Friday, October 29, 2010

Wikipedia in Print

From time to time I search for the words like "tambon" not only in Google, but also in Amazon, especially in case their search inside books might return something Google Books does not have yet. That way I stumbled upon a book titled "Subdivisions of Thailand: Monthon, Provinces of Thailand, Amphoe, Administrative Divisions of Thailand, Thesaban, Tambon, Boriwen, Sukhaphiban", which looked like it have exactly the content I am interested about. But when reading the description in more detail I noticed that this book is nothing else but the Wikipedia articles from the category Subdivisions of Thailand printed. Looking around more, there are thousands of similar books from the same publisher with different sets of Wikipedia articles placed together, each printed individually as a Print on Demand book, but each having a unique ISBN number already.

Now this is all perfectly legal, provided that they follow the license of Wikipedia and cite the source correctly. And even though I have written the articles within that specific book myself to a great deal, I don't recommend anyone to buy this book - first I know that the Wikipedia articles are way from complete, there are still lots of points I would love to add if only I could get them researched well enough. When you order the book, you also have no control on which version of the article will be used, most probably the current one, but how to be sure that that version is clear from any vandalism? Also, the price of about 15 US$ for just 52 pages is IMHO way overpriced, especially as not a single cent goes to the author unlike it would in any normal authored or edited book, the only cost they have is the pure printing and shipping.

The best way to use Wikipedia is to read online, as that's the only way to get the latest version of the text, have the ability to check older versions if some part seems dubious and smells of vandalism, be able to interact using the discussion pages or even change the text yourself if necessary. But for those book lovers who prefer to read in actual paper versions, or to be able to read where no internet is available or to create for a technophobe friend there's a great way to get your custom-made book. For quite some time already, Wikipedia has added ways to export article collections as a PDF file as well as get a Print on Demand book. Within few minutes I have reproduced the same contents as the above cited book, which would cost you just 8.90 US$ - and can also alternatively be downloaded as a PDF to print yourself or put in your eBook reader. Too bad that this book won't become a bestseller for sure - even if I would get the six dollar price difference I won't become rich.

1 comment:

Isaan Life said...

handy information
i have bought books that i thought might contain additional info to a book I already had and found i just bought what was basically of the 1st book