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BookExpo heist

It’s getting so a day without wifi is a rare occurrence. Even when I’m taking a day off, I almost always have it available. To be in New York at the Javits Convention Center and not be online was bizarre – and this wasn’t only a matter of my being annoyed to be asked for $30 a day for wifi service, though that is outrageously high, but that the service provider at Javits doesn’t support VPN (Virtual Private Network) access. ((I admit that this is partly an issue because I don’t yet have a phone/PDA device for e-mail. (The discussion about what I should get is as lively as that over my Chinese name. I’m apparently in the ‘demanding user’ category, but I don’t want to spend a lot of money, whether I’m in the U.S. or in Europe or China or India.) I also need to write – I’ve got a book review, panel plans, and a China publishing symposium plan in progress as we speak – and that’s much easier with a full-size keyboard.))

I’ve been on two panels at BEA and had a bunch of meetings, and have half-written posts about them, but I’m at Grand Central Station now waiting for a train and think I should wait and finish them tomorrow, referring you instead to an unmissable story from Richard Charkin’s blog. Liz, Erin, and I were there just after Richard and a colleague walked off with two nice laptops from the Google stand, in a savvy stunt aimed at showing what Google is doing in their scanning of books in copyright.

2 thoughts on “BookExpo heist

  1. Not only was the prank not “savvy” but it was not a fair comparison. Possible copyright infringement versus definite theft? Intellectual versus physical property? I’m no lawyer but even I know the differences between intellectual property rights and physical property rights. I guess they don’t teach that to publishing CEOs anymore though…

    Also, scanning of a book that you own is perfectly legal, fair use. It’s also legal to quote several lines of a book in your own work (e.g. another book, a website, a blog). So when Google scans books and then only shows a couple lines, how is that analogous to stealing a laptop? Maybe I’m missing something… but probably not.

    I think it’s more likely that publishers are resisting change because it means up-ending their tidy (and shrinking) business model. Publishers aren’t in the publishing industry, they’re in the distribution industry. The Internet, just like print, is just one more distribution channel to leverage. Someone should put me in charge of your company.

    See my post at

  2. Even those of us who aren’t lawyers can get to better grips with this issue than you’ve managed so far. I think of this issue as not primarily one for publishers but for anyone who uses non-physical capabilities and talents (that is, intellectual and creative juice) to create things. I’m an author, not only someone who publishes the work of others, and I know that things I create should provide me with material rewards because that’s only fair–just as a carpenter should be paid for her labor. What Richard did made complete sense.

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