Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Friday News & Deals: Apple Tries to Take Over Educational Publishing...

Apple made it’s education announcement yesterday introducing iBooks 2 which allows you to view books made with iBooks Author. iBooks Author has been described as “Garage Band” for books.  Essentially it is a purportedly easy to use tool to create interactive books rich with multimedia such as audio, video, and animations that will be well suited for interactive learning.  AND! iBooks Author is FREE. Amazing, right?  Only if you read the EULA, Apple says that you can only sell your iBooks Author created book in the iBookstore or through the App Store. You can give it away for free anywhere but if you SELL it, it can only be through Apple.  That’s a) kind of crazy and b) the kind of activity that alerts the DOJ, particularly when you are talking about educational texts.

Plus, even though iBooks product is ePub 3 based, it is not compatible with existing ePub 3 readers. You can get the text, but none of the markup (the stuff that makes it look nice).  In sum, Apple has created another proprietary format and if you decide to use its authoring tool, you can sell it ONLY at Apple. Forever.

Links:  Why iBooks is not epub 3 compatible and from the Verge.

*****

Was the PIPA/SOPA blackout protest worth it?  Heck yes.  On Wednesday, Congress reported high volumes of calls.  Many congresspersons withdrew their support, including hardliners like Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley who helped author the Senate version (PIPA).

Today, it is reported that Harry Reid will not bring PIPA to the floor to vote.  Yay for democracy.

*****

Apparently the mere mention of a woman’s name, just the name, can turn a smart man dumb.

First, psychologist Johan Karremans, lead study author Sanne Nauts, and their team gave a group of 71 men and women a common cognitive test (the Stroop test, if you’re curious). Then the subjects had to do another task with help — via instant message only — from a “monitor” with either a male or a female name. Then they took the Stroop test again. The dudes did way worse after an e-encounter with a lady monitor, but dude monitors didn’t affect their performance. And women weren’t affected either way. In a second experiment, participants were told that a man or a woman would IM them, but they never actually got any IMs — even this was enough to make guys screw up on the Stroop.

*****

PandoDaily is a new tech website, funded by a bunch of tech giants, supposedly to give us the scoop on tech news so you may want to take this with a grain of salt, but a new post includes an anonymous email from a publishing insider.

We can’t pay $1 million for books anymore. Amazon could probably afford to lose $20 million/year in their publishing arm just to put the other publishers out of business. I think that’s what they’re trying to do–throw money around in an industry that doesn’t have any, until Amazon becomes not only the only place where you buy books, but the only place that publishes books, too.

To be honest, publishing is a quaint little industry based on romance and low profit margins. But now we’re in Amazon’s sights, and they’re going to kill us.

*****

Publishers are pulling back from digital lending, but the patrons aren’t listening.  According to newly released statistics from Overdrive, the increased interest in digital lending is staggering.

  • 1.6 billion book and title catalog pages viewed, up 130% from 2010
  • 99.5 million visitor sessions, up 107%
  • Mobile device use increased to 22% of all checkouts
  • 35 million digital titles checked out in 2011, with 17 million holds
  • The OverDrive catalog for libraries now includes 700,000 copyrighted eBook, audiobook, music, and video titles in 52 languages, including 300,000 titles added in 2011

Here is a little message for pirates.  Borrow, don’t pirate.  If you borrow and then you buy, you can be a datapoint that your library uses to get publishers to lend books.  By removing yourself from the data stream, you don’t help institutions like libraries to provide you with legitimate free access to books.  By using the library, you are being part of the solution to help yourself and other readers get broader access to free literature.

*****

Grand Central announced its digital first romance imprint to be headed by Amy Pierpont.  From the press release:

Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group, announced today that it will launch Forever Yours, a new digital imprint, in February 2012.  The imprint will publish two to four e-book titles a month, featuring both new, original works and classic romance titles from Forever’s rich backlist.  Jamie Raab, Executive Vice President and Publisher, and Beth de Guzman, Vice President and Paperback Editor-in-Chief, made the announcement.

The first two e-books on the list are EMBER by Kristen Callihan, a gothic historical romance prequel to the author’s debut novel,Firelight; and ONCE UPON A WICKED NIGHT by Jennifer Haymore, a historical romance novella set in the world of the author’s bestselling Donovan series.

Amy Pierpont, Editorial Director, Forever, will oversee and direct the imprint. “With the growth of the e-book market, and the success of romance e-books, which always top the e-book bestseller charts, this is a tremendous opportunity for authors and readers,” said Pierpont. “We are excited to discover new voices in romance, and introduce readers to an exciting array of stories across all genres—contemporary, historical, and paranormal.”

Forever Yours will be accepting submissions from agented and unagented authors alike, and publishing short-form novellas (10,000 to 50,000 words) as well as longer length novels (up to 100,000 words).  Submissions can be sent to[email protected].

 

Deals

Only one today but it is a good one.  7 Shannon McKenna books for $20.89 at Amazon; $23.59 at Kobo.

Wait, found a couple more:  Ghost Walk by Heather Graham at Diesel eBooks and 25% off RITA eligible books at BooksonBoard.com

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

51 Comments

  1. Mikaela
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 10:39:44

    There is a 20% of coupon at Kobo which slices off even more on the bundle: jan20us20. Expires Jan 23

    ReplyReply

  2. AmyW
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 10:40:26

    When I first started borrowing ebooks from my library, which uses Overdrive, I found the selection very limited — only about 1 in 5 of the books I was interested in. I didn’t use it for a while for that reason but recently returned and was pleasantly surprised by the number of new titles available. Backlist is still spotty, but it seems more publishers are allowing new releases to be borrowed through my library.

    The downside: I used to be able to DL the ebook I wanted right away. Now a lot more people are borrowing ebooks and there are waiting lists for a surprising number of titles, and not just bestsellers.

    ReplyReply

  3. Isobel Carr
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 10:41:27

    This same “publishing insider” also said ”Best seller now means selling 20,000 copies, so I was thinking of offering like [hundreds of thousand] for it. But Amazon had already bid $1 million for it.”. O.o Even if we’re talking hardback sales, 20K copies sold wouldn’t come close to earning “hundreds of thousands” for a NY published author.

    ReplyReply

  4. Ruthie
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 10:46:49

    I have some trouble understanding people’s apparent surprise and outrage about Apple’s iBooks Author EULA. First, because I think it’s perfectly in line with how Apple has operated in the past vis-à-vis e-books. I saw the EULA restrictions and thought of course that’s how Apple would set that up. That’s how Apple operates.

    But more to the point, I’ve seen people comparing iBooks Author to Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop and arguing that it’s unethical for Apple to try to limit what users can do with what they’ve created using the software, and I don’t think that makes sense. The relevant comparison is to other free ways of creating e-books. If you use Lulu.com’s free online tools to create a book, of course you can’t then export the book with all formatting intact and produce and sell it wherever you like. You have to sell it on Lulu. That’s why the Lulu tool exists. Similarly, if you use Apple’s free tool to create a book, and you want to make money on the book, you have to sell it through Apple. If you don’t want to do that, why are you using the iBooks Author software to begin with?

    (And if the answer to that question is, “It’s better than all the other software out there”–and who knows if that is the answer or not–then doesn’t Apple have a right to take a chunk of your profits for giving you the best existing software for formatting your graphic-intensive textbook or whatever it is you’ve written?)

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  5. Kerry
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 10:48:57

    @Isobel Carr: “Even if we’re talking hardback sales, 20K copies sold wouldn’t come close to earning ‘hundreds of thousands’ for a NY published author.”

    And that is why publishers are broke. The advance system is mathematically illogical.

    ReplyReply

  6. Isobel Carr
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 11:22:29

    I know it’s long been the norm for NY to give overly large advances to some lit fic books (prestige titles), but it’s not the norm for them to do this across the board. They certainly don’t do it in genre! Especially now, when most seem to be offering about half what they think the book will earn. Seven or eight years ago I was hearing big authors say “If you make royalties, they didn’t give you a big enough advance”, now most people I know are making the bulk of their money as royalty payments after release.

    ReplyReply

  7. Jane
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 11:26:54

    @Isobel Carr The big books for publishers are not romance. The big books are certain non fiction books (mostly by famous people or about famous people); thrillers; and general fiction.

    ReplyReply

  8. Brian
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 11:29:11

    Some Kobo codes…

    jan20row20 (20% off – One time use; exp 1/23/12)
    jan20us20 (20% off – One time use; exp 1/23/12)
    jan20ca20 (20% off – One time use; exp 1/23/12)
    jan20au20 (20% off – One time use; exp 1/23/12)
    jan20uk20 (20% off – One time use; exp 1/23/12)
    Kobodollaroff ($1 off – One time use)
    Welcome20 (20% off – One time use)
    giftread (25% off – One time use)
    FirstRead (35% off – One time use)

    ReplyReply

  9. Lisa
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 12:33:29

    I wish audible would buy Shannon’s book already. Dang it. I often don’t have time to read so I listen at the gym. I hate when a fav author isn’t there.

    ReplyReply

  10. Isobel Carr
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 12:44:21

    @Jane: I understand that, but if “big” only means 20K copies sold, I’m shocked (and that seems to be what is being said in the article you linked to).

    ReplyReply

  11. Ros
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 13:18:33

    @Ruthie: You don’t have to sell Lulu-created books on Lulu. You can sell them on Amazon and anywhere else you want, including your own website.

    ReplyReply

  12. Ruthie
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 13:28:18

    @Ros: So much for my argument! ;-) But I still don’t see what the big deal is.

    ReplyReply

  13. Jane
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 13:37:36

    @Ruthie: Because an iBook Author created book can be sold only in the Apple store and be viewed only on an Apple device. None other. That limits access by students and educators. They must have Apple devices to access certain published content. It’s a huge restraint of trade. The only saving thing is that Apple doesn’t have a dominant market share in computers or in education but it does have a huge market share in mobile devices.

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  14. Ruthie
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 14:06:54

    @Jane: I can understand that argument from the restraint-of-trade direction, as being bad for the public. I can’t understand it from the author’s direction. If an author doesn’t want their distribution limited to the Apple store and their readers limited to Apple devices, they don’t use iBook Author. But why the assumption that iBook Author is *supposed* to exist in a form that allows authors to use files that can be read and distributed widely? Yes, it’s sort of limiting and lame of Apple to be so profit-centered, but that’s Apple. Why is it a surprise, and why is it something authors are upset about? The op-ed sort of pieces I’ve read haven’t had the tone, “Oh, what a missed opportunity for Apple to do something good.” They’ve been much more like, “Oh, what a sneaky, despicable, repulsive move on Apple’s part.” And I just can’t understand the ethical argument there.

    ReplyReply

  15. Ruthie
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 14:23:37

    @Jane: It occurs to me, belatedly, that I’m really responding to some posts I saw elsewhere, and not to yours — so I should stop threadjacking. Mea culpa. And thanks for the post. :-)

    ReplyReply

  16. Melodie
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 14:26:18

    Apple’s thought process was to sell more laptops. Every time a teacher picks one of these textbooks every kid in the class has to buy an Apple computer. Or the school needs to buy a computer for each student in the class. Either way Apple makes money on hardware.

    ReplyReply

  17. Anonymous
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 14:42:55

    “Today, it is reported that Harry Reid will not bring PIPA to the floor to vote. Yay for democracy.”

    Does this mean the pirates win?

    ReplyReply

  18. well
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 15:51:34

    I think PIPA and SOPA were only meant to put the massive pirate sites out of business, not kill the Interwebs as so many were fond of squawking. Not sure why the legislators worded it the way they did though. Painting with far too broad a brush! But when does congress ever get ANYTHING right? Sigh.

    Hopefully they will come up with some other legislation to slow offshore-based piracy. I was glad to see MegaUpload was shut down yesterday and several people arrested. They made bajillions of dollars off other people’s copyrighted content as a business model. I understand people’s concerns about regulation but at the same time, the Internet can’t be “any crime goes.”

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  19. DS
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 16:07:36

    @Anonymous: That is a simplistic idea of what SOPA and PIPA meant. There is much more at stake here, including an open and transparent government. As Mike Masnick wrote in a post on Techdirt.com

    Nowhere in any of this did Congress actually debate the problem as outline above. Instead, it simply took the language the MPAA gave them, rushed out a bill, held no hearings on it, did a seven-minute markup off the floor with no recording or discussion, and insisted the bill was perfect.

    The supporters resisted any input from the technology.community or the public. This has been debated everywhere except on capital hill. Yeah the media wanted to frame the discussion in terms of piracy. The only article about this appearing in the local paper yesterday was buried inside below the fold and about two column inches long. It said something about piracy too, and missed the whole point.

    I think I need a towel.

    ReplyReply

  20. Has
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 16:23:26

    @well:

    I am totally against piracy but I don’t think this move is going to help combat it -
    Megaupload is down but this wont mean 5 others like it will take it place. And the fact there was a well known music industry producer who is the CEO and had musical artists involved in a music vid promoting the site is a tad ironic. But there was a lot a of paying genuine customers who did used Megaupload to store and transfer files and not pirate. They lost their personal documents, pictures and other data. And today a Spanish lawyer is going to sue the FBI for illegally closing down Megaupload. This raises legal issues and I think its going to be messy.

    ReplyReply

  21. Dani Alexander
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 16:41:10

    Here is a little message for pirates. Borrow, don’t pirate. If you borrow and then you buy, you can be a datapoint that your library uses to get publishers to lend books. By removing yourself from the data stream, you don’t help institutions like libraries to provide you with legitimate free access to books. By using the library, you are being part of the solution to help yourself and other readers get broader access to free literature.

    I really wish people would find out more about piracy before making these declarations. Here is the thing. Most pirates pirate because the titles/stories are either unavailable where they are, or the cost is prohibitive. That’s MOST pirates.

    Most piracy is done overseas, where the “lending” library doesn’t exist or where the library sometimes takes years to receive a title. Kindle’s lending library only works for Americans/(Canadians?). I pay monthly for an audiblebooks.com account. I’m an American citizen. I bought a Kindle fire and Amazon will sell me some books, but I can’t get a freaking APP overseas, I can’t get amazon prime, I can’t get a lot of books and audiobooks are few an far between, or take sometimes six months to become available on my section of audible. Then, they don’t have all versions. I’m sorry but when something costs me $23.00, it better not be the abridged version.

    I buy tons of Amazon books. I buy tons of AUDIO books. But it’s getting really frustrating to not be able to buy my favorite author or have to pay $19 for a paperback book (yes, that’s what it costs me to get a paperback book here in Sweden). I had to pay more than that for every Cody McFadyen book because it took so long to get them here that I had to order from the States and pay prohibitive shipping.

    I could go on and on, but ask Australians what it’s like to try and buy their favorite authors etc.

    If publishers want to stop piracy, if they really want to get that audience, then they need to learn what music houses and game platforms have learned: Make it available and make it available QUICKLY.

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  22. Courtney Milan
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 17:04:53

    @Ros: Substitute “Smashwords” for “Lulu” and it’s (almost) the same thing. You can’t sell Smashwords-created files anywhere except through Smashwords. (Which I find more problematic, and potentially legally problematic, since the Smashwords Meatgrinder engine is Calibre-based, IIRC. That seems a little wrong, to take free software and claim the output).

    But the people who are getting up in arms about this are self-published authors, which is silly. This is not a problem for self-published authors writing novels. There are so many easy ways to create ePubs it’s not even funny. Even Scrivener automatically exports in ePub format these days.

    I think this is substantially a problem for others because it’s basically:

    (a) Apple making enhanced layout ebooks hugely easy to create;
    and
    (b) therefore, textbook manufacturers suddenly realize they can make textbooks available only on iPad, and
    (c) therefore, they don’t make any other versions, essentially forcing the digital textbook revolution onto iPad and iBooks.

    But I don’t think it’s a restraint on trade that will violate any federal antitrust laws–Apple does not even arguably have a monopoly on software for the creation of e-books, and so there’s no argument for tying that I can see holding up.

    It might run afoul of some state unfair competition rules, though, but what I know about state competition law I could fit into a thimble.

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  23. lakaribane
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 17:10:16

    What Dani Alexander said! The internet changed my life because it gave me access to TONS of information I would not have access to otherwise. Libraries are pitiful around here.

    And then somebody invented ebooks and I almost swooned. Yes! I thought, perfect.

    No more shipping woes.

    No more paying for a yearly courier service out of Florida ($35US). No more paying $30US for 3 paperbacks (true story from 2005-06). No more strategizing stuff like “if I buy 5 books on Amazon, and get the free shipping, that means I’ll only pay the courier guys $25…” or “if Cousin M is coming for Carnaval, maybe I can buy a couple of DVDS a week ahead, and if they make it to her appt before she leaves…”

    And then I found out about DRM, and geo restrictions and…well, I sort of buy ebooks once in a while. A friend gave me her old ebookwise and she had stuffed it to the gills with books for me (she’s the best). But it’s not like I can do as others say here and replace paper books with ebooks.

    So, like Dani, I’m not defending pirates but the internet is NOT the worldwide web. If you live in North America, you *think* everybody is on the same page but we are not equals.

    (Another example is all the videos I can’t watch online. ABC broke my heart, especially now that I don’t have cable anymore and can’t afford a satellite service! No more Ugly Betty, waaaaah!…if that’s still playing, I don’t even know, LOL!)

    As to the issue of file sharing sites, I’m a potential victim of this. A friend in the UK shares my other hobby, sewing. Sometimes she scans pages of the sewing magazines she gets to post on her blog…or to show me. So if they shut down Dropbox on the same accusations as Megaupload, I can’t even vicariously “sew” with my faraway friend, can I? How is that fair????

    I read on a french newspaper online, in the comments on an article on the Megaupload story, the testimony of a graphics teacher who shared with her students via Megaupload. So now all her course material is gone and she has to find another site to reload everything. Until they shut that one down too.

    It’s likely some people will continue to pirate books, music and movies. A tech savvy coworker told me “Oh, you still buy stuff? Why bother? You can get anything for free online?” I admit I was a bit shocked…

    But, again, I agree with Dani, wouldn’t it make more sense if EVERYBODY could buy on the same terms?

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  24. Maili
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 17:49:07

    @well:

    I was glad to see MegaUpload was shut down yesterday and several people arrested. They made bajillions of dollars off other people’s copyrighted content as a business model. I understand people’s concerns about regulation but at the same time, the Internet can’t be “any crime goes.”

    What do you think Megaupload is? It’s exactly same as Dropbox, Mediafire, Photobucket, TinyPic and all other media hosting sites. I’m a legit customer of Megaupload – have been for about five years – where I had uploaded photos of my paintings. My scans are too big for Gmail and I’m not keen on image hosting sites, so Megaupload was ideal for friends and family to access my scans. All that – gone. So yeah, I’m pissed off.

    Shutting down Megaupload is outrageous. Would you be fine with it if – say – Hong Kong shut down Dear Author because it violates one of *their* laws? That’s what happened with the US and its actions with Megaupload and other sites here. They’ve gone too far and people are starting to push back. I’m going to be one of them, trust me on this.

    There are better ways of combating piracy – the current methods aren’t ideal; I know because I sent off 100s of C&D notices on the behalf of my employer, but there are still better ways – and believe me, shutting down sites at will isn’t one of them. I refuse to allow the US to become our very own China where the Internet is concerned.

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  25. Brian
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 18:04:46

    Apparently Megaupload is @lakaribane:

    But, again, I agree with Dani, wouldn’t it make more sense if EVERYBODY could buy on the same terms?

    Would it be nice, yes it would. There are ebooks available in the UK that I’d love to be able to buy here in the US. Would it make more sense? You’d think so, but you’ll have to get not only publishers on board, but authors and agents as well (some are, but a lot are just fine with the status quo).

    Just because it would make more sense doesn’t mean the publisher is free to make them available everywhere. They have to have the rights to do so.

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  26. Brian
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 18:08:39

    This deal isn’t romance, but might appeal to some folks…

    American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition by Neil Gaiman is $1.99 at Amazon right now (don’t know how long it’ll last). Sony and ebooks.com had it for that price as well when I checked (B&N did yesterday, but doesn’t anymore).

    This is a US only deal as there are different publishers for other regions.

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  27. Sunita
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 18:22:26

    @Maili: *claps*. Very well stated.

    MegaUpload was used all the time for *legitimate* transfers and sharing of files. I’ve DL’d plenty of legit files from there.

    And as ArsTechnica, Gizmodo, and various other sites reported yesterday, MegaUpload accounted for more corporate traffic than Dropbox, and most of this traffic was business-related.

    I look forward to the lawsuits.

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  28. SN
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 18:30:21

    @Brian: Ah, but Brian, you don’t know what a bloody pain it is with regional restrictions until you live somewhere like Australia, and no matter what you do you cannot get a book! Not only are next to no ebooks available, but often US booksellers won’t even send a paper version. It annoys me when Americans say, “Oh, but there’s this one ebook in Tanzania I can’t get!” That’s not the same.
    That NYT bestseller that’s being made into a movie? Nope, we’re not allowed to read it because we’re in the wrong region. We can get NOTHING here, and yes, publishers do drive people to piracy!

    I do not support illegal downloads, but what in the hell do publishers expect when there is literally no way for us to get the books?!

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  29. Brian
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 19:38:47

    @SN: Sorry that I’ve annoyed you, but I didn’t say it was one book. There have been dozens of ebooks I’ve been unable to get.

    Still I know it’s worse where you are, never said it wasn’t (although saying you can get nothing there is BS). I know we have it good here compared to many places. As I said it’s not just a publisher problem. It’s also an author/agent issue and the following of the status quo. It’s sometimes contracts that were written before ebooks. In an ideal world worldwide rights would be sold for each book, but is it realistic that will happen? If Random House in the US bought worldwide ebook rights for novel XYZ and sold it to readers everywhere would Random House Australia survive on just local print rights for it? It’s a very complex issue.

    Not sure which NYT bestseller you mean so it’s hard to comment (or maybe that was a generic comment?). I thought maybe you mean’t Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but I see that’s available as an ebook for $9.99 there according to Borders.com.au

    I’ve said before, I have little doubt that geo restrictions are one of the larger factors that drive folks to piracy and once folks pirate one time they’re likely to do it again and eventually get in the habit of looking for the pirate version first.

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  30. Jen
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 23:36:31

    I have to agree with Dani and lakaribane.
    I live in Australia.
    My closest bookshop is over 200km away.
    I actually own more books than either of the 2 libraries closest to me.
    The internet opened up so many more bookshops for me.
    Even better I discovered Book Depository which meant I could buy even more books as paperbacks are generally $10 less and HC close to $30 less than buying from Aus.
    Then a friend turned me onto ebooks and I was hooked.No waiting for a week or so for books to arrive. See,buy,read…awesome. Joined Fictionwise and bought over 1300 ebooks in a year or so then geo restrictions came in.
    Over 70% of the ebooks I want are restricted. I have only bought 5 books since then from them.
    To get ebooks that are geo rest here without pirating takes a bit of hassle. It can be done, but most people would take the easier way.

    @Brian: As for Random House surviving with print rights if the ebooks were available here,well maybe not. But as I buy from Book Depository (if I’m buying print books) as does most everyone I know, they aren’t getting my money anyway.

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  31. Dani Alexander
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 23:48:12

    @Brian: She meant ALL best sellers. I feel terrible for Australians. They are almost exclusively locked out of contract deals.

    I just wrote an epic long post about pirates and the internet and why they’re trying to combat it with silly things like SOPA and PIPA. Like that will wipe out piracy. Here’s why that’s a fallacy:

    In the 80′s I lived in Indonesia. We had a guy come around with pirated movies to our house every week where I would rent them for about a buck each movie. The 80′s! INDONESIA! Seriously, pirates don’t need the internet. Close down one avenue and they’ll open another.

    Oh dear. I’m going to leave my soapbox and go over in the corner over there where I will write 100 times “I will not type out excessive soapboxy comments.”

    ofc… I could just erase all of this… but I won’t.

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  32. SAO
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 03:01:39

    If textbook publishers are stupid enough to publish on a proprietary Apple format, they deserve the mess they’ll make for themselves.

    It wouldn’t be too hard to have a universal format and allow parents to choose e-texts for whatever device they buy for their kids. This could easily co-exist with hardcover texts.

    However, this will only happen if the textbook publishers are pro-active. Hoping that E is a trend that will fade and then scrambling around at the last minute because of some new rival is not the way to go.

    Alternatively, one of the big, influential states, like California, could make it a requirement of their textbook orders and define terms that make sense for schools, rather than publishers or device makers.

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  33. Ros
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 04:33:37

    @Courtney Milan: Sure you can sell Smashwords created content elsewhere. Two ways: through their own distribution method, which admittedly they take a cut of, but from a customer perspective gives access without needing to go to Smashwords; and secondly by selling coupon codes. I wanted to do this before Christmas to enable people to give my books as a gift, so I checked with the Smashwords team and was told that it was totally fine for me to make a 100% off coupon code and then use that in any way I wanted, including selling through my own website.

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  34. Courtney Milan
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 08:03:26

    @Ros: That’s a distinction without a difference. The point is: Smashwords controls the distribution of the work that it creates, and doesn’t allow you to distribute it independently of them. Even if you’re selling a coupon code, or if it is being sold by Smashwords on some other site, Smashwords is doing the distribution.

    That you can make money off of it in ways other than people buying it through your site is irrelevant to the broader point. They claim a degree of ownership in the files they create, to the point of claiming that they have the right to control distribution.

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  35. well
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 08:30:10

    The problem with Megaupload is that their business model was based on encouraging others to upload illegal material for their financial gain. They rewarded those who did in order to ensure they had plenty of illegal material available on their site. If you read the charges and evidence against them, you can’t argue it. It was a criminal enterprise, full stop. I feel sorry for those who used Megaupload for their *legal* uploads, not understanding that they were dealing with a criminal corporation. It’s just like the people who lose money in pyramid schemes and such. It’s a shame, but maybe they should have looked a little closer at whether the person they were trusting was abiding by the law.

    The value of SOPA is that it would have forced file sharing websites to operate legally. They would have had to show they had software and programs in place to recognize and reject infringing files. Then customers of those sites could have uploaded their legal files and everyone could be happy and everything would be on the level.

    I am not crying any tears for Megaupload. They broke the law and made millions doing it. Maybe if people keep losing their legal files through similar seizes, they will demand safer, more reputable file sharing sites free of pirated materials so it doesn’t happen to them again. One can hope.

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  36. azteclady
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 08:45:03

    @well: There was no need of SOPA, PIPA or any variant thereof to take down Megaupload. Current law was, obviously, more than adequate. What is needed is better enforcement of existing legislation, not broadly worded draconian laws that would give corporations, through the governments they $influence$, the power to silence their competition.

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  37. Jane
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 09:24:37

    @well: First, there are only allegations of wrongdoing against MegaUpload. Second, there are many legitimate uses of MegaUpload even if it is misused by some. VCRS, you may recall, were the subject of hot debate back in the day because of their ability to record television shows and were argued to be a way to violate copyright. Third, simply because a bill is introduced with the name “stop piracy” and intends to regulate control over the internet does not mean that it will do either.

    Finally, to the non US readers here, I completely understand your plight. I, too, believe that one way to reduce piracy is open up legitimate channels of purchase. Failure to do that will result in piracy and once a person learns how to pirate, then half the battle is lost, in my opinion. I should have qualified my post to indicate I was urging those who do have access to use the library.

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  38. Courtney Milan
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 10:22:49

    @well: The problem with Megaupload is that their business model was based on encouraging others to upload illegal material for their financial gain. They rewarded those who did in order to ensure they had plenty of illegal material available on their site. If you read the charges and evidence against them, you can’t argue it.

    The whole point of charging someone with something is to give them an opportunity to argue with them. If you read the charges and say, “Well, that settles that, you can’t argue with that,” you’re missing the point. A charging document is not proof of anything except a charge.

    People who used megaupload for legitimate purposes (and there are many of them) suddenly had a venue for expression removed.

    There has to be a better solution.

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  39. Gwen Hayes
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 10:23:54

    I hope I’m not simplifying the issue too much…but why don’t more publishing houses in other countries actively try to acquire rights to the books they aren’t getting? It seems like there is a market for it. Isn’t the geo-restriction there because nobody has made an offer to buy the rights from the U.S rightholder?

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  40. Sunita
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 10:53:49

    @well: You do understand the difference between “alleged” and “proven,” right?

    This is the same Justice Department that made a sweeping, publicized indictment of former Senator Ted Stevens and then mishandled the case so badly that it was dismissed, and the prosecutors were given an unprecedented and blistering rebuke by the judge overseeing it. And that was an area of law in which they have prosecutorial experience.

    For the sake of all of us who prefer that our government agencies act competently rather than the reverse, let’s hope they didn’t overreach this time. Because if they did, you can be sure Robert Bennett will nail them to the wall.

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  41. Ridley
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 12:06:09

    I still want some evidence that piracy is so damaging that it necessitates federal involvement like this.

    I won’t hold my breath.

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  42. Jan Springer
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 14:15:54

    Gwen, I was wondering the same thing.

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  43. eggs
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 16:56:55

    @Gwen: the reason (say) Australian publishing houses don’t try to acquire the rights to publish a US book here is because there’s no money in it. Authors have two choices when selling the rights to publish their books. They can sell worldwide English language rights to a single publisher, in which case everyone everywhere in the world can buy the book at the same time; or they can sell USA only English language rights to a US publisher and then try to sell the rights to publish their book in other places one country at a time.

    Historically, authors could make more money this way as by the time they were negotiating to sell to a publisher in Australia, that company already knew if the book was successful in the US or UK. Companies pay more money for a sure thing.

    Unfortunately, the reverse happens now. When a book is hugely successful in the US or UK, then Australian readers get straight on the internet and order copies from Amazon or Book Depositary. By the time authors try to sell English language (Australia Only) rights a year later, pretty much everyone with any interest in their book has already imported it themselves. Or pirated a copy. As a result, Australian publishers aren’t really interested in buying those rights as there’s no profit left in the deal.

    This is a downward spiraling cycle. The more we buy overseas, the less we buy here, the less we buy here, the smaller the market gets, the smaller market leads to publishers being less wiling to buy Australia Only rights, so fewer books become available, so we import more from overseas, etc. Basically, it’s at the point now where I take my kids to the bookstore once a month, they look for books they want to read, can’t find them and we go home and order off the internet. We used to go to the book store every week and buy something.

    Authors are holding out on selling the worldwide rights in the hope that they will make more money by selling the rights one slice at a time, which would be fair enough except the reverse is happening and they are losing readers and sales. Single country English language publishing is basically dead, what’s happening now is we’re waiting for the body to stop twitching so we can bury it and move on to the global model.

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  44. Merrian
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 17:44:03

    @eggs: This paradigm also means that eBooks are not available in Australia at all for many books. I may be able to order a print copy from overseas but I have no access at all to an e-version. I want the eBook and not print so therefore I can’t buy the book at all.

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  45. Gwen Hayes
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 19:22:49

    @eggs: Thank you for explaining that to me. Penguin Australia purchased rights to my first book at the get-go, so I didn’t realize that wasn’t happening all the time.

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  46. Deb
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 19:26:04

    On Apple IBA; I think Publishers & Authors will need to look at the iBooks format as an app type file vs. an epub of text and images. If I understand correctly, the iBooks 2 app will enable multimedia within the books. It makes sense from that standpoint that Apple would offer a layout app to build the publication. To build a feature rich book, you need an app which is designed for the proprietary architecture. This is what app developers deal with. Rovio built an iOS version (sold exclusively in iTunes) and an Android version of Angry Birds. They had to deal with 2 distinct builds of the same game, while retaining copyright of the content. Expensive to build, but I think Rovio has done rather well.

    As far as Megauload, what an unfortunate mess. I believe Ars Techica indicated that staff at Megaupload are alleged to have ripped their own copies of DVDs to make available for file sharing. Considering the search capabilities for specific shared content, any business owner should have evaluated whether the cost of service is worth the vulnerability to potential copyright infringement, as well as security issues with their own IP.

    Lastly, I am so disappointed with Publishers not making digital versions available to libraries. As a daughter to a parent with low vision, audio books are the only way my mother can read, and I can’t afford to keep her in books. I do have an Audible account for her, but at the rate she reads, 1 or 2 lasts a week. It is also difficult to arrange transport for her during the winter, as she is not stable in snow and ice. I have thought of a Kindle DX as I could share my account with her, but even the larger screen isn’t comfortable. Her central vision is blurred, thus can only read with peripheral vision. It makes for an unpleasant reading experience. I’ve also read that Publishers are also considering not encoding for CDs, thus digital download only is the future. I think I will start recording my own reading for her, or would that be copyright infringement too?

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  47. Courtney Milan
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 22:35:58

    @eggs: Authors have two choices when selling the rights to publish their books. They can sell worldwide English language rights to a single publisher, in which case everyone everywhere in the world can buy the book at the same time…

    Not really. I sold world rights to my books to Harlequin, and my books aren’t available worldwide.

    If you sell rights to a publisher, they may very well make the same calculus that you put to authors–to withhold exercise of the rights on the theory that they might be able to sell it to a local branch.

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  48. eggs
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 02:47:36

    :-) I know you’re right Courtney, but I try to keep myself to basic generalities when it comes to geo-restrictions, otherwise I go off into crazed tl;dr rants. My emotions, they are too involved.

    With regards to Harlequin in particular, they certainly make a killing in Australia by doing just as you suggest. Their categories repackaged here as Mills & Boons with a RRP of around $7 per book. I found the spit take at the price of the Nora Roberts reissues quite amusing as I could only dream of guaranteed Nora quality in a $7 Harlequin! I can’t even begin to imagine how much they will be when (if) they’re published here.

    As a comparison of US vs Australian book prices: The hardcover of your book Proof By Seduction is available here at the Angusrobertson.com.au website for $73.95 (paperback only $34.95!!), paperbacks of Unveiled and Unclaimed are $13.95. I think Angus & Robertson are the biggest Australian booksellers, so those prices would be across the board in Oz.

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  49. Andrea
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 18:37:26

    To add to eggs point, the Australian dollar the last couple of weeks has been parity/worth slightly more than the US dollar. [It's not just books - new computer games are over $100 thanks to special Australian pricing.]

    I only occasionally have purchase issues with ebooks in Australia, but I think that may be because mystery and SFF have gone the world English rights way more quickly than romance. I still hit the problem with older mystery books, but I’ve been fortunate in my e-purchases.

    Australian hardcover prices are insane (though I admit that I’ve never seen one for $73 before). Usually around $50. I feel sorry for local bookstores, because most of them don’t have a great deal of choice about the prices they charge.

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  50. Courtney Milan
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 18:50:46

    @eggs: I know. The first time I saw the price I nearly choked.

    But at least you can buy Proof by Seduction in e-version in Australia. You can’t get Unveiled or Unclaimed–even though Harlequin has world rights.

    The only way that authors can guarantee worldwide digital release of their books is to either (a) have it written in to their contracts or (b) only sell North American rights and self-publish the work to the rest of the world.

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  51. Gwen Hayes
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 09:11:20

    @Courtney Milan: re: worldwide digital release: Do you think it’s something publishers would do or is it one of those “in a perfect world” situations? Or “if your name is Stephen King” they will do it?

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