[bksvol-discuss] Re: Bookshare & PQ submission

  • From: "Shelley L. Rhodes" <guidinggolden@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 12 Aug 2008 22:05:30 -0400

Smile, I love the smell of leather, and the whiskers of a horse, smile.

And the clip clop of hooves on stone or dirt, but I live in Amish country so maybe still get to enjoy it, smile.

I think it is the work involved, smile, when one's book gets replaced, smile, especially if you know it was as darn perfect as you could get it, but alas.

Shelley L. Rhodes, M.A., VRT
And Guinevere: Golden Lady Guide Dog
Guide Dogs for the Blind
Alumni Association
----- Original Message ----- From: "Bob" <rwiley@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 6:32 PM
Subject: [bksvol-discuss] Re: Bookshare & PQ submission

Well said Jim.

I suspect this discussion will go on, perhaps in a different guise, for some time to come. I don't think the discussion has much to do with publisher quality books--though the argument about picture descriptions does have some merit. Let me give you a brief example of the effort involved in getting a picture description. Some time ago I validated "Time enough for Love" a science fiction classic. It had been scanned by Carry Carno. Those validators who are familiar with her work know that her scans are usually excellent. However, this book had one page that seemed to be filled with garbage characters. By applying several tricks of the trade, I could tell that there was some writing there, I could even pick out a few words. But the page was ... basically ... a waste. I contacted Carry and gave her a page number. She wrote back and told me that the page was a picture of a newspaper page; she further told me what the page said. I duly reported this in the book as a [scanner's description].

I bring this up to say that this collaborative effort between ms Carno and myself will be brushed aside as inconsequential if a publisher ever decides to send us this book. It's a minor thing--it's one page in a 400 page book. And it may seem meaningless. But for me, it represented a not-so-meaningless effort; and I take pride in taking care of that inconsistency.

I realize that change is inevitable, and change is usually good. However, since we've replaced the horse and carriage with the horseless carriage; does anyone ever take the time to smell the wonderful smells of the leather saddle, or to enjoy the human interaction with a trusted animal friend? Not so much anymore, I think!

As I said earlier, this discussion will probably continue in a variety of email subjects as those of us involved adjust to the changes to come.

Thanks again for enlightening us on this matter.

Oh yes, lest I be accused of trying to speak for the group, the ideas discussed here are solely my own, and I alone am responsible for them.


----- Original Message ----- From: <Jim@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 10:46 AM
Subject: [bksvol-discuss] Re: Bookshare & PQ submission

Reading the thread about publisher quality submissions, I thought it was
worth weighing in with more information.  The mission of Bookshare.org
is to get better access to books to people who cannot effectively access
print.  I know our volunteers support that mission.

I consider the issue of possibly losing quality content, that is,
something that makes the reader experience better (like picture
descriptions), is always worth looking at.  That's because it ties
directly to our mission. I hear people worrying about throwing out
children's picture books with picture descriptions and replacing them
with publisher-supplied versions.  But, I don't think we have any
children's book publishers providing us with digital content. We're not
focusing on them, because there isn't a big win there (34 words in a
kids book is not that hard to get in by typing).  We're focusing on
textbooks and technical books, and getting trade books when we can.
Scholastic gave us permission to provide their books globally, but
didn't give us any digital content.  So, I think folks should not be
worrying about a surge of kid's picture books with 34 words in place of
34 words plus nice picture descriptions.

The other important part of publishers supplying content is that almost
all of them provide these global rights that enable us to expand
Bookshare.org to serve all print disabled people globally.  That's
really important for our mission: many more people need us than live in
the U.S.  Publishers often require us to replace the scanned books with
the digital books, to minimize the concerns publishers and authors have
about having errors in their work.  This is a big, big concern of
authors, and we have to acknowledge that as creators of the wonderful
books we share, we have to respect their concern that their works be
communicated in the as close to the original quality as possible.  Our
community has benefited from the dedication of our validators to ensure
these outcomes.

The issue of "throwing away" volunteer work to give the reader a better
quality book seems like an odd issue.  Improved quality content has been
the number one issue of Bookshare readers when we survey them.  It's
certainly the number one issue of ex-Bookshare.org users, and I take our
failure to serve them seriously.  Our volunteers have always embraced
making better scans of books.  Why does this change when it's the
publisher volunteering a better version of the book? We wouldn't keep
the fair version of a scanned book around when it was replaced with an
excellent scan: we've been throwing them away with our dedication to the
readers.  Plus, the publisher quality books are increasingly coming to
us with improved navigation options.

Let's be honest: volunteers will continue to be the primary source of
books for a long time: years and years.  95+% of the books in
Bookshare.org is there because someone in our volunteer community
decided it was worth having.  If someone complains that a book isn't of
the quality it says it is, we'll replace it with a better one.  That's
we've decided that if one person in our community thought it was
important to have, we will invest the money to buy the books and the
energy to replicate it.

We're here fighting for equality for readers with disabilities.  The
"powers that be" are pretty clear about mission and our entire team
spends a lot of time trying to figure out the best ways to accomplish
that mission.   My suggestion is that when there are changes (and there
are going to be a lot of really great changes) to Bookshare.org, that we
can assume that everybody on the Bookshare.org team, users, volunteers
and staff, are all trying to accomplish the grand goal: the highest
quality books at the same time as non-disabled people have them, for the
same of lower price!

Jim Fruchterman
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