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DIY Kindle Scanner

September 25th, 2013 by L'auteur · Keine Kommentare

Free the text…

In April 2002, Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, wrote an open letter to the American Author’s Guild and justified the business model of Amazon and especially its integration of used book sales. His argumentation is as simple as it is evident:

[…] when someone buys a book, they are also buying the right to resell that book, to loan it out, or to even give it away if they want. Everyone understands this.1

There is not much left of this principle in today’s business with DRM regulated eBooks for the proprietary Kindle hardware. eBooks bought at Amazon cannot be sold or swapped – they only work with your own account. Also, buying them is only possible with the Kindle et vice versa. Above all, Amazon even uses his own data format.

Peter Purgathofer, Professor for Design at Vienna University of Technology, wants to reflect on these circumstances with his DIY Kindle Scanner. He built a gadget with Lego Mindstorms which is able to automatically photograph the pages of an Amazon eBook and then transform the pictures into text with an OCR software.

It would be interesting to see the result of the process. Nevertheless, this project asks important questions: How can you do self-evident processes like doing a private copy of a book, if content is encapsuled in proprietary data formats and hardware jails? Who owns the tools, files and content, and in which degree? How far goes the copyright law? And what is behind the U-turn of Amazon concerning the former strategy of justification? On the other hand, Bezos is not the first CEO, who did a 180 when the business model was demanding it.


  1. Jeff Bezos’ open letter on used book sales, veröffentlicht Apr. 15, 2002, []

Tags: media art · network policy · technology