DIY Kindle Scanner, E-Books Loops Creator


Deep in the core of the Kindle (Amazon’s e-book reader) terms and conditions there is one clear sentence concerning the ownership of digital content: “Kindle Content is licensed, not sold, to you by the Content Provider”. This means that every Kindle owner only has a license for reading: they are not the owners of the e-books they buy. E-book lover and associate professor at Vienna University of Technology Peter Purgathofer has expressed an opinion on this kind of trade-off: when you buy a book, a physical book, you are free to do what do you want with it.  Buying e-books is not the same. So he built a DIY Kindle Scanner, created with an automatic robotic chain. A Lego Mindstorm robot supports a Kindle that is positioned in front of a laptop. The robot performs two commands in loop: it pushes the “turn page” button on the Kindle and then spacebar on the laptop, which is connected to software that enables the built-in camera to take a picture of the Kindle. A script automatically sends the resulting pictures to some optical character recognition software (OCR) that extracts text files from the images. At the end of the process is a new e-book, obtained legally (considering the exclusive personal use of the output), with no need for decrypting the contents or using any DRM circumvention tools. This action is merely provocative. It concerns the “dramatic loss of rights for the book owner. The owner is not even an owner anymore but rather a licensee of the book”. Purgathofer doesn’t share the scanned e-books nor the code he uses. But he clearly shows the way it can be done, leaving to others the task of making everything public. The choice of a tool such as Lego Mindstorm could also be read ironically. An object indefinitely replicable, the multicolour robot seems to say: even children know that digital content is not intended for exclusive and monopolistic devices. Chiara Ciociola

DIY Kindle Scanner