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Old 08-20-2008, 06:38 AM   #586
Krystian Galaj
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I don't think that's it, actually. I assume that when you buy several pairs of those comfortable shoes you make a rational calculation taking into account your projected life expectancy and don't buy enough to keep you shod until 3100 (if the Singularity hits you can keep yourself happy with digital copies until the heat death of the universe). Judging from the sizes of the torrents, the "torrent hoarder" mentality seems to be one of raw collection, gathering more books than the hoarder could ever possibly read in the next hundred years.
But then, the hoarder never knows which of the books he/she might want to read, and getting everything is much simpler and takes less of hoarder's time than looking over the books and not taking the ones which are unlikely to be ever read. When you can get 100 thousand of those shoes for free, and they won't take much of your storage space, you're not likely to spend much time going over them, most probably you'll come back later to pick up a pair from the top.
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Old 08-20-2008, 08:57 AM   #587
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The "collectors-drive" can be quite strong, as told I suffered from it some years ago as well.. I know people who are just collecting, where I also question the real need to ever watch/listen/read the data aquired. For example the series collection is quite popular like getting every episode of Stargate, StarTrek or so... Which are BTW very expensive if you want to buy them regulary, so the urge is quite strong here to go on pirating.. I think the idea behind this collecting could be german saying "Das man rechtzeitig drauf schaut, dass man's hat wenn man's braucht" - I don't know how to properly translate that into enlish.
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Old 08-20-2008, 09:14 AM   #588
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I'm not sure that you can actually take the size of the book collections at face to determine the value to the downloader. Maybe you want one book, and you know the torrent contains that one book (or more likely *hope* that it contain it). You still have to download the whole thing. The rest of the books are probably valueless to you, in fact they get in the way of finding that book.

Why keep multiple collections then? Reasons that come to mind include:

(a) There might be an unlisted book there you are looking for (more likely there is no book list at all).

(b) You might come across a book in the future that you need, that might be in one of the collections. No way to predict it now, the collections are volatile, better cache a private copy.

(c) You don't know what you're getting. 90% of the scanned books out there require significant manual work to get into a usable format for ebook readers (examples: PDF files with tiny text, headers and footers; wildly varying font sizes and formats (chapter headings in 50 point and text in 8 point), clipping because of margins; hard returns at the end of lines but no indents or blank lines between paragraphs, etc). At least 20% are completely unusable (bad scans, PDF files with clipping, unconvertable formats, etc). So to get one good book to convert you want to have multiple independent copies of the source in the hopes that one will be easily convertable. Well-formatted commercial ebooks combined with readers where text fonts and formats can be changed have value when available and not DRM'd to uselessness.

(d) It's a lot of work sorting through collections. Sometimes the collection compiler has sorted the books into catagory and author, but the file naming format varies (ISBN number, author--title, title only, and so on). So finding that one book could take hours. It gets ridiculous when you are trying to match up 100 pbooks you own to the flood of junk.

An anology (without any attempt to reflect on the legal side of things, just motivational) would be being given management of a really low-end used book shop that gets its stock from recycling bins etc. To one reader (you), 99.999% of the stock is junk. The books are soiled, musty, and torn, and most of them are "remaindered". (At one time publishers shipped books to newstands on consignment, and expected either payment if the book sold or the front cover sent back if it didn't, and some newstands would tear off the cover and sell the remainder to used book sellers. This was of course illegal, thus the notice on the copyright page of older paperbacks "If you purchased this book without a cover, be aware that it is stolen material".)

So, having inherited this bookstore, do you call a junkman to clear it out, take a month off work to sort through the piles for what you want then clear it out, or let it continue operation (adding more books) in the hopes of finding desirable books when you browse the shelves every few weeks)? If there's no financial loss (and no real advantage to clearing it out), and some realistic chance of finding something valuable, most people will choose the latter.

If there was a large open ebook archive where books were well indexed, very inexpensive, open source, and with some guarantee that it would be there for the forseeable future then "hoarding" would be irrational. It'd be like downloading the entire Baen Free Library or the Project Gutenburg collection. (Of course you might if you knew these were about to vanish). Motivationally (not leglly of course) "hoarding" is more like collecting all the ebooks Tor was giving away. Maybe you might not read them now, but your tastes might change later, and these books *will* (and probably have) disappeared.

At present, the motivation for keeping a large collection is like Google's Web page caching--there's good reason for it because of source volatility, but to any individual most of it is a waste of space. I expect the motivation to cache increases with the volatility of the source material and decreases with the perceived cost of caching the material (acquiring it and storing it). How valuable the material (potentially) is to the cacher is a huge factor too. This changes with time so old cached material gets discarded eventually.

(Interestingly, many Web pages have a copyright notice--is Google pirating the pages it caches? I haven't heard of anything so far, so there must be some legal loophole for them). I'm not saying you're entitled to the material you've cached, just that the value of that material (books actually of interest or that are ultimately useable) is a tiny fraction of face value (number of files).

If the bookshop analogy is too vauge (or maybe you haven't been to some of the store I patronized 25 years ago to know how low you can go), here's a smaller-scale analogy. Downloading book collections is like collecting out-of-print titles by buying big boxes of remaindered, used books at an auction, without being able to open the boxes first. (I suspect this was how some of these bookshops actually got their stock). If the boxes cost a dollar each, you might buy several boxes. Maybe you don't get around to sorting through them for a few years and so have a bunch of boxes in the basement. That isn't a book collection, it's a junk collection until you sort through the boxes or discard them unopened.

You'd really prefer borrowing from a friend with similar tastes (limiting but you know the books are all good) or visiting the library (more trouble and more work searching for books that match your tastes). This is why purchased ebooks (especially DRM-free ones) are more worthwhile (by a factor of 100 or more) than book collections as measured by the ratio ("books read" / "books on hard disk or shelf").

When I shop at Amazon for books using their reviews, book lists, links etc.) I end up actually reading and enjoying about 70% of what I buy. I doubt that any 3000+ book downloaded collection would have even 5 books looked for, let alone read. But that's 10 books that didn't have an e-copy (to match my p-copy) before, so there is still some value. It would be worth real money to get those 5 books in a form that was immediately usable or properly indexed, and portable to future reading devices.
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Old 08-20-2008, 09:32 AM   #589
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Originally Posted by dstampe View Post
(Interestingly, many Web pages have a copyright notice--is Google pirating the pages it caches? I haven't heard of anything so far, so there must be some legal loophole for them)
This is a complicated issue. Fact is, to some degree some institutions do have a right to archieve things (like internet archive) and archiving is to some degree a fundamental personal right that needs to protected, as DRM mechanisms endanger it quite fundamentally. However keep in mind to have the right to archive something, you of course ever had to had at least some right to have had it first place... you know what I mean? You cannot legally archieve anything you should never have been able to see first place.... The second issue is showing others the contents of your archieve... this is quite troublesome, I think some public institutions like public libraries (of all sorts) have extra rights to archieve things, and to make it accessible to their customers (the people). An internet example is the internet archieve.

Google on one hand, had obviously the right to view the pages (which does not analog to your torrents!) and thus has the right to archieve them. However notice it would not include their right to make the pages viewable by you...

On another hand the web, the http protocol originally was never designed to be a pure server-client transmission like it is used 99% of the time today. It was originally designed to rely heavily on a whole string of proxies, where each proxy could store all kind of data. However since bandwidth costs lowered much faster than data, and since increasing desire of dynamic data instead of static proxies are a more already curiosity today.

Well end-result, if you put this into your html header, google will not provide a cache link for your side...

<META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOARCHIVE">

So they argue, if anybody has a problem with them providing people a cache versions, you can turn this off. Its an "opt out" solution
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Old 08-20-2008, 09:58 AM   #590
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Originally Posted by dstampe View Post
Maybe you want one book, and you know the torrent contains that one book (or more likely *hope* that it contain it). You still have to download the whole thing.
Just a quick remark here :
with at least some torrent downloading programs (Azureus, for instance), you can choose which files to download, so you're not forced to get all the files if you need only one.
The GUI for this may not be very easy to use and you might have a bit of trouble finding the exact book you need between the thousands in the archive, but the possibility exists.
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Old 08-20-2008, 10:16 AM   #591
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I think dstampe is exactly right in describing hoarding behavior-- and how to defeat it by providing clean, easy to find, well-formatted ebooks at reasonable prices with no DRM.
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Old 08-20-2008, 10:32 AM   #592
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I will readily admit that I am a 'hoarder'. I have a basement full of books, and ebooks are wonderful for feeding this habit because they don't take up so much space!

If I want a book for my Kindle, my preference is ALWAYS to buy it, but in the case where I have a paper copy already and the ebook is not available anywhere but in a torrent, I also readily admit that I will download the torrent.

I am not a willing thief, and I am really looking forward to the day when all books are available for purchase in ebook format. In the interim, there are those perverse situations I've run across...

...a book is released that looks good. It's part 2 in a series. Part 1 is only available via torrent. So, what do I do? Pass on both books, or buy the one I can and download the first one so I can read them both? Bear in mind that I would vastly prefer to buy both!

...I see an interesting book in the Kindle store. This one is part 3 in a series. In an annoying example of perversity, parts 1 and 3 are available for Kindle. Part 2 is not. Yes, I have seen this, and can give examples. Why the heck this happens is beyond me. So do I buy the two I can and go looking for the middle one from anywhere I can find it? Which would the author prefer, I wonder? (and, no, Steve, please do not suggest I buy part 2 in paper, I travel a lot and I carry my Kindle. I have no room in my suitcase for paper books when the Kindle already has at least 50 books on it at any given moment).

... I've been wanting to read a particular book for years. It is long out of print. There it is in a torrent. Do I take it? Yes, I am afraid I do. I wish Amazon had it available in the Kindle store...

I guess my point is that until every book is available in ebook format, pirates will be with us.
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Old 08-20-2008, 11:38 AM   #593
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I hoard but also read a shitload. I'm not one of those people that never reads, watches, or listens to what I get though. I sort through and delete trash after trying it. I like being exposed to new things I never would have spent money on without trying it.

It also has to do with volatility of the sources - I like to know I have a nice private cache to work from as was mentioned earlier. But I don't generally download collections from people/places that don't already share my same interests. These books are picked to be packaged with each other for readers just like myself and I'm more often pleasantly surprised than burdened by picking through them.

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Old 08-20-2008, 01:13 PM   #594
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I never would have spent money on without trying it.
I think this is a key issue with any data in the furthest sense. You cannot be certain of its quality unless you have already paid for it to get it. Thats a good reason why publishers exist after all. If some well known publisher accepts a book, you can at least be quite confident to have some quality... And the higher the costs are the higher your quality confidence needs to be.
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Old 08-20-2008, 07:00 PM   #595
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Hmm... Quality might mean different things to different users (or depending on the device being used to read the ebook). I've seen a number of books that are very neatly formatted as web pages (including TOC links, next/previous at each chapter heading, etc) but these would not work well on a typical ereader. Many publishers also tend to format for the "big screen" with less than desirable results. I've read other complaints about ebook formatting, such as em-dashes being replaced with standard hyphens in commercial releases.

My own requirements for ebooks, for example, would not be met by most publisher's formatting standards. I need low-vision readable typefaces, rather large (18-24 point) plus left justification instead of full justification in order to view such large fonts. This does not work for DRM'd Sony ebooks, due to lack of left justification and poor typefaces. (Yes, I could re-flash the reader with new fonts but this would only fix a few of the problems). So I need editable books in order to adjust the formatting to be readable. I have not yet tried Mobilpocket-enabled devices; I hear that these are easily reconfigured for typeface and font size, but have issues with paragraph formatting. Maybe when the 9.7" Mentor is available I'll try it.

So I'm a bit dubious that it should be left up to publishers (or whoever does the actual layout, for Baen it's Windhaven Press) to lock in the final format of ebooks. Yes, publishers have seen the layout of books to be their prerogative and in many cases the book is supposed to end up with a certain style. But this can make the result inaccessible to readers with special needs or hard to read on some devices. The DMCA has a provision for accessibility for handicapped users that has been 100% ignored by publishers as far as I know.

Without DRM there is the option of fixing things yourself in a pinch. Myself, I'd prefer to see a more modifiable open format, maybe based on a simple set of HTML tags (chapter head, etc) that the style can vbe tweaked for in the ereader setup. Maybe ePub will be the one, but maybe not. Currently it's broken on Sony Reader as it only displays the two smallest and the largest available type sizes, so I haven't tried it.
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