It's Read an E-Book Week March 3-9. Some authors are giving away free or discounted ebooks (mostly free), and several publishers also have deals.

The site also has links to news articles about ebooks, ebook meta, and promo banners.

Now's a great time to post links to free/bargain ebooks you know about, or promo-discounts, or just recs for ebooks you think more people should be reading.
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.
Paypal, getting pressured from many sides, is reconsidering their ban on certain kinds of erotica. Reps from several ebook publishing companies, including Mark Coker from Smashwords, have contacted them to say (1) "WTF? I mean, well, um... WTF?" and (2) "how exactly do you define these terms, because once you shift from 'incest' which has kinda-sorta a legal definition to 'pseudo-incest,' how are we supposed to know if a book fits that or not?" and also (3) "Do you have any idea how many historical novels smash into multiple areas of your new ban?" and then (4) "also, WTF?"

PayPal attempted to say it was the credit card companies demanding these changes. Apparently, that ain't so. )
It looks like there may be another major player in the library ebook market.

Baker & Taylor (B&T) is one of the oldest print book distributors, but it only recently entered the ebook market with its own fully fledged digital media platform, Axis 360. Since its launch in June 2011, the platform has gained some traction, with 107 libraries having signed contracts as of March 5 (38 sites are live).

This article is very encouraging. I'm interested to see how it shakes out. I really would like my library to offer ebooks from someone other than Overdrive. I think the fact that Axis 360 doesn't yet offer epub is a real detriment so until they offer more common formats, I think they are going to have a struggle.
Apple's announced it's going to reinvent textbooks by turning them into multimedia extravaganzas that only work on an iPad. Setting aside, for the moment, the idea of textbooks only for those students whose families can afford a $400-600 device to read them (and the risk of sending said device to school with a teenager), and that the Terms of Use may not work for minors, who can't enter legally binding agreements. Assume we're living in Perfect Apple-land, where everyone can afford an iPad for every child and parents happily assume full liability for all actions their kids might commit with unrestricted internet access.

Okay then. On to the textbooks. Apple's big slide on the screen says they'll have
  • Gorgeous, fullscreen books
  • Interactive animations, diagrams, photos, videos
  • Fast, fluid navigation
  • Highlighting and note-taking
  • Searching and definitions
  • Lesson reviews and study cards
Why that isn't going to work )
Roundup of news & blog links, several of which are just confirming what most avid ebook readers already know. I've wasted far too much time in the "bookery" section of my Google feed, and I'm inflicting some of the results on the rest of you.

Publishers Desperately Trying To Protect Print Sales, And Failing
Despite all the breathless talk of “transmedia” and “metadata” and the furious rate of backlist digitization, the overarching strategy was clear: protect print sales at all costs, and pray that e-books will plateau soon (and that international markets won’t take to them with quite the same relish).

Paying authors more might be the best economics for publishers in the long run
If the stores and other intermediaries they rely on go away, they have to find other ways to sell their books. That’s a challenge, no doubt.
But if the authors don’t play along, they have nothing to sell. Making deals with authors is the publishers’ price of admission to the game.

More links! More quotes! )
sprat: an illustration of a girl posed in front of a cartoon alien  (Default)
([personal profile] sprat Nov. 11th, 2011 11:26 am)
Just in case you hadn't seen it: there's now an update available for Stanza that fixes iOS5 compatibility issues! I had never found a satsfactory replacement, so it was amazing to have the app back and working properly again.
Five things make a linkspam? Lots of changes in the ebookery world:

Overdrive stops supporting Mobipocket--a side effect of the new Kindle library ebooks. Most of those older ebooks will be converted to Kindle (which is Mobipocket format with different DRM setup); some will be lost entirely. Overdrive is planning to refund library purchases of those books.
CONCLUSION: Digital purchases are not intended to be forever; they're "until the company that manages the servers decides they're not worth supporting anymore."

4 more links: Vookbooks, privacy, Kindle Fire, & agency pricing lawsuit )
Rowling has finally decided to release the Potter books as DRM-free ebooks* and even physical bookstores are freaking out. (They've been "banned from selling" the ebook editions. This is a problem, because, of course, brick-and-mortar stores sell so *many* ebooks now; this will be a major blow to them. WTF?) Publishers are quick to insist that this is not a game-changer, not a major shift in publishing habits. (I'm with Wired: I think this is book publishing's Radiohead moment.)

Konrath is crowing that he was right a year ago when he said that authors, not publishers, would eventually destroy the publishing industry, if publishers didn't figure out what they actually had to offer. The WSJ says that other authors could be inspired "to self-publish when their deals come up for renewal or demand higher royalty rates than the 25% of net sales that most publishers offer today on digital editions."

Aww. Authors might notice that they have the right to set the terms for their work. Publishers might have to figure out what they've got that's worth 75% of the sticker price for the life of the book (or the life of the author + 70 years, twitch). And we'll get to actually find out if the last several years' of unauthorized ebooks** prevent the legit ones from selling.

* Current info is that the ebooks will be watermarked somehow, probably with buyer's name & either acct # or purchase order # like DriveThruRPG; I assume this'll mean they're locked PDFs.

** If anyone didn't realize there are Harry Potter ebooks already, the rock you're using for an umbrella is too big.
I don't know if this is just an unverified rumour, or if there's fact behind it, but the folks at have posted that Amazon will soon support the ePub format.  As a new Kindle owner  I'm pretty excited by this. I'm hoping this will make it easier to get even more books on the Amazon store, and it should make it easier for me to buy books from other retailers without having to run it through Calibre first. And obviously this will be great for everyone else as it'll open the market up further for competition (you know what book you want: do you buy it from B&N, Amazon, Kobo, etc?).

I wonder if this is how they were planning to add library support?

I really hope this is true as I think it would simplify the whole industry. We'd have a lot less "what books will my device support" if epub truly becomes the industry standard.

My introduction to this group! )
While I don't think we'll be seeing lower prices in the mainstream ebook market soon (because publishing is an industry that moves with the speed of snails on valium), we are seeing more talk about how the pricing is ... odd. Including, in some cases, from publishers.

Link roundup of news & commentary posts. )
Got caught up reading Making Light recently, where they're talking about ebook scams and piracy (the real kind, where people sell authors' works w/o permission, not the unauthorized-free-copy kind that's harder to prove damage from), and I wound up looking for Rowling's reasons for not releasing ebooks.

Her two stated reasons were "piracy concerns" and something about wanting people to experience "real" books, which I couldn't find a decent quote about; I know it exists somewhere. What I did find instead, from USA Today in 2005:
J.K. Rowling has not permitted any of the six Potter books to be released in electronic form, not even during the peak of the e-book craze a few years ago.
Emphasis added. Oh, my sides hurt. The peak of the ebook craze: 2001-2003. Damn, the web is bringin' the funny today. I am tempted to send Konrath a link so he can share the giggle over the short-sightedness of mainstream publishing.
Dorchester/Leisure Press is near bankruptcy, has been not paying its authors, and several of them are calling for a boycott. They've also been putting up ebooks that they don't have the rights to--this is the real book piracy, the kind that copyright law was designed to counteract. Brian Keene says:
Since January of this year, unauthorized digital editions of my work have been sold via Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and Sony. These digital editions were not made available for sale until well after the rights had reverted back to me. Dorchester’s response, in each case, has been to blame someone else and assure me that “they are looking into it” and that I would be “financially compensated” and that “it wouldn’t happen again”. Except that I haven’t been financially compensated and it keeps happening again.
His post goes into details and the history of the problems, with links to more posts and a list of authors, editors & others who are supporting the boycott. He's been asked why he hasn't taken legal action--and pointed out it's hard to hire a lawyer when you haven't been paid in a year. He's reclaimed his rights and will be able to start collecting money on new sales soon, but Dorchester is still selling his books without the legal right to do so, and isn't paying several of its other authors, and is ignoring their demands to reclaim their rights.

They're running a contest to decide which 20 books they'll next convert to digital, and Montilee Stormer says,
How about any 20 titles where the author actually receives compensation per their contract? How about 20 titles you actually own the rights to publish and distribute?
Detailed writeup at CNET, with lots of links explaining the background; another writeup at Teleread with quotes from the ruling. copy of ruling; I'll look around later for a spot that doesn't require registration. (US Gov't documents are public domain; anyone can copy & share them.)
Tags:, a site for connecting with people to lend those Kindle books that allow lending (1x per book, for two weeks only) has been effectively shut down by Amazon. (They shut off the API that allows for easy listing of what's available. Lendle could still help people find each other, but it'd have to build its own database of ebooks.) CNET seems to have the most details, including the mention that "According to Amazon, Lendle does not 'serve the principal purpose of driving sales of products and services on the Amazon site.'"

(Insert rant: because of course, people who got to read a book for free would never buy one later--not to get a permanent copy of that book, nor other books by the same author.)

Several other ebook lending sites for Kindle & Nook, have sprung up recently, and they've got to be wondering what's in store for them. Since loaning books seems like a fairly obvious connection to selling books, readwriteweb speculates that Lendle ran afoul of some other aspect of Amazon's Terms of Service.
So, has everybody heard about HarperCollins gouging libraries for ebooks?

Library Journal:

In the first significant revision to lending terms for ebook circulation, HarperCollins has announced that new titles licensed from library ebook vendors will be able to circulate only 26 times before the license expires.

Smart Bitches blog:

In other words, the publisher sets a limit to the number of times a digital book can be lent, then when that limit is reached, that library must purchase another copy.

But wait! There’s more! That mysterious “publishers” referred to in the OverDrive email also says they want access to patron information.

[emphasis mine]

Cory Doctorow @ BoingBoing:

I've talked to a lot of librarians about why they buy DRM books for their collections, and they generally emphasize that buying ebooks with DRM works pretty well, generates few complaints, and gets the books their patrons want on the devices their patrons use. And it's absolutely true: on the whole, DRM ebooks, like DRM movies and DRM games work pretty well.

But they fail really badly. No matter how crappy a library's relationship with a print publisher might be, the publisher couldn't force them to destroy the books in their collections after 26 checkouts. DRM is like the Ford Pinto: it's a smooth ride, right up the point at which it explodes and ruins your day.


Hashtag #hcod
HarperCollins tweet regarding the mess:  We're reading your posts-and listening to our authors. If you want to share longer thoughts with us, email

Feel free to post additional links in the comments.

ETA: Courtney Milan, author, "On Eating Your Seed Corn":

Publishers, if you make it impossible for young people–those in the “under 25″ category–to support a good reading habit on their own dime, these people are not going to start magically spending money on books when they start making a decent income. No; at that point, they’ll already have started spending their time haunting hulu instead, where they can actually get free entertainment. And when they start making money, they’ll be buying iTunes streams of those shows they watched for free.

If you are into RPG's, RPGNOW has organized a charity event in response to the NZ earthquake.  You can get almost $340 worth of RPG books for $20.  The books are all watermarked PDFs and they don't indicate how much goes to the Red Cross but if this is the same group who has done this in the past, I believe 100% goes to charity.


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