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Sunday News Roundup: Free Books from All Romance eBooks

I hope you are enjoying the holidays. We are taking a mini vacation this week (if you haven’t noticed the light schedule this past week) which means only one review a day and no opinions. Today we’ve got a link roundup and a review. We’ll be back to our regular schedule on January 2nd along with a brand new look. Think blue.

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Ursula K. LeGuin charges the Authors Guild with selling authors down the river by entering into a settlement agreement with Google. The Authors Guild responds by saying that it couldn’t allow a court ruling on the case because if Google won and the scanning and snippet display were considered fair use any Tom, Dick or Jane with a scanner and time could set up a search engine of books.

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Amazon claims that on Christmas Day it sold more ebooks than physical books. This is hardly surprising since Kindle was a hot Amazon gift item and what else are you going to do when all the stores are closed but download music, movies and books? Of course, as always, Amazon doesn’t release numbers. As for Barnes and Noble, apparently unprepared for the onslaught of people who got nooks for Christmas wanting to actually use the devices, the retailers servers crashed and the nook was unable to complete people’s download requests for all of Christmas Day.

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Washington Post writes that there is a conflict brewing over ebooks because consumers’ desires aren’t being met by publisher business plans. As customers move toward wanting instant access to all books published, publishers are working to funnel customers back to the retailers. The Post hasn’t quite caught on to the publishing mindset because it ends with this:

But if the publishers want a role in the e-books business, they’ll need to get over it and get on with it, embracing lower-priced e-books with higher author royalties. That seems unlikely. Because it’s now clear that publishers just don’t want to listen to what their customers are telling them.

We know that the publishers are listening to their customers. It’s just that the customers aren’t the readers. In Carolyn Reidy’s 2009 year end statement, she clearly defines the customers as the resellers:

The U.S. bookselling marketplace has been truly lackluster, and year-on-year sales at most of our major customers have declined significantly.

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The rumors of the Apple Tablet are heating up with discoveries of a website called iSlate having been purchased by Apple and that they have rented a stage at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco for late January. All signs point to a major product rollout. You can read a roundup of the Apple Tablet rumors here. Essentially it sounds like an announcement of a 7-10″ tablet running around $500-$1000 available sometime in early to mid 2010.

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Random House makes a move in the right direction by making more of its digital books available internationally. English language books will be made available worldwide, for any region Random House owns (or believes to own) the digital rights. I hope more publishers and authors will do this because it doesn’t make sense to leave piracy the only available path for international digital readers.

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Finally, All Romance eBooks has over 170 novellas, short stories, and a few novels for free at its webstore. I haven’t looked at the list sufficiently to tell you what is worth downloading except for this book by Sarah Mayberry. Home for the Holidays is quite a good read and it’s a steal at the price of $0.00.

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

21 Comments

  1. Pearl
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 04:20:57

    Re. Home for the Holidays: Of course AFTER I buy the print version they offer the digital version for free…will download it for the iPhone though ;)

    Happy Holidays and enjoy your vacaction. Can’t wait to see the new look in the new year!

  2. Moth
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 06:21:35

    Free Sarah Mayberry? Hell yeah! :D

  3. Nadia Lee
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 08:01:13

    Litigation, particularly litigation over the bounds of fair use, involves risk. Some critics of the settlement wrongly dismiss that risk, but the fact is that we certainly could have lost the case.

    So…since they could’ve lost the case, they just decided to surrender?

    Wow.

  4. LaurieF
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 09:29:35

    Enjoy your time off, happy holidays!

  5. Robin Bayne
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 10:34:03

    I’m with Pearl–already bought the print version. Happy 2010 to everyone ; )

  6. Dana
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 10:54:55

    If you’re going to download the free reads from ARe, don’t get the epub format.

    I bought both Home for the Holidays and A Regency Christmas (an anthology with Carla Kelly that was also a free read on ARe) from eHarlequin, and made my own epubs from the dedrmed files, but I thought it would be nice to have professionally made epubs so I tried to get them from ARe. A Regency Christmas had absolutely no formatting, no TOC, no italics, it was just a wall of text. Home for the Holidays is better, there’s some formatting and a TOC, but it looks like all the italics have been stripped. I’m going to guess that ARe did their own conversions, since it’s the only site that offers epub Harlequin books, and something got messed up during the conversion process.

    This was my first experience with ARe, and I doubt if I will go back to them. I’m just happy I didn’t have to spend any money before I found out about their crappy formatting.

  7. brooksse
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 11:11:26

    According to the below post at Teleread.org, the Sony site was also overwhelmed on Christmas. Sony’s problems were due to people downloading the new Reader library software. Sony updated their library software a couple weeks before Christmas., and Sony Readers that shipped before the update had the old software installed.

    http://www.teleread.org/2009/12/26/bn-nook-and-sony-readers-sites-couldnt-cope-with-holiday-downloads/

    So anyone who got a new Sony Reader for Christmas — or a Sony ebook store gift card — who didn’t already have the new Reader library installed had to download and install the new software.

  8. Robin
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 11:25:41

    So it seems like the AG is still trying to talk itself and its authors into the GBKS settlement. Good luck with that. It’s gonna take way more eggnog, at the very least.

    I think it’s especially amazing that they seem to believe they managed to corral Google.

  9. GrowlyCub
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 11:45:29

    I downloaded 7 or 8 short stories from ARe and have to say the quality was pretty dismal overall (no Excessica, but a variety of other e-pubs).

    I overlooked the Mayberry and the Regency Christmas ones, so thanks for the heads up, especially on the epub problems. I try to get .lit when it’s offered, as conversion from that seems to go pretty well in general.

  10. CupK8
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 11:52:52

    I rather enjoyed Slow Hands by Leslie Kelly, which I saw on that list. I believe it is still available for free on the Kindle too. :)

  11. Deb Kinnard
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 12:23:47

    @Growly, did you mean the e-reader display/text quality or the content quality? As an author for one of the e-pubs who sells through ARe, I’ve got an interest in your reply.

  12. W. Post writer: Publishers not listening to e-customers—but WHO are the latter? | TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 12:41:31

    [...] course, as Dear Author points out, there's the ticklish little issue of who the customers are. Flesh-and-blood mortals? [...]

  13. Wendy
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 13:08:25

    I found myself (once again) doing a bit of show and tell on one of my flights when I whipped out my “ancient” Sony 505 (I’ve had it 3 years now and it’s still going strong). The lady sitting next to me worked in PR and she felt that “heads were going to roll” over the nook fiasco. I gotta say – I can’t really disagree with her. B&N found every possible way to fumble that launch IMHO.

  14. Katie
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 14:11:49

    Man, it seems like I’ve been waiting forever for Apple’s Tablet/Ebook reader. I’ve put off buying an Ereader because I knew once Apple debuted this I’d have no need. But man the waiting is killing me! lol

  15. GrowlyCub
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 14:48:21

    @Deb Kinnard:

    Definitely content and writing. Didn’t notice anything too off with the display quality.

  16. lorenet
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 17:10:27

    CupK8 — After reading Slow Hands by Leslie Kelly for $0.00, I had to check out the second book in the series, Heated Rush. I enjoyed Heated Rush even more.

  17. Castiron
    Dec 28, 2009 @ 08:16:16

    @Nadia Lee: I’m scratching my head too. “We might have lost the case, which would’ve allowed this very limited use, so we’re going to give Google far more rights to everyone’s books instead!”

    And since they didn’t finish the case, there’s still no ruling on whether scanning a book for search engine and snippet view purposes is fair use or not. Are large university libraries participating in massive copyright violation by having their collections scanned solely for search use? I think no, other people think yes, but we don’t know.

  18. Chicklet
    Dec 28, 2009 @ 10:40:38

    Sony updated their library software a couple weeks before Christmas., and Sony Readers that shipped before the update had the old software installed.

    Great timing, Sony! *eyeroll*

  19. Estara
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 12:33:33

    Slow Hands is among the free Harlequin books for their 60 year anniversary, published earlier this year, which is why it’s still free at ARe.

    Home for the Holidays isn’t free any more, it was a twelve-day deal for their newsletter subscribers, like the Regency Christmas one

  20. Stumbling Over Chaos :: “Once in a very blue moon…”
    Dec 31, 2009 @ 02:01:57

    [...] got some great book links over at Love Romance Passion. So does Dear Author, including a link to free ebooks at All Romance [...]

  21. AmyW (from Harlequin)
    Dec 31, 2009 @ 11:10:08

    @Dana, I’m going to look into those titles you mentioned. Harlequin did not produce EPUBs for those titles. We take the quality of your eBooks seriously and proof each title for proper formatting.

    The 60th anniversary titles (such as Slow Hands) that are sill free we did convert and proof, though. Hope those were okay for everyone! They are also still available on a number of sites.

    If you ever notice any big formatting problems in Harlequin eBooks, feel free to contact me via Twitter (link is in my name) or at Amy_Wilkins @ Harlequin.ca
    ~Amy

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