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“books” On the Cambridge Train

I’m coming back from JISC and again sitting on the floor among the Bromptons. Alice and Bob are in their regular seats. They must get out earlier than me or rush along platform Zero faster than the average punter. (The 1645 is not a good train to arrive just-in-time for unless you like bicycles). Anyway I catch part of their conversation.

A: So what are you reading?

B: “Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice”

A: You mean “Pride and Prejudice”.

B: No it’s called “Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice”.

A: Who’s the author, then. I thought it was Jane Austen.

B: It’s by “eyePoodle”.

A: ?????

B: Yes, it’s the name of the company that makes this e-reader.

A: But the book is by Jane Austen, right?

B: Well sort of. She wrote most of the words, but eyePoodle actually wrote the book.

A: You mean they copied her words.

B: No, they’ve actually changed them to give a better user-experience.

A: What the hell is a “user experience”?

B: It’s what you get when you buy an eyePoodle.

A: OK – well how does it start? I know this by heart from first-year English Literature. It should be “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

B: Well more or less. It says “It’s generally true that a wealthy man needs a wife”.

A: !!!!! That’s appalling. Why have they edited it?

B: The long words don’t fit the screen well. So they’ve shortened some of them. And they’ve made the sentences easier to read.

A: They’ve ruined it. Let me see.

B: You won’t be able to read it.

A: Yes I can – I don’t need glasses.

B: Only I can read it.

A: Bullshit. Give it to me…

B: OK …

A: [Stares at blank screen]. How do I switch it on?

B: It is on. I told you only I can read it.

A: What do you mean?

B: It’s DRM’ed.

A: ?????

B: Digital Rights Management. Only I can read it. I have to hold my thumb over this fingerprint reader.

A: OK, pass it over and pass your thumb over.

B: It’ll be the wrong way up.

A: No it won’t. Look

B: No my THUMB will be the wrong way up. You’ll have to sit on my lap…

A: Easy tiger…

B: Anyway I’ll have to get back to reading.

A: Why the rush?

B: I’ve only got 4 hours left.

A: ?????

B: You only get the book for 24 hours. Then you have to pay more.

A: So who owns the book?

B: eyePoodle. They’ve started buying up books for the eyePoodle. That’s why the title is slightly different. Then they can copyright it.

A: You mean that because they’ve rewritten it they can copyright it?

B: Yes, and every 60 years or so they’ll alter a few words and recopyright it. Great business. I’ve got shares in eyePoodle.

A: Well I’ll go to the library and get the real book. And I’ll make my own copy as Jane Austen’s been dead for years.

B: You can’t – they got rid of the books and replaced them with eyePoodles.

A: I’ll go straight to my Reader Services and DEMAND a copy.

B: Sorry it’s now called “Vendor Services”…

… Royston …Next stop Cambridge …

UPDATE:

Posted on OKF open-bibliography:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/oct/26/libraries-ebook-restrictions

No – I hadn’t seen this before writing the blog.

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