels is what causedrepparttar 108512 recent furor over e-books.

The lending of e-books to patrons appears to be a natural extension ofrepparttar 108513 classical role of libraries: physical book lending. Libraries sought also to extend their archival functions to e-books. But librarians failed to grasprepparttar 108514 essential and substantive differences betweenrepparttar 108515 two formats. E-books can be easily, stealthily, and cheaply copied, for instance. Copyright violations are a real and present danger with e-books. Moreover, e-books are not a tangible product. "Lending" an e-book - is tantamount to copying an e-book. In other words, e-books are not books at all. They are software products. Libraries have pioneered digital collections (as they have other information technologies throughout history) and are stillrepparttar 108516 main promoters of e-publishing. But now they are at risk of becoming piracy portals.

Solutions are, appropriately, being borrowed fromrepparttar 108517 software industry. NetLibrary has lately granted multiple user licences to a university library system. Such licences allow for unlimited access and are priced according torepparttar 108518 number ofrepparttar 108519 library's patrons, orrepparttar 108520 number of its reading devices and terminals. Another possibility is to implementrepparttar 108521 shareware model - a trial period followed by a purchase option or an expiration, a-la Rosetta's expiring e-book.

A Brief History of the Book - Part II

Written by Sam Vaknin

E-books, cheaper than even paperbacks, arerepparttar quintessential "literature forrepparttar 108502 millions". Both erstwhile reprint libraries and current e-book publishers specialize in inexpensive books inrepparttar 108503 public domain (i.e., whose copyright expired). John Bell (competing with Dr. Johnson) put out "The Poets of Great Britain" in 1777-83. Each ofrepparttar 108504 109 volumes cost six shillings (compared torepparttar 108505 usual guinea or more). The Railway Library of novels (1,300 volumes) costs 1 shilling apiece only eight decades later. The price proceeded to dive throughoutrepparttar 108506 next century and a half. E-books and POD resume this trend.

The plunge in book prices,repparttar 108507 lowering of barriers to entry aided by new technologies and plentiful credit,repparttar 108508 proliferation of publishers, andrepparttar 108509 cutthroat competition among booksellers was such that price regulation (cartel) had to be introduced. Net publisher prices, trade discounts, and list prices are all anti-competitive practices of 19th century Europe. Still, this lamentable period also gave rise to trade associations, publishers organizations, literary agents, author contracts, royalties agreements, mass marketing, and standardized copyrights.

The Internet is often perceived to be nothing more than a glorified - though digitized - mail order catalogue. But e-books are different. Legislators and courts have yet to establish if e-books are books at all. Existing contracts between authors and publishers may not coverrepparttar 108510 electronic rendition of texts. E-books also offer serious price competition to more traditional forms of publishing and are, thus, likely to provoke a realignment ofrepparttar 108511 entire industry.

Rights may have to be re-assigned, revenues re-distributed, contractual relationships reconsidered. Hitherto, e-books amounted to little more that re-formatted renditions ofrepparttar 108512 print editions. But authors are increasingly publishing their books primarily or exclusively as e-books thus undermining both hardcovers and paperbacks.

Luddite printers and publishers resisted - often violently - every phase inrepparttar 108513 evolution ofrepparttar 108514 trade: stereotyping,repparttar 108515 iron press,repparttar 108516 application of steam power, mechanical typecasting and typesetting, new methods of reproducing illustrations, cloth bindings, machine-made paper, ready-bound books, paperbacks, book clubs, and book tokens.

Without exception, they eventually relented and embracedrepparttar 108517 new technologies to considerable commercial advantage. Similarly, publishers were initially hesitant and reluctant to adoptrepparttar 108518 Internet, POD, and e-publishing. It is not surprising that they came around.

Printed books inrepparttar 108519 17th and 18th centuries were derided by their contemporaries as inferior to their laboriously hand-made antecedents and torepparttar 108520 incunabula. These complaints are reminiscent of current criticisms ofrepparttar 108521 new media (Internet, e-books): shoddy workmanship, shabby appearance, and rampant piracy.

The first decades followingrepparttar 108522 invention ofrepparttar 108523 printing press, were, asrepparttar 108524 Encyclopedia Britannica puts it "a restless, highly competitive free for all ... (with) enormous vitality and variety (often leading to) careless work". There were egregious acts of piracy - for instance,repparttar 108525 illicit copying ofrepparttar 108526 Aldine Latin "pocket books", orrepparttar 108527 all-pervasive book-bootlegging in England inrepparttar 108528 17th century, a direct outcome of over-regulation and coercive copyright monopolies.

Shakespeare's work was repeatedly replicated by infringers of emerging intellectual property rights. Later,repparttar 108529 American colonies becamerepparttar 108530 world's centre of industrialized and systematic book piracy. Confronted with abundant and cheap pirated foreign books, local authors resorted to freelancing in magazines and lecture tours in a vain effort to make ends meet.

Pirates and unlicensed - and, therefore, subversive - publishers were prosecuted under a variety of monopoly and libel laws and, later, under national security and obscenity laws. Both royal and "democratic" governments acted ruthlessly to preserve their control of publishing.

John Milton wrote his passionate plea against censorship, Areopagitica, in response torepparttar 108531 1643 licensing ordinance passed byrepparttar 108532 British Parliament. The revolutionary Copyright Act of 1709 in England decreed that authors and publishers are entitled to exclusively reaprepparttar 108533 commercial benefits of their endeavors, though only for a prescribed period of time.

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