The Internet Archive Bookmobile will be printing out public-domain books on demand and giving them to people at schools, libraries, shopping malls, senior citizens centers, and other venues as it crosses the country this week.
The satellite-linked bookmobile was on view in San Francisco last week in preparation for its cross-country trip to Washington D.C.
The purpose of the trip is to publicize the value of works in the public domain, as well as the practicality of printing books on demand. The bookmobile will arrive in Washington D.C. on October 9, the same day that the Supreme Court will be deciding the case of Eldred v. Ashcroft, a lawsuit challenging the further extension of United States copyright laws.
The bookmobile is one project of the Internet Archive, a nonprofit dedicated to “offering permanent access for researchers, historians, and scholars to historical collections that exist in digital format.” Brewster Kahle serves as archive director and is president of Alexa Internet, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon.com. The Internet Archive is currently about five times as large as the Library of Congress and growing. Here’s Matt’s photo tour of the place.
Brewster’s mobile bookmobile costs about $5000 (less the Motosat mobile satellite dish which is about $6,000). Kahle uses a laptop computer, a thermal binding machine, an industrial-strength paper cutter and a double-sided laserprinter.
To use his mobile bookmobile, you browse the Internet Archive site for books that have already been formatted for distribution. Next you download the desired book, print it on sheets of 11-by-17 inch paper (two book pages per sheet of paper), cut the sheets in half, and join the two halves to make the body of the book. A special cover (printed on an inkjet printer) wraps around the book body and the pages are bound with the binding machine. The paper cutter trims the edges of the book. Kahle says he can print a copy of Alice in Wonderland in about 10 minutes, for a materials cost of about $1.
Here’s their strategy:
- Take a large catalog of books in libraries
- Tag each entry with its US copyright status
- Prioritize those that are out of copyright,
- Try to inspire the world to digitize the out-of-copyright books,
- Format the books for online distribution,
- Organize the resulting digitized books,
- Cause enlightenment in all corners of the globe.
The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) organization founded to build an ‘Internet library,’ with the purpose of offering permanent access for researchers, historians, and scholars to historical collections that exist in digital format. Founded in 1996 and located in the Presidio of San Francisco, the Archive has been receiving data donations from Alexa Internet and others. In late 1999, the organization started to grow to build more well-rounded collections.
Kahle previously created the architecture for Thinking Machines, developed the Wide Area Information Server and founded SFLAN in San Francisco’s Presidio district. The Manifesto:
- Bring Moore’s law to Internet bandwidth: 1Mb/sec for $1/month in 10 years.
- Low-cost megabit ISP built by users, spread like a virus
- Welcome to the neighborhood: you are on the net.
- Radio locally, fiber globally.
Kahle explains The Archive:
“In the Wayback Machine, currently there are 10 billion Web pages, collected over five years. That amounts to 100 terabytes, which is 100 million megabytes. So if a book is a megabyte, which is about what it is, and the Library of Congress has 20 million books, that’s 20 terabytes. This is 100 terabytes. At that size, this is the largest database ever built. It’s larger than Walmart’s, American Express’, the IRS. It’s the largest database ever built.”
The American Memory project at the Library of Congress is one of the largest digitized archives of U.S. history, with more than 7.5 million digital records from 100 collections of manuscripts, books, maps, films, sound recordings and photographs. The Library is evaluating how emerging data grid technologies, such as SDSC’s Storage Resource Broker (SRB) data grid software. With 6 petabytes (6,000 terabytes) of storage capacity, the San Diego Supercomputer Center has plenty of room to store the 8 terabytes of American Memory’s digital data, plus additional records as the collection evolves over decades, or even centuries.
Alexa put up a television archive called tvarchive.org, which is televison news from around the world from Sept. 11 to Sept. 18. Twenty channels in Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Iraqi. Iraqi television. In three weeks, Alexa took all these recordings from tape, massaged them, put them online, and converted them into several different formats.
Kahle adds, “We’ve put 1,000 films up online for people to download including education films, government films, propoganda films, industrial films. They’re all available for download in MPEG2, which is DVD-quality. I really recommend “The ABCs of Happiness” and “The Consequence of War.”
Just 4 percent of the world’s nearly 6 billion people were connected to 100 million hosts in 1998, a figure expected to grow 11 percent to 500 million people by 2003. Asia-Pacific will account for 20 percent of e-commerce sales and more than a quarter of the world’s Internet users by 2004, according to the US Commerce Department. Current statistics from the FCC and other sources indicate that the US produces 35% of all print material, 40% of the images and well over 50% of the digitally stored content produced in the world each year.
The world produces about 1.5 billion gigabytes of information per year (1.5 Exobytes), or 250 megabytes for every man, woman, and child on earth, according to U/C Berkeley research (NPR Report). This information consists of e-mails, phone calls, radio and television broadcasts, Websites, office documents, newspapers, etc. 93% is stored in digital form with hard drives in PCs accounting for 55% of total storage shipped each year. Printed documents of all kinds comprise only .003% of the total. All information ever produced since mankind began painting pictures in caves is 18 Exobytes. Twelve percent of the total was produced in the year 2000.
For libraries wanting more control and power; Adobe’s Content Server 3.0 may be just the ticket. Patrons can check out digital titles that are automatically downloaded onto their PC or laptop for reading. Users do not need to be connected online to read the downloaded content with the Acrobat eBook Reader. When the lending period for a title expires, the patron no longer has access to the eBook. The title then becomes instantly available to others.
The Standard Edition of the Content Server consists of a one-time fee of $5,000 for one destination site capable of hosting 250 titles. Expansion packages are $1,000 per additional 500 titles. The ASP Edition costs $10,000 for the Adobe Content Server linked to one destination site, hosting an unlimited number of titles.
It’s available through library solutions provider Baker & Taylor and OverDrive who provide the complete integration services required to deliver a robust digital content management system.
The Adobe PDF e-book format competes with the more popular Microsoft Reader and other formats like the open book standard.
The University of Virginia Library’s Etext Center, operates one of the world’s largest and busiest public eBook libraries. Memoware has a library of public domain e-books for the Palm while PocketPC books have the advantage of ClearType and bigger screens. CeWindows.net has a big library
Public domain libraries are available from at Bibliomania and Project Gutenberg. TuCows has a ton of free software. AvantGo lets you create and post your content on-line. Lots of newspaper and magazines offer their content through AvantGo.
Overdrive‘s eBookExpress Website may be the fastest and easiest way to create eBooks. The ebook Express website (FAQ), is makes an e-book for free and eliminates downloading publishing software. Just click to upload your document.
BookShare.org provides free copyrighted books for the 24 million Americans are deaf or hearing impaired and 12 million are blind. They have have over ten thousand copyrighted books online, built largely by its community of members and supporters who scan books to submit to the collection.
Booksfree.com has 4,000 members, who pay $6.99 to $14.99 a month to rent from the start-up’s online library, which is stocked with 34,000 paperback titles. Its most popular titles are mysteries, romances and action novels. Book Crossing is a catch and release program for book lovers. After you’ve finished a book, leave it in a public place and tell where on the internet. Other people will read it and do the same.
Creating a library with access to hundreds of thousands of volumes isn’t technically hard. A kiosk with a terabyte might cost less than $5,000. Burn a CD for $.25 or a CF card (for free).
Rewriting the copyright law may take many public domain works out of the public domain, however.
Kahle, unlike Seymour Cray, is a populist/revolutionary, grounded in the real world. His adventure brings to mind Michael Paterniti’s book Driving Mr. Albert where Einstein’s Brain is tranported in a car trunk, cross-country – (audio part 1 & part 2).
Albert Einstein’s brain floats in formaldehyde in a Tupperware bowl in a gray duffel bag in the trunk of a Buick Skylark barreling across America. Driving the car is Michael Paterniti, a young journalist from Maine. Sitting next to him is an eighty-four-year-old pathologist named Thomas Harvey who performed the autopsy on Einstein in 1955–and simply removed the brain and took it home. And kept it for over forty years.
On a cold February day, the two men and the brain leave New Jersey and light out on I-70 for sunny California, where Einstein’s perplexed granddaughter, Evelyn, awaits. And riding along as the imaginary fourth passenger is Einstein himself, an id-driven genius, the original galactic slacker with his head in the stars.
And what’s the big deal with Eldred v. Ashcroft? Check out A Case to Define the Digital Age, by Jane Black in Business Week, Hal Plotkin in SF Gate, Walter Truett Anderson in Pacific News, David Streitfeld in the LA Times and Steven Levy in Wired (the man who found Einstein’s brain).