Digitizing Your Own Books Becoming Popular In Japan

from the expect-a-backlash dept

Tim O’Reilly points us to a new report out of Japan, noting that it’s becoming increasingly popular for people to digitize their own books (a practice called “jisui”). Yes, they’re taking books they legally own and scanning them, so that they can store them as ebooks, and read them on various devices such as the iPad. I would have thought this wasn’t a popular practice, but at least one study found that 20% of iPad owners in Japan had done so, and another 30% were interested in doing so.

What’s interesting is how this is boosting ancillary businesses: specifically there’s a strong demand for scanners that make it easier to scan and backup your books. In Japan, digitizing your own books for personal use is apparently legal under that country’s copyright law, but some publishers are getting worried about this practice and are considering what to do about it. And, of course, some copyright “experts” are already saying that Japanese copyright law needs to be updated to deal with this.

Or, perhaps, just this once, we shouldn’t change copyright law to limit what new technology allows, and recognize that maybe, just maybe, this action is showing what people want, which book publishers haven’t been fulfilling.

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Comments on “Digitizing Your Own Books Becoming Popular In Japan”

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Chris Meadows (profile) says:

Remember that high speed flip scanner that University of Tokyo researchers developed was done with the rationale of scanning manga for world-wide dissemination. (Manga publishers weren’t too happy about the idea.) And they want to shrink it down and put it in cell phones!

Remember also that “digital shoplifting” with camera phones (people snapping photos of magazine pages to read on their phones later) has been a problem in Japan since at least as far back as 2003.

Seems like personal scanning is a big part of Japanese culture already.

cc (profile) says:

The Japanese are usually trend-makers. If something (sensible!) is being in Japan now, the Western world will probably follow within a decade.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with scanning books you own. Ebook sellers might complain “but it’s a different product, so you are infringing copyrights and you are evil”, but isn’t selling people the SAME product twice more evil than personal copying?

Anonymous Coward says:

The funny part, Japan has some of the most rigid copyright laws in the world, and the Japanese people appears not to care about that to much.

They copy everything, and share everything, it is even customary to group of friends to dress alike in public when they go out to show friendship.

Now how is that supposed to stop?

Mark Ashford (user link) says:

Digitizing your own personal property

well… the publishers have a problem don;t they, perhaps they should have produced digital copies in the first place.

Personally, I think they should get out of the faces of their customers and concentrate on learning how to switch on a computer and what it is capable of and embrace it or they risk making themselves look and behave like the recording industry.


TC says:

What people want?

Apparently what people want is not to pay MORE for an ebook than they do for a physical copy?

Seriously…a lot of the books I am interested in sell for 11.99 to as high as 19.99 for the electronic version, while I can get them in store for almost half the price!

I’d actually pay a little extra (emphasis on LITTLE) to buy a physical book (even a hard cover) with a code that allows for an ebook download.

When will companies realize enough’s enough?

Overcast (profile) says:

Agree 100% with TC. Same with Music – why not offer a ‘package’ with a CD? Concert Tickets, T-Shirt, Poster, along with a free ‘anytime’ download of the CD online. Then if it’s lost or damaged, you still have ‘extra value’ from the purchase.

Amazing how they just can’t think outside the box.

I guess all the people that can ‘think outside the box’ are in IT and obviously NOT the publishing, movie, or recording industries…

Overcast (profile) says:

Used books have always been the best deal. Some ‘collectors’ type of sets or the occasional hardback is fine.

But seriously – how would this at all be different from say… just going to the library?

It’s not. It’s simply ‘time shifted’ booked reading. Heck, even if you go to the library and scan the whole book – what have you gained? I can check the book out over and over and over again. It would simply allow the book to be put back on the shelf for someone else to read. There’s been many times I have had to wait on books that are checked out and sometimes – heck – usually, unless it’s for a class or something like that, I may end up not checking it out at all.

The library has been – in my life, one of the BIGGEST ‘advertisements’ for publishers. I read a book by ‘Edwin Black’ – and now, we have 5 of his books at home, including the one we checked out.

Books have and always will have a place on my bookshelf. That won’t change, the publishing industry should try doing the EXACT opposite of other industries. MOST of my book purchases, like CD’s – IF NOT ALL have been the DIRECT result of me hearing or reading something by the ‘artist’ or ‘writer’ for FREE first – how many people just go out and randomly buy CD’s or books? Come on now!!!

Regardless of your feelings on the matter – the action the recording industry and movie industry has taken has not solved their issues and it won’t. Pandora’s box has been open now for a while with digital media.

BigKeithO (profile) says:

Re: Re:

My local library offers ebooks for “rental”, I guess is the word, these days. The funny thing about it is they will only rent out the 1 or 2 copies that they “have” at a time. You have to wait for whoever currently has the book out to “return” it (aka the DRM expires) before they will let someone else “check it out”.

I’m pretty sure this isn’t the library’s idea, but seriously who came up with that brilliant idea? Trying to force an infinite digital good into the same box as a scarce physical one. Great plan guys, great plan.

ZC says:

People to use the platitudes ‘think outside the box’ and ‘enough is enough’ shouldn’t cast stones about creative thinking.

It sounds like TC and Overcast want books that are actually care packages. WHEN WILL THE PUBLISHERS GET THIS? Give me concert tickets and online content and a turkey dinner, and make it cheaper than a hard cover!!! When will you book publishers shake off your HUBRIS? It is YOUR responsibility to replace our lost and damaged property and feed us thoughtful content for free all the time and thank us when we call you idiots. FOOLS!

BigKeithO (profile) says:

Re: Re:


So I’m guessing that what you are trying to say is that by scanning a copy of a physical book you already own you are STEALING the electronic copy? I can’t really make heads or tails of your comment, this is my best guess.

I didn’t see anyone asking for free books. They were asking for the publisher to include some extras to help entice more people to pay for what they are selling, not exactly the same thing…

Ron Rezendes (profile) says:

The publishers haven't figured this out yet?

Every book should have a digital copy on the inside cover that allows the user to load it onto whatever device they wish!

This saves the buyer all of the scan time and is actually providing significantly more value because you have saved each reader this time. Judging by the survey – half of the readers have at least some serious interest in doing this anyway!

Digital copies are ridiculously cheap to make and should be a great marketing point!

I already know there are those of you who are just waiting to say “But everyone will make copies for free and the book won’t sell as well!” I have three replies to that:

1. Prove it!
2. Quit thinking everyone’s a thief – they aren’t
3. If it were true, then they are already are doing it!

However, the idea here is to try give the customer what they want upfront (remember Business 101?) so they won’t need to do this themselves AND the book actually sells thus providing income for the author and all the middlemen!

Cody Jackson (profile) says:

Why I want a Kindle

This is the exact reason why I want a Kindle. I have many books that my wife has been telling me to go through every time we move. I have tossed many books that I would have liked to keep but simply couldn’t justify keeping. (I’m in the military so we move often).

Now that Kindle prices have dropped to under $200, I plan on buying one and scanning the books I currently own but don’t want the physical book to carry around.

There are some books that simply work better in the dead-tree format but other books would work just as well in electronic form.

That way, I can have all my books but only move the ones I want to.

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