Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Service Turns Books into PDFs

1DollarScan turns a physical book into an electronic copy, supposedly for a dollar, as long as the customer agrees to allow the book to be destroyed and recycled. The company, based in San Jose, CA, markets itself as a service that archives documents and photographs, while also clearing space used to store old books.

The service has grown from scanning thousands of books in its first year to several hundred thousand books in its second year, according to CEO Hiroshi Nakano in a report in Publishers Weekly. The company claims its process produces a high-quality PDF file that can be read on a variety of devices.

The Authors Guild isn’t thrilled with the business model, claiming that turning copyrighted print content into an e-book without an author’s permission is copyright infringement.

1DollarScan counters that it only digitizes books purchased by a customer, who then uses the service to create more space in an eco-friendly way. The company requires a signed agreement prohibiting the online sharing of the PDF, while offering a way for publishers and authors to either approve or disapprove of scans.

But copyright infringement could be just part of the issue with 1DollarScan. One person commenting on the Publishers Weekly article who uses the service wrote, “The result is nothing I would want to share anyway since it’s usually got formatting and readability errors, but it’s good enough for me.”

He also goes on to report that the actual cost is $1 per 100 pages, so the service would cost $5 for a 500-page book.

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