Information Today's Barbara Quint reports on The British Library's press release of February 23.
Much has been written about the final product looking exactly like the copies of the original editions, but in my mind it hasn't been totally clear from the Library whether that pertains to the Kindle edition or to just the print-on-demand copies that one can buy. In an earlier update I wondered about the file-format and how they would retain the look of the originals without their being images rather than text. I still haven't found anything solid on that, though I did quote NextWeb as writing that "...users of their Kindle eReader" would be able to "access historically accurate digital representations" but that could mean the printed copies available on-demand (and for $) to Amazon Kindle users. Let us know if you hear anything definitive on that.
Will the subsidiary of Amazon that provides printed copies be printing from Kindle copies or the copies that Microsoft originally scanned? Could be the latter. The Kindle copies are being made secondarily. I guess we'll know fairly soon as they're due out in the Spring and the Library's press release is otherwise full of info. The provider of printed copies will be CreateSpace.com (originally CustomFlix Labs and BookSurge, Inc. and now a DBA for On-Demand Publishing LLC). BL will receive some revenue from the Print-On-Demand sales, which will help it fund more digitization.
' How would you like to read a copy of a book by Charles Dickens or Jane Austen that looks exactly like the copies those authors held in their hands, ink fresh from the printers? How would you like to read some of the books that the first readers of those books probably wouldn't admit they read-the so-called "penny dreadfuls"? Last year, Microsoft completed its digitization obligations to The British Library (BL; www.bl.uk) and handed over 25 million pages in 65,000 19th-century books. As yet the digital copies, like the hard copies, have only been readable by visitors to The British Library Reading Room.As was said in the first newspaper report, "To meet the ever increasing demands of our users the library is negotiating with other key industry players to ensure we maximise potential for access."
Later this spring, however, the digital copies will be available to any and all users of the Amazon Kindle ebook reader for free. A print-on-demand service will provide optional paperback copies to readers in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and France. Expect to see the digital collection appear elsewhere as well. The Amazon arrangement is nonexclusive. '
The Kindle is just the first e-reader for which an agreement was reached.
Today's article by Quint explains how it happened that Microsoft arranged to digitize the books, begun in 2005-2006. After they halted their "Live Search Books" project, which was begun to compete with the new Google Books project at the time, they finished the scanning of the books and, per BL, completed the agreement but "gave us the content to do with what we wish and waived all their rights."
Jacob Lant, The British Library's press officer, pointed out that BL "...provided the space and expertise in preservation and collection management, while the third-party scanning was paid by Microsoft."
As we know, about 35-40% of the items are unique to the Library or inaccessible in major libraries elsewhere. The 65,000 Kindle books will cover, Quint writes, philosophy, history, poetry, and literature.
You can go to the Library press release and the Information Today article (links above) to read much more about this, including details of the offerings
Dame Lynne Brindley, chief executive of The British Library, again referred to the deal with Amazon as a "landmark agreement" in many ways. The Library is talking to other potential partners, and they expect to supply more content to Kindle and Amazon.
Interestingly, Lant mentions that Google had approached them in the past but the Library didn't agree to the terms. "In the future, we might talk to them, but all deals must be on our terms as rightsholders." Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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