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Wednesday Midday News: Update on the Agony/Ecstasy Anthology

china_mapChina has quickly become the second largest consumer of digital books.

The India Times reports last year, e-book sales reached 3.82m in China and accounted for more than 20% of the world’s total in the first half of this year.

Allowing readers globally to have a legitimate path to purchase is really important in these days.

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Attributor has a new study out based on Google trends to determine the demand for pirated ebooks (although how they are drawing effect from demand is questionable). Eric Hellman challenges these findings and suggests that Google Trends shows growth for pirated ebooks has stopped.

The Commerce Department is asking for public comment on the issues of copyright and innovation. I know that this is making the author loops and authors are being urged to speak out in favor of copyright. Longer term and restrictive copyright helps the major copyright owners and in this country that is major corporations. With publishing houses looking to be packagers like Macmillan is with its new film program, more and more copyrights will likely be swallowed by those with money. That’s dangerous to innovation and creativity. Shorter copyright terms, fair use determined by market impact would go a long way toward fostering an innovation rich environment.

Readers, you can speak out too by telling the Commerce department what copyright means to you. How digital licenses are whittling away at your rights of ownership. How fair use is being trampled upon. The more comments that they get, the better. Here is the link.

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I’ve maintained for a long time that the biggest threat to book sales is not piracy or digital books but rather competing entertainment options. It’s one reason why I have advocated for digital books. If every other form of entertainment can be downloaded immediately, shouldn’t books be immediately available as well? A new study shows that playing social games on iOS (iThings – iTouch, iPad, iPhone) is rivaling prime time TV watching. In other words, as many people who are watching NFL Sunday night football are playing a game on their handheld or mobile device. That’s the real competition for reading.

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In the guise of a public service announcement, I would like to point out for authors that readers don’t like a) music on author websites or b) flash. I read Ascension the other day and went to Caris Roane’s website and music started playing the minute that the site loaded. No, no, a thousand times no. Authors, readers view your site at work. Make your front page, at least, work safe. Do you want readers to visit your site? Do you want them to get in trouble with their boss trying to find out more information about your book? Why are you punishing readers?

Bookbinge commented how much they hate flash. Me too. Julie Garwood’s site is unuseable. Rachel Gibson, Bookbinge’s example, is easier to figure out, but here is the real secret. Over 80 million iThings have been sold and not one of those devices can see a flash page. Again, are you trying to hide your information from readers? What is the ever loving deal? Authors, you are not selling a video game. You do not need animation on your sites.

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I finished picking the shorts that will comprise the Agony/Ecstasy flip novel that will be published by Berkley in November 2011. I had 78 submissions (I thought I had more but when I did my spreadsheet, alas, I had miscounted). I sent most of my rejections out yesterday which made me a bit sad. I only received one response that said essentially I had no taste but that just made me feel like it was all the more real. I think I would have been disappointed not to have had at least one disgruntled response.

One of my favorites is the sole m/m inclusion which is by a previously unpublished author by the name of Cameron Belle. It’s a futuristic story that features a scene between a gladiator type and a med technician who is ensuring the fighter is clean (no drugs or enhancements) for his upcoming bout. It definitely left me wishing that there was a longer story for me to read.

I didn’t receive many gay or lesbian submissions (more lesbian submissions than gay and no transgendered that I can recall although there was one about a pansexual dungeon). Hardly any menage stories and none made it into the collection. There were three multicultural stories, two that were set in East Asia, but the one that made it in was by about a tattoo artist and a heartbroken woman by blogger, Dionne Galace.

I’m still wavering on a couple stories but by next week I should have a list of all the included stories and the authors who wrote them.

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

48 Comments

  1. Heather Massey
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 12:09:53

    a futuristic story that features a scene between a gladiator type and a med technician

    Sweet. I filed the info for future blog material.

  2. farmwifetwo
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 12:14:30

    Hate, hate, hate what you call “flash”… I’ll never open your website again and only if you are a “fav” author will I hunt for your books in another venue. Major turn-off. I also dislike their “trailers”.

    Lastly, I wish these authors with huge series and overlapping characters or families would put a “tree” of some kind on their webpages and descriptions – like Kay Hooper has done – on their websites. I appreciate not everyone liked her footnoting in her last book… but I certainly appreciated the effort.

  3. Carin
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 12:31:40

    I totally agree about flash. And for those of us without lightning speed internet, those flash site take sooooo loooong to load. Ugh. I love author sites that load quickly, look clean (not cluttered) and have easy to find links to a booklist. The booklist should be listed by series, too, if appropriate, so I can easily tell where to start reading.

    For me, Christine Feehan’s site is a great example of a LOT of information presented clearly.

    As for the music – I keep my speakers turned off for that annoying reason. Well, that and the music and sound effects when I play Bejeweled.

  4. Hannah
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 12:50:31

    I visited Julie Garwood’s site to see the flash animation. At first I thought it was cool, then her office started sinking when I was scrolling through a letter on the typewriter with her latest news, and it made me feel motion sick!

  5. DS
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 13:01:41

    I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the narrowing of fair use and the loss to the culture of orphaned works. I submitted my comment. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. adobedragon
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 13:08:39

    At work, I run with the sound off, specifically because of the potential for encountering sites with music or some other sound.

    At home, I listen to music through iTunes, which makes website music all the more intolerable. This applies to anything, including animation and trailers, that makes noise.

    No music. No Flash. And no trailers or videos that play automatically.

  7. Janine
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 13:32:22

    In other words, as many people who are watching NFL Sunday night football are playing a game on their handheld or mobile device.

    Here’s hoping they’re not doing it while driving or crossing the street.

  8. Ros
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 13:58:31

    I am often listening to digital radio online while I surf the net. No, I don’t want this to be drowned out by your crappy playlist on your blog or website. Ever. One of the happiest days of my life recentely was the day I worked out I could set my adblocker to filter out these iniquitous music players and enjoy browsing in silence once more.

  9. Sarah Frantz
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 14:21:42

    I find it unutterably sad that out of 20 stories, there’s one m/m, and one with non-white characters (if I’m reading Jane correctly). I mean, really? I’m not blaming anyone: Jane picked the best stories, writers write what moves them. But, seriously?! Sigh.

  10. brooksse
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 15:26:19

    I use firefox with the NoScript plug-in, which automatically disables Flash. So when I visit a site like Julie Garwood’s, all I see is a great big gray box with two small icons. I could click the Flash icon to enable it if I wanted to, but 99.9% of the time I just ignore it and move on.

  11. Sarah
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 16:58:19

    SO true about the music and flash. I will never visit any site, author or not, if it contains either of those. It’s beyond early 2000s now to even include those in your website.

  12. Karenmc
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 17:09:56

    I always, always, skip Flash intros on websites. Heck, if the website even LOADS too slowly, I’m outta there.

    I’ll send a comment to the Commerce dept. after I get home and have some quiet time to solidify my POV.

  13. Ridley
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 20:59:10

    That you should need to tell people, in 2010, that music is poor form on websites is kind of ridiculous. What is this? Angelfire circa 1997?

    Flash is a tool. Used well, it’s a great design tool. Used for everything indiscriminately, and it’s a waste of time and effort as increasing numbers of web users can’t see it.

  14. Monica Burns
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 22:43:13

    Longer term and restrictive copyright helps the major copyright owners and in this country that is major corporations. With publishing houses looking to be packagers like Macmillan is with its new film program, more and more copyrights will likely be swallowed by those with money. That's dangerous to innovation and creativity.

    At the risk of putting my neck on the chopping block, could you clarify exactly what you mean by copyrights are held by the big guys? I own my copyright, but license it to the publisher for publication. I license it for a specific time period depending on the publisher (7 years is normal for me,INCLUDING eRights, which naturally is going to be a bone of contention in the near future).

    Maybe you’re not talking about authors in the statement above, but I’m confused as to how my desire to protect my copyright is dangerous to innovation and creativity.

    I see the opposite. Why should an author keep slaving and stressing over a book knowing all the while that book will be stolen and offered up for free on torrent and rapid share sites. I write because I love to do so, but I also write to earn money. I’m a capitalist.

    Personally, I’m encouraging my Senator to pass the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act. This act will have American ISPs block foreign sites that allow free and uninhibited downloads of copyright material. I think it quite reasonable to block foreign sites that don’t respect copyright. We would expect no less if someone were operating off shore and tapping into our checking accounts for nickels and dimes each month.

    I’m for a Free Internet that doesn’t limit my ability to go to places that are free and legal. A Free Internet that doesn’t inhibit my right to speak my opinion. But I don’t believe Free Internet means having the ability to download illegal copies of any creative work. It’s theft plain and simple.

    I understand readers desire to easily transfer their books from one medium to another. I like the freedom to switch things around too. However, I also believe it’s the medium/format that belongs to reader, listener and viewer not the content. The content is mine, I license the publisher to produce it in a format that readers choose to use for reading the content.

    In the past four years, I’ve lost approximately $15K off ONE book from an ePub(one foreign torrent site alone showed 20K downloads of the book). I had to calculate approximate ePublisher’s potential royalties, lower % of eRetailer royalties, non-sales. But Obsession has been downloaded off more than just that one site.

    While I sincerely doubt I would have sold 20K of that book, even if I’d sold one quarter of that, my earnings would have been a nice bill payment. I’ve averaged losses of approximately $10-13K per book for all my ePub and small press books. So I think the ePiracy issue is a lot bigger and worse than people think.

    Why? Because I’m still relatively an unknown author. So if my work is being stolen so readily and easily what about bigger named authors. And for all it’s wonder Google does not always get a trend right. But thanks for giving me the forum in which to express a different POV, even though I’m thinking we’ll disagree on most points.

  15. Elizabeth
    Oct 14, 2010 @ 02:09:52

    I gladly pay royalties. I appreciate the need to safeguard authors’ rights. I have siblings who are authors and composers. “The Battle of Marathon” by one brother is lousy in digital form, because the maps and pictures cannot be deciphered, so I am not claiming that digital trumps paper. But neither is it a lesser step child. (Sorry for the mixed metaphors: Cinderella plays bridge?)
    But if an old electronic device has died, I have to buy another copy of the same digital book — and neither copy really belongs to me?! That ereader, cell phone or computer might be all of 3 years old when it dies, and my digital books not may not work on a new device.
    There must be some “fair use” for those of us who do buy our digital books that does not punish us for advances in technology.

  16. Maili
    Oct 14, 2010 @ 05:42:11

    @Monica Burns:

    Personally, I'm encouraging my Senator to pass the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act. This act will have American ISPs block foreign sites that allow free and uninhibited downloads of copyright material. I think it quite reasonable to block foreign sites that don't respect copyright.

    (Excuse my potential typos and grammatical errors in this response.) Considering your almost xenophobic comments, you do realise the Act will prevent Americans from seeing blocked US sites as well?

    And that Americans cannot buy services or products from abroad if any of these services or products infringes on trademarks or copyrights? In short, if a British digital comic is called Superhero Joe, it potentially can’t be available or sold anywhere in the US or to the US online because ‘Superhero’ is trademarked in the US (we all know how possessive Marvel can be with their trademarks).

    Or in our cases as readers, non-US edition novels if there are American editions, which means no more bargain hunting fun or early buys (foreign English-translated crime novels tend to be released in the UK months before in the US, for instance).

    And that it can apply to sites of public-domain works. If you want to check out public-domain works at a site based in Australia, you can’t because many of these works aren’t yet in public domain in the US. It also applies to sites (US or otherwise) that hosts galleries of images including romance book covers and illustrations.

    It could also apply to romance authors and bloggers’ sites – US or overseas – that hosts videos (StageVu, DailyMotion, YouTube) of illegal videos (think BBC drama) or videos with illegal music soundtrack, e.g. book trailers with commercial music tracks, that doesn’t fulfil the criterion of the Fair Use policy. Once blocked, how does its owner prove she isn’t guilty of a charge and how to get her site off the blacklist?

    It all sounds so dramatic and that it seems unlikely, but it has the real potential to happen.

    The COICA has far too many dodgy potential implications. IMO, some are plain censorship. I think this Act is a horrible infringement on Americans’ already-few online rights, even though my battling against American illegal distributors is the bane of my working life.

    Basically, the COICA is poorly written and has vague definitions (does it recognise the Fair Use policy? My interpretation according to this Act: it doesn’t) and an infringement on Americans’ rights (yes, including creators’ rights).

    I think people should hold their horses until questions about the COICA are answered or clarified, because the possible consequences are rather awful. For Americans, this Act will make their Internet a step away from the Chinese-style Internet. Frankly, I think it’ll only encourage many American users to go further into the underground to trick the DNS system in order to get what they want.

    For those who want to read the proposed Act itself: COICA: Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act.

    To be clear: I’m anti-piracy and completely against having sites like YouTube screening foreign films and drama (including BBC drama, films, and so on) – no thanks to a loophole that allows an entire film to be uploaded in ten-minute segments – and American groups that scan/edit/distribute our Japanese comics.

    I’m also very much against any Act in any country that restricts or limits users’ online rights anywhere in the world.

    I just feel that there is a better way that could serve both sides well. Our company is a member of a 97-member coalition (although the majority is Japanese, it has US and Chinese publishers as members as well) that focuses on combating piracy and digital copyright infringement (mostly targeting at American groups that scanlate almost all Japanese publishers’ publications (including Bleach, Honey & Clover, Black Butler, “yaoi” comics, One Piece, and many more) by sending C&D letters, and setting up English-language retail sites to avail latest comics digitally to English readers.
    It’s still too early to tell whether it’s a success (it was set up last year and went in action roughly three months ago), but there are signs that show it is working.

    IMO, this supports an argument that accessibility is the key to combating piracy and illegal distribution without affecting users’ online rights while protecting copyright and license holders’ rights.

  17. Monica Burns
    Oct 14, 2010 @ 06:09:01

    @Elizabeth:
    I understand readers desire to easily transfer their books from one medium to another. I like the freedom to switch things around too. However, I also believe it's the medium/format that belongs to reader, listener and viewer not the content.

    Please see my statement above with regard to your comment But if an old electronic device has died, I have to buy another copy of the same digital book -’ and neither copy really belongs to me?!

    I am not interested in penalizing readers who do pay for their books. That’s self-defeating for me. Think of it this way, when VHS died and DVDs came into play, many of us stuck with the old format because we couldn’t afford the machine/format. How many own VHS tapes now that we use regularly or at all. Few.

    Granted the time between technology changes wasn’t anywhere as lightning fast, which is why I think we should have some sort of transfer ability for our books.

    I would like readers to work with authors to educate readers who DON’T honor copyright as opposed those who do. In the end I don’t think it will come down to what we can transfer, but whether the choice or even quality will be worth transferring. I read lots of review sites across the net for lots of books. One common theme comes across, readers want quality. I agree. But something will be sacrificed if theft of copyright goes unchecked. What’s the point of anyone author, musician, software engineer to put their sweat and blood into something only to realize that an increasing amount of their work will be offered for free.

    It’s not just frustrating for readers, but because digital has such an incredibly long life, we need to find a happy medium. If readers don’t want DRM, which I understand, then I would love to see suggestions from readers on how to stop the problem. We need you, not the other way around. However, some very good authors will be caught in the crossfire of this issue and just walk away. I don’t think readers want this, which is why I commented. Because I rarely see authors entering into a dialogue with readers this way. I have just as much to learn from this as readers do.

  18. Monica Burns
    Oct 14, 2010 @ 06:33:56

    And that Americans cannot buy services or products from abroad if any of these services or products infringes on trademarks or copyrights? In short, if a British digital comic is called Superhero Joe, it potentially can't be available or sold anywhere in the US or to the US online because ‘Superhero' is trademarked in the US (we all know how possessive Marvel can be with their trademarks).

    I am in 100% agreement that there are faults to the legislation. I’m still amazed that it’s not more than 14 pages of legislation, which is why I understand the valid concern.

    As for “almost xenophobic,” I think that’s harsh simply because you don’t know me well. I’m a reasonable, logical person, given to sometimes passionate Italian outbreaks. By commenting, I simply wanted to try and put a “human face” on the issue. Something that I rarely see on ANY blogs related to this issue.

    Second, this is what I said about Free Internet I'm for a Free Internet that doesn't limit my ability to go to places that are free and legal. A Free Internet that doesn't inhibit my right to speak my opinion. But I don't believe Free Internet means having the ability to download illegal copies of any creative work. It's theft plain and simple.

    Clearly I’m not interested in blocking sites such as you mentioned where legal transactions, business, information exchanges are made. Nor am I interested in suppressing free speech. I am feeling very edgy about the Justice department having some sites already on their list to ban. Censorship appalls me, but so do a lot of things, such as lack of common courtesy, theft and the sense of entitlement that I see at these torrent and rapidshare rights. I try to do the C&D letters, but these sites tell me their not responsible. Hours are spent trying to get these files removed. I’ve been blocked by the Underground forum because I write C&D letters.

    I work with a woman who had the newest Josh Groban CD. She offered to make a copy. I tried to explain that it would hurt his sales. The response. “Oh it’s not THAT big a deal.” Clearly it is a big deal to me and others, but either it’s not completely clear to the general public that it’s stealing OR a large part of the public doesn’t care that it’s stealing.

    It is NOT a clear issue, but again, I wanted to put a personal face on the issue. As I’ve said before, I’m a capitalist, and free markets are good, but markets that steal need to be dealt with and C&D letters AREN’T working for me.

  19. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 14, 2010 @ 07:03:22

    There were three multicultural stories, two that were set in East Asia, but the one that made it in was by about a tattoo artist and a heartbroken woman by blogger, Dionne Galace.

    Oh, now this has me excited. I love Dionne’s writing.

  20. Jane
    Oct 14, 2010 @ 08:40:06

    @Monica Burns I appreciate your sentiments but you are conflating a lot of issues here and for the sake of those reading the comments, I want to clarify some things.

    1. Fair use and first sale doctrines are not, and never have been, a defense to piracy.

    2. Copyright holders, like yourself and your publisher, already have a strong right of enforcement against piracy

    3. Copyright law is the most pro copyright holder that it has ever been since the inception of the copyright act in the early 1900s.

    4. Copyright law gives authors and publishers (and other rights holders) the easiest path to civil suit success against violaters.

    4.a. Copyright is strict liability meaning you don’t have to show intent. Only that it was done.
    4.b. Copyright law gives the right for treble damages and attorneys fees. This is the highest amount for federal statutes in the US.

    What you appear to be talking about, Monica, and the sense that I get from other authors is that you want better enforcement of your rights. I mean I don’t know what greater rights you could possibly want that what the law has right now – treble damages, attorneys fees, strict liability, the DMCA take down law. These are really really strict and pro copyright holder laws.

    Enforcement, however, is another issue. The current copyright law, the one that actually gives you the right to have copyright, provides for civil provision just like say the Civil Rights Acts. It’s unlawful to discriminate against someone else, particularly in employment. But if someone is fired from their job because of their race and religion, the government doesn’t go and arrest the employer. The person fired has to sue the company. Similarly, if someone came into your house and torched your house, the police can criminally prosecute that person but you would have to sue that person civilly to get the value of your property returned.

    If you want criminal enforcement of copyright, you are asking the rest of the country (i.e., taxpayers) to shoulder a burden that is suffered by a comparatively tiny number of individuals because you have to reallocate governmental resources for that exercise. Why shouldn’t the burden of enforcement be on those who benefit from the enforcement? I.e., the authors and publishers?

  21. Jane
    Oct 14, 2010 @ 08:46:29

    @Maili Thanks for pointing this out Maili.

  22. Maili
    Oct 14, 2010 @ 09:02:39

    @Monica Burns:

    As for “almost xenophobic,” I think that's harsh simply because you don't know me well.

    Yes, of course I don't know you. I was focusing on your comments alone. My use of ‘xenophobic' was a direct reference to your use of ‘foreign', implying the US isn't part of the global problem when it clearly is. With hindsight I shouldn't have used it because it carries another less-admirable meaning, which wasn't my intention at all, and I apologise.

    Clearly I'm not interested in blocking sites such as you mentioned where legal transactions, business, information exchanges are made.

    This is actually the crux of our problem. Let’s take advertisers for an instance. Advertising revenues are the main reason why there are so many dodgy sites and other avenues across the Internet, regardless where servers are originated. And why there are so many media storage hosts that ignore numerous C&D demands. These sites make loads of money off advertisements.

    In simplest terms possible: one impression = 0.03c, one click per advertisement = 0.05c, one buy as a result of referring = 0.25c. According to our research visitors are more likely not to click or buy via referral, so on impressions (just visit a page itself) alone: 0.03 per page x 1,000 visitors = US$30 or 0.03 x 25,000 = US$700. When a visitor visits up to te pages at a site, that would be 30c, so 30c x 25,000 visitors (usually, repeat visitors) in one month: US$7,500, which means it's US$90,000 per year.

    That's the best financial scenario for dodgy site owners. In reality, it's US$2,000 per year for most dodgy sites, but the potential is there; so clearly, they are willing to risk legal consequences and ignore C&D demands to realise that best scenario.

    One way of combating is apply pressure on advertisers to stop advertising on dodgy sites (to make it less attractive for those to invest huge amounts of time and energy maintaining their dodgy sites), but how? A transaction between an online site and an advertiser isn't illegal.

    Furthermore, there is a legal loophole that many are exploiting: it's not illegal to refer visitors to sites where they hold illegally-distributed materials off-site through own site, e.g. it's not illegal to offer links only. So they make money from advertisement AND referral fees they collect from media storage sites by just putting up links. Owners and their ISPs can't be penalised for hosting these sites when these sites are technically not doing anything “illegal”.

    So I feel we should look at business angle, not user and ISP angles. But I don’t know if it’s possible, though. Who knows? :D Thanks.

  23. Jane
    Oct 14, 2010 @ 09:07:26

    @Maili This makes me laugh, Maili, because a while back a reader sent me a screenshot of Barnes and Noble advertising on a known pirating site. I put that out here at Dear Author for comment and very few people thought it was bad and in fact some people defended it. I certainly didn’t see an uprising of author protest against BN over it.

  24. Monica Burns
    Oct 14, 2010 @ 09:58:46

    @Jane:

    I think enforcement is a key component of the issue. And I’d not thought of it that way. Unfortunately though, I think the mixing of elements is necessary, because everything is tightly interwoven when it comes to IP. That makes it a PITA for sure.

    Having the right of enforcement doesn’t necessarily mean copyright holders are able to enforce. Particularly outside of the US in countries that do not honor the DCMA. The burden is far greater on an individual than on a corporation who can better afford it.

    Ten years ago, I worked for an organization in Virginia that specialized in bring new technology IP to the free market. In my three years working for that company, the average number of employees in the businesses we served was about 5-10. Creativity and innovation primarily occurs at a small business level, and when the product creates a stir, a larger business absorbs the IP.

    If I (and/or other copyright holders) spend all our time enforcing, when do we create? I’m not just talking authors here. I’m talking creators of IP anywhere. If we don’t create then the consumer who would buy our content goes without (for some this might not necessarily be considered bad *smile*). While I understand that this is a reader blog, and that the primarily focus is on books, I think it goes beyond that scope and will affect readers beyond the books they love. I am not predicting doom and gloom here, but I do think there are consequences that many don’t consider.

    I think the burden will eventually fall either to a tax-based issue or a consumer price issue. We already pay an arm and a leg for MS software, Adobe, etc. Items that are staples in the industry and are pretty much standard now. No one likes to pay $250-300 every time they upgrade but they do. Same with DVDs, Blu-Ray will play our DVDs for now, but in a few years, I’m going to be restocking my collection (more than a 1000 – I’m DVD whore) because the medium has changed.

    Readers want lower priced eBooks now and in the future, but I hardly think publishers (in particular the large publishers)will listen if they continue to see profits siphoned off and the theft of eBooks goes unchecked. It won’t be profitable for them.

    I think there are a lot more than a tiny number of people affected by the issue because we’re talking Intellectual Property as a whole. Either creativity and innovation is stifled by theft or the consumer pays the price, which always happens in a free market. Business always passes on the cost of doing business to the consumer. I think this is one of the points I really wanted to stress. I think the issue affects consumers far more than most realize.

    I freely admit that I still have a lot to learn about the complexities of the issue, but I am looking at it from the POV that it will affect not only my pocketbook income wise, but expenditure wise too.

    I think I understand your POV, and I respect it. I’m simply trying to point out that it’s a much large scope than just authors we’re talking about here. But of course, I am self-serving when it comes to my income as I would really like to quit the day job, which I need to get back to now. *grin*

  25. Jane
    Oct 14, 2010 @ 10:09:47

    @Monica Burns Well, international treaties are certainly something to consider and yes, of course, current US laws won’t be able to reach outside the US boundaries nor would you want it to (think libel tourism laws).

    If the price of digital goods goes up, as you posit, I am fairly certain few, if any authors, would make a living writing books because no one would pay that kind of money for entertainment. If anything, the increased price of digital goods will increase piracy. Further, increased price with decreased rights (lack of resale, share, format transformation) will also see a decline of sales and increased piracy.

    I certainly see the far reaching scope of this and I wonder how many others do. As I said in my post, restrictive copyrights hurt content creators the most. The ones who package, produce, and sell content benefit the most from restrictive copyright and it affects far more than the comparatively small book market. And for readers, well, there are already in existence more books than we could possibly read and fan fiction will thrive in these super restrictive copyright eras.

  26. monica burns
    Oct 14, 2010 @ 10:14:38

    @Maili:

    I saw you’re reply after I answered Jane, so I must be quick. *smile* Apology accepted. The use of the word “foreign” is because the sites I’m send C&Ds to are off shore and arrogant in their refusal to help. They hide their copyright infringement links and make it REALLY difficult to get to. I often spend 15-20 minutes scrolling through pages of content to find a fine print link. Frustrating isn’t a word I use when I’m hunting.

    One way of combating is apply pressure on advertisers to stop advertising on dodgy sites (to make it less attractive for those to invest huge amounts of time and energy maintaining their dodgy sites), but how? A transaction between an online site and an advertiser isn't illegal.

    This is something many authors are doing and with success. I can’t remember where or who I heard had gotten AT&T to remove some advertising.

    Furthermore, there is a legal loophole that many are exploiting: it's not illegal to refer visitors to sites where they hold illegally-distributed materials off-site through own site, e.g. it's not illegal to offer links only.

    As I discussed with an off shore site the other day who told me this exact thing, I replied that I understood they couldn’t be responsible for the link, but they are responsible for the user on their board. If I point out that the link refers to illegal content and their policy states not to do so, why do they continue to allow the member to be on their site?

    It is a business issue that I pointed out in my response to Jane. And it’s a business issue that’s going to hit the consumer more than they realize.

    Like you, I don’t have clear solutions. I wish I did because I’d be rich and could write all the time. *grin* But I do think dialogue from both POVs is important, which is why I responded in the first place.

    __________________

    @Jane, I didn’t see that B&N link, but I sure as hell would sent them a scathing letter.

  27. Ridley
    Oct 14, 2010 @ 15:24:34

    I do think it’s interesting you come out against fansubs, Maili. Those are what got me hooked on anime ere so many years ago as they often offered a cultural lesson along with the translations.

    If it weren’t for early fansubs picked up off friends’ FTP sites, I wouldn’t have a quarter of the anime I’ve bought over the years.

  28. Maili
    Oct 14, 2010 @ 16:46:33

    @Ridley: So what are you saying? People have a right to translate and distribute materials without permission, so that people could get hooked on them? It might be understandable twenty-five years ago, but today? No. They have no excuse this time.

    Many titles are available as anime and manga through US and non-JPN licensees and yet, there are – in case of Bleach – currently five scanlation groups and two fansub groups that translate and distribute Bleach chapters/episodes.

    How about those who scan and upload US-published manga? Those who rip anime from US-distributed DVD for those online?

    JPN and US publishers do (although, conservatively) support a culture of moderated sharing – such as uploading one chapter as a preview and fanfic/fanart – but not to the extent of letting groups scan/scanlate and sharing the entire 21-volume manga series, or ten seasons’ worth of anime. Especially when there are US / Canadian / Australian / NZ / Germany /Polish / French / UK manga and anime DVD editions available for sale. Many are available for free at local libraries. Oh, let’s not forget TV. AnimeCentral, YTV, Cartoon Network, and many more.

    It wasn’t like that twenty-five years ago, which makes it easy to understand why people fansub/scanlate works without permission. But today? It’s easily available so what’s their excuse this time? Honestly? :D

  29. Angelia Sparrow
    Oct 14, 2010 @ 18:36:59

    Ah well, win some, lose some when it comes to submissions. If I add another 1000 words, Amber Quill may pick it up.

    I’m sad that there’s only 1 m/m in the anthology. But then, this is a more het oriented site.

  30. Ridley
    Oct 14, 2010 @ 21:57:03

    Well, this was probably closer to 10 years ago than I’d like it to be, so a bit before anime hit cable en masse.

    I guess I wonder at just how much business media piracy replaces and how much of that is offset by future purchases. I’ve bought a lot of things I’ve pirated/enjoyed under less than legal circumstances first. In fact, I just bought the DVD of the BBC’s North and South production, which I’ve watched on YouTube a few times already. I don’t think I’d have bought it otherwise.

  31. Sao
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 01:28:38

    @ Monica

    I live overseas in a Non-English speaking country, which, has tens of thousands of resident English speaking expats as well as plenty of locals who read in English. Pirate sites with a huge selection of English language ebooks are easy to access. Often, legal US ebooks sites are not. They block foreign sales.

    People I know who download pirate ebooks (or buy pirate DVDs) do it because legal sales are either too restrictive or not available due to geographical restrictions. (by too restrictive, I mean can only be played in one region, who wants to buy yet another copy of Thomas the Tank Engine because you’ve moved again).

    Rather than looking at those of us outside the us as a bunch of thieves, why not make it easy for us to legally buy your books?

  32. Merrian
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 01:55:47

    As an Australian reader I think Monica’s comments highlight a couple of things. One is a touch of xenophobia or at the minimum thinking only within the confines of national borders. Authors are are writing for a world wide audience not just an American one and that includes thinking of markets and access for a world wide readership.If you are negotiating contracts right now why are geographic restrictions such as issue? I agree with the commenters above that accessiblity reduces piracy. I have NEVER pirated music or books but Gorram when I line up my wants list based on the reviews on blogs like Dear Author and then follow the links I am pissed off when I can’t buy the book then and there. You have also probably missed on a sale because by the time it is available here I have moved on to other, accessible reads.

    The other thing that concerns me is this notion that it doesn’t matter if my books become unaccessible to me due to DRM and device changes. I think your comments, Monica highlight more than anything that authors interests are not the same as readers interests. I have bought something and want to keep it. You may be able to afford to replace a library of books every few years. I can’t. I am the sort of reader you want on your side, I buy lots of books and because I do I am always being asked for recommendations. Right now when I read your comments I am thinking that when it comes down to it you don’t really care.

  33. Anon
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 05:01:12

    In Australia, the local bookstores charge $30 for a paperback. In the bargain bins, you can find books for $5, but they are boring.

    I find my biggest problem is that when I go to a bookstore, they never have anything I want to read. Even if the bookstores gave me the books for free, I wouldn’t want them and would give them away. Which is astounding since I’ve got money that’s burning a hole in my pocket and need something great to read.

    Why do these big name publishers get to decide what everyone else likes to read? The internet doesn’t do that. You can pick and choose your own entertainment.

    I buy a lot of books from second hand bookstores because of the price issue. On some sites, people are complaining of a $20 hardcover. In Australia, a devoted reader has to find other means.

    Firstly, the problem of pricing the entertainment too high comes into play. Don’t make the books/ebooks so expensive and people will pay for them.

    Secondly, any limitations placed on the community of internet users will be beat down everytime. If you never want your book to be traded freely on torrent and do not want to release in ebook format, you can guarantee that your book will be scanned and downloaded more than any ebook. Get rid of the limitations.

    But this will change the publishing industry, and they don’t want that. It will mean a loss of profits, using less trees (never mind that more trees equal more oxygen).

    The newer generations who have grown up with techinical devices in their hands, revel in the ever changing media industry. They do not hold the paper book as the ideal of how one should be published, or have any sentiment for the paper publishing model. They know want they want and if the corporations aren’t coming to the party then neither will they.

    Everyone knows stealing is wrong. Consumers must feel wronged as well, otherwise why would they do it? If a book was cheap enough, they would just buy it. They are held to ransom by not being able to trade ebooks, the expensive price on books and books out in stores that are uninteresting. These acquisition editors need to get out in the real world and discover what people want to read.

    They won’t, so the internet allows the reader to pick and choose at their leisure and download instantly.

    It seems to me the old publishing model did fine with the older model of the world. If you don’t change, you die.

  34. Monica Burns
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 06:27:43

    @Sao:

    Rather than looking at those of us outside the us as a bunch of thieves, why not make it easy for us to legally buy your books?

    Anyone who downloads my book or anyone’s copyrighted material is stealing. Just because one can’t get to it legally doesn’t change that fact. If you download for free what other have to pay for then you’re stealing. So I can’t change my opinion about that.

    As for ME making it easy to buy legally, I have no control over that. I’m not the villain here. I’m trying to make a living. I came up through eBooks, and the book I cited in my initial comment above was published by New Concepts Publishing an ePublisher. At the (don’t know if still do) they used PayPal for payment. My understanding is that PayPal does international transactions. So I don’t buy the I can’t legally get it, UNLESS the country one is in is blocking the sale. That’s out of my control too.

    I am perfectly willing to license my work to foreign publishers, but they have to want to buy the rights.

  35. Monica Burns
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 06:58:57

    @Merrian:

    I think your comments, Monica highlight more than anything that authors interests are not the same as readers interests. I have bought something and want to keep it. You may be able to afford to replace a library of books every few years. I can't. I am the sort of reader you want on your side, I buy lots of books and because I do I am always being asked for recommendations.

    Of course my interests are different. I’m offering a product. I’m selling readers a read. But if you will read through my comments above, there is a much more extensive problem happening here. Small business is where the majority of creative, innovative work happens. ePublishers have proven this to the major publishers. Destroy small business and THAT stifles innovation and creativity.

    I am a small business. I’m one person, and when I see my work stolen and hear people justify it for whatever reason it’s naturally going to make me unhappy. Self-indulgence because one can’t get something legally just doesn’t buy it with me.

    And again the xenophobic comment relays the fact that you know nothing about me. I am a reasonable person but moral, ethical issues such as theft really bug me. Punishing an author, a software engineer, a musician, a guy who figures out how to capture methane gas from a cow’s ass to use it to fuel a small device, simply because one can’t get something isn’t an excuse. And the truth of the matter is, it IS the creative person caught in the middle. I sold up to Berkley because their distribution IS larger than what I’d found before, because at this point in the game, the distribution in the US is the largest. Doesn’t mean that it will stay that way, it just is at the moment. And because I’m a capitalist, I licensed my work to the publisher who’s going to give me the opportunity to make more money for my work.

    Question, if you could keep your digital copy for say the average shelf life of a paperback book, wouldn’t that be solution to the DRM issue. The book could have a trigger that XX number of years from purchase it implodes and is no available to the reader for reading. I personally would find that a perfectly reasonable solution, provide the book was unable to transfer to someone else’s device. And technology does allow us to transfer personalize info to a device and limit access so I know it’s possible. Maybe no one’s thinking that logically or being innovative about it yet.

    I am not against expanding global reach, clearly my works with New Concepts and Samhain are an illustration of that. If the only readers I cared about were US readers, why would I have bothered with ePub. I bothered because I KNOW digital is where it’s at. It has been for some time. But it STILL has a long way to go to catch up with print.

    But at the end of the day, I don’t care what the justification is — theft is theft. And I have no doubt in my mind that if anyone reading this were to have someone use technology to pull out a dollar or two out of their bank account they’d be up in arms in a minute. There is no difference.

    There are solutions, I’m just not happy that I’m having to lose money because the solution isn’t available yet. Surely there’s logic in that statement.

  36. Monica Burns
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 07:18:43

    Firstly, the problem of pricing the entertainment too high comes into play. Don't make the books/ebooks so expensive and people will pay for them.

    I don’t have control over the issue. I’d prefer to see my books in mass market because they ARE cheaper, and distribution is better. I have readers in other countries contact me wanting to know why my book isn’t in Canada or England, or why it’s not digital.

    Overseas sales. Can’t get a book? Check out The Book Depository. Worldwide FREE shipping (not sure of restrictions) and they take foreign currency. They’re looking to be the biggest worldwide distributor.

    Digital sales, again I’ve no control. If digital theft weren’t as big an issue (and there will always be piracy) as it is, I’ve no doubt that publishers would put out the book in digital format sooner.

    Everyone knows stealing is wrong. Consumers must feel wronged as well, otherwise why would they do it? If a book was cheap enough, they would just buy it.

    Again, the justification issue doesn’t equate. Price isn’t set by me. I give away three free chapters on my website to give readers a feel for what they’re going to buy, because I KNOW how expensive books are. Other authors say I’m crazy, but I do what I can to help readers decide whether the money is worth the read, because I DO CARE. I DO know how expensive things are. I don’t want someone paying for or reading if they’re not going to like it.

    If I thought for one instant that I could make money selling at a price point via Amazon in self-publishing I would. But right now Amazon hasn’t locked down the royalty rate permanently, and I’m not willing to play ball with them until the transparency is clear.

  37. Monica Burns
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 07:23:59

    I am really appreciative of the dialogue here, and I want to continue, but I can’t. I’ve got to go to the day job where the Devil Wears Prada is going to create another chaotic day. I also have a book due, and it’s not done, so I need to spend my time writing vs. continuing the dialogue.

    I did want to make a point about pricing, which is out of my control, but there’s a lot more than “greed” on the part of publishers.

    Readers want lower prices because the assumption is that it’s cheaper to produce digital. That’s not true. The overhead is still the same in terms of editors, copyeditors, AP/AR, assistants, mailing, etc. As for the digital component there’s the security of the technology to avoid virus threats to an internal system that could destroy months of cover art, books edited, communications, contracts, etc. That kind of security isn’t cheap. Then you have formatting costs, storage of the digital, and much more. IT people make BIG bucks for a good reason. Threats are constant. It’s not as simple as some think. There’s much more going on. Just something to mull over.

    Whether you agree or disagree with me is moot. We can’t change each other’s minds, we can only make each other think and reconsider our positions, and possible do some innovative thinking that will help make changes that are good for all of us.

  38. Maili
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 08:09:37

    @Ridley:

    I guess I wonder at just how much business media piracy replaces and how much of that is offset by future purchases. I've bought a lot of things I've pirated/enjoyed under less than legal circumstances first.

    If we were to compare those who continue to download (without ever buying a product) with those who alternates between downloading & buying licensed products, the ratio is 4 to 1.

    Having said that, the majority of manga and anime fans tend to be extremely loyal to their favourite titles. They could download a lot of titles, but buy everything that’s to do with favourite comics or cartoons. It’s not unusual for one to download a scanlated edition of a favourite title and as soon as an official edition becomes available, they buy it in that instant.

    While piracy as a whole is bad, there are two camps for English-speaking countries: ‘good’ piracy is the one that scanlates “unlicensed” titles & stops as soon as a title is licensed, and ‘bad’ piracy is the one that scan/scanlate those titles that are already officially available in most countries.

    This is why publishers displayed good will by ignoring ‘good’ piracy for years, but lately, mangaka and artists are threatening to file lawsuits against their publishers. Hence the recent crackdown.

    Like I said, the core of piracy has to do with lack of accessibility. This is why the coalition is setting up English-language retail points to sell “unlicensed” products digitally – raw or not – to English-language readers. It seems to be working, but still too early to tell. I don’t know the current situation for anime, though.

    In fact, I just bought the DVD of the BBC's North and South production, which I've watched on YouTube a few times already. I don't think I'd have bought it otherwise.

    To be honest, we are not that bothered about users – individuals – themselves. We are more concerned about the organised groups that regularly scanlate or scan on a large scale (one group scans every 2010 book and uploads each as a raw, which means Japanese readers can access to these any time).

    We are also more interested in finding the best channel among legit methods of delivering products without ripping a black hole in a company’s financial wall and affecting the legal aspect of international territorial boundaries. If one product was licensed to twelve countries, whose responsibility is it to sort out the digital/online piracy? Publisher? Creator? Licensee? Distributor? Online retailer?

    We’re also battling with print piracy (photocopied and duplicated books) and the black market (illegal sales and distribution points of print works), so . So yes, we’re not that bothered about individuals. We’re always happy when people like you decide to buy legit products after using illegal distributed products, though. I personally think this type is a lot more common than those who never buys.

  39. Honeywell
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 11:55:01

    The book could have a trigger that XX number of years from purchase it implodes and is no available to the reader for reading. I personally would find that a perfectly reasonable solution, provide the book was unable to transfer to someone else's device.

    Jesus Christ.

    While you all continue to find new and creative ways to screw over consumers I’m spending less and less money each week on books. In large part because I get so annoyed that I’m paying premium prices and still have to strip DRM and reformat my books just so I end up with a product that’s worth the high cost I already paid.

  40. Ridley
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 12:18:25

    @Maili:

    You make much more sense than Monica does. It seems much wiser to go after groups than individuals. I wouldn’t like to see downloading ever be socially acceptable, as I like my artists to eat, so closing down large outfits as you find them keeps the whole endeavor shady, like it should be. But you seem to also be trying to meet the need that sends people to download in the first place.

    Monica, just saying “Piracy is stealing, and stealing is wrong!” to people is completely ineffective. If you don’t mitigate the reasons otherwise honest people have for downloading things, they’ll just keep doing it. I’ve never pirated an ebook, but I have started sharing them with friends to avoid paying the unreasonably high agency prices. Maybe this makes pubs sad, but the agency model prices me out of the ebooks I want to read, so I wasn’t buying them anyways.

  41. Ridley
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 12:22:38

    @Honeywell:

    Whoa, did I miss that little nugget.

    That’s just a ridiculous idea. Oh yes, can I please pay more than the print price for a time-limited license? I’d be so happy to pay more to get less.

  42. MaryK
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 13:01:38

    @Monica Burns:

    Question, if you could keep your digital copy for say the average shelf life of a paperback book, wouldn't that be solution to the DRM issue. The book could have a trigger that XX number of years from purchase it implodes and is no available to the reader for reading.

    No. No, no, no.

    Then you’d have to get into the question of “how long is the average shelf life of a paperback book?” I’ve seen people say that paperbacks only last for about six years or five or six reads. I don’t know where those people buy their books, but the books must be really low quality. I have paperbacks on my shelves that are sixty years old. If they’d all imploded after ten years, nobody would even know those authors ever existed.

  43. Anon
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 17:32:44

    @Monica Burns: Question, if you could keep your digital copy for say the average shelf life of a paperback book, wouldn't that be solution to the DRM issue. The book could have a trigger that XX number of years from purchase it implodes and is no available to the reader for reading. I personally would find that a perfectly reasonable solution, provide the book was unable to transfer to someone else's device. And technology does allow us to transfer personalize info to a device and limit access so I know it's possible. Maybe no one's thinking that logically or being innovative about it yet.

    Or, even better. How about the money we pay can get refunded when we find out that the first three chapters of an ebook is the best part and the rest is just plain awful. Or, how about the money implodes in the author’s bank account after a set time when paperbacks would die. If the books are going to die, then so should the money.

    By Monica: Readers want lower prices because the assumption is that it's cheaper to produce digital. That's not true.

    Not this reader. I want lower prices because I can’t AFFORD to buy expensive books. Never mind that it IS cheaper to produce digital.

    You have the editor, the cover artist and all the people working on one ebook. Then, magically, you can multiply it by a million within minutes.

    In paper books, those extra copies would cost just as much as the original. The printing is the biggest drain on cost.

    With ebooks, it does not cost anything to make extra copies of that book.

    The publishers charging more than a hardback for an ebook is seen as highway robbery.

    I know price isn’t set by authors, but I’m still getting ripped off.

    The publishers and corporations are trying to set the price and consumers don’t care for the expense. These companies are blatantly ripping people off and have for years.

    Why should a young person want to spend $20 on a book when they can spend that money on food or other entertainment? Entertaiment that isn’t overpriced, they can share, and they know that they aren’t a sucker with the price.

  44. Merrian
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 21:01:59

    @ Monica

    “My understanding is that PayPal does international transactions”

    Are you showing your ignorance or being snide?

    Non-DRM books from small publishers are internationally available because of the rights negotiated in your contract with the publisher. If you are publishing with Berkely or one of the agency group then your books whether print or e-books will not be available in Australia for years after their US publication date. The Australian subsidary has to say they don’t want to publish print books here before the local bookshops can import directly from the USA. When geographic restrictions apply neither Amazon or Book Depository can allow us to buy books because the paypal and credit card information shows a billing address in a restricted country.

    When print books are available in the mainstream bookshops the e-versions are not available for sale. I actually want the e-version because I have no more space for paper books and because e-books are cheaper so I can read more and all the current research shows that e-book readers buy more books. Also, I can read more easily on an e-device because of disabilities.

    My understanding is that Australians actually read more books and magazines per head of population than Americans…. but no one cares about that.

    You want something from us readers Monica? How about giving us something back.

  45. Sao
    Oct 16, 2010 @ 07:49:44

    @Monica
    The people I know who download pirate books, for the most part have no access to the books at all. The number of English language books is limited and when access to ebooks is limited (no doubt, we in The non-English speaking world are blocked so that those Aussies don’t get a chance to read a book before its time) then the event represents a lost sale.

    Yes, it is stealing, but you need to understand it occurs because people have tried and failed to buy a legal copy. When some one who wants to read your book can’t buy it, that’s the lost sale, whether they read the pirate version or not is irrelevant.

    When authors and publishers refuse to look at the causes of piracy and do nothing but rant about theft, they aren’t moving towards a workable solution.

  46. Cameron Belle
    Oct 28, 2010 @ 11:42:45

    I don’t know how I missed this, but I just found your kind words here about my story. Thank you so much, you’ve made my week!

  47. Florence Obieri
    Nov 10, 2010 @ 10:53:35

    Hi Jane! I’m one of the authors that submitted to the Agony/Ecstasy Anthology at the last minute; I’m commenting here because I think my emails might not have gotten through. I submitted on October 1st, sent a couple follow-up emails, but did not receive a response to any of the emails I sent.

    I thought I would just wait to see if I’d somehow made the list when you announced which authors (other than Cameron above) will be in the anthology, but I don’t think you’ve posted that just yet. I just want to know if my submission reached you or not, so I know what to do with the story I sent. I am subscribed to this thread, so will see a response here if nothing gets through to my email.

    Thanks…

  48. Florence Obieri
    Nov 10, 2010 @ 12:06:44

    And a quick, paranoid comment– I emailed you again, Jane. Let me know if you got it :)

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