Okay, you all need to know this:

By day, Andy Woodworth is a mild-mannered librarian. By night, he's still a librarian, just less mild-mannered.

Andy is kind of famous in the librarian community, mostly for getting the Old Spice guy to do a video about how great libraries are, and unsuccessfully campaigning to get Ben & Jerry's to create a flavor called the "Gooey Decimal System." (If you don't get the pun, just ask someone ten years older.)

Oh, and now he's using Change.org to help lead the charge in a fight against NewsCorp, one of the world's most powerful companies.

See, more and more libraries are beginning to buy e-books, like those read on a Kindle or similar device. They're programmed to be like normal books -- lent out to one reader at a time, returned, and downloaded by another reader. It's simple, and especially great for working parents or the disabled who have a hard time making it to a library.

But publishing giant HarperCollins (owned by NewsCorp) is trying to force libraries to only buy e-books that literally self-destruct after the 26th reader in an attempt to maximize profits.

Having to repeatedly buy the same book will be a financial and logistical disaster for libraries, one that could force a few to close their doors.

Even worse, there are signs that other publishing companies may soon follow the lead of HarperCollins, which could devastate libraries all around the world.

Some amazing librarians have launched a full boycott of HarperCollins until the decision is reversed, but they urgently need widespread support to force NewsCorp to back down.

Andy's petition demanding an end to self-destructing e-books has a goal of 100,000 signatures -- click here to add your name now:


Andy declares on his blog that "The world needs more badass librarians." It's true, though right now the world also needs more readers who will stand alongside them.

Thanks for doing your part,

Patrick and the Change.org team
Inspired by [personal profile] elf's posts on electronic books, I'm thinking seriously about starting a company that will sell ebooks at a very reasonable price, like $3-$5 each, with about 1/3 to 1/2 going to the author. These would be high quality common formats. PDF, TXT, RTF, possibly even HTML, with no DRM on them.

The questions I have are these:

1) do you think this would be a good service?
2) if you had this available would you use it?
3) if you were an author, would you put your books up to be sold this way?
4) Are there any other common and cross-platform formats I need?
5) would you be willing to help convert/proofread books into those formats?

ETA: Okay, obviously I'm not the professional marketer that I think, so let me bore you all some more.

Yes, I would be paying others to do proofreading/editing. No, I would not be publishing unknown works. My idea is to contact some of the authors I know, see if they would be willing to let me have the epub rights to older books of theirs, that their publisher may not be interested in printing more copies of (Mercedes Lackey and her "Diana Tregarde" series spring to mind). The authors retain all rights to their work. ALL this would be doing is providing inexpensive, well formatted versions of those books for reading on e-devices. The author would write the book, it would be published through their normal print publisher. Several years later when the interest has waned, but the author still has their copyrights to it, I would take the book, put it into an e-format such as above (including epub apparently) and provide that to those who want to buy it.

It would be something like the "used book store" where you can get copies of old favorite books and read them again without having to pay $18 for it from Amazon. In that it is using older books, $1 to $3 per book royalties to the author isn't a small amount, considering that currently used books don't generate anything for the author, and all they are doing is sitting on their manuscript.

*I* or my employees would be doing the linking, the formatting for HTML, PDF and other formats, including the pictures and diagrams, converting it between the various formats and making sure that it converted properly. No OCR and throw it into the web, but checking it against the manuscript to make sure.

I would have to hire a programmer to make a kick-ass search engine for the site, but I have someone in mind for that. Cross links, links to other sites and so on would also be done by the company. Promotion as well. Naturally I'd have to have an attorney to help with the legal issues.

I'd like "cheap-ebooks.com" to be more than a fly by night internet bubble dot com. I'd like it to have saying power like YouTube or something similar.
Free ebook: Zendegi by Greg Egan until May 6; requires sending an email to zendegigiveaway@nightshadebooks.com and getting on Nightshade Books' email list (which you can stop anytime, but hey, they give away free scifi ebooks).

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