Here's something that could have publishers quaking in their books: gadget makers continue to look for ways to do for books what the CD ripper did for music.
Ion Audio, a company known for helping vinyl-record owners digitize their music, says it will trot out sometime this summer a device called the Book Saver, according to a story on Engadget. Ion said the Book Saver is capable of digitizing a 200-page book in 15 minutes. An owner of a Book Saver, which will likely sell for $150, places a book into the scanning cradle and the device makes color copies in seconds, thanks to two cameras hanging above the book.
"Once converted, the books can quickly be transferred to a computer or e-reader," Ion said on its Web site. "Book Saver is the only device needed to quickly make all your books, comics, magazines, or other documents e-reader compatible."
What the company doesn't mention is that devices such as Book Saver will make it even easier for people to share books online. Ask anyone at the major labels about the rise of file sharing and they typically blame the Internet as well as the inclusion of CD rippers in computers. Ripping music and loading it on to digital music players was a cinch after that.
And like CD rippers, Ion says Book Saver is perfectly legal. The courts have ruled that it's legal for people to make copies of their media for personal use.
Click here to read the whole article and to see a picture of the device.
Frankly, their claim of digitizing a 200-page book in 15 minutes sounds a bit iffy to me. There's no way to manually turn the pages, so to do this in 15 minutes would mean that the one flipping the pages has to have very fast hands. How would this compare to using a regular scanner.
And, as the article says, this does bring up the matter of piracy. The CD ripper made it easy for the regular person to digitize music, which has left music companies with the reality that every year for the last several years, CD sales have been falling. If someone comes up with a gadget that can make it as easy for a person to scan a book as a CD ripper does to copy music, the book publishing industry could face the same problem (if it isn't already, given what seems to be the proliferation of hard-working people willing to spend time scanning their books and converting them to digital formats).