When I was in college, it was standard practice to find research materials in the library, read for a while, make Xerox copies of pertinent pages, and take them home. Libraries had conveniently-placed copy machines for just this purpose. The process of scrounging up change and standing over the thunk-thunking machine, scanning page after page, never seemed particularly efficient, but sometimes it was the best option.
This seems to be the idea behind Amazon's new Kindle Convert software, arduous scanning and all.
The Windows-compatible software, which retails for $49 (and is currently selling for $19), allows a user to turn print books into Kindle e-books. The process involves installing the software and scanning a book, a page or two at a time, on a standard scanner or printer-scanner combo. The software imports the scanned book into Kindle as an e-book with all the Kindle e-book bells and whistles, like Whispersync and online dictionary lookup.
Any book can be scanned, including those currently under copyright.
As Engadget points out, this is a lot like ripping and burning music CDs, turning them into oh-so-portable digital files.
What happened next, of course, was that people shared those digital music files without paying for them, much to the detriment of the music industry.
Could the same thing happen to books? Fears of piracy have dogged the publishing industry for many years, at times appearing to hold it back from important new e-book innovations.
Perhaps this one somehow will benefit publishers. If the Kindle Convert software recognizes the book as one that's for sale digitally at Amazon, the user is given the option to purchase it.
However, if the user declines to purchase the book, the import proceeds.
So far publishers aren't sharing their thoughts about Kindle Convert.
Amazon, for its part, has not responded to my question of how the new Kindle Convert software complies with copyright protections.