Saturday, September 12, 2015

Google Books is in Limbo

Google Books was one of the most ambitious book projects in history. The plan was to scan all of the worlds books and make them publicly available. Due to years in court fighting authors and publishers the project is in limbo.

In 2002 Google begun scanning books and currently has over 30 million titles, putting it in a league with the world's larger libraries. If you want to see how they compare, the library of Congress has around 37 million books available.

The book scanning project was not cleared by the publishers or authors because Google was targeting books that were rare, out of print or whose copyright had expired. They also had high idealism, scanning the worlds books, they thought they would win people over, they were wrong.

Google began clashing with publishers in 2006 and formal lawsuits were brought to the courts. This resulted in many of the books Google put online just having snippets, and not including the entire text. In 2008 all sides managed to reach a settlement to make the full library available to the public, for pay, and to institutions. In the settlement agreement, Google promised to put terminals in libraries, for Google Books for educational use, but never got around to doing that.

The settlement managed to placate some publishers and authors, but other organizations continued to fight Google. This resulted in a 2011 decision by a federal judge to side with the critics and he threw out the 2008 settlement, adding that aspects of the copyright issue would be more appropriately decided by the legislature. A few years later in 2013 a judge threw out a class action suit by the Authors Guild, that saved Google over a billion in settlement fees.

Google continues to fight for the survival for their book scanning project and there is no end in sight. The courts have basically said its up to all parties to come up with a licensing solution that makes sense. The Authors Guild is strongly lobbying for a complex mechanism, that would allow the owners of scanned, out-of-print libraries, such as Google, to make a limited set of them available with payouts to authors.

The dream of an internet full of all of the out of print books humanity has ever written will likely never come to fruition.

Amazon Reveals the Specs for the $50 Kindle Fire Tablet


A few weeks ago we reported that Amazon was developing a very affordable entry level Fire tablet. In order to offer this device for the $50 price point the Seattle company had to sacrifice performance. Today, we have new information that breaks down the specs.

The new six inch entry level Kindle Fire could has a six inch screen and has a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels. This is a bit of a downgrade from last years six inch model, which had a resolution of 1280 x 800.

Underneath the hood on the upcoming 2015 six inch tablet is a quad-core ARM cortex-A7 processor with Mali-450 graphics, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage. You will be able to snap pictures with the rear facing 2MP camera or access on-demand video chat via the 0.3MP front camera.

I guess Amazon is trying to offer such a ridiculously cheap tablet that you could buy for your kids and not think twice. Maybe there is a student in your household, that could also benefit from this, without having to worry about it being lost or stolen. In the end, this is affordable because Amazon knows you will buy e-books, apps, magazines, newspapers and buy videos.

Amazon Likely to Announce New Devices Very Soon

Recent history suggests that Amazon is likely to announce new products soon, and it could happen as early as this upcoming week. Looking back at the past few years, Amazon has announced new Kindle ereaders and Fire tablets in the month of September. Last year they unveiled their lineup of new devices on September 17th. […]