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Here’s Another Way Digital Could Complement Print

10 January 2017

From Digital Book World:

As I’ve said before, the publishing industry needs to get beyond the current “print or digital” mindset and instead explore ways for one to complement the other. Plenty of industry stats show that most readers are comfortable with either format and that many prefer the convenience of switching between the two (e.g., reading the news digitally but mostly sticking with print books).

After several years of going exclusively digital with books, I have to admit I’ve been reading a few more print books lately as well. Sometimes it’s because the book was given to me, and other times I simply opted for the format that was right in front of me at the store.

What I’m finding, though, is that the reading experience would be better if we could narrow the gap between print and digital. Here’s a great example: As I continue reading The Content Trap, I’m highlighting more and more passages. When I do that with an ebook, I can quickly search and retrieve those highlights using my phone, my iPad or whatever device is handy. With print books, however, those highlights and notes are only accessible if the physical book is nearby.

I’d love to see someone develop a service where I can take pictures of the print pages with my yellow highlights and allow me to upload them to a cloud service where they’ll be converted to a digital format. Since I’ve now got a nice library of both Kindle and Google Play ebooks, it would be even better if I could add those print highlights to my existing bookshelves.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

PG says he finds it quite simple to use his phone to take photos of printed documents (or pages) he wants to keep, then save them to Dropbox and/or Evernote, where they’re stored in digital form in the cloud and on each of his computers if he needs them offline. Evernote even performs OCR on the document so it’s full-text searchable.

If PG wants to have a printed document (or photo) automatically transformed into a cleaner image, he takes a photo with his phone using an app called PhotoScan from Google. PhotoScan automatically improves the quality of the image, frames it properly in the photo, instantly uploads it to Google Photos in the cloud and saves it to his phone’s camera roll.

He doesn’t get any OCR or text searching capabilities with the PhotoScan documents, but nothing prevents him from sending those documents from his phone to Dropbox.


16 Comments to “Here’s Another Way Digital Could Complement Print”

  1. V says that PG is FANCY!

    I didn’t know any of that stuff! Thanks!

    • You’re welcome, Veronica.

      Mrs. PG will be surprised to learn that PG is fancy.

      • I can’t remember if you’ve talked about using Evernote or not, PG, but it’s very good for this sort of thing, too. Plus it allows tagging, combining several files in one note along with your comments, etc. And their Scannable app is pretty helpful as well.

        • Agreed, Michael. I’ve been a big Evernote fan for a long time.

          I’ve amended my comments to reflect that.

  2. “I simply opted for the format that was right in front of me at the store.”

    What was he doing in a ‘store’? Mindlessly wandering around until something caught his eye?

    Sorry, if there’s a choice of paper or bits, I’ll pick bits, hundreds of them will fit on my kindle and I can adjust it for my eyes rather than squint at tiny print. (And if I can’t get it for kindle, any electronic format will do because I can change/modify it on my PC. 😉 )

  3. I know there are people who love to underline things in books, but I can’t imagine they are a huge market segment that needs to be catered to. My gut tells me that most people just read the damn book.

    I’ve ridden behind someone on the corporate shuttle who reads what appear to be fiction books and underlines, in pen, almost every other sentence, in what seems to be an OCD manner. I was appalled. She basically purchases a hardcover book and then ruins it.

    • Maybe it helped her retain it.

      But yeah, buy the electronic form, convert/move to your preferred word possessor and highlight/underline away without ruining the original or drying out your highlighter.

      • No conversion needed: Kindles do highlighting.
        In color on phones and tablets for over three years.


        • I’ve got one of the earlier kindles, no keyboard and options to bookmark/search/make notes, no highlight/underline.

          (Plus I’m just more used to pasting any hard to read page into word/notepad/open-office and going from there.)

          • It was unwieldy but it was doable on the K3 and K4 with the 4-way switch.
            Tablets are way better for that, though.

            Truth is, highlighting ebooks isn’t all that common.
            It’s a function of the kind of books that make up the market: fun reads.

    • If everything is underlined, then nothing is underlined. 🙂


  4. We’re starting to see some pretty good advances in photo-scanner technology, too. I’ve been playing around with a $400 scanner meant for scanning books, but also usable for ordinary flat paper documents. It’s actually a pretty nifty tool.

  5. It’s been a long day and I’m probably overtired, but what exactly does “narrowing the gap between print and digital” actually MEAN? One is one thing; the other is another, separate thing. I see no gap to be narrowed, they’re just two different media to consume similar content.

    • They’re trying and failing to give us a reason we still need paper books. Yet here whining about how hard it is to find what they underlined/highlighted in a pbook.

    • They’re still trying to pretend ebooks are inferior to print. Because they don’t smell.

  6. Al the Great and Powerful

    When I needed to remember text (studying for my exams) I copied the relevant passages by hand, it did a MUCH better job at helping me remember it. Highlighting doesn’t help it sink in at all, and as Dan said, “If everything is underlined, then nothing is underlined.”

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