Archive for ebooks

Hardcopied: A July Print-Reading Challenge

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt starts tomorrow! The Hardcopied challenge (see the Hardcopied Facebook page or the Hardcopied Book Club on Goodreads), in which a person decides to read only print books for the month of July, 2015. I’m doing it — are you?

A friend was ruminating recently about reading print books verses reading ebooks. There really doesn’t need to be the word “versus” in there, because both are of value. But we do read differently in each medium, and believe it or not, there are always likely to be print books in the foreseeable future. (That’s what head Harvard librarian, Robert Darnton, certainly believes, as I discuss in a review of his book.) So it’s probably a good idea to keep up our print reading skills as well as our ereading skills.

My primary reader, the Sony Reader (and then Sony sold us out to Kobo, for which I will never forgive Sony, but that's another story...)

My primary reader, the Sony Reader (and then Sony sold us out to Kobo, for which I will never forgive Sony, but that’s another story…)

One of the things that researchers have noticed–in general, so individual people may vary on this–is that when one’s primary reading is done onscreen, we tend much more to read in quick “jumps.” We flit from one thing to another, and our attention span does not seem to be as long. I’ve noticed this myself; I get a bit restless and start feeling an itch to go look at something else. With our screens, tablets, and smartphones, we can do this all too easily, and we never sit on one thing for all that long.

With print reading, we have to spend time. We are concentrating on one thing only, and we have to concentrate to stick with it. This makes us go deeper. It also gives us time to really think about what we’re reading. (And interestingly, some studies show that we retain things we’ve read in print form much more readily than things we’ve read onscreen. Hm.)

So I’m in! I’m going to read only print books in July. Want to join me?

“But NOTHING bad will happen if you all switch to ebooks. Trust us.”

Cory Doctorow

Doctorow's sales went UP as he offered ebooks for free, or without DRM controls.

I keep trying to like the concept of ebooks. Trying to believe everyone who says that of course nothing will go wrong and we’ll have total control of those electronic files on our readers. I’ve even decided which reader I’d like to get. (Though after today, I won’t waste the extra bucks on a Sony ereader after all; I’ll stick with the much cheaper Kobo.) I can see a real convenience for ebooks, especially if you need to cart lots of books with you and can’t take a whole suitcase of them.


But now this Cory Doctorow article(**):

HarperCollins to libraries: we will nuke your ebooks after 26 checkouts

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.

This is simply an abomination. We are constantly assured that when we buy an ebook — just like when we buy a physical book — that book is ours. (Even though we can’t resell it second hand. That’s already one difference.) When something happens like Amazon going into people’s Kindles and zapping a book — oh, that’s just an exception. Right? They’ll never, ever do it again. Right?

This HarperCollins crap is not an exception. It is a policy. And we know from experience that the “thin edge of the wedge” really does exist. Someone intrudes into our ownership a teeny bit — and we allow it and get used to it. So they intrude a little more — and we allow that. Do you think these publishers won’t end up at a point where they’ll only allow us to read an ebook a certain number of times, even though we’ve legitimately purchased it and put on our readers?? Don’t be naive. Those books were also bought by the libraries. The books were supposedly their property.

Doctorow’s advice to libraries, though I doubt they’ll follow it, and I doubt this will prevent the same screws from being applied to us one day unless we can kill DRM:

Stop buying DRM ebooks. Do you think that if you buy twice, or three times, or ten times as many crippled books that you’ll get more negotiating leverage with which to overcome abusive crap like this? Do you think that if more of your patrons come to rely on you for ebooks for their devices, that DRM vendors won’t notice that your relevance is tied to their product and tighten the screws?

You have exactly one weapon in your arsenal to keep yourself from being caught in this leg-hold trap: your collections budget. Stop buying from publishers who stick time-bombs in their ebooks.

So mad at this FUCKING GREEDY MOVE by HarperCollins that I could set a flamethrower on them!

(**Doctorow is a published author whose sales and earnings went UP after he started offering his books online for free, and released them in DRM-less efiles. He knows what he’s talking about. He makes his living studying this. When he speaks on these matters, people should listen.)

Book Review: Invisible Lives by Anjali Banerjee

I could see Invisible Lives, by Anjali Banerjee, as a Bollywood movie. Not one of those heavy shows about the criminal underworld or the stern father forbidding his daughter to marry her one true love, but a light, romantic comedy. I can even imagine where the musical numbers would fit into the plot.

This is the sort of book you would take with you to the beach or cottage, for summer reading. It’s thoroughly enjoyable, doesn’t mire you in deep, philosophical thought, and has a happy ending. Everything you’d want in a summer book, or a Bollywood romance.

The main character, Lakshmi Sen, has been given a telepathic gift by the goddess she’s named after: she can sense people’s emotions and sometimes even a little of their current circumstances. Because of this, she’s known to the customers of her mother’s sari shop as someone who can help choose the perfect sari for them.

Lakshmi, living in Seattle with her widowed mother, tries to use her gift to help people. But on the day she meets American Nick Dunbar, the driver for a famous female Bollywood star, Lakshmi’s gift disappears, at least in his presence. And on the same day, her mother announces that she’s found the perfect future husband for her daughter.

Lakshmi falls in love with Nick, but is determined to follow her family’s traditions and enter the marriage arranged for her. It doesn’t hurt that her new fiance is a very kind, handsome, intelligent man. Yet Lakshmi is faced for the first time with questions about duty, tradition, and family. When do these traditions actually hinder family devotion rather than help it? And what exactly is the real nature of love?

You follow Lakshmi’s ups and downs, as well as the fortunes of a few of her friends and customers. Some have followed Indian marriage traditions and ended up very happy, while others have experienced disastrous results. But all of them help Lakshmi to view her own heart and commitments wisely, and make her final decision.

This is sort of an intercultural chick-lit book. It addresses some of the same themes that deeper, more serious Indian novels do, yet it manages to look at them in a lighter way while coming to its conclusions. This is a very enjoyable book, and I really recommend it.

Invisible Lives was published in 2006, by Downtown Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. It is also available as an ebook.

Read an E-book Week!

I could have sworn this came later in the year last year, because I thought I posted about it here, rather than at the other abominable site where I had my blog.

No matter! It’s Read an E-Book Week! It started yesterday, March 7th, and goes until March 13th. If you go to the E-Book Store on that website, you’ll see some of the participants who are offering books for the week. Some of the e-books are free, while others are, as the site says, “deeply discounted.” Many participants are offering a different free download each day during the week.

Many thanks to Graham Storrs, at whose website I discovered that it’s E-Book Week. And by the way, Graham’s got a science fiction e-book of his own on sale right now: TimeSplash. Go read an excerpt here, and then run, don’t walk, and buy a copy or two!

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