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

Thursday News: Twitter user languages, hidden costs of Getty Images, crowdsourcing...

The Languages of Twitter Users – This is a pretty nifty little chart detailing the different languages used on Twitter, and how their combination has changed since 2007. Although English still represents the largest percentage, its share of the Twitter marketplace has decreased over the past seven years, and several new languages have been added to the mix over the last couple of years (including Swedish, Chinese, Polish, and Thai). –New York Times

Getty Images Allows Free Embedding, but at What Cost to Privacy? – I should have known this was too good to be true. Or, rather, that the use of these images would be far from “free.” In addition to all the normal privacy concerns you have when you use certain types of third-party content, Getty is going to be amassing a massive database on user data that it might “monetize,” which would be an indirect, but no less worrying, charge to image users. Let’s hope that Getty looks at better, less invasive and ethically suspect methods to profit from doing the right thing.

For one thing, given its scale and popularity, Getty Images embeds may appear on a significant number of different sites that a single user visits. That would allow Getty to correlate more information about a user’s browsing history than any single site could. That information, in turn, is subject to government requests, sales to data brokers, or even breaches or leaks.

These concerns might be mitigated by a strong privacy policy or some indication of what Getty intends to log and how it’s going to use it. Unfortunately, we’ve gotten the opposite. –EFF

Aziz Ansari Is Crowdsourcing Reddit for His New Book Modern Romance – So Aziz Ansari has set up a subreddit through which he can source material for his new book on dating and romance, especially within a social media environment. On the one hand it seems an obvious, even genius, strategy, but on the other, it’s going to be interesting to see if anyone objects to having their words used in Ansari’s book, even though he’s clearly stated that all of the responses can be used in his project. And I’ll admit that I’m getting increasingly uncomfortable with the trend of crowdsourcing intellectual property (Kindle Worlds, I’m looking at you). I mean, who’s profiting most here – contributors, individual creators, or corporations?

As Famously points out, r/modernromantics acts as a reverse AMA: Instead of answering Redditors’ queries, Ansari is asking the questions. (There used to be a joke thread posted by a different user, titled something like “Would you leave your significant other for Aziz?”, but it’s since been removed.) So far, Redditors are engaging in the kind of open-minded discussion I see on other dating subs (I frequent r/okcupid), but with far more optimism –Huffington Post Books

Scribd, Piracy, and Why You Can’t Always Believe What You Read Online – Nate Hoffelder addresses the tenacious rumor that users of Scribd can easily pirate books downloaded from that site. Rich Meyer at indies Unlimited has been urging authors to remove their Smashwords books from Scribd based on this rumor. Beyond the ongoing hysteria over piracy, this rumor demonstrates — as Hoffelder points out — a lack of understanding about how technology works, specifically about how publishing technology works.

Juli [Monroe] and I both think that Scribd stores their ebooks in a folder called documents_cache. We came to this conclusion independently, and if that is where Scribd puts the ebooks then I seriously doubt the average user will be able to strip the DRM. The ebooks aren’t stored as ebooks; instead they are stored as collections of JSON, CSS, and image files. And while I can’t speak for the JSON files, the image files have DRM of some kind. –The Digital Reader

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. Ros
    Mar 13, 2014 @ 04:19:23

    My issue with Scribd as a bookseller is not so much that people will be able to pirate the books which they purchase there. It’s more about their previous and ongoing history as a host of already-pirated books. If my only previous encounter with a website is sending them DMCA takedown notices, which I’ve had to do several times for Scribd, I’m not interested in doing business with them when they’ve turned legit. I don’t want a single penny of profit to go to those people from my books. Ever.

  2. SAO
    Mar 13, 2014 @ 04:24:25

    The only e-book I downloaded from my library was, in theory, supposed to disappear after the lending time was over. While it disappeared from the extremely stupid app that was supposed to manage it, there was no mechanism for getting it off my phone (where it lingered until my phone died) or from my computer, where it replicated itself onto my next phone. I’ll admit something got screwed up somewhere, because the book cover turned up as cover art for more than one music album, but I had to actively delete the thing (although, I was considering keeping it, as it was wonderfully soporific, despite being a mystery with an unknown killer out there).

  3. Liz H.
    Mar 13, 2014 @ 06:08:24

    If I’m understanding correctly, Getty will be tracking the visitors to sites hosting their images, and will aggregate the info on the same users they pick up on multiple sites. Is there any way to opt out of this? Or any requirement that sites notify their users that they will be tracked? Very disturbing.
    On the other hand, I’m far from privacy crazy, but thinking that we’re not tracked everywhere is a mistake. Albine/DoNotTrackMe is far from perfect, and it has picked up 3 trackers on DA- Google analytics, Google adsense, and Twitter badge. Don’t really want to think about what it’s missing.

  4. Elizabeth McCoy
    Mar 13, 2014 @ 08:50:23

    In theory, as I understand it, Scribd is supposed to prioritize the Smashwords version of a given work that they can detect as probably identical/aaaawfully similar via word-string matching algorithms. (I could be wrong in my understanding and welcome correction.) Which, if it works, should give some incentive to have things go through, so they aren’t uploaded by someone else. Dunno. (Valid enough to still be ticked with them if one’s had to deal with their… wild and dubious years. Let’s all hope they’ve turned over a new leaf.)

    As for the pirating thing in general… It’s probably just as easy, or more-so, to yoink it via Amazon; stolen credit cards, compromised accounts, buy-and-return… Knowing all the ways that DRM can be broken trivially means that while I’m definitely willing to issue a DMCA takedown now and then myself… I’m willing to let legit users have a chance to pay me.

    Not that I’ve seen any Scribd sales yet. They’re probably all after the pr0n. (*makes a note to get that second account set up, for the nom de pr0nplume*)

  5. SAO
    Mar 13, 2014 @ 08:55:45

    Oops, I meant audio book. The audiobook that took actual work to delete (I only put this effort in a year or two after I borrowed it for two weeks. On the other hand, I only listened to it once, but it took months to do.)

    As long as I’m disconnected from wifi, I can hold on to library books. I tend to turn off wi-fi after downloading, as it wastes battery life.

  6. HM
    Mar 13, 2014 @ 16:18:47

    @ Liz H. you can install Ghostery as a Chrome extension and it gives a pretty long list of trackers. It’ll also block them if you set it up. Caveat is that you have to be using Google Chrome browser. I think there may also be a firefox equivalent but you’d have to check.

  7. Harper Kingsley
    Mar 13, 2014 @ 16:33:15

    @HM: I use Ghostery with Firefox. It’s been a useful add-on. The only problem is with Rafflecopter giveaways, as you have to go in and allow Facebook and Twitter, otherwise the Rafflecopters don’t show up.

  8. JMI
    Mar 13, 2014 @ 22:26:46

    Really interesting Janet, thanks​!​

    I think that you would be really interested in some of the most cutting-edge research that I have come across explaining crowds, open innovation, and citizen science.​

    And you may also enjoy this blog about the same too:

    Powerful stuff, no?

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    Mar 14, 2014 @ 12:50:18

    […] Book and publishing news from Dear Author. […]

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