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View Poll Results: Would you participate in this fundraiser?
Yes, I'd donate US$10 10 34.48%
Not interested 19 65.52%
Voters: 29. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 02-09-2007, 10:20 PM   #1
nekokami
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Give a Sony Reader to Jessica Rowling and help Médecins Sans Frontières

Note: due to valid concerns expressed by several people about giving such a gift directly to a minor, the proposal now is to give it directly to Ms. Rowling, but with the suggestion that she shares it with any children she chooses, so she can see their reactions.

Hi folks,

As we all know, none of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling are legally available in e-book format. Whether due to concerns about piracy, a desire to have her books read on paper, or both, Rowling and her publishers have declined to authorize electronic editions. Some publishers seem to believe that e-books just won't work for the juvenile market. Yet, as we also know, enthusiastic fans generally make e-book versions of each installment in the series available shortly after the paper edition is published -- sometimes within 24 hours. And other authors have successfully sold e-boks that are often compared with Rowling's: Christopher Paolini, Phillip Pullman, Susan Cooper, etc.

I believe that most readers who download unauthorized editions would happily pay for legitimate e-book versions. I also believe that Ms. Rowling may not have had a chance to experience the new technologies available for enjoying e-books, most particularly E Ink. Finally, I believe that contrary to the opinions of those publishers quoted above, kids could be quite willing to read e-books. They're just waiting for the right device to hit the market -- and perhaps, for someone to lead the way.

Hence my proposal. Jessica Rowling, J.K. Rowling's daughter, turns 14 on July 28, 2007. I suggest we take up a collection using Amazon Honor System (or a similar tool) to buy Jessica a Sony Reader and load it up with books we think she'll like -- a combination of public domain classics and contemporary works. Just to increase the coolness factor, I suggest we create a custom cover for the Reader using one of the colored covers sold by Sony and an embroidered patch (see below for mockup). And to encourage people to participate, I suggest we make this a fundraiser for Médecins Sans Frontières, an organization I know Rowling has supported in the past. If, for some reason, insufficient funds are collected to reach our goal of the purchase of the reader and books, all funds would be donated to MSF. If, as I hope, we exceed the amount required for this project, all additional funds would be donated to MSF.

Suggestions for books we might include on the Reader have been discussed elsewhere, and I will summarize here:

The Oz series: http://www.feedbooks.com/discover/view_author/96
Grimm's Fairy Tales: http://www.feedbooks.com/discover/view_book/187
The Arabian Nights: http://www.feedbooks.com/discover/view_book/208
A Christmas Carol: http://www.feedbooks.com/discover/view_book/59
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: http://www.feedbooks.com/discover/view_book/22
Treasure Island: http://www.feedbooks.com/discover/view_book/97
Works by Jane Austen, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, and E. Nesbit (known favorite authors of Ms. Rowling)

Eragon and Eldest by Christopher Paolini, the His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman, the Dark is Rising cycle by Susan Cooper, the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix, and/or the works of Meg Cabot. Other suggestions are welcome.

If there is at least some interest here, I will also publicize this fundraiser in other Harry Potter related areas, e.g. the Harry Potter for Grownups email list, http://mugglenet.com, and http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org. These have been successful venues for muggle fundraisers in the past, and I think we could get a lot of support.
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Old 02-10-2007, 12:33 AM   #2
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Posting the plan on the other sites you mentioned will undoubtedly bring it to the attention of Ms. Rowling too, which I think is an excellent notion.

Count me in for $10.

The only potential complication I see is getting the 'new' books (presumably from ConnStore ) on the Reader. If we can't make it work to actually put them on ahead of time, perhaps we can include a gift certificate for an amount appropriate for the list you have in mind, and that list of titles as a set of suggested ones to check out?
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Old 02-10-2007, 01:50 AM   #3
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I voted no. Why not donate money to Project Guttenberg or manybooks.net instead. I am sure that they need the funds more than Ms. Rowling needs a PRS-500.
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Old 02-10-2007, 06:52 AM   #4
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This is a great idea... I bet Mrs Rowling has never seen E Ink in real life and maybe she'd changes her mind if she gets a hands-on. So count me in.
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Old 02-10-2007, 10:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Madam Broshkina
I voted no. Why not donate money to Project Guttenberg or manybooks.net instead. I am sure that they need the funds more than Ms. Rowling needs a PRS-500.
Unquestionably correct, from a financial standpoint. This isn't about money. It's about drawing attention to the possibilities of eBooks, from an author who could make a huge difference in the field.

I would have considered Gutenberg or Manybooks as the charity recipient (or Bookshare.org, for that matter), but I deliberately chose a charity that I know Ms. Rowling has been interested in previously.
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Old 02-10-2007, 10:53 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NatCh
The only potential complication I see is getting the 'new' books (presumably from ConnStore ) on the Reader. If we can't make it work to actually put them on ahead of time, perhaps we can include a gift certificate for an amount appropriate for the list you have in mind, and that list of titles as a set of suggested ones to check out?
I thought of that as an alternative, but I think having many titles of interest already loaded on the Reader would have a greater impact. I'm prepared to spend the time loading up the Reader myself, as long as that won't limit Jessica's eventual ability to obtain more books. (The account is registered to the unit, right?) I think including a gift certificate so she can pick some more books without any further fuss about credit cards or whatever would be a great idea, though.

And remember, Ms. Rowling could undoubtedly buy a Reader of her own (she's "richer than the Queen," after all). The point is that she hasn't.
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Old 02-10-2007, 11:33 AM   #7
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Sorry, count me out.

Sorry, count me out.

But I did take the opportunity to donate $16.95 purchase price to Project Gutenberg and let Rowling's publisher, Scholastic, Inc., know where the funds are going. Rowling herself has taken a firm stance against ebooks:

J.K. Rowling Refuses e-books for Potter
J.K. Rowling has not permitted any of the six Potter books to be released in electronic form, not even during the peak of the e-book craze a few years ago. Neil Blair, a lawyer with Rowling's literary agency, would only say that "this has not been an area that we have sought to license" and did not comment directly on whether pirated e-books, a common phenomena for Potter titles, were hurting sales.

Rowling Talks 'Potter' e-book Scam
Harry Potter author JK Rowling has updated her official web site with comments relating to the Harry Potter e-book scam that happened recently. She has also squashed a rumor about her home in Edinburgh as well as updating her Extra Stuff page with an item about owls.

TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home Seven friendly suggestions for J.K. Rowling and her lawyer
Suggestion One: Try the technology as it exists today...Suggestion Two: Don’t just give away Potter books...Suggestion Three: Make legal Potter books available for sale...

Harry Potter Palmreader Ebook Petition
By signing this petition, you agree that the Author (J. K. Rowling) and / or the Publisher of Harry Potter books should consider selling these books in PalmReader eBook format... (925+ signatures)

Rowling: No e-book for Harry Potter VII
Sorry, e-book fans, whoever you are. You will be able to read the new Harry Potter on paper, listen to it, probably purchase it in Braille. But don't expect to download the text — at least legally...Rowling has cited two reasons over the years: concern about online piracy (which has never been a major problem for the Potter books), and the desire for readers to experience the books on paper. E-books, hyped as the future of publishing during the dot-com craze of the late 1990s, remain a tiny portion of the multibillion dollar industry. The author herself writes in longhand, a preference that led to a rather amusing delay in Potter VII last April...\

Regards,

Matt
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Old 02-10-2007, 12:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nekokami
... as long as that won't limit Jessica's eventual ability to obtain more books. (The account is registered to the unit, right?).....
Not quite: the unit is registered to the account.

In order not to limit her getting more books, you'd have to set up a new account, buy and load the books and then send her the info so she could access the account -- all that might get a bit tricky.
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Old 02-10-2007, 12:49 PM   #9
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Who knows perhaps Sony would also (anonymously) donate some money to the cause. It would definitely help their Reader to gain more ground
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Old 02-10-2007, 02:38 PM   #10
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Not to be a cynic, but I could see this plan back-firing, at least in terms of proving how easy and wondrous a device the Reader is.

From the various reported problems that I have noted on the Reader forum, it seems that it will be difficult to purchase a Reader, customise it physically, then load it with content and be able to transfer the account--and thus the ability to add or delete material--to another person.

It might work, or it might lead to all sorts of headaches.

I do not own a Reader, and sadly have been unable to inveigle any friends to purchase one, so I do not know firsthand how the connect software functions.

My biggest fear is that, should we collect funds for the Reader, load it with content and ship it to Scotland to get it into Ms. Rowling's hot little hands, there will be any number of problems. Even the simplest little glitch would serve to re-inforce J.K's--in my own view--ridiculously willfully ignorant views of e-boooks. She allows people to listen to the book, to see a screen adaptation--not the actual text--but heaven forfend people read her words on a computer screen!

I wish you luck, but I hope this project does not cause more problems than it solves.
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Old 02-10-2007, 02:45 PM   #11
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I will gradly contribute, but not for a Sony Reader. Better a Nokia N800 or a Panasonic WordsGear. Beside any consideration about the platform of choiche, my impression is that the Rowling is too much of a full-of-herself luddite to ever notice or aknowledge that she could be wrong. She should learn something (I mean, beside how to write not 7 but 30+ books being fresh and totally enjoyable from the first to the last) from Terry Pratchett, that published the last Discworld book, THUD!, in ebook format.
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Old 02-10-2007, 04:54 PM   #12
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I'm not really against this plan and I would donate, but:

The Sony Reader is still not officially available in the UK is it? So using the Connect Store could be a problem.

Does anybody have the private address so that we could send the Reader there?

Do the Rowlings own a computer capable of running the Connect software?

Harry Potter 7 is the last book, so maybe it't too late?


I guess there are more...

One interesting thing would be if Sony took an interest and went ahead with the plan, they could easily donate a Reader...and maybe offer a deal for the publisher as well...:-)
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Old 02-10-2007, 04:57 PM   #13
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No sale for me. If Rowling doesn't want to sell her books as e-books, her fans will simply scan and give away the e-books. If she's not concerned about that, fine. If Scholastic's not worried about the potential lost revenue, fine. Life's too short to worry about their short-sightedness with e-books.
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Old 02-10-2007, 06:17 PM   #14
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Maybe we should grab the occasion to... subtly hint to Mrs JKR that keeping a more open mind in tech affairs could be a smart idea.

You know, adding to the reader (whatever model) a card with something like: "Dear Mrs, we know that you are only the second richest women in the UK and do that the lost sales coming from an official ebook edition of HP novels could bankrupt you in only a few century, so we decided to help you buying you at least the reader."

Hmm... No, somehow I don't think Mrs JKR has enough sense of humor to appreciate irony... ;-)
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Old 02-10-2007, 08:27 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jordan
No sale for me. If Rowling doesn't want to sell her books as e-books, her fans will simply scan and give away the e-books. If she's not concerned about that, fine. If Scholastic's not worried about the potential lost revenue, fine. Life's too short to worry about their short-sightedness with e-books.
Here here! I'm with you Steve.

Money for Médecins sans Frontières... excellent!
A gift for a rich kid that probably has more than I... Hmmm! Maybe only because her mum won't give it to her.
For JK... absolutely not!

If she want's to shoot herself in the foot by refusing to join in the future of litterature distribution, that's tough cookies for her. She deserves all the pirates she'll meet!!!

In my experience stubbornness never pays. Life teaches to go with the flow. Jean De La Fontaine wrote a great fable about it. 'Le Chêne et le Roseau' I'm sure that being litterate as she is, she knows it.
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