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Old 01-23-2013, 04:45 PM   #32
Elfwreck
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Location: SF Bay Area, California, USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ereadingdotcom View Post
My take on breaking DRM is that it's illegal.
As far as can currently be sorted out: Breaking DRM for personal use is not illegal (by the same legal standards that allow time-shifting VCR use); however, distributing DRM-cracking tools is illegal... in the U.S. Customers in other countries face other laws, and any statements about what is/is not legal should be made with the international market in mind.

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The fact is, no one is "required" to buy ebooks; they can always buy paper books.
As long as the books are currently in print, or available used (I'd think publishers would like to discourage purchases of used print books over new ebooks), and in a typeface large enough to read, and the person's hands can deal with print books... ebooks have been a great resource for many people with disabilities, and blithely saying "buy print" is a statement that people with some types of disabilities just don't need to read, or don't need to read anything recent.

(Sorry; bit of a rant there. I have several friends who've started actively reading again after decades of mostly not doing so; ereaders help compensate for shaking hands or poor eyesight in ways that print just doesn't.)

Quote:
As for authors, I think some kind of protection is needed (such as watermarking) to help prevent unfettered piracy.
There is no protection against unfettered piracy. Anyone with a keyboard can type in the text of a book and share it with millions; this was being done online before the WWW became active. (Well, not millions at the time. Thousands who read whatever usenet group was doing the booksharing.) *Casual* piracy can be discouraged but not prevented; rampant piracy can't be stopped.

What authors need is a way to encourage people to buy instead of read for free. Books have *always* been available to read for free for those who went out of their way to do so; there is nothing in the digital age that's going to change that.

However, most readers want to support the authors they like -- students move from book-borrowers to book-buyers when they have the resources to do so, as long as books are available in the formats they want for a price they find reasonable. Treating all customers like incipient criminals isn't a great way to encourage long-term support.

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Authors make precious little money as it is, on average. If an individual buys 1 copy of a novel from a so-called "midlist" author and allows it to be distributed to the point that there are 10,000 or more illegal copies out there, it just might destroy the digital market for that novel.
Only if those 10,000 illegal copies are in the hands of 10,000 readers who would otherwise have bought it.

I'm not saying that piracy can't harm sales. I'm saying that *digital copies* aren't what harms sales; people not-paying harms sales. And "read a free copy" doesn't cost the author any more money than "chose to buy a different book instead." Authors don't make money by preventing piracy; they make money by increasing sales. Discouraging piracy can be a method they use for that, but it doesn't directly lead to more money.

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** Re-downloading your books: You should always be able to do this. Who does not allow it?
Fictionwise switched from a "download forever" policy to "you must download within two weeks; otherwise your book *might* go away" to "download with 48 hours or we don't promise it'll be there when you get around to it."

Most customers understand that maybe downloads won't be available forever--publishing contracts change; file hosting systems get upgraded, and so on--the important thing is to notify customers long in advance of any changes, and be supportive of their interest in keeping access to what they paid for.

The "Fictionwise is Closing" thread here at MR is a great example of how NOT to change your downloading policy.

Quote:
** Owning your books outright: Not possible because of the contract between the bookstore, the distributor, and the publisher/author.
Depends on the publisher. Baen's been very solid about "you bought it; you own it." They're aware that there's some openings for abuse there; mostly they've said "just don't be jerks about it" and that seems to have worked well for them. It may be that this is because Baen's readership is mostly a small niche, but the fact is, owning a digital purchase isn't innately incompatible with a successful ebook business.

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** Browser downloading: I see things moving more this direction, but it will be a while. While I know some people don’t like readers, I’d have to say that the average customer does like a value-added, non-intrusive app for managing their libraries and other reading-related tasks.
They may. I'm not one of them. I've yet to see an ebook library program I liked (including Calibre), and I don't want a separate program installed for every store where I shop for books. (Currently, I avoid this by not having any of the apps; if I can't buy it through a standard web browser and download it directly, I don't need to shop at that store.)

Re: Social Networking--I wouldn't expect to use it. I have an account on Goodreads that I don't touch; I don't have a Facebook account; my Twitter languishes with one or two posts a month. Like wifi and DRM, I don't care if it exist; I just don't want it to be in the way of my interactions with the site.

I'm not adverse to social networking features, but I don't expect a bookstore to provide ones I'd enjoy.

REVIEW NOTE: You'll have to decide if you allow reviews/ratings by non-purchasers. One of the ways Amazon developed its rich (and problematic) review culture was allowing people to review products bought in other places. If you limit reviews to on-site purchases, people who've read that book in print or bought it elsewhere won't be participating with that part of your site.

If you allow non-buyers to review, that brings up its own squirm of tentacles; talk with your marketing and site management people (or person, or whatever) in trying to sort that out. Allowing non-buyers to review means someone has to be available to remove problematic reviews, whatever you define those to be.
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