Saturday, May 11, 2013

Changing mind takes time

I make fun (barely) of some who I think is too conservative, for example those who are too much enamoured by the smell of a paper book to imagine they could ever get the same pleasure from the same story in ebook form. But then I find that we all have mind inertia on some level, and usually we can't see it.

For example, it took me years of using digital cameras to really get used to the fact that I no longer had to pay for every frame I shot.

Similarly: a friend just mentioned a book she'd like to discuss with me if I'd read it. Well, I hadn't, but I looked at it and it was within my personal "easy-buy" range, the price limit under which I may buy a book just on the chance that I might like something in it. (This limit may change according to my current financial health and emotions.) So I just clicked Buy. I feel that if it turns out the book has nothing for me, well, basically nothing is wasted.

In contrast, the paperback was three times the price, plus shipping. But even if it had been as cheap, if I had been sitting there two weeks from now with a book which I'd gotten nothing from, holding a practically useless paper object in my hand, I would have felt a feeling of What a Waste.

Another example: I bought The Complete Virginia Woolf on a whim a few days ago. Earlier, it would have ballooned my already overflowing book shelves. Now it takes up no physical space and can be deleted in a second. Further, in case I hadn't liked it at all, who cares, because out-of-copyright books are free (or close to it if you want better formatting).

It also took me a while to get used to this. For a while, even after I "went over to" ebooks, I felt like I had to read every book I bought. And preferably pretty soon after I bought it. And preferably I should finish it too. In actual fact, neither of these things had been true for years, even with paper books, not since the even of online ordering. But it's only with ebooks, which are never a "waste", that I'm getting used to it, not caring how many unopened or unfinished books are on my device or in the cloud, and shamelessly hopping around between many books I'm reading or trying at once.


By the way, Woolf's The Voyage Out contains my second-favorite sentence ever (the first is in Gibson's Mona Lisa Overdrive. Amazingly, they both are descriptions of London!):
"In the streets of London where beauty goes unregarded, eccentricity must pay the penalty, and it is better not to be very tall, to wear a long blue cloak, or to beat the air with your left hand."

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Piracy not an issue after one year of selling DRM-free ebooks, says Tor Books

Piracy not an issue after one year of selling DRM-free ebooks, says Tor Books, article.
After nearly a year of selling ebooks free of DRM copy protection, Macmillan subsidiary Tor Books UK said that it has seen no increase in piracy on any of its properties. The company's editorial director elaborated in an extensive reflection on the decision earlier this week, writing, "The move has been a hugely positive one for us, [...] we’re still pleased that we took this step."

(Big article here.)

I am very pleased indeed to see this report, since DRM is a plaque upon the land, and simply based on fear rather than data. And especially since Tor is far from an insignificant publisher, so this should have a positive effect on other publishers considering the move, this might nudge the snowball further along, and eventually we may actually arrive in a world where, gasp!, you will not lose your book collection if you decide you want to use a Kobo instead of a Kindle, and where your books are safe from even the demise of Amazon or server crashes or whatnot.

Admittedly the situation is complicated a bit by Amazon's 'delightful' decision to use and stick to a proprietary format (.mobi), and I would guess that other device makers would need their permission to enable their readers to read the Kindle books, even with no DRM. I'm not sure where that would go. Amazon already allow their books to be read on other devices (virtually all of them), but that is happening in an app made by Amazon, which means that Amazon still have control over the whole thing and could remove the app, remove books, and whatnot.
"Control" is a central button, probably even more important than money in this whole thing. People and especially corporations, have deep, morbid fear of letting anything get out of their control.

I've just bought a Tor book (Halo Silentium) to try this. But it's not really obvious how to download the file so I can transfer it to my host of devices. On the Google Play Book store, the book opens in the web browser, there's no Download button that I can see.

Update: I found a button which claims to download an ePub file, but typically, though it's supposedly DRM free, it download a .acsm (Adobe Digital Editions) file, which is like a ticket permitting you to download the book. And like usual (I hate Adobe's update processes) ADE won't let me run it without updating it, and when I click update, for some reason it just starts my HTML editor app!! So I'm stuck there and I give up. (Maybe I can get it via my Kobo or Kindle and get it to the computer that way. But really, the computer should be the most direct and flexible option, shouldn't it?)