Readersforum's Blog

March 14, 2013

Do you truly own your e-books?

Amazon and publisher restrictions control your access, but a bookstore lawsuit could change that

locked_kindle-620x412By Laura Miller

To the casual observer, the e-book revolution has produced two bumper crops: smutty trilogies à la “Fifty Shades of Grey” and lawsuits. First there were the authors (as represented by the Authors Guild), who sued Google Books for digitizing their work without permission. Then the Department of Justice sued five publishers and Apple for adopting a policy known as the agency model. Finally, a trio of independent booksellers filed a class-action suit last week against the six largest book publishers and Amazon, accusing them of collaborating to create a monopoly on e-book sales and shutting small retailers out of the market.

The booksellers — Fiction Addiction of Greenville, S.C., Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany, N.Y., and Posman Books of New York City — are demanding the right to sell what they term “open-source and DRM-free” e-books, files that can be read on a Kindle or any other e-reading device. The publishers are accused of entering into “confidential agreements” with Amazon making this impossible.

The dispute and the situation that fostered it are confusing, and it can be difficult to suss out how either one affects readers. To put it simply: The Big Six publishers require that all their copyrighted e-books be sold with DRM (digital rights management) protection. DRM is coding designed to prevent the people who buy an e-book from making copies of it. A Kindle will only support DRM-protected books that are in a format that Amazon owns and that only Amazon can sell.

 

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January 30, 2013

Piracy is yesterday’s worry for today’s ‘artisan authors’

Starship EnterpriseFile sharing and self-publishing are becoming the norm for a generation of writers looking beyond a moribund publishing eco-system.

By Damien Walter

The community of SF writers has reason to dislike digital copying, or “piracy” as it’s commonly labelled in the tabloid press. Genre writers exist, by and large, in the publishing mid-list, where mediocre sales might seem most easily eroded by the spectre of illegitimate downloads. SF, fantasy and horror are also the literature of choice for the culture of geeks most likely to share their favourite authors’ works on torrent sites. Not surprising, then, that many professional genre writers and editors respond to the growing reality of copying with the absolutist position that piracy is theft, and should be punished as such under the law.

But SF writers are far from united in that position. Novelist, blogger and digital rights activist Cory Doctorow is well known for providing free digital copies of all his books as a marketing strategy, arguing that in a digital economy, obscurity is a far greater threat than piracy. Charlie Stross blogged such an effective argument against digital rights management on ebooks that it influenced at least one publishing imprint to drop DRM on its novels. And interviewed on the subject in 2011, Neil Gaiman, ever the gentleman, kindly points out that if you are a writer courting fans, screaming “THIEF!” at them and threatening legal action for copying might be … counterproductive.

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October 24, 2012

Amazon wipes customer’s Kindle and deletes account with no explanation

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:50 am

Unlike paper copies of books, Kindle users don’t own their content they rent it.

A Kindle user had her account deleted because it had ties to ‘previous abuses of company policy’, but the online retailer blanked all follow-up enquiries.

By Mark King

An Amazon Kindle user has had her account wiped and all her paid-for books deleted by Amazon without warning or explanation.

The Norwegian woman, identified only as Linn on media commentator Martin Bekkelund’s blog, approached Amazon when she realised her Kindle had been wiped.

She was informed by a customer relations executive that her account had been closed, all open orders had been cancelled and all her content had been removed, but has been unable to find out why.

The move, which will shock ebook fans, highlights the power digital rights management(DRM) offers blue-chip companies. DRM is used by hardware manufacturers and publishers to limit the use of digital content once it has been purchased by consumers; in Amazon’s case, it means the company can prevent you from reading content you have bought at the Kindle store on a rival device.

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September 11, 2012

Choosing your first ereader

  By Arthur Attwell

So you’ve decided that that many people can’t be wrong: it’s time to get an ereader. But which one? The industry of ereaders and other mobile devices is filled with big and small companies promising you the world, and you don’t trust half of it. The cruel truth is that no one can tell you exactly what’s best for you. Everyone’s preferences are different. You simply have to figure it out for yourself, and this might be an expensive journey. That said, if you’re going to take the plunge, here’s my two cents’ worth. It might help you dodge a few bullets along the way.

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May 6, 2012

Why the death of DRM would be good news for readers, writers and publishers

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:58 am

A Kindle 3G electronic book reader. Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty Images

The decision by Tor Books to ditch digital rights management signals the beginning of the end of the ebook format wars.

By Cory Doctorow

At the end of April, Tor Books, the world’s largest science fiction publisher, and its UK sister company, Tor UK, announced that they would be eliminating digital rights management (DRM) from all of their ebooks by the summer. It was a seismic event in the history of the publishing industry. It’s the beginning of the end for DRM, which are used by hardware manufacturers and publishers to limit the use of digital content after sale. That’s good news, whether you’re a publisher, a writer, a dedicated reader, or someone who picks up a book every year or two.

The first thing you need to know about ebook DRM is that it can’t work.

Like all DRM systems, ebook DRM presumes that you can distribute a program that only opens up ebooks under approved circumstances, and that none of the people you send this program to will figure out how to fix it so that it opens ebooks no matter what the circumstances. Once one user manages that, the game is up, because that clever person can either distribute ebooks that have had their DRM removed, or programs to remove DRM (or both). And since there’s no legitimate market for DRM – no readers are actively shopping for books that only open under special approved circumstances – and since the pirated ebooks are more convenient and flexible than the ones that people pay for, the DRM-free pirate editions drive out the DRM-locked commercial editions.

What’s more, books are eminently re-digitisable. That is, it’s very easy to retype a DRM-locked ebook, or scan a physical book, or take screenshots of a DRM-locked ebook, and convert the resulting image files to text. Google has scanned some 16 million books in the last few years.

It’s a solved problem.

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April 17, 2012

How Small E-Booksellers Could Help Break the Amazon-Apple Duopoly

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 6:12 am

Ruth Curry and Emily Gould of Emily Books

By Keith Wagstaff

It’s a scary time for publishers. Last Wednesday, the Department of Justice filed a major antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five big publishers for allegedly price-fixing e-books. The goal was apparently to prevent Amazon, which dominates the market, from deflating prices of hardcover books by pricing those books’ electronic versions as low as $9.99 in order to persuade people to buy its line of Kindle e-readers and its Kindle Fire tablet.

Ironically, the antitrust lawsuit could end up creating a monopoly where Amazon dictates all the rules of the game. The question is: Why don’t publishers look elsewhere?

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January 12, 2011

Book piracy: Less DRM, more data

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:56 am

Brian O’Leary on why publishers should tackle book piracy with open minds and lots of data.

As digital book publishing continues to expand at a rapid pace to meet reader demands, piracy rears its head at the forefront of many a discussion in publisher circles. Many publishers respond to the perceived threat with strict digital rights management (DRM) software. But is this the best solution? And does it even provide protection from piracy?

In the following interview, Magellan Media founder and TOC 2011 speaker Brian O’Leary (@brianoleary) discusses the current state of book piracy, how measurement data isn’t sufficient to determine its impact, and why DRM is a poor anti-piracy tool….read more


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