I don’t plan to double-cover stories very often, but I noticed that Nate’s earlier post on the Authors Guild’s stance against 1DollarScan entirely leaves out what I feel is one of the more interesting parts of the story, mentioned both by the original Publishers Weekly article and by other sources like TechCrunch as the “main” aspect of the story itself—that the service is integrating with online web-clipping service Evernote.
This means that 1DollarScan users who have Evernote will be able to use the service’s apps on desktop computers, phones, tablets, ereaders, and other platforms to view, edit, and annotate the books they send in—making those books just like the web sites, photos, internal notes, and other material that users clip themselves.
Now while Evernote told TechCrunch that there’s nothing particularly special about this—1DollarScan is just using Evernote’s application programming interface (the “hooks” that it makes available to let other programs and services make use of Evernote’s own systems) the same as hundreds of other developers—I think it’s interesting in what it says about Evernote that it makes these systems so widely available. And we should be on the lookout for even more announcements of digital services using Evernote for storage since Evernote’s Trunk developers’ conference is tomorrow.
Evernote is kind of hard to categorize as a service. Is it for e-reading, as with 1DollarScan’s books? Storing articles to read later as with InstaPaper? Writing memos like a notepad you can read everywhere? Taking photos of things you want to remember and storing them securely? It’s for all of those and more. And its presence on even more platforms than Amazon’s Kindle means it has the potential for a wide degree of usefulness in its users’ lives.
In regard to the other matter, the Author’s Guild’s stance on 1DollarScan, I’ll note that the Guild might be making a lot of noise about the company “subverting the author’s fundamental right[s]”, but doesn’t seem to have moved to file a lawsuit yet the way it has with Google or HathiTrust. Is it doubtful about its ability to triumph, or cagey about taking on too many lawsuits at once? Either way, 1DollarScan continues to operate.
That being said, it’s not clear how firm the company’s legal ground really is—or even if the firmness really matters. Apple and Amazon are offering very similar services for music, though they did get licenses from the record labels to do so—but even though the first such (unlicensed) service, MP3Tunes, was found largely legal, it nonetheless ran up such high legal costs in defending itself that it had to file for bankruptcy. Sadly, our country’s legal system is biased in favor of entities with large pocketbooks. It remains to be seen what the Author’s Guild’s pocketbook will look like after it finishes going a few rounds with Google and HathiTrust.