Thursday News: B&N DRM troubles; FTC gone fishing; Bowker’s sad and wrong self publishing stats
The stars are liars: how Twitter outs celebrity smartphone shills | The Verge – Remember back a couple of years ago when the FTC got a flea up its butt about blogger endorsements of products? The book community became concerned and believed initially they were a target (they weren’t according to the FTC contact I and others spoke with). But the endorsement rules are largely unenforced. Today we have celebrities making more and more false endorsements (and what about author cover quotes, please!) yet the FTC remains mute. I see all these conscientious bloggers writing “ARC provided by NetGalley” and stupid websites that hate reviewers trying to use this is a weapon against reviewers. But you know what, if the FTC isn’t going to pursue the very people that they intended for the guidelines to cover in the first place, it’s not likely that lowly book bloggers will be targeted either. Verge
Lies, Damn Lies, and Bowker’s Self-Publishing Stats – Nate over at the Digital Reader makes a compelling case regarding Bowker’s industry statistics. Bowker is considered the gold standard of statistical analysis of public reading behavior. As we all learned in this last election, stats analysis can be wildly wrong depending on the methodology used and the data gathered. Bowker goes to every publishing and tech conference and everyone, including me, writes down their information like Bowker is Moses coming down off the mountain with the burning bush and pronouncing the immutable 10 commandments. (For newcomers to DA, I went to religious prepatory school. I have lots of biblical analogies. I say that my schooling was all so that I could write this review.)
But their numbers on self publishing aren’t just demonstrably wrong, they are negligently wrong. Bowker claims the number of self published titles put on the market this year is 235,000. As Nate points out, this number doesn’t include the single largest self publishing market Amazon. And even the self pub platforms it does include, the numbers are incorrect. Nate concludes
Folks, when it takes 5 minutes of Googling to disprove a new statistic via publicly available info, that statistic isn’t flawed. It is completely and utterly bogus from beginning to end. The Digital Reader
Here’s Why Digital Rights Management Is Stupid And Anti-Consumer – The Consumerist re posted an email from a BN customer who was complaining that since his credit card had expired, he no longer was able to access his library. Mashable turned this into a headline that read “B&N: That Ebook is Only Yours Until Your Credit Card Expires.” We all know I am no lover of DRM. I hate it as much as the next reader. However, Consumerist and Mashable are dead wrong in this instance. (Also, none of them must have ever bought a nook book or even a book from Fictionwise or eReader. Those ebook neophytes!) The B&N DRM is tied to a credit card. Any credit card. Therefore if you lose one or one expires, you enter a new CC number in and redownload your inaccessible book. This is no doubt a huge hassle, but your books are still accessible. B&N also requires you to have a valid CC attached to your account. These are bad rules. DRM is awful. But the story promulgated by Consumerist and Mashable is at best misleading but mostly false. The Consumerist
From BN’s actual website, are these instructions.
And finally, an infographic from TeachingDegree.org
Thank you so much for linking that Digital Reader story – it’s just the kind of thing I’m fascinated by and would have missed if you hadn’t shared it! The FTC story too.
Meanwhile I think I’m going to try and start graphing how many paper and how many ebooks I read these days – I think the paper is still winning out primarily because of the better prices I can get for used paper vs ebook. (Is there a way to chart paper vs ebook on GR that I haven’t sussed out? I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s there somewhere.)
If you have a Nook, you have to keep a current credit card on file with BN or you lose access to your library? Did I get that right?
Makes me glad I went with a Kindle.
@Brianna (The Book Vixen): Yes, my understanding is that in order to access your nook library, you need to have a current CC but I haven’t tested it.
A thousand times this:
“Electronic or printed, it doesn’t matter. Nothing beats a good book.”
I’m still processing the stat that people without e-readers read an average of 15 books a year and those with read an average of 24.
My book consumption certainly went up after I got my e-reader. But I read way, way more than 24 books a year and I read way, way, way more than 15 books a year pre-Nook. Which means that others must read much less to make the average work.
@Cleo: I was thinking the same thing. I read at least twenty-four books a month!
There are a lot of misunderstandings about B&N’s DRM. I will try to explain why B&N’s DRM is the least restrictive DRM available.
– At the moment you download an ebook from B&N, the ebook gets encrypted. The credit card name and number of the credit card from your B&N account are used to create an encryption key. This is a one way process. No credit card information is stored in the ebook or on the ereader device. Is it not possible to use the ebook to generate your credit card information.
The moment you download an ebook is the only moment you will ever need a credit card in your B&N account, and a connection with B&N’s DRM server.
– The encryption is complety enclosed within the ebooks file. To access the ebook you need to know the credit card number and name the book was encrypted with. The ebook is not tied to the hardware of your ereader (Kindle) or to a software ID (Adobe DRM).
This means that you can copy the ebook file to as many ereaders as you want to, as many times as you like. This makes it easy to share the ebook with anyone you trust with your credit card number and name (that is how this social DRM limits the sharing of the ebook, there are no technical restrictions against sharing).
– Because the encryption is completely enclosed within the ebooks file, after dowloading the ebook file you do not need B&N or an DRM server anymore. Even if B&N and the credit card would no longer exist you will still be able to read the ebook on any device or program supporting the DRM.
– So if you want to remove your credit card from your B&N account, which basically means you do not want to use B&N’s e-book cloud anymore, make a backup copy of your ebooks with for example Nook for PC (which you should do anyway) before removing the credit card. Those copies will be yours forever. You can copy them to any device or program supporting the DRM and with all those devices and programs you will be able to read those ebooks. No DRM-server, software-ID or Internet connection is needed
The thing that caught my eye in that infographic was the reading speed. Even though turning pages is really hard for me, and I have to put paper books down periodically to rest my hands, it still takes longer to read a book on my reader than it does to read a paper book.
I think it’s because I skim and skip when I have two pages in front of me, but read every single word when I have just the one page, but I can’t say for sure. I really wonder what the difference is.
@Geert: If I read you right this means you must remember the CC number as long as you want to be able to read the book on another reader, correct? In other words, you can download it to your Nook app on your PC, but you can’t put it on another reader unless you ahve the CC number, right?
If I’m correct, I don’t see this as an improvement. I don’t want to remember CC numbers long after they are gone away, nor do I want to keep written records of CC numbers still active. What you describe seems like much more hassle than I’d be willing to go through.
All in all, DRMs are simply a poor way to manage the ebooks. There is no good system that involves DRMs. For now, I’ll stick with my Kindle since that’s where I began, and add another tablet for epub as soon as I can. And I will continue to look into stripping DRMs from my current set of ebooks.
@ Carrie G
Well, I do not think most people change their credit card number that often.
But it is easy to download all your books encrypted with your new credit card if you want to. After registering your new credit card just logout of the Nook for PC app, then login again. This will trigger a new download of your books, encrypted with the new credit card.
The encryption keys used are usually stored by the ereader program/device. You do not have to type in the credit card information for every book. Only once for ever set of credit card data. All books encrypted with the same information will open automatically because the encryption key generated is stored on the device.
@Ridley: I definitely feel like I skim less on my ereader or even my phone.
Love the eReader graphic and I’m passing it on through my library’s Facebook.
My library recently received a grant for an eReader Lab. We’ll get three eReaders of varying type, and they’ll be used for demonstration, not checked out to customers. We already have a charge account with Amazon, and I expected to be able to do the same thing with B&N, but it requires a credit card, which we don’t have. I did get the OK to use the City’s credit card to activate the account, on the promise that we wouldn’t actually be charging anything, it’s just the DRM to download even a free book requires a credit card behind it.
@Geert, I use a debit card which also functions as a credit card, and my number changes at least bi-annually. Sometimes it’s changed from Visa to Mastercard and back again. My understanding is regular credit cards are changing numbers more frequently to prevent fraud. It’s a right pain to have to change the numbers so frequently, but it’s the way of things now.
Love the infographic.
Seeing as I never shop at B&N, I don’t think I will even brother trying to move my Fictionwise library over.
I find elections interesting because it shows you the all sorts of issues with statistics. One thing I’ve noted is that people and particularly journalists love statistics, so if you produce an interesting statistic, it will get quoted extensively as long as it is moderately plausible. Rarely do people look at the source of the statistic.
My favorite example was the British statistic that said one in 6 children in the UK are not fathered by the father-of-record. But it turned out that that statistic came from a DNA testing company and it was based on the samples sent to them. In short, it was 1 in 6 doubting fathers’ doubts were correct. But the shock value of the statistic that one in six children are the result of cheating wives’ extramarital flings made for such great headlines.
That infographic is awesome. I’m doing a final project on e-readers for beginners and am totally working this in.
I’ve used a Nook, Android, and computer software to read e-books for several years…..my favorite being the Android device so far. Although I agree that there should be some method of copyright protection on electronic media, I don’t believe the current implementation of DRM works. One of the biggest challenges I see for the sale of ebooks involves children. Currently the Barnes and Noble use of DRM prevents children from being gifted ebooks as an end user must have a Barnes and Noble account with a current credit card to receive a gifted ebook. Even if you temporarily assign a credit card to the account to allow the gifting as soon as you remove the card from the account the book can no longer be opened. I believe banks do not allow the use of credit cards by children until they reach a certain age (in their teens), to include pre-paid credit cards, which means there is no method available that allows a child to get an e-book in their Nook device unless they download the book from the library and side-load it. I doubt many parents are going to give their children un-monitored access to their credit cards so by using DRM a business is placing one more obstacle in the way of encouraging children to read.