Collecting Digital Books

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Collecting Digital Books

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Oct 18, 2012, 10:48am

I'm doing a research about digital book collectors
Does anyone here collect, or know someone who collect eBooks?

Oct 18, 2012, 11:43am

I collect some eBooks but probably not what you think. In the conventional sense, I have added some eBooks where a given series has a short story or novella that is only issued in eBook form. The Bibliophile series by Kate Carlisle has an eBook-only story, Pages of Sin. I discovered this when looking at the series listing on LT and spotted this unlikely gap. I have entered some of these into my LT catalog but I do not enter most of my eBook files.

Since I read eBooks on the iPhone, I have the software for PDF, nook, Kindle, etc. installed in a single device. I'm not left out when some publisher decides to exclude a particular device or file format. The iPad users have similar benefits. You can also install the free programs on any computer or probably a phone like the Android devices. A typical eBook device (nook or Kindle) is dedicated to the formats from that company and cannot read the others.

Where my eBook collecting diverges from what might be expected began during a period of unemployment when I could not afford to add old books to our collection with a clear conscience. I came upon the idea of collecting electronic copies of the author I study, Edward Stratemeyer (1862-1930). Alone he wrote 160 stories that were published as books (including the Rover Boys series as Arthur M. Winfield) plus many more as short stories, story paper serials, and dime novels. In 1905 he established the Stratemeyer Syndicate which was responsible for popular series like Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, and the Bobbsey Twins.

I gathered files containing Edward Stratemeyer's writings that were available online in the usual places: Project Gutenberg,, and Google Books. My preferred format is PDF with page scans because these allow me to see the typography, layout, and illustrations which are lost when the story is merely transcribed (with errors added) to TXT or HTML format. I'll get the latter two if a PDF is not available or if I want to do other things with the text.

In addition to the texts I could find online, I also began to gather items from my own physical collection. Sometimes I took a dime novel or magazine story that I had in photocopy or vintage physical form. From these I built my own PDFs of page images. If it was a fragile original I photographed the pages. If it was already a photocopy, I scanned the pages. In the case of short stories, I also transcribed the stories from the PDFs created. Some of these have become the basis for a reprint project of Edward Stratemeyer's early and scarce writings via Lulu print on demand. The first of these was Victor Horton's Idea, his first professional story published in 1889 as a five-part story paper serial. Like the other stories we are issuing in this form, ours is the first book publication.

I have also saved PDFs from Google Books and of other items of interest. We don't list these in LT. I could but it would tend to disrupt our book statistics which I prefer to reflect our physical collections and not wishlists, etc.


Editado: Oct 18, 2012, 10:21pm

> 2 -- You do it sorta like I do. I download from Gutenberg or from other places in PDF or TXT format. The PDFs I file in "My Ebooks" as-is. TXT files I pull up in WordPerfect, correct spelling and punctuation, save in WP format in "My Ebooks" with the others. When cleaning up G-berg files, I also try to make page numbers in my WP and PDF documents match page numbers in the original text. That way, if I ever want to quote from one of them, I can reference page numbers in the original edition.

I've listed a couple of them on LT, but for the most part I don't bother. I can't get my head from around the idea that they're not "real" books. I'm 64 years old this fall; I been doing computers for more than 40 years. The last programming language I studied was FORTRAN IV. I was a techie before Dr. Strangelove could buy cigarettes legally. Transistors wore tin hats, there was no such thing as a hard-drive, one flip/flop covered an entire 3x5 card, the CPU clock ran at 64 pulses per second, and when it went down I could actually fix it with my oscilloscope, a multimeter, and a book of schematics. I was into the Internet when screens were black and we typed commands at the C-prompt to FTP and to download DOS utilities from file archives at Michigan State University through a 2400-baud modem. I did bulletin boards when those were the rage. I been on the Web since Day One. I've run a Blog for the last six years, but I'll never have an I-Pad or do social networking. And if I live to be a hundred, I still won't collect E-books or pay money for them. Make mine paper, please.

Oct 19, 2012, 4:13am

>3 dekesolomon: I'm half your age and can relate to the 2nd half of your statement there entirely, I feel the exact same way - so no blaming it on age! ;P

Oct 24, 2012, 6:05am

Do you think it's possible to collect digital books? What is the value of a digital book that can not be a rare object? As collectors of books, is limited access to books could be an alternative? For example, instead of limited edition of 500 copies, limited access for 500 users?

Oct 24, 2012, 6:53pm

You can collect them in the sense of trying to get a file for each title. However, you don't really own eBooks in the same way you do pBooks. You can sell a pBook when you're done with it. There are a finite number of copies of a given printing of a pBook out there (sure more can be printed but we usually care about first or other specific printings).

Artificial rarities in pBook or eBook does not create value in the long run. It may limit supply but if no one cares after a time, the limited copies may exceed the demand, especially if people save the limited copies in better shape than ones that are bought and thought of as disposable, easily replaced. It seems to me that this applies to both forms.

Back to the "you don't own it" problem, your ability to read an eBook is limited by there being a functioning program to read a given format. If it has some kind of DRM, you could be restricted from your legitimate files just because a given company has gone out of business or no longer cares to support a given format or platform. I ran into this with PageMaker documents on the Mac created in the 1990s when Adobe decided to not make a Mac version of this program for OS X. Eventually they made InDesign for Mac but it did not import the PageMaker files cleanly. For many years I could not access my own content I created just because Adobe decided that the market was not big enough.

Did Borders have a proprietary eBook reader? I think they did. How easy is it to read those files elsewhere or get more modern copyright content for it? If they worked with some of the more open formats like ePub then things are OK. There are other readers and sources. If they have a proprietary format like Amazon Kindle does, you are limited by how long they want to keep the book file available to you. Recall the George Orwell recalls? (Could there have been a more ironic author for this to occur for?).

When I "collect" eBooks, it is an open format like PDF or TXT or RTF that does not rely on a single company or program to read. I do have some Kindle eBooks but it is with the understanding that they could go away at any time and I can merely be annoyed when it happens.


Oct 25, 2012, 9:27am

> 6 -- Keeline: I've never seen one of the proprietary eBooks. Is it not possible to print hard copy and keep THAT?

Oct 25, 2012, 9:58am

I only collect e-books with virtual leather bindings...

Oct 26, 2012, 11:37am

> 8 "like"