Sunday, October 5, 2008

In Which I Confess My Utter Lack of Sense

My wife and I have spent the last hour and a half trying to figure out how to change text from the internet into a printable book format.  Here's the story:

So, I have to read Anselm of Canterbury's Cur Deus Homo - Why God Became Human - for my Systematic Theology Class.  Although I am very adept at reading blogs and news articles online, I hate reading works of theology online.  Go figure.  Our professor decided to save us money by having us read the text on the internet.  I was grateful for the saving of money, but dreading reading nearly 100 pages of a dense, theological text off of a bright computer screen.  This afternoon, while steeling myself to spend hours staring at a screen, I hit upon the idea of turning the text into a book.  After all, the text was in an online, printable format, and the copyright information said that it could be printed and used for educational purposes, just not for sale.  Perfect!  So, I went to our campus's nearby computer lab and downloaded the text into Microsoft Word.  Now, I could have just printed it as it was, but I'm also a stickler for durability, portability, readability and paper-saving.  So, I spent an hour and a half formatting the text into "book format," which, conveniently, Microsoft Office for Windows XP on the school computers/printers has readily available.  Anyway, I ended up printing the text on 55 pieces of paper, front and back, two "pages" per side, meaning that it looked like the pages of a regular paperback book.  Then I took it to Staples, where my wife was working this afternoon, had her cut the pages in half and then put them together with a card stock cover and spiral-binding.  All for only $2.50.  Not bad.

Now, there are a few other things that I would like to read/turn into books, such as old public domain hymn texts online, christian classics online, etc.  All in the public domain, no copyright.  I decided I wanted to work at home and try to format it all on my Mac.  No dice.  The Mac did not have the pleasant "book format" option.  So, I tried to emulate it with formatting.  No Dice.  And that was how I spent the last hour and a half.  Sigh.  All of that time when I should have been reading the book that I so nicely formatted and had bound this afternoon.  Welcome to my nonsensical life.

Other than that, life is good.  I'm busy and a little sleepy now, but I'm good.  Sigh.  Cur Deus Homo here I come!


Neal Locke said...

Wait a minute... the "copyright info" said that you could reprint it for educational purposes but *NOT TO RESELL*????????

It's Anselm of Canterbury, for Christ's sake! It's been in the public domain for...well, before there even *was* such a thing as public domain and copyright!

Was it originally in Latin or something? Then my guess would be that the "translation" is what's copyrighted, but still... you should in principle be able to do whatever the heck you want with it, including printing out 50 copies and selling them to fellow students.

Sheeesh. I hate our litigious, greedy, copyright hoarding culture... (mostly the publishing industry)

Oh, and have you tried downloading Open Office for your mac? It's free, open source software (NOT to be confused with free-ware, which is generally crap), and if there isn't a built in "book format" option, you can probably download it as a module from someone else who's encountered the same difficulty.

Happy re-publishing!

Marc said...

In reply to your query, Neal:

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall, August 1998