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Thursday News: RIP Maya Angelou, Tor’s new DRM-free imprint, LeVar Burton...

[Tor founder Tom] Doherty confirmed that after two years Tor Books had yet to see any downside to their decision. Distributing ebooks sans DRM has not increased the number of pirated ebooks or visibly decreased sales of Tor titles, thus proving that DRM serves no actual purpose other than locking consumers into existing retail channels. –The Digital Reader

The Kickstarter is looking to raise $1 million and wants to accomplish three goals: bringing Reading Rainbow to the web, creating a version meant for teachers’ use in classrooms, and setting up a not-for-profit with the goal of giving Reading Rainbow away to low-income schools for free. Other schools and individual families will still be able to use Reading Rainbow on the web, but they’ll have to pay a subscription to access it — for personal use of the iPad app, that’s about $60 per year. –The Verge

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!


  1. ms bookjunkie
    May 29, 2014 @ 04:22:00

    That bookworm list is missing Mori from Jo Walton’s AMONG OTHERS, which I highly recommend to everyone. And if you’re into audiobooks, Katherine Kellgren’s narration is exquisite.

  2. Heather
    May 29, 2014 @ 07:57:14

    While I liked Reading Rainbow growing up, I’m not caring much for his new vision.

    In my community, I can comfortably say that (1) 97% does not have consistent enough access to Internet and/or (2) the devices to enjoy Reading Rainbow and (3) could not afford to pay $60 a year for access.

    By charging individual families for access, you’re missing the low literacy community that needs this resource the most.

  3. Sunita
    May 29, 2014 @ 10:45:25

    What Heather said. The app version is only for iPad, which is not likely to reach many in the targeted group. There’s no Android app, no Chrome app, and there’s no mention of optimizing the web version for mobile phones. Lower-income people are more likely to access the internet from their smartphones, and if they have computers they’re more likely to be shared access. And the Reading Rainbow personnel named don’t obviously include people with experience building websites and apps (I’m sure they have experts, but I’d feel better if they highlighted them).

    No question it’s a great goal, but the description of how they’re going to reach every child leaves me unconvinced.

  4. cleo
    May 29, 2014 @ 11:38:53

    @ms bookjunkie: I loved Among Others! Although I think you’d have to have some familiarity with and affection for SF/F or it wouldn’t make much sense.

    Although, as I write this, I realize that I probably missed like 50% to 70% of the references in Oscar Wao and I still loved the book and feel like I got a lot out of it, so maybe familiarity with the references isn’t necessary. IDK.

    Part of the joy of Among Others, for me, was recognizing (some of) the books she was reading and some of the sly ways that Jo Walton played with the texts (like when Mo tried to apply something she picked up reading Heinlein to her fledgling relationship with a boy and I went “oh honey”).

  5. batgrl
    May 29, 2014 @ 11:55:17

    I was psyched to hear about the Reading Rainbow thing – and then, like others commented, read the bit about $60 and ipad/Apple device only. As someone who started using computers with an Apple SE I was hooked into that system as long as I had a student discount – after that the PC option was cheaper. And now it’s the same with phones and tablets – the Apple devices are almost always more expensive, and for most families that’s a vital factor. If we really care about the average kid learning to enjoy reading it doesn’t make sense to only create the media in a form that you’d have to have the more expensive device to read it on. It’s also sort of sad that this series started on PBS, a channel meant to always be freely available to all the public, no fee necessary – and yet this version would make it for paid members only.

    Now if they were not just using that $60 to fund the app but also going to post a series on YouTube or an interactive website with only a portion of the app’s content – that would at least be something I could see as trying to be helpful to the average child using the internet.

  6. batgrl
    May 29, 2014 @ 11:57:37

    I do love how much of Maya Angelou’s work is being shared online – the videos and poetry have been wonderful. It’s always sad when a beloved author dies, but so much of what’s been posted online makes me appreciate her even more. And I’d never heard her sing til now.

  7. Samantha
    May 29, 2014 @ 12:49:15

    To be fair, the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter is to develop a web-based version and to set up low income schools to be able to use it for free. I think classrooms are the best application for the content anyway–it certainly worked when they’d wheel in the TV when I was a kid.

  8. Maura
    May 29, 2014 @ 13:36:37

    While that’s the current version of the Reading Rainbow app, the Kickstarter is to get it onto the web and into schools- they specifically note in their video that not everyone has access to tablets and individual subscriptions, and the campaign is to help them broaden the reach of the RR programs and get it out to as many children as possible.

  9. Maura
    May 29, 2014 @ 13:38:15

    The current version of Reading Rainbow is the subscription tablet app. The Kickstarter is specifically to broaden the reach of it and get it out to as many children as possible by bringing it to the web and into classrooms. They specifically note in the Kickstarter materials that not everyone has access to tablets and subscriptions, and that’s why they’re looking to expand their reach.

  10. Nancy
    May 29, 2014 @ 13:44:15

    The point of the kickstarter is to move Reading Rainbow to the web. The article says Reading Rainbow is currently only accessible on an iPad app and LeVar Burton sees that as the problem – too few people can access (or afford to access) it. The kickstarter plans to create a subscription-based web platform that would charge for individual families and some schools. On the kickstarter website, it says the $1 million goal will give free access to the program to 1,500+ classrooms and the more they raise, the more schools will receive the funding free.

    Although, if they mean 1,500+ classrooms and not schools, that’s not that many schools affected. But they’ve announced that, since they’ve raised more money than expected, they’ll be announcing new goals in a couple of days.

    I think the classroom is probably the best use of their new vision. I”m glad to see them moving in that direction and, though it’s not explicitly stated, I do think the $60 subscription is to fund the programs in poorer schools, along with staff, tech, and other nonprofit costs.

  11. Anne
    May 29, 2014 @ 13:49:10

    @Nancy: I didn’t see the app in Google Play but it is available for the kindle fire. I have two siblings that subscribe through Amazon and AFAIK both are pleased with it but reviews do seem to be mixed.

  12. Nancy
    May 29, 2014 @ 13:56:15

    @Anne: Thanks for the edification. That article seems to not be clearly written – some left with the impression that the new campaign would be for an iPad app and I read it thinking there was only Apple-based apps already in existence. Glad to hear that is not the case.

  13. batgrl
    May 29, 2014 @ 14:23:26

    Oh good – I’d read the article linked but after the information didn’t have the heart to read the Kickstarter page. That’s actually great to hear. It’s kind of telling that I automatically believed that they would push something through that would be only one platform just because it’s happened with so many other “coming soon to your iphone/pad” announcements in the past. Glad that they’re opening it up – thanks for passing on that bit of info.

  14. Janine
    May 29, 2014 @ 15:32:28

    @batgrl: Me too. I spent some time in the past 24 hours watching Maya Angelou clips and thinking about how much the world will miss her. What a magnificent life she led! My condolences to her loved ones, and to all those whose lives she touched.

  15. Cynthia Sax
    May 29, 2014 @ 16:09:40

    As a writer, I can confirm that DRM doesn’t make a difference with piracy. My stories published with DRM are pirated just as much (or even more) than my stories published sans DRM.

    As a reader, DRM drives me crazy. There’s a good chance the stories won’t download properly and then I have to argue with the bookseller. It is a PITA.

  16. Maite
    May 29, 2014 @ 16:56:27

    I hate DRM. It’s gotten to the point that I won’t even download a free ebook with it, as I know that I won’t ever read it.
    Why? I use Linux. Not because it’s free or because it’s open source, it just loads faster, works better and all the stuff I need to work is made for it. But DRM books won’t open in it. Because Adobe likes to ignore Linux exists, so if I want to read my legally purchased book, I have to open the Windows partition (which takes three times as long), open the DRM link I downloaded, wait for it to decide to work (around half an hour), or re-download because Adobe Digital Editions always claims there’s stuff left to download (eight copies and it still claims it hasn’t downloaded), and then I can begin reading. It doesn’t help that I don’t like reading from the Digital Editions program, and I can’t open it elsewhere.
    And the links do expire, so I don’t even know what I bought and could re-download.
    In my view, this encourages piracy.

  17. Lana Baker
    May 29, 2014 @ 23:57:56

    @Maite: I so hate reading from the Digital Editions program. I can’t read those things anywhere but on my computer, and the software is definitely not as user-friendly as using an ereader to read the same book. Plus, I hate sitting in front of my computer reading for hours on end (how did I ever read so much fanfiction in the 90s?).

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