getxbook

getxbook is a collection of tools to download books from Google Books' "Book Preview" (getgbook), Amazon's "Look Inside the Book" (getabook) and Barnes & Noble's "Book Viewer" (getbnbook).

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download

getxbook 1.1 source (sig) (2013-10-13)

getxbook 1.1 linux static (sig) (2013-10-13)

getxbook for mac os x available from Homebrew

getxbook 1.1 windows (sig) (2013-10-13)

why

Online book websites are designed not around reading, but around surveillance. It is not merely the selection of book that is recorded, but exactly what is read, when, and for how long. Forever. And this is linked to all other information the website holds about you (which in the case of Google and Amazon is likely to be a great deal).

Reading books is a critical component of thinking well, and, by extension, of liberty. Surveillance of reading pushes people away from exploring unpopular and unorthodox ideas. Limiting and monitoring it is a grave act, whether its goal is profit or more direct political control. And it is dangerous.

The getxbook program downloads books anonymously. Using it will still result in your IP address being logged (use torify to stop this), but reading habits won't be automatically linked to other personal information websites hold, as no existing cookies are used. Once the book is downloaded, it can be read without any further prying.

Being free to do what you like with a book, you can also load it onto any device you have access to, share it, study it, read it offline, and do anything else you can do with normal computer files. You can easily use OCR software to get text versions of downloaded books, making them accessible to people who can't easily read from the page scans.

technical

Each tool is written in around 200 lines of portable C code, with no dependencies beyond libc and network sockets. It should work well on Linux, BSDs, OSX and Windows. There is an optional graphical interface, built with Tcl/Tk. There are some simple scripts to create searchable PDF, DjVu, or plain text files from the downloaded pages, which use tesseract OCR software.

further reading

comparison with similar programs