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Commuter Reading
May 23, 2012 5:57 PM   Subscribe

What’s a Readlist? A group of web pages—articles, recipes, course materials, anything—bundled into an e-book you can send to your Kindle, iPad, or iPhone.
posted by netbros (43 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite

 
This seems like it could be useful in designing courses: all online readings could be packaged together and sent to students. Cool. Thanks for the link.
posted by painquale at 6:03 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there any regard for copyright here? I'm a bit confused by the model.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:04 PM on May 23, 2012


Looks interesting. I wish there was a way you could browse some more of readlists other people have already made.
posted by Jimbob at 6:04 PM on May 23, 2012


Is there any regard for copyright here?

Something is posted publicly on the web. This converts it to a format that can be read on a Kindle, the same way you can put PDFs or whatever on your Kindle. What's the copyright issue? Someone is going to object to their blog entry being read on something other than a web browser?
posted by Jimbob at 6:06 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, it's basically AvantGo 2.0?
posted by ymgve at 6:06 PM on May 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I too wish there was a way I could scout around and see what other readlists were available. As long as the word 'curate' is avoided. Thanks for the link!
posted by pymsical at 6:09 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh man, I hope this is exactly what I think it is, because it will beat the pants off my current half-assed workaround for getting content onto my iPod.
posted by lekvar at 6:10 PM on May 23, 2012


A group of web pages—articles, recipes, course materials, anything—bundled into an e-book you can send to your Kindle, iPad, or iPhone.

*reads to end of sentence, sadly returns Kobo Touch to drawer*
posted by nicebookrack at 6:13 PM on May 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Are there any good readlists about showrunners?
posted by chrchr at 6:30 PM on May 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Love this idea - too bad this isn't compatible with the Nook!
posted by SisterHavana at 6:41 PM on May 23, 2012


nbrack, don't despair! Calibre can take a wide variety of text/graphics and automagically send them to your Kobo. I've only used it to send pdf files to my son's Kobo, but it seems to work well, and it has various conversion settings (the default settings worked fine for me).
posted by sneebler at 6:41 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


SisterHavana, this is totally compatible with the Nook - it generates epub files you can load directly. It's a variant of Instapaper, adding functionality I had hoped Readability (with which this is affiliated) would incorporate.
posted by twsf at 6:52 PM on May 23, 2012


Someone is going to object to their blog entry being read on something other than a web browser?

You take my site because you're a huge fan. You turn it into a kindle book. You then send it onto your friend because he likes that sort of stuff. You friend puts the ePub on his website for others to download. Now people who have never even been to my site are reading my content. So, yeah, I do object.

It's just like the whole controversy surrounding the apps that let people read stuff offline on iOS devices. If I opt in I can get compensation for them using my content, but otherwise I enable some other company to benefit from work I am doing.

By your argument I shouldn't care when HuffPo uses one of my blog entries, since it's publicly available on the web. It's my content. I really should get to decide how it's shared.

If a band puts up a song on MySpace and I use an audio capture app and put that sone on my site or my iPod is that different?
posted by cjorgensen at 6:55 PM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


You friend puts the ePub on his website for others to download. Now people who have never even been to my site are reading my content. So, yeah, I do object.

Call me when this actually happens. And then explain how this could possibly be prevented, or how this site poses any kind of new threat, since there's been nothing stopping me copying your content to a Word document and emailing it to my dad since the web was invented.

They are offering a file format conversion service. A simplification of a process that's already possible through software like Calibre. Hell, ePub files are just HTML files with some extra tags. It's not their responsibility to take on the moral concern about how people might use it, anymore than people should get angsty about Garageband if someone use it to put an unlicensed sample in a song.
posted by Jimbob at 7:02 PM on May 23, 2012


Does this only grab a single url at a time? If I want to convert, say The Dionaea House I can't really use it I have to manually add every entry.
posted by clockworkjoe at 7:36 PM on May 23, 2012


Something is posted publicly on the web. This converts it to a format that can be read on a Kindle, the same way you can put PDFs or whatever on your Kindle. What's the copyright issue?

You are, arguably, making a copy...an unauthorized copy. Whether or not this should be an issue is another matter, but it is a copyright issue.
posted by asnider at 7:52 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wish there was a way you could browse some more of readlists other people have already made.
Some will turn up @Readlists.
posted by unliteral at 8:33 PM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


...anymore than people should get angsty about Garageband if someone use it to put an unlicensed sample in a song.

Ah, so you are saying go after the users of this service, not the service itself or the subscribers?

[T]here's been nothing stopping me copying your content to a Word document and emailing it to my dad since the web was invented.

And that's fine by me. That's crappy without a cite, but still fine. But if you put that document on your site, or your dad does on his, then I have an issue.

And the idea that it can't be prevented or isn't a new threat does not negate the copyright concern. It also doesn't make it acceptable.

I fully well know what an ePub file is. I am selling on on the Apple store. That's my point. If I choose to give the content away on my site with or without ads that's for me to decide. If I then also choose to distribute through a paid channel again my choice. It's my content. If someone else comes along and puts it in a format for others to consume without any benefit to me I am missing how I should be happy about this.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:34 PM on May 23, 2012


The copyright concern is negated if you don't believe in or support the intellectual fiction that is copyright.

Yes, there are copyright laws in many countries and so there is a legal question. But from an ethical viewpoint some of us completely reject the concept and motives behind copyright. That of locking culture up into boxes and denying the fundamental reality that all creation is re-creation.

As an aside, it's a reflection of the sad state of affairs that now exist when writers refer to their writing as 'content'.
posted by Pranksome Quaine at 10:18 PM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Copyright is the most aspect of this service to you people? Really?
posted by ryanrs at 10:33 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


*most interesting
posted by ryanrs at 10:33 PM on May 23, 2012


I'm going to show my love for the edusatirical site Cracked.com by compiling its best articles into an ad-free readlist ebook!

But oh, where to start? Let me just write down the table of contents in the officially licensed version
posted by nicebookrack at 10:46 PM on May 23, 2012


The Readlists do feature a link back to the original article (and all links within the article also function), and to me, it looks exactly the way the same article looks in Readability, Pocket, Evernote, and RSS, except it's in ebook format. I would no more have a problem with people putting my blog posts into this format than I do any of the other ways to read blog posts offline. I'm really not sure why I should be upset about this as a blogger.
posted by Orb at 11:03 PM on May 23, 2012


Famously, Metafilter comments are "© their original authors". Should I get all shitty about copyright if I don't want my comments to appear on a page next to Orb's? Should I ask mathowie to implement technical measures so my comments can't be read on a Kindle?

After all, those comments are copyright me and therefore I should have total control over who reads them, how they read them, and the context in which they are displayed, right?
posted by Jimbob at 11:51 PM on May 23, 2012


Copyright is the most aspect of this service to you people? Really?

No, what's become most interesting to me is how quickly format-shifting technology invokes a Pavlovian "OMG copyright!" response.
posted by Jimbob at 11:53 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


But oh, where to start? Let me just write down the table of contents in the officially licensed version.

Looks like recycling free online content into an ebook and asking people to pay for it was a bad business model. Who could have seen that coming?
posted by Jimbob at 11:55 PM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, what's become most interesting to me is how quickly format-shifting technology invokes a Pavlovian "OMG copyright!" response.
I agree. I think it demonstrates how much control certain people want to exert over the 'consumption' of their 'content'. As opposed to being happy for having an audience for their ideas and opinions.
posted by Pranksome Quaine at 1:23 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Should I get all shitty about copyright if I don't want my comments to appear
Isn't this the site that yes indeed got all shitty about copyright when someone was about to publish their comments in a book without asking?
posted by fightorflight at 1:30 AM on May 24, 2012


Famously, Metafilter comments are "© their original authors".

I sometimes copy the text of threads then e-mail them to myself so I can read them on the underground. Oops.
posted by mippy at 4:29 AM on May 24, 2012


And now you're part of the underground. Dangerous!
posted by yerfatma at 4:39 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


And of course all you Americans assume U.S. copyright law applies everywhere. Other countries, including Canada, provide the moral right or droit moral, which allows copyright holders to prevent any such distribution or use that harms their reputation.

Repackaging copyrighted works and distributing them to others is – obviously – unauthorized distribution, which even U.S. copyright law disallows. When works are mixed and matched with other works, it can also be a violation of the moral right.

I am not surprised a dick move like this comes from Readability, a shady startup that allegedly collects money on behalf of bloggers, then curiously manages to keep most of it. Their app does not work as well as Instapaper (especially under VoiceOver) and I personally loathe their outside Web shop.

But – perennially – MeFites are in a big rush to shit on anyone who dares to assert that copyright matters. Obviously it shouldn’t! in the majority MeFite view.
posted by joeclark at 4:57 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll check this out to see how it compares, but if you don't like it and have RSS feeds you'd like to do this for, I also recommend Calibre as a solution. Curating some of my favorite sites into a daily magazine for my Kindle has greatly improved my web experience.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:56 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Famously, Metafilter comments are "© their original authors". Should I get all shitty about copyright if I don't want my comments to appear on a page next to Orb's? Should I ask mathowie to implement technical measures so my comments can't be read on a Kindle?

In the first case you should get your own blog. Then if someone takes what you write and posts it some place else you can get shitty. It's pretty obvious how this site works and that you are essentially granting a license for your work to appear here.

In the second case if people are packaging your content in a redistributable format then I think you have a case. There's a difference between a browser and putting the content into another format and redistributing it. So if someone were to grab the entirety of metafilter and put it in a book and put it on Amazon for people to download I would think people wouldn't need to ask Matt to do something about it, since I am betting he already would be.

> As an aside, it's a reflection of the sad state of affairs that now exist when writers refer to their writing as 'content'.

Bah. Content is a perfectly good word, especially in a medium that doesn't always include words. ePub supports video, images, and audio. Or, you know, content.

It was the Readability folk I couldn't think of up above, but they were who I was thinking of. They are a parasite making money of of others' labor. This reads exactly like more of the same.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:16 AM on May 24, 2012


Readability's bloody useful if your eyes are as fucked as mine have been on and off over the last couple of years.
posted by Wolof at 6:55 AM on May 24, 2012


Zeldman on this.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:58 AM on May 24, 2012


I don't get how this is different or better than using the Instapaper bookmarklet. That's not a dig at ReadList or Readability, I just don't grok it - is it about the curatorial aspect? The grouped articles?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:39 AM on May 24, 2012


is it about the curatorial aspect? The grouped articles?

Yes.
posted by Hargrimm at 8:54 AM on May 24, 2012


So if someone were to grab the entirety of metafilter and put it in a book and put it on Amazon for people to download I would think people wouldn't need to ask Matt to do something about it

What if someone grabbed the entirety of metafilter and put it on their own Kindle for later reading? Because that's actually what we're talking about. Not selling it on Amazon.
posted by Jimbob at 2:06 PM on May 24, 2012


Because that's actually what we're talking about. Not selling it on Amazon.

No, not exactly. This is different from just putting it on your own Kindle for later reading because these list packages are designed to be shared. It's more like grabbing the entirety of metafilter into an ebook and offering it for install on the kindles of friends, twitter followers, random internet strangers et al.

Then we're just a few bucks away from the "selling it on Amazon" thing, and I don't think the money is what people have really objected to in Mefi comment reuse anyway.
posted by fightorflight at 4:54 PM on May 24, 2012


Okay then, that's a distinction I can understand. I saw the value of this site in the ability of me to, throughout the day, pick a few interesting blog posts and magazine articles I come across, then send them as a single, simple package to my Kindle to read in bed. I pretty much ignored the "social" aspects, but it looks like that's what others have latched onto.

Having said that, the site itself only features a dozen "selected" example packages. There's no way to search or browse the site to find more that have been created.
posted by Jimbob at 5:02 PM on May 24, 2012


I'm not really sure I see the distinction between this and simply printing a webpage out for later reading, barring the whole paper-vs-pixels aspect. Repackaging web content for a profit is already trivially easy, and widely practiced; any half-competent programmer can already do a scrape a page for text and any software printer can already print a page to file. This cat is already out of the the bag, hell, it's already two counties own the highway and headed for the state line. This is simply a way of storing a webpage for later consumption. I can already do this to a limited degree with Apple's Reading List. Readlist just makes the process elegant.
posted by lekvar at 5:59 PM on May 24, 2012


They are addressing copyright concerns. From the twitter feed. "If you want your domain to not be exportable to ePub/Kindle, drop us a line: feedback@readlists.com"
posted by unliteral at 8:47 PM on May 24, 2012


Thanks to The Whelk's post and this one, I made me a readlist of a bunch of short stories from Tor and sent it to my kindle. I also bought the book by the author of the story The Whelk linked to.
posted by rtha at 9:48 AM on June 10, 2012


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