Scanner turns books into touch screen devices

As e-books, e-readers and tablets become more prevalent, it’s been fashionable to argue that technology will spell the end of the traditional printed book. Just as the printing press changed the way books were made, and digital distribution has lead to physical copies of music being less popular, it is easy to think that the printed book will slowly fade away. But a recent prototype by Fujitsu Laboratories suggests that maybe the printed page and technology can coexist.

The video below demonstrates an early prototype of a gesture driven book scanner. Images can be overlaid on the page with a projector and a camera tracks the user’s finger and hand gestures. Users can select text and images and other media can be laid over the page.

It’s an interesting demonstration of the possibilities that come from combining books with technology. Hopefully developments like this mean that readers will still be able to experience the lovely feeling that comes from opening up a book, whilst also being able to make use of the convenience of digital technologies.

Image credit: Screengrab from Touchscreen interface for seamless data transfer between the real and virtual worlds, Diginfonews


In recent times there has been a deluge of online tools that promise to help you organise all aspects of your life. Many services keep track of your bookmarks, notes or contacts, but only a few services try to do it all.  One of the best and most comprehensive is Springpad.

On first impressions Springpad seems very similar to Evernote as it organises items using notebooks and tags. Simple text notes can be created and then added to notebooks. However, Springpad has quite a few features not available in Evernote. Items can be manually added and then grouped into types such as recipes, books, movies, contacts, bookmarks or products. You can also make checklists or create events that can be synced with your Google Calendar.

Where Springpad really shines is the search function which helps you to automatically add an item to your collection. You can search for a book title, then add this to your collection, add a short note or review and mark the item as ‘read‘ or ‘want‘. Notebooks can be shared and collaborators can be invited, so you could have students creating their own wishlist of books or building a shared page with reviews of their favourite novels. With categories for film, television, books and recipes Springpad would also be a useful tool for shared curriculum planning for teachers across many subject areas.

Adding a book using search

Adding a book using search

One brilliant feature is the barcode scanner in the mobile app (available for IOS and Android), which lets you scan product barcodes and then add the item to your collection. It’s a great way to quickly index your personal library as the app will also search the web and find cover art and details of the book. This function would also be useful for students keeping track of their research. The app also includes a QR code scanner.

Barcode scanner in the Springpad mobile app

Barcode scanner in the Springpad mobile app

When saving a web page the Springpad clipping tool does a good job of recognising the type of resource you are saving. However, in terms of saving the full text of webpages Springpad is not quite as powerful as Evernote or a dedicated bookmarking tool like Diigo. It doesn’t clip an entire page and then allow you to search within that saved page.  What Springpad does exceptionally well is saving recipes, books, films or products and then automatically adding the details of the item.

Saving an item with the Springpad toolbar

Saving an item with the Springpad toolbar

The lovely visual nature of notebooks combined with easy sharing and collaboration options means Springpad definitely deserves a place on your device. It’s the perfect tool for keeping track of many aspects of your life. With some minor improvements to the web bookmarking feature Springpad may well become the all in one organisational tool that many people have been craving.

Open Library project: a web page for every book

Yen Wong, Learning Programs Officer at the State Library, continues her search for the best free library resources. In this post Yen looks at the Open Library project.

Open Library is a project of the non-profit Internet Archive – the folks responsible for the Wayback machine. Open Library is a massive catalogue with an ambition to catalogue every published book. The project is relying on libraries and individuals from around the world to contribute to its catalogue by adding books, fixing mistakes or writing descriptions of a book. Over one thousand libraries have contributed to the project to date.

Where possible, links to free ebooks have been listed, but Open Library account holders can also borrow from a smaller collection of books made available by Internet Archive and its partner libraries. Registering for an account is easy – just fill out the form with your name and email and you’re set to go.

Up to five books can be borrowed for two weeks at a time.

Open Library is a wonderful resource, and I’m excited that it’s got an extensive collection such as the ancient Chinese text ‘The secret of the golden flower‘ translated by Richard Wilhelm.

Thanks to Yen for sharing this useful resource with us. You can look forward to more posts from Yen in the future, as she explores library resources, research skills and information literacy.


Book Week @ Strathmore SC

The fantastic library team at Strathmore Secondary College developed some great resources for their Book Week activities. They have kindly agreed to share them here.

Poster competition
Poster competition

Strathmore 2

Wendy Moyle explains:

The first prize winning poster formed the centre piece for our wall and table “bridge themed” display. Exciting bridge footage is displayed on the monitor each recess and lunchtime.

Strathmore 3

The CBC award winning books are displayed on the  “Strathmore SC  Silver Story Bridge”



Screen shot 2010-09-07 at 11.22.10 AM

This time I made  a ToonDoo to print,  and created a poster to promote book Week around the school. . . . and now we can  breath a collective sigh of relief !!

Well done Wendy and the rest of the library staff on creating engaging displays using social and traditional media!

Storyline Online

Storyline Online is a free site where celebrities and other well-known people read stories that have been pre-recorded.

Storyline online

Stories featured include:

  • Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
  • The Polar Express
  • Me and my cat
  • Dad, are you the tooth fairy?

and readers include

  • James Earl Jones
  • Amanda Bynes
  • Al Gore
  • Melissa Gilbert
  • Sean Astin
  • Elijah Wood and
  • Jason Alexander

With activities and activity guides available, there is plenty of support to use Storyline Online in the classroom. All stories have captions for hearing impaired students and literacy uses.

Users can select their internet speed so that the reading is at the correct pace. Storyline Online is a program of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation

Thanks to Melissa Edwards for the link to Storyline Online.

‘Cheaper’ books, but at what cost?

Both The Age and The Australian are reporting today on the Productivity Commission‘s decision to advise the Federal Government to implement it’s recommendations in yesterday’s report.

Publishers fight cheap books

Jason Steger

July 15, 2009


"We won't have Australian authors if we don't have Australian publishers,'' says writer Peter Temple.
“We won’t have Australian authors if we don’t have Australian publishers,” says writer Peter Temple.

BOOKS could be cheaper in Australia if the Federal Government implements recommendations in a report issued yesterday by the Productivity Commission.

But it faces a hostile campaign from the bulk of the book industry, which says the commission’s report is flawed and will damage publishers, printers, smaller booksellers, authors and Australia’s cultural wellbeing.

The commission urged the Government to scrap territorial copyright protection for writers and publishers to put Australian book prices more in line with those in the US and Britain.

In its final report on the parallel importation of books, it recommended the lifting of all restrictions after a three-year adjustment period; the rejigging of financial assistance to the book industry; a new survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics; and a review of the brave new world after five years.

It said the current legislation, under which Australian publishers have 30 days to publish editions of books published overseas or face competing editions, stopped booksellers from importing “cheaper or better-value-for-money editions”.

The recommendations were welcomed by Dymocks boss Don Grover, the driving force behind the Coalition for Cheaper Books. However, he told The Age a three-year delay would cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars, “and that’s unreasonable”.

Opponents of the change said they would turn their attention to lobbying. The majority of the 560 submissions received by the commission, including those from state and territory governments, opposed the lifting of restrictions.

Scribe publisher Henry Rosenbloom, who has funded much of his local publishing by acquiring rights to overseas titles, said there was no guarantee of cheaper books. “It’s crazy to recommend policies now that will lead to the destruction of significant parts of Australian publishing, book selling, writing and printing that are dependent on exchange rates and the behaviour of booksellers.”

Penguin chief executive Gabrielle Coyne warned that if the Government adopted the recommendations, it represented a “move away from evidence-based policy”.

Authors such as Tim Winton, Richard Flanagan, Kate Grenville and Morris Gleitzman have spoken out strongly against any change to territorial copyright. Yesterday crime writer Peter Temple added his voice. “We won’t have Australian authors if we don’t have Australian publishers,” he said. “If you think Australian publishing is important, if you want them to take risks on authors, backlists, bringing on talent, then you care more about product than simply profit. If you think it’s important they stay in business, you don’t do this to them.”

The Printing Industries Association of Australia claimed the recommendations put at risk hundreds of jobs. PIA policy manager Hagop Tchamkertenian told The Agethat Maryborough “would be devastated. One in four workers depends on the book printing industry.”

Michael Heyward, publisher at Text, pointed out the irony of the commission recommending changes to benefit the consumer but advocating a review of the grant system that could mean higher taxes.


The Australian report focuses on job losses:

 Cheap books will cost ‘at least 500 jobs’

July 15, 2009

Article from:  Australian Associated Press

A PROPOSAL to lift copyright restrictions on books may deliver cheaper prices but at a cost of more than 500 jobs, a union says.

A Productivity Commission report yesterday called for an end to century-old laws that limit the importation of cheaper books from overseas.

Supporters say consumers are overcharged $200 million a year because of the restrictions and that dumping them will boost competition and cut prices.

But there is no guarantee this will happen, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union said.

What is more certain is the direct loss of 500 jobs within the publishing and printing industry, the union’s print division secretary Steve Walsh said.

Other estimates put the figure at 3000.

“In this economic climate, where every job is precious, it would be terrible news for our valuable print industry,” Mr Walsh said.

“It would allow books printed overseas a major advantage over Australian suppliers.”

Many local authors believe scrapping the laws will strip them of income.

Writer Tim Winton used his acceptance speech for his Miles Franklin award in June to defend the legislation as it stands.

Mr Walsh said: “If retailers … are so concerned for access to cheaper books, they should revise their profit margins rather than asking printers to lose business in pursuit of books printed cheaply overseas.”

It will be more than interesting to see (especially in these economic times) if the Federal Government acts on the advice of the Productivity Commission.

The Publisher’s Office

Penguin USA has developed a very interesting website, that adds value to their publications. The Publisher’s Office.


From the website comes the following information:

At Penguin we know that readers have a wide variety of interests and that finding an in-depth look at a particular author or subject can be difficult, if not impossible. From the Publisher’s Office makes it easy to learn more about your favorite authors-and to discover a few new favorites in the process. We hope you’ll watch, listen to, and read the programs found on these pages.

WATCH! In the Screening Room you can watch shows produced by us on a wide range of topics-from whether hypnosis really works to what Jon Scieszka, Ambassador for Children’s Literature, thinks about when he’s sitting down to write. From how an author and illustrator collaborate to create beloved characters to a look at what vampire romance fans are after now.

LISTEN! In the Radio Room you can hear editors at Penguin Classics interview scholars about enduring works, get tips for running a great small business, learn how following your passion can lead to professional success, and peek inside a poet’s process.

READ! In the Reading Room you can read early excerpts from a soon-to-be-published novel and read articles from some of our biggest nonfiction authors. Be sure to come back to chat with the author in one of our scheduled live chats.

 The Young Adult Central section sees videos of author interviews conducted by young adults.

YA Central
YA Central

A wonderful website for anyone interested in books, and the adult section could be useful for schools where literature is taught. YA Central has much to offer teenagers and the school libraries that cater for them. It would be lovely to see Penguin Australia add some Australian content or even start their own version of The Publisher’s Office.

The Horn Book newsletter

Did you know that the very highly regarded children’s literature journal, The Horn Book sends out free email newsletters?

Subscription page
Subscription page

Click here to subscribe to their newsletter.

In their own words The Horn Book provides:

Each monthly issue features interviews with leading writers and illustrators, brief recommendations of noteworthy titles, and the latest news from the children’s book world.

A great resource and as always if it’s free, as this is, it’s even better.