Peter Purganthofer, associate professor at the Vienna University of Technology, built an amazing project involving an Amazon Kindle, a computer with built-in webcam and a Lego Mindstorm robot.
The robot presses alternately the “next page” button on the Kindle ebook reader and the space button on the laptop. Thus, a computer program on the laptop takes a screenshot of the current page, which is subsequently converted into text using an OCR software. This way, one gets a DRM-free copy of an e-book “bought” at Amazon. Purgathofer states that due to Amazon’s e-book sales model, “The owner isn’t even an owner anymore but rather a licensee of the book”.
The video below shows the system in action. The overall machine is awesome. It reminds of designs for Rube Goldberg machines.
Of course this is definitely not an efficient way to re-digitize an e-book. For example, the process could have been better automated using Kindle software and a screenshot tool directly on the computer. However, the goal was to make a noticable statement about copyright, eBook DRM and ‘ownership’ of eBooks. And to have fun playing with robots.