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Author Topic: You Selfish E-books! (Contains the F word)  (Read 2999 times)

Paul Keith

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You Selfish E-books! (Contains the F word)
« on: September 21, 2011, 04:28:57 AM »
Nothing new but it's a good story: http://elf.dreamwidth.org/459611.html (I'll let mouser decide if he wants to link this post back to the e-book thread)

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When he finished a page, he'd tear it out and burn it. Throw it away, if he didn't have a campfire. (It's paper. It's biodegradable.) No need to re-read; this is casual entertainment only. No need to keep the book around, and it's not worth the effort to carry it to the next town.

I winced when I first heard this. I winced when I thought about it later. It still makes me twitch. The idea of reading a book, and tearing out the pages as you go, slowly turning it into wastepaper... shudder. (He also says that Gideon pocket bibles make tolerable rolling papers in a pinch.) Even admitting that no, it wasn't any worse than leaving a book on a park bench (to get soaked in the next rainstorm), it was hard to think about--why would you read a book and destroy it, so nobody else could read it later? That's so wasteful. So ... so selfish, to take someone else's largesse, by which you got this cheap book, and destroy it.

But that's what ebook publishers want us to do.

Read it. Read it again if you want. Download & read it later, on a different device. But don't pass it on. As soon as you're done with it--forever-and-truly done, never going to read that book again (and really, how many times am I going to re-read Harlequin romances)... destroy it. Delete that file, blank that space on the memory card.

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Ebooks--by everyone except Baen and a tiny handful of other indie authors or groups--insist on blocking this basic aspect of book utility. Aside from the issues of poverty and class schisms, in which shiny fun things land in the laps of the wealthy (or the not-entirely-impoverished) and never leave, this changes one of the simplest, most essential aspects of literature:

1402242972.01._SX220_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Books are social! Ebooks are selfish!

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My history includes a long stretch of poverty. People in poverty cope by pooling resources, by trimming waste any way they can, by coordinating efforts and use of limited items. Greed is not considered an awful vice in poor communities--everyone reacts differently to the invisible squeeze of poverty. But waste is. Parsimony is, where it moves from "frugality" into "stinginess." Having more than your neighbors is not wrong, but being unwilling to share what you have--especially when it costs you nothing--is downright sinful.

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This should be a MINOR GODDAMN TECH ISSUE. Here, I agree to delete all copies on my hard drive; plz transfer ownership of this ebook in my library to [username]. Yeah, that involves the honor system, but so does any sale of a non-DRM'd ebook. For DRM'd ebooks, even easier: please remove my access to this book; I'll send an email with a coupon to the new owner and they can activate it.

There is NO REASON we can't share ebooks ... except that publishers want to limit ebooks to 1 purchase = 1 reader.

That's vile. Can you imagine telling children, "when you're done reading that book, dear, throw it in the trash?" What kind of ethics are ebooks designed to encourage?

Yes, I know: ebooks don't wear out. You can make a thousand copies as easily as one. If everyone got their ebooks free from friends, authors would never get paid. We must protect the authors getting paid.

Fuck that. No. We must protect the practice and culture of literature; authors getting paid is part of, but incidental to, that. I fully agree that, if authors don't get paid, that culture is gonna get really sparse, really fast; I don't agree that "pay the authors" is the primary concern of the literary community. Communities; there's more than one.

Authors got paid when paperbacks got handed around so many times the covers wore off and the corners got rounded and the spines were white crinkles on a black strip that used to have a title but nobody can read it anymore. Authors got paid when a private school loaned a book out, week after week after week. Authors got paid when textbooks were shared by four students at once. Authors got paid, somehow, when I came home from the White Elephant sale with three bags of books for $5 each, and promptly handed out four of those books to other people. Or at least, authors got paid enough that nobody declared any of these practices illegal and immoral.

...and here's an old post from Calvin@ http://www.williamai...atespace-vs-lulucom/

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I found these comments in the Lulu forum.

Have we all gone mad? I don’t know about most of you, but I initially signed up with Lulu to have printed copies of MY literary creation in the form of a book. I don’t want my printer to be my business partner, my publisher, my content adviser nor accountant for what’s inside or on the cover of what I created.

Here is what CreateSpace said, in an email, in answer to my question about printing a cover without the ISBN.
 ” Thank you for contacting CreateSpace in regard to the barcode we place on all of our books. The manufacturing-related barcode and additional information found on the last page within books serves as identifiers and are added as part of our printing process. For these reasons, we do not remove this barcode from our books. I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this information may present. ”

Notice that the reply says “our books”. By placing that ISBN on the book, they now consider it theirs – not mine.

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Why is it that only one place in the entire US is the only place to get an ISBN, should you want one? ( Remember back when Network Solutions was the ONLY place you could register an Internet Domain name? ) This is clearly a monopoly and a violation of anti-trust laws. The $275 that Bowker charges for 10 ISBN (plus that annual fee, don’t forget) is nothing short of extortion.
 ISBN’s in Canada (and every other country) are FREE.

And why is it that Lulu can sell me a single ISBN for less than I can buy one myself? How is Lulu (and CreateSpace, for that matter) able to give me an ISBN for free, just for giving them the publishing rights? What benefit is that to me as a writer? Unless I WANT them to handle the marketing. And, how many of you, selling you books through Lulu and CreateSpace, are making the kind of money that you think an author should? Ready to retire, are you?

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Most people on this forum don’t realize that once an ISBN is attached to their book ( whether here on Lulu, or CreateSpace, or wherever ) you are stuck with that ISBN, unless you change the title and re-publish it.
 Also, and maybe more importantly, many REAL book publishers, not Print On Demand houses posing as publishers, won’t touch a book that already has an ISBN because of the hassle in making the changes to the original needed for them to effectively market it.

I use Lulu for printing, not because I want a publishing agent, or someone else to have my distribution rights.

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"The barcodes added to Publisher Grade and Standard books are for the manufacturing process"

This is misleading crap. As soon as Lulu or any other printer puts that code on your book, they will forever be listed as the publisher. Read the terms and conditions. It has nothing to do with the manufacturing process. We’ve all had books printed by Lulu in years past with no barcode. It has everything to do with the publishing-distribution rights. Besides, if we as writers want to print a book for ourselves, to keep, give away or sell through our own channels, why does it need a n ISBN or even a barcode for that matter? I have sold some of the books I’ve created in area stores. None – let me repeat, NONE of those stores ever refused to sell my book because it didn’t have a barcode. These stores have other things in their stock, like gifts, jewelry, musical instruments, that do not have an ISBN or a barcode, that they have no trouble selling. Some items even have a handwritten price tag.

Both the ISBN and bar code are unnecessary, unless you specifically want your printer, be it Lulu or whoever, to also be your publisher. All of you “power posters” should know better. As writers, we should all look for a printer who will print our books the way we want them printed.”

Here's what DonationCoder's Iphigenie 40hz has to say about Baen Books:

avatar_78337.png betty.gif

Baen 'gets it'.

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Baen Books (www.baen.com), a publisher of science fiction, will provide its books to fans who are blind, paralysed, or dyslexic, or are amputees, in electronic form free of charge, effective immediately.

Baen Books is making this offer in recognition of Veterans Day, and all our disabled military veterans. Many Baen authors are veterans themselves, using a military setting as the setting of their tales. Right now convalescing vets might welcome an exciting, fast-action tale to pass the time.

Jim Baen, founder of Baen Books, who passed on June 28, 2006, decided to "provide each challenged reader with a permanent pass" to the regular e-publication of Baen’s new books. His successor, publisher Toni Weisskopf, is implementing his idea with this program.

Since 1999, Baen has published its new books as ebooks each month, in several formats, with no Digital Rights Management, through WebScriptions (www.webscriptions.net), for a small fee. Now, this service will be available at no cost to the disabled, who must apply for this privilege.

Applications will be processed by ReadAssist (www.readassist.org), a volunteer group devoted to helping disabled readers find the books they want in the form they need, and join the community of fandom. The application form has been set up by ReadAssist, and can be found through either WebScriptions or ReadAssist.

If you'd like to volunteer to help ReadAssist, please contact them at their website: query@readassist.org.

« Last Edit: September 21, 2011, 04:47:00 AM by Paul Keith »

vlastimil

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Re: You Selfish E-books! (Contains the F word)
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2011, 07:55:39 AM »
Maybe I am stuck in the previous century, but I am still buying physical books. I own no e-books. I love seeing them in a bookcase, holding them in a hand when reading them, being able to easily lend them to someone and not needing to recharge them.

Maybe it is not just about reading books, but also about collecting them. You cannot do that with e-books.

All e-books should be donationware  :).

wraith808

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Re: You Selfish E-books! (Contains the F word)
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2011, 09:55:25 AM »
All e-books should be donationware

I don't get the sentiment here.  They're still someone's work.  I also don't get the sentiment that all forms of a media should have the same utility.  People pay many times more to go to a concert that they can hear once because it is in a different format.  People do the same thing with movies- and even worse, pay again to get a physical copy later.  I don't think that e-books should be priced the same, nor should they necessarily have the same functionality.  I think that's the biggest problem, trying to take two fundamentally different forms of the same entertainment, and make them work exactly the same.

iphigenie

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Re: You Selfish E-books! (Contains the F word)
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2011, 10:28:13 AM »
I love my ebook because i can travel with more books than I could carry. And that is valuable.

I only buy ebooks from companies who don't treat me like a criminal and give me a format that will stay with me through devices. Small press, clued up publishers, direct from authors. Almost all ebook stores add DRM even when the author/publisher doesnt.

Although I havent really lent ebooks the way I have lent/given real books, I have sometime lent my reader or left it at home for R to read a book on it. But I do respect that if i gave someone a copy of an ebook file they might keep it forever or even share it with all their friends, and i would think twice before doing that.

It would be a truly bad thing if print books disappeared and I still buy anything I would want to reread in 5 years in a paper format.

Until ebook formats are allowed to be converted and resold on cheaply, they are a locked and elitist medium. After all, nobody expects the poor to get ebook readers (or even be allowed to...)
« Last Edit: September 21, 2011, 10:49:20 AM by iphigenie »

vlastimil

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Re: You Selfish E-books! (Contains the F word)
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2011, 12:17:12 PM »
I don't get the sentiment here.  They're still someone's work.  I also don't get the sentiment that all forms of a media should have the same utility.

I guess I was just trained to think like that. If there is a fixed price tag, I want something physical to own - a real book. If I do not get anything physical, I want to give the amount of money I decide it is worth directly to the author (if they still live) - not to distributors, not to marketing agencies, not to lawyers.

The media licensing is a mess. The license is not tied to the physical medium, because I cannot make copies. The license is not tied to a person, because I do not get a replacement (or a discount) when my book burns or when I am buying a CD of the same album I already bought in the past on LP or MC.

In case of software, we have user license and workstation licenses. That is fine. With books and other media, the distributors are trying to pull something like a user-workstation license that has the worst of both. I do not like that.

I'll just keep buying books. If the distributors decide to throw in a e-book version with it, fine, I may start using that. But buying just the e-book? Not in the near future.

wraith808

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Re: You Selfish E-books! (Contains the F word)
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2011, 12:45:35 PM »
If I do not get anything physical, I want to give the amount of money I decide it is worth directly to the author (if they still live)

And what if you read it and decide it's not worth anything?  This site is sort of a testament to the fact that while there are people who find value in the work of someone on the intangible, the vast majority won't give that value to it, even as they don't give the money.

vlastimil

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Re: You Selfish E-books! (Contains the F word)
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2011, 01:15:18 PM »
As I said before, I am happy with the current model - buying physical books.

But if I got an e-book and did not like it, I would not send any money to the author. And would not download any other of their e-books and waste my time on them.

After seeing the latest Conan the Barbarian in a 3D cinema, I really wished there were a way get my money back.

Stoic Joker

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Re: You Selfish E-books! (Contains the F word)
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2011, 01:39:40 PM »
After seeing the latest Conan the Barbarian in a 3D cinema, I really wished there were a way get my money back.

There is. Next time you go to a movie...Sneek in the back door, and call it even. ;)

wraith808

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Re: You Selfish E-books! (Contains the F word)
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2011, 02:07:02 PM »
As I said before, I am happy with the current model - buying physical books.

But if I got an e-book and did not like it, I would not send any money to the author. And would not download any other of their e-books and waste my time on them.

After seeing the latest Conan the Barbarian in a 3D cinema, I really wished there were a way get my money back.

My argument wasn't about being happy with physical books, but more about the value of non-physical purchases.  You might not have liked the end result of the Conan movie, but it was definitely pay for a non-physical purchase.  When you left the movie theatre, you had nothing in hand.  People do it all the time, and complain about the cost of software, and I never have understood that.

daddydave

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Re: You Selfish E-books! (Contains the F word)
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2011, 02:23:49 PM »
As I said before, I am happy with the current model - buying physical books.

But if I got an e-book and did not like it, I would not send any money to the author. And would not download any other of their e-books and waste my time on them.

After seeing the latest Conan the Barbarian in a 3D cinema, I really wished there were a way get my money back.

My argument wasn't about being happy with physical books, but more about the value of non-physical purchases.  You might not have liked the end result of the Conan movie, but it was definitely pay for a non-physical purchase.  When you left the movie theatre, you had nothing in hand.  People do it all the time, and complain about the cost of software, and I never have understood that.

My barber takes something physical away from me, namely my hair, so that's why he pays me. :) :P
If bad things happen to other people, it's karma. If bad things happen to me, it's kismat!

mwb1100

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Re: You Selfish E-books! (Contains the F word)
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2011, 04:10:21 PM »
After seeing the latest Conan the Barbarian in a 3D cinema, I really wished there were a way get my money back.

Did you ask? 

I've known people to do this.  I'm not saying that it's a sure thing, but it can happen (though you're more likely to get an offer of a pass than actual cash back).  At least in some places.

You might have to be insistent; you might have to be more assertive than you might like. And you might not be succeessful.  But I can guarantee that it won't happen unless you ask.

vlastimil

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Re: You Selfish E-books! (Contains the F word)
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2011, 05:39:30 PM »
Did you ask? 

No, I am not the right type of person for this.  :-[