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      I’ve much respect for Archive.org and Brewster but “Ever try reading an ebook you paid for 10 years ago?” and “Without active maintenance, we will be lucky if our digital books last a decade.” are stretching it by quite a lot.

      I still have ebooks from Amazon from more than 10 years ago and I can read them with no problem. Maybe that won’t be the case in another 10 years, and there may be formats that don’t make it a decade – but there’s a lot of us walking around with 10+ year old collections via the Kindle or similar that aren’t (yet) having problems with our libraries.

      While I agree with Kahle on a lot of the larger points, I worry that an average person reading this is going to note that they’ve had a Kindle for a decade and still manage to read “old” content just fine and consider the larger points suspect.

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        They’re concerned because they store books in arcane formats designed to be difficult to download, because you have to “borrow” ebooks from the Internet Archive digital library. No, don’t just convert it to EPUB 3 and add a download link, that’s too complicated - reprocess and “re-invigorate” it yearly for some reason and make it really hard to read. Borrowing ebooks with an hour lease… inane.

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          you have to “borrow” ebooks from the Internet Archive digital library. No, don’t just convert it to EPUB 3 and add a download link, that’s too complicated

          You realize that if Internet Archive did what you suggest, they would be sued out of existence by book publishers? In fact, there is an ongoing lawsuit right now by 4 publishers asking $19,000,000 damages and the deletion of 1.4 million e-books. https://www.dailydot.com/debug/internet-archive-lawsuit/

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            They’re being sued out of existence by book publishers for offering to let you “borrow” ebooks so, I don’t imagine things would be any different if you could just scrape them. :D

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          I think it’s worth beating a drum that the Gutenberg Project is a failure. Every person you know, nerd or not, has heard of and used Wikipedia. Only a handful of nerds have heard of the Gutenberg Project. A major reason for this is that GP thinks that the only hard part of the problem is text entry. But distribution is just as important! Without making an easy to use and easy to read product, GP basically might as well not exist at all. The only people it benefits are grey market scammers who sell free books on Amazon for 99 cents.

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            The Gutenberg project offers 60,000 out of copyright books, which are mostly over 100 years old. It’s pretty niche.

            This thread is about the Internet Archive, which is a much larger project offering a vast amount of current material, including books, movies and a historical archive of the world wide web. I use it frequently.

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        As someone who switched from Kindle to Kobo, my Amazon ebooks are useless unless I download them to my PC (Amazon already makes this a little annoying), download Calibre, download the De-DRM plugin, and strip the DRM from them. Maybe most people stick with Kindle for a longer period of time than me, but the fact that they might lose access to all of their Amazon books also makes it hard to switch away.

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          I stopped using my Kindle after Amazon pushed an OTA update that bricked my device. Now I’m on Kobo, but I’m still subject to the same problem if the Kobo people ever screw up my device.

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        Yeah, and there’s also a lot of stuff being swept under the rug here.

        You can keep a physical book readable long enough for multiple future generations to enjoy it. But that requires both up-front and ongoing effort. Up-front to ensure the book was made using materials of sufficient quality and resilience to last that long. Ongoing to ensure it’s stored and cared for in a way that will minimize long-term damage to it from its environment, and potentially restoring it occasionally – new binding, new covers, careful cleaning, etc.

        And most infrastructure for book storage is not particularly high quality these days. Home bookshelves/bookcases are also often made of cheap/lower-quality materials and designed to be thrown away and replaced every few years.

        So when the article laments that digital books require “active maintenance”, my only response is “Well, so do physical books”. The implication that physical books just automatically last for centuries is not only wrong, it’s bordering on insulting to the people – librarians and curators and collectors and amateurs who love their books – who do put in the “active maintenance” work to preserve physical books, and whose work is simply erased by this framing.

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          Agreed—if you live in an area with relatively dry air then it’s not much of a problem, but humidity really does a number on books. Not to mention that if you don’t get expensive hardbacks the only thing holding a book together nowadays is a mixture of cheap glue and wishful thinking.

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      If you keep a PDF file and EPUB files locally on your system (and backup) them – then its the same as having a ‘real’ or ‘physical’ book. With open source (Linux/FreeBSD/…) world/ecosystem there will always be some tool that will read (PDF) or convert (EPUB) it to other format.

      Just make sure you keep those files on a filesystem that does not have bit rot problem and have ability to heal itself when some errors come from thy physical disk – like ZFS for example.