New project - books
#130 Henry, Tuesday, 08 May 2012 3:31 PM (Category: Books)
(Tags: book collection)

I have three forms of media that are important to me - music, video and books. I collect them, I use them. My collections are large. The first two have been tackled and conquered.

I ripped my complete music library many years ago and keep it up to date. I have a simple but effective workflow for processing CDs. I have established sources for CDs, and if I pay more than 50c per CD, then it hurts me. I have established techniques for backing up the music, for tagging it, keeping the tagging data separate and safe and updatable. Music is a medium I have completely tamed.

I have just finished ripping my complete DVD library. I have not completely tamed this medium. There are some DVDs I cannot rip. About 6. I have difficulty ripping my Blu-Rays. I have done it all, but the process is clumsy. I have established techniques for backing up the videos, moving it round, and playing it. I have found ways of tagging the files, but have not get a good method yet of keeping the tagged data separate and safe and updatable. I am working on that.

And that leads to the final medium - books. I have a lot of books. I have paper books all over the house. I have a lot of books in storage back home. This is a bulky medium, much bulkier than cds or dvds. This involves many bookcases of books, boxes of books, piles of book around the house, attracting dust, getting in the way. I want to get rid of most of the paper books and keep only digital copies. But no way am I going to have books with digital restrictions that might one day stop working. And no way do I want to pay money all over again. I've bought thousands of books. I am not going to buy them again in digital format. What do I do?

I can't rip the books like I ripped the cds and dvds. They started in a digital format and were converted to a more converted digital format. I could "rip" books, by scanning every page of my collection, OCRing them, proofreading them, and putting them together in a PDF or epub file. Yes, I could do that, and there are websites out there that have great ideas for automating the scanning of books. Example: But scanning a few thousand books would take me more years than I have left.

Remember Fahrenheit 451? Each person was a book, and remembered that book. I see similar patterns developing. Old science fiction that is not being converted to digital form by the publishers, is being converted to digital form by fans, handed around, proof-read, formatted, and made available. I have even seen extremely poor quality official ebook releases of new books that got grabbed and proof-read and cleaned up and released back into the wild. Sure, it's piracy. But when the pirate version is of far superior quality to the official version, which are you going to choose?

Books are a completely different proposition to cds and dvds. I haven't really started this project yet. I am still experimenting with tools, with books, with readers. Someday all my ideas will coalesce and I will set up a workflow and start converting my books, and organise my collection. Hopefully this will be completed before we move back to Australia. I do not want to be shipping a container full of books back home. Better by far to bring a large hard disk (or two) home.

For reading, I bought a Nook. Then I bought a Nook for Anne. We used them a lot, and I did a lot of reading and I started to experiment with creating and editing books. Then I bought a third Nook. Don't know why. Shortly after that, a trade fell in my lap and I swapped a Mac Mini for an iPad. The iPad was a revelation. The touch interface made moving through reference books easy. It was not easy on the Nook. I use GoodReader for PDFs, CHM+ for chm files, and that covers my technical material. I use Stanza for epubs, and I have some technical books in epub. I buy my O'Reilly books in digital format nowadays, and they come in both PDF and epub, so I can pick and choose. The iPad rarely leaves my hands these days. I bought one for Anne too, and hers never leaves her hands. She clutches it while she sleeps. After the complete conversion to iPad, I sold all three Nooks.

So my big new media project is in its infancy. I don't think I can do what I want legally. I have a lot of thinking to do.