It's hit the news that Kobo Says You’re Not Allowed to Share Your Account – Not With a Spouse, Your Kids, Anyone -- someone finally wrangled an answer out of them, wherein they said "Legally, only the account holder has license to use the material."

Kobo's not alone in this; very major ebook store, and most of the minor ones, has a clause like this. Kobo is probably the first one to confirm in writing that it means "you are not allowed to let your spouse borrow your ereader and read the books you bought from us."

No wonder ebook sales for YA books are lousy. Kids can't buy books directly, and stores won't promote them because that would mean saying, "share your purchases with someone else."

Sections from other ebook stores TOS, with overuse of the phrase 'personal and non-commercial' )
Sony is finally making their ebook store web-compatible, instead of requiring you to install their software and register the computer with their service to buy ebooks from them.

It only took them six years. :/
Part of PayPal's statement:

First and foremost, we are going to focus this policy only on e-books that contain potentially illegal images, not e-books that are limited to just text. The policy will prohibit use of PayPal for the sale of e-books that contain child pornography, or e-books with text and obscene images of rape, bestiality or incest (as defined by the U.S. legal standard for obscenity: material that appeals to the prurient interest, depicts sexual conduct in a patently offensive way, and lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value).

In addition, the policy will be focused on individual books, not on entire “classes” of books. Instead of demanding that e-book publishers remove all books in a category, we will provide notice to the seller of the specific e-books, if any, that we believe violate our policy. We are working with e-book publishers on a process that will provide any affected site operator or author the opportunity to respond to and challenge a notice that an e-book violates the policy.

You can see Smashwords' response here.
The more I look at Mark Coker's announcement about the Smashwords changes to comply with PayPal's demands, the more annoyed I get. The EFF posted their obligatory rant about free speech, but I'm focused on a different aspect: Coker's semi-apologetic, semi-defensive post.

He does a terrific job of implying that these are reasonable, sensible new rules, and that it was just kind of an oversight that he didn't have them in place all along--while *also* implying that he's so, so sorry about how this affects authors and readers, but he just has no choice. I hate this kind of duplicity.

The new rules (or possibly, new enforcement of existing rules; PayPal's always been anti-some-sexual-content, but may not have been so specific in the past) require ebook stores to not carry books that contain "bestiality, rape-for-titillation, incest and underage erotica." Of course, none of those are actually defined; this is another case of "all DECENT people will know it when they see it, and agree that those are Horrible Things that all DECENT people should not want to write or read."

Coker supports this approach to censorship.

What he says about each of those points )
Diane Duane needs a new chair, so she offers a 50% discount on sales at her own ebook store, valid only today.

Not that I'm at risk of running out of stuff to read, and I don't even know if I like her work, but I do like the way she deals with the thorny issues of international publishing and DRM, so I wanted to support that and ordered me some. And how could I go wrong with 9 Young Wizard books for less than 20 dollars, anyway?
via [personal profile] rachelmanija

Diane Duane is once again thinking of completing her "Door" series. […] It's a charming swords-and-sorcery series with very likable characters in a "everyone is bisexual" world. There are important gay, straight, lesbian, and poly romances. Also dragons, a snarky shapeshifting fire elemental, angst, a fascinating magic system, and a non-sappy Goddess. Warning for non-gratuitous and plot-important but fairly graphic rape flashback scene in book two.

If this sounds like something you might possibly like, check out her e-book site, where they are all available. If you decide to do this, use the discount code STARLIGHTGUILT when you check out: it’ll give you a 15% discount on your total purchase and also mark you as someone to be notified should something start happening with Starlight in 2012.
Sale at Smashwords until July 31; hundreds of free ebooks, lots of discounted ebooks. (Use the tags at the top to filter for 100% off, 75% off, 50% off or 25% off.)

Hmm, I should download a cluster of the free short stories and post mini-reviews to [community profile] sps on the theory that I'm willing to read up to 5000 words of just about anything, and it'd be nice to find good unknown authors.

Anyone up for the idea of a read-and-review fest at some point, where a bunch of us download a given collection of free ebooks and post thoughts about them?
This weekend, Fictionwise is having a 60% off sale, with coupon code 070111. It's probably good through the 4th and might last a day or two longer than that. It doesn't work on Samhain Press books.

Possible ways to spend some money on ebooks:

Recommendations & suggestions (DRM-free only) )
The Shatzkin files has a post about Data helps us understand ebook pricing impacts, with lots of chewy thoughts about how pricing & popularity get tangled together; Shatkzin's opinion is that $.99 books and $19.99 books shouldn't be listed together because they're aimed at such different markets there's no point. "Comparing apples to broccoli," he calls it.

And he posts a link to Dan Lubart's blog which has a nifty factoid worth noticing. His ebook had reached #1 on the charts for its sub-category at Barnes & Noble--and then the next day, it was at #127. This was unheard-of. B&N doesn't have Amazon's activity numbers that can reorganize the whole chart in a matter of hours, and their numbers just aren't that responsive to user activity. (Amazon's rankings go up by page counts & sample downloads. Dunno about B&N.) Anyway, after some digging, he noticed a trend:
# of titles below $3 - ranks 1 - 125: 0
# of titles below $3 - ranks 126 - 200: 65
Barnes & Noble seems to have declared that ebooks that cost less than $3 can't be in the top 125, no matter how well-loved they are. Those ranks are reserved for more expensive books.

So far, this is speculation; there's no proof, just the flat numbers that currently, the top 125 ebooks at B&N all cost at least $3--one day after one of them held the top spot.
Fictionwise has a 60% off coupon good through tomorrow (and sometimes, the coupons last an extra day or two): spring60off

It doesn't work on Samhain books and not on any of the Agency 6 publishers (although I don't know if FW even still has any of those; I don't buy DRM so I don't keep track of what's available). I picked up 39 Darkover short stories that I didn't already have for under $15. It's a good time to poke around for short stories.

Also: The Sime~Gen series has recently been released as ebooks! (Cue much cheering.) They're available at Amazon for Kindle & Fictionwise in multiformat. The important bits:

Links & commentary )
Independent Bookstores Selling Google E-Books.  So you can support your local store--and community!--while still getting the ebook you want.  The only problem I can see is that Google offers no way to tell which books have DRM.

Today, Rainbow Ebooks is offering 2 ebooks for free.  However, to get said ebooks, you have to pay by giving them all your personal information including birthdate, full address, and phone number. In my mind, that's not free. Making me join with an email and password I can understand but wtf do they need that other data for?

So, that rhetorical question led me to their privacy policy. They store my IP address as well.  Grrrr

I expect better from a queer company.  And people wonder why users prefer the darknet for getting free ebooks.

elf: Computer chip with location dot (You Are Here)
([personal profile] elf Dec. 7th, 2010 07:26 pm)
Someone has to say something about it specifically, right? Google ebooks went live yesterday.

Google's ebook store has gone live. It has an app you can use to read its books on a desktop/laptop, and apps for many mobile devices. It works with Adobe's Digital Editions DRM. Some of the books are read-online only; some are downloadable as PDF/epub. Some of the epubs are just raw OCR (optical character recognition) of the scanned PDFs, which means they're loaded with typos (if that's the word... OCRos?) and the formatting is atrocious.

[personal profile] pir8fancier posted a link (and most of the text) to an article at Is Google leading an e-book revolution? (My answer? Hell no. When you enter a marketplace 10+ years after it's been established, you are not "leading" anything. Google may add new twists to the commercial ebook game, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with, but when an elephant joins the dog-and-pony show, that's not "leading a revolution." Not even if it's a second elephant.)

Still, they'll bring ebooks to people who hadn't tried them before, because they're readable RIGHT THERE IN YOUR BROWSER, no special downloads required. And most of those people will scratch their heads and wonder what all the fuss is about, because book pages displayed in a browser aren't actually much fun to read. Oh, and non-US people? Pretty much screwed. Googlebooks are very limited for them.

I'm not unhappy with the store, but I'm not bouncing with glee, either. I am *sharply* interested in the results of the lawsuit, which are still pending. (I suspect that nothing available in the store is covered by the contentious parts of the lawsuit.)
Self-pub & independent ebook store list. This post may change over time & get new additions. Feel free to comment with new stores & news about current stores (e.g. "has shut down/main url has changed" or "switched focus from horror to sci-fi" or "includes some DRM'd titles," etc.).

This list is limited to stores that sell, not just give away, ebooks with no DRM. Stores that sell a mix of DRM & non-DRM'd books (Fictionwise, Amazon, etc.) go on a different list. Sites that give away ebooks and don't sell them go on a different list. I'm also not listing stores on the Three Press Consulting's list of DRM-Free Ebook Publishers, to avoid duplicated effort, and to keep this to "sites not easily found on other lists." They have 8 nonfic, 19 "regular" fic, and 40 romance/erotica publishers listed; some of those don't have direct ebook stores.

Science fiction, horror & romance are popular genres; I'd appreciate links to mystery or thriller-focused ebookstores.

11 ebook stores under the cut: AKW, Angry Robot, Apex, BeWrite, Book View Cafe, Closed Circle, Double Dragon, L-Book, Lulu, Smashwords, Take Control )
The large ebook stores online (amazon, diesel, booksonboard) would like you to believe that *of course* you should have to give them personal info, and tie your purchased ebooks to a small set of devices (device includes your computer and ebook readers), and that it's perfectly reasonable that you can't reformat your ebooks--afer all, you can't reformat a paper book, right?

Well, yes. But you can look at a paper book's format before you buy it, and decide that the font is hard on your eyes or the letters are too cramped to read, or the table of contents sucks, or that it's just too thin for the price they want. You often don't have that option with ebooks. And with a pbook, when you're done, you can give it to a friend, or sell it, or cut it up and make paper mache out of it. With an ebook... the publishing industry, like the recording industry, has worked very hard to convince people the digital equivalents of these actions are illegal. (Some other time, I'll post about copyright law and ebooks. It's a mess.)

But some ebook publishers offer books without DRM--"digital rights management," sometimes called Digital Restrictions Management. They offer books, usually in several formats (because without DRM, it's a minor matter for them to do so), that you can reformat, or read on any device you have handy. You can also give them away to someone else; some publishers tacitly encourage this (Baen); others tell you it's forbidden (Fictionwise).

Inside: List of some non-DRM publishers I've found )


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