[Athen] FW: [bksvol-discuss] Great news about Bookshare.org

Robert Martinengo accessible.text at gmail.com
Wed Oct 3 12:29:44 PDT 2007


I think you are confounding the appropriate roles of libraries and
'alternate media publishers' (I wrote a little essay about this on my
blog: http://accessiblemedia.wordpress.com/culture-vs-copyright-re-examining-barriers-to-books-for-the-blind/
). Libraries are wonderful places, but they are not free (its called
taxation), and Bookshare is not a library.

The DoE should have offered at least some money directly to publishers
to make their electronic versions of textbooks accessible (you know,
the ones we complain about on DSSHE for being inaccessible). You say
the cost of converting a book is greater than the market value, well,
the feds just provide $32 million in subsidies. The problem is, it all
went to a middle-man.

Its easy to paint the big publishers as the 'boogieman', but they are
the source of the material we want so badly to be accessible. So,
logically, if you really want equal access, you need to go to the
source. The publisher can be held accountable for the quality of their
product - Bookshare can't be, and trust me, they wont be (just like
RFB&D isn't).

Remember, RFB&D has been around for over 50 years, with a strong donor
and volunteer base, and a staff of hard working, dedicated people.
They had over 100,000 books in their catalog (until they went
digital). Yet, they simply cant meet the demand. This DoE grant is a
band-aid that will prolong the problem, not solve it.


On 10/3/07, Marks, Jim <marks at mso.umt.edu> wrote:

> Bob, I am surprised by your comments, and I would urge you to elaborate

> some more in case I'm misunderstanding you. Shouldn't any library be

> able to offer its holdings for free? Why should people with

> disabilities be singled out with requirements like being forced to

> purchase a print book we cannot use just to get a book we can read?

> I've never understood this ethic well, especially when one considers

> that the cost of converting a book to a truly usable format is almost

> always far more expensive than the market value of the print book. I've

> heard all the arguments that the proof of purchase bit is a good thing,

> but it's at best a gesture. And it's a gesture that ought not keep

> people from information solely because of a print disability. The

> property rights boogieman is a tool of oppression. It's entirely

> possible for civil rights and property rights to co-exist. I want to go

> to my library and read it's materials for free. That's what most people

> want from a library, print disabled or not.


> For whatever it's worth, I think the grant will create more

> accessibility all across the nation. The money will drive the

> improvements, and the Bookshare folks are well aware of the challenges

> they face in stepping up their services. My office has been

> contributing e-text to Bookshare for several years now. Our

> contribution numbers are not huge, but this grant will entrench

> Bookshare more deeply in the post-secondary world. I'll bet more

> colleges will be contributing soon, and that publishers will be doing

> the same. It's not going to be "the" answer by a long shot, but the

> grant is pretty good news if you're a student with a print disability.


> Jim Marks

> Director of Disability Services

> University of Montana

> jim.marks at umontana.edu

> http://www.umt.edu/dss/


> -----Original Message-----

> From: athen-bounces at athenpro.org [mailto:athen-bounces at athenpro.org] On

> Behalf Of Robert Martinengo

> Sent: Tuesday, October 02, 2007 3:00 PM

> To: Access Technologists in Higher Education Network

> Subject: Re: [Athen] FW: [bksvol-discuss] Great news about Bookshare.org


> I think this grant could finally wake up educational publishers to the

> reality that the government is paying a middle-man to give away the

> publishers intellectual property.


> There is no stipulation from Bookshare that students have to buy their

> books in order to receive their services, so they will be getting their

> materials free. Not a bad deal for students, but it will rankle

> publishers.



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