Privacy Concerns and Google Books

Google has been working on a huge project to scan millions of library books and put them online. It would be the world’s greatest virtual library.  However, a concern of many with regard to this enormous project is privacy. 

In a campaign organized by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, many have signed on to pressure Google into offering greater privacy guarantees for its readers.  Authors who have signed on include Jonathan Lethem, Cory Doctorow, and Michael Chabon.

Google knows which books you search for, which books you browse through and how long you spend on each page.  This is the same kind of information that is produced when you surf the Web.

The EFF and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California want Google to keep reader data for less time than normal Web searches.

Google says it shares their concern about readers’ privacy and does not disclose readers’ personal information except in some narrow circumstances like emergencies and search warrants.  There may also be technical limits to how much anonymity the company can offer readers. Google’s tentative settlement of a copyright dispute allows for readers to have free browsing rights to only 20 percent of a book. If Google is going to keep track of how much of a book a person has seen, it has to keep track of a person’s reading. And of course, when someone buys access to the full book, that will necessitate some form of identification.

Google says it’s trying to find ways to offer anonymity to readers. Google plans to sell “full access” subscriptions to institutions — colleges or libraries — and it says it will not ask for the identity of the individual students or library patrons who use the service.

I know how I will be using Google books in the future – through my public library! 

If you would like to listen to the story on npr.org that prompted this blog, please click here:  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111797207.

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Book Review: Jericho’s Fall

imagesThe Booklover’s Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

My most recent read was Jericho’s Fall by Stephen Carter.  I loved his book The Emperor of Ocean Park  and I gave it a rating of four stars on Goodreads.com. 

I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed in this book.  As another reviewer wrote, “NOTHING HAPPENS!”  I have to agree with that reviewer.  I just kept waiting for the book to take off, but it never did.  There was one big surprise for me toward the end, but all in all it was just okay.

Now, I did give the book three hearts.  I wouldn’t say not to read it at all, just that if you did read The Emperor of Ocean Park you will probably be disappointed in this book.

Book Details:   Published by Knopf (July 14, 2009), 368 pages, ISBN-10: 0307272621, ISBN-13: 978-0307272621

Book Review: The Girl Who Played With Fire

imagesThe Booklover’s Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I just finished Stieg Larsson’s book The Girl Who Played With Fire and loved it!  I liked it so much that I immediately posted this review.

This book is the second in a series.  The first book in the series, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,  introduces Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist.  Lisbeth is a strange character and in the book we learn that she most likely has Asberger’s syndrome (a form of autism).  This makes her an especially interesting heroine!  Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist and friend of Lisbeth’s.  Although as the story opens, it seems that Lisbeth is not fully aware of Mikael’s high regard for her…

Stieg Larrson died in 2004 after delivering the manuscripts for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest.  The final book is not in print yet in the United States.  If you can read Swedish, you are good to get a copy and enjoy, but you will have to wait awhile for the english version of the third book.

Update:  The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest is set to be released in May 2010 in the United States.

Book Details:   Published by Knopf, 512 pages, ISBN-10: 0307269981, ISBN-13: 978-0307269980

Book Review: The Angel’s Game

imagesThe Booklover’s Rating:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I just finished reading “The Angel’s Game” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

The story takes place in 1920s Barcelona.  The protagonist,  David Martin, is born into poverty.  He is recognized for his literary talent and with the aid of a patron, Pedro Vidal, quickly becomes become a crime reporter and then a hugely successful pulp novelist.  David longs to leave the world of pulp novels for more meaningful literary pursuits and accepts a commission to write a story that leads him into danger.

The pace of the story is quick and I had a difficult time putting the story down.  My one complaint is that is does not come with a “nice, neat ending.”  I tend to prefer that all the loose ends be tied up.  Read “The Angel’s Game” and let me know what you think.  Have you read it already?  Then please leave a comment and give me your rating!

Book Details:   Published by Doubleday, 544 pages, ISBN-10: 0385528701, ISBN-13: 978-0385528702

Sony Launches Two New Readers

On August 4th, Sony launched two new e-book devices.

The Reader Pocket Edition weighs only  7.76 ounces, is designed to be the e-book for everyman or woman.  It comes in three colors: blue, rose, and silver.  The best part is the price – $199.  Compare this with the Reader Touch Edition, Sony’s earlier e-book device, and the Kindle from Amazon.

The Reader Touch Edition has a touch screen, clear navigation and finger or stylus enabled note taking.  The Touch Edition has adjustable font sizes, an onboard Oxford American English Dictionary, and memory slots for SD cards and Memory Sticks.  The price for the Reader Touch Edition is $299. This price is closer to the pricing we’ve seen for e-book devices in the past.

Sony also plans to reduce the price on all new releases and best sellers at its e-book store.  The price will be $9.99 each, down from $11.99. Sony will also offer access to Google’s public domain library.  Sony will have access to more than 1 million books for use on its e-book devices via a deal with Google announced last month.

I think the Reader Pocket Edition might be a good idea, even if you never bought a book.  Just the access to free books on Google’s public domain library and the portability might make it worth it.  Then again, why not read on your iPod or iTouch?  (See my article dated June 22, 2009 entitled “Do you Love Reading or Do You Love Books?”).

Are you going to buy one of these?  If so, why?  Leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Good Reads Set in Victorian England

I recently left a comment on blog that reviewed Michael Cox’s novel The Meaning of Night.  The blogger liked the book very much and so do I.  The Meaning of Night is set in Victorian England.  This seems to be a popular setting for many readers and I thought it might be helpful to those of you looking for books set in this time period to list them here!

 The Meaning of Night: A Confession by Michael Cox

 The Glass of Time: A Novel (sequel to The Meaning of Night) by Michael Cox

The Observations by Jane Harris

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Dectective by Kate Summerscale

Count Magnus & Other Ghost Stories by Montague Rhodes James

The Haunted Dolls’ House and Other Ghost Stories by Montague Rhodes James

 These are all great books and I highly recommend each and every one.  They are all fiction, with the exception of Kate Summerscale’s book. 

If you have any to add to the list, please leave a comment!  I would love to hear from you.