Take a Shelfie?

Take a pix of your books and get free e-books?

After years of reading and posting rants about DRM and format shifting Pete and Marius (bitlit.com’s founders) decided to do something about it… They built an app that let’s you get the eBook for free or at a huge discount if you own the paper copy. The app is called BitLit and it’s available for free on Android and iOS. They’ve made deals with over 200 publishers including O’Reilly and Packt, and there are over 30,000 titles that are eligible for free / discounted ebooks if you own the paperback. Here’s how it works: First you take a shelfie (yes, a picture of your shelf) and the app will identify all the books on your shelf — hurrah now you have a complete inventory of your library! But, you’ll also get a shortlist of any books you own that are eligible for free/cheap bundled eBooks. To claim a bundled eBook you just need to write your name onto the copyright page of the book and snap a photo using the app… a few seconds later you should get an email with a download link to the eBook in ePub, PDF, and mobi formats.

via User Friendly.

Should I do this? I’m gonna bet that basically none of my books qualify. Plus there are I’d guess about 70 shelves, each of which would have to be photographed in two parts. Plus some of the books are double-shelved, so you’d see only the outer row…but as those tend to be the cheap novels, they’re probably the ones most likely to have an e-copy (as opposed to the academic books). Plus I am suspicious of the “free/cheap” line — will this mostly be a way to market to me?

No, great idea, but until there are more the books available in the scheme I’m not sure I’ll bother.

Well, maybe one test shelf, just to see…

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3 Responses to Take a Shelfie?

  1. thought I’d jump in with a comment since I’m one of the app’s developers… About the title count, it’s actually closer to 80,000 now, the blurb we emailed to JD was from a month or so ago. And about the free/cheap thing…. Over half the books are free, the discounted ones are generally >80% off the normal eBook price. And yes the publisher gets your email if you get an ebook (that’s the deal), but our deal with publishers is that they have to obey CAN-SPAM/CASL/etc… So you can one click unsubscribe.

  2. Barry says:

    “Should I do this? I’m gonna bet that basically none of my books qualify. Plus there are I’d guess about 70 shelves, each of which would have to be photographed in two parts. Plus some of the books are double-shelved, so you’d see only the outer row…but as those tend to be the cheap novels, they’re probably the ones most likely to have an e-copy (as opposed to the academic books). Plus I am suspicious of the “free/cheap” line — will this mostly be a way to market to me?”

    I’m sure that you can hire somebody to take pictures at $20/hr. At one picture per cover, that’d be a hundred or more per minute. For 2,000 books, that’d be $400.
    Add some sorting, naming and filing of photos, that’d under $1,000. IOW, the cost of 100 *cheaper* e-books.

    I’d still wait to see if it’s a real offer, and what string are attached, but it’s quite doable.

    And handling the spam is easy:

    1) Use an address which is for shopping and other spammy activities.
    2) Hit the ‘spam’ button on your e-mail browser.

  3. I have about 70 shelves of books. I took photos of about a third of those as a test. The app did decently well at identifying books (kudos to the developers on that). I had to press “Retry identification” on only about two dozen. However, only two books turned out to be eligible. I tried to claim one of those books, and it failed. Then later books that had previously been identified seemed to disappear the next day when I scrolled through “Collection” though I think this was perhaps a bug in the scrolling feature not going to the next page. Finally, though I did not successfully claim the one book I tried, I ended up with a book I don’t have in my Claimed list. So I think there is work to be done before this is useful.

    Actually I would be interested in just a feature to download the titles/authors of the books identified to produce a catalog of my library (at least before books disappeared). That would be useful.

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