A couple of months ago, I interviewed Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, about what might come next for the note-taking, image-collecting, audio-recording app, and one answer he gave me had to do with books. “I think books are like food. Memories are formed while reading books, articles and periodicals, and that is not being adequately represented and captured at this point. I’d love to do something around that,” he said. “I don’t want Evernote to become the place where you store media, but I do want it to be the place where you capture memories, annotations…We have specific plans and ideas in this area.”
Well, today comes one of the first manifestations of that plan:
Evernote is teaming up with 1DollarScan is using Evernote’s API to offer a digital scanning service for users’ books — the first time a third party has integrated with Evernote to offer such a feature. Users can send in their books to 1DollarScan, which scans and put those books into the cloud, where Evernote users can then use the app to access, read and annotate them wherever their Evernote app happens to be, whether it’s on a smartphone, tablet, e-reader or online.
“We’re the first digital book scanning service to integrate with a major Web brand like Evernote,” said Hiroshi Nakano, CEO of 1DollarScan, in a statement. “Our integration with Evernote will help further expand our footprint in the U.S. market for any consumer or business.”
(And as is usual with the 1DollarScan service, the books are recycled at the end, and it costs $1 for every 100 pages scanned.)
The push for digitized books comes as more and more of our content consumption happens via electronic screens. In that sense, our paper books get overlooked and become more like furniture rather than active objects. This is something that Libin talked to me about happening in his own life — and it may be happening in yours, too. (I know it is in mine.) Digitizing them is the equivalent of the mountain coming to Muhammad: it’s putting them into a format you may well be more likely to use these days.
1DollarScan is targeting our “long tail” of book ownership. While a good portion of the population is now reading and buying e-books, we all have back catalogues and are also still buying a lot of printed books — some 2.77 billion in 2011 according to the Association of American Publishers.
1DollarScan — founded in Japan where space is at a particularly tight premium — has been hoping that numbers like these, and the U.S. market’s general digital habits, will give it a good run over here as well.
The company has developed a technique for fast and cost-effective scanning (it involves ripping pages off the spine; hence the obligatory recycling at the end); and it has equally developed a way, which it calls Fine Tune, for that content to then download quickly and with a high resolution (we write about that more here). The service can also be used for more than books — magazines and other documents can also be scanned and digitized by the company.
While the Evernote deal is primarily meant as a consumer service — there are possibilities for this developing into something aimed at enterprises, too, encompassing the many paper-based documents that are still a part of how many companies do business.
“We are tyring to work on an enterprise model right now,” says Ryan Brusuelas, VP of marketing at 1DollarScan. That could fit in nicely with Evernote also developing more premium services for people to use the app for more than just casual sharing. Enterprise, in other words, is a reasonable target for both companies as they grow. The company already offers OCR functionality for an extra fee, so that scanned documents become searchable.
Enterprise is one potential market, but you can see how integration like this could take Evernote into other markets as well — for example education or libraries looking for ways of digitizing their content but keeping it accessible to the world. That also puts Evernote potentially into competition also against the likes of Google.
The news today is coming out in advance of Evernote’s Trunk developers’ conference tomorrow, where we might be seeing some other announcements about how the company is expanding its service, and other developers are using the company’s APIs to expand theirs.
Update: Evernote sent us the following statement, to clarify that this is not a team effort, but 1DollarScan’s use of its API, as another developer would. Nor is it planning any moves into enterprise book storage: “1DollarScan is one of hundreds of developers that have used our available APIs to create functionality that hooks into the Evernote service. Evernote itself did not do any work to specifically partner with 1DollarScan for this launch. We are very happy that 1DollarScan users can save and access their books using Evernote, but 1DollarScan’s announcement is not indicative of a deeper business or technology relationship than most of our Trunk developers enjoy. Nor does 1Dollar’s announcement indicate plans to jump into enterprise level book storage. “