Monthly Archives: August 2012

What Kind of Book Reader Are You? A Diagnostic Guide

31 August 2012

From The Atlantic Wire:

The Chronological Reader. Slow and steady wins the race, dear reader. You are the tortoise to the promiscuous reader’s distracted-at-any-turn hare. You buy a book, you read it. You buy another, you read it. Perhaps you borrow a book at the library. You read it, and then you return it, and you get another, which you will read. You may not remember where you began, what the first book that kicked it all off was, and you likely have no idea where you’ll end, but the point is, you will go through each book methodically and reasonably, until it is done. You might discard a book, but only if there is very good cause, and it will bring you a sense of deep unease, so you’ll probably pick it back up and finish it anyway. You are very good at puzzles, and the most reliable of all your friends. Suggested chronological reads: It doesn’t matter; you’ll get to them all, eventually.

. . . .

The Cross-Under. You are a grown-up who reads Y.A. or kids books, or a kid who reads adult books, and there is a place for you in society, finally. Your existence acknowledged after so many years, you no longer have to feel shame at your questionable reading habits but can instead bask in the admiration of book blogs and feel a part of the vanguard. You are not ruled by categories; you are a free thinker. When you were in elementary school a librarian told you a book was “Too old for you.” You read it anyway, and there’s been no going back.

Link to the rest at The Atlantic Wire

E-Books a Boon to English Israelis

31 August 2012
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From TeleRead:

Haaretz has a neat little quickie about English-speaking expats living in Israel who are turning to e-books to get their work in readers’ hands. One author approached an agent, was told the lag time would be a year-and-a-half and didn’t want to wait that long. Another deemed her Israeli-themed historical fiction too niche to attract a mainstream publisher, and a third is still considering options for her young adult fantasy story.

The profile highlights well the main benefits of e-publishing: control and timeliness.

Author Steven Greenberg could get his post-apocalyptic Israeli-set thriller out there right away, and he enjoyed some success on the Amazon best-seller list when he briefly offered it for free. Miriam Feinberg Vamosh had to pay for the cover art and page design herself, but was pleased by the result and says it was “money well spent.”

Link to the rest at TeleRead

How video copyright went insane

31 August 2012
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From Ars Technica:

Suppose I could offer you a choice of two technologies for watching TV online. Behind Door Number One sits a free-to-watch service that uses off-the-shelf technology and that buffers just enough of each show to put the live stream on the Internet. Behind Door Number Two lies a subscription service that requires custom-designed hardware and makes dozens of copies of each show. Which sounds easier to build—and to use? More importantly, which is more likely to be legal?

If you went with Door Number One, then you are a sane person, untainted by the depravity of modern copyright law. But you are also wrong. The company behind Door Number One, iCraveTV, was enjoined out of existence a decade ago. The company behind Door Number Two, Aereo, just survived its first round in court and is still going strong.

The difference between them—and the reason for Aereo’s willfully perverse design—originated in a critical 2008 DVR decision by the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Cartoon Network v. CSC Holdings (which everyone just calls “Cablevision”). The tech at issue in Cablevision was a “DVR in the cloud,” and because of the way the Second Circuit answered the question of whether a DVR “performs” a copyrighted TV show when the user hits “play,” the decision opened a whole range of possibilities for entrepreneurs willing to mash up technologies in ways God never intended.

. . . .

For a very long time, copyright has covered more than just making copies. In 1856, for example, Congress gave playwrights an exclusive right to stage their plays in public. That “public performance right” has gradually expanded to cover almost everything that can be copyrighted and performed, from movies to musicals.

The meaning of a “public performance,” however, has been surprisingly hard to pin down. For more than a century, technologists have been coming up with unexpected ways of bringing media to people. Some cases were easy: the courts quickly decided that showing movies in theaters and broadcasting songs on the radio were public performances requiring permission of the rightsholder, while mere audition (in English, that’s “listening to the radio”) was not.

Cable TV, though, broke the mold. Back when the typical cable TV operator was an edgy upstart, the cable business model was retransmission without the express written consent of anyone. A cable network would put up an antenna somewhere with good TV reception, lay wires over the hills and far away to communities with terrible TV reception, and relay the signals to paying subscribers there.

In a pair of decisions, 1968′s Fortnightly v. United Artists and 1974′s Teleprompter v. CBS, the Supreme Court held that cable retransmission was not a “performance” for copyright purposes and so didn’t need copyright owners’ permission.

“Broadcasters perform. Viewers do not perform,” the court explained in Fortnightly. A cable network was just a way to help viewers receive distant TV broadcasts, like a gigantic pair of rabbit ears.

But the Supreme Court had meddled with the primal forces of nature, and Congress promptly swung into action, revising the law to override Fortnightly and Teleprompter. The 1976 Copyright Act added a “transmit clause” to its definitions to make clear that whether a work was performed “by means of any device or process” and whether the public received it “in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times,” it would still infringe if transmitted without permission.

. . . .

The Internet has never played nice with carefully crafted regulatory schemes. Since streaming became practical in the 1990s, a series of adventuresome dot-com entrepreneurs have been searching for a way to repeat the cable systems’ original legal coup, bringing live TV to Joe User—preferably without paying to do so.

Link to the rest at Ars Technica

The Guilty Pleasure of Books Not Yet Read

31 August 2012

From author Loyal Miles via BookRiot:

We’ve all been there. Face to face with books we’ve held, that we’ve brought home from the store or ordered online, that we’ve let linger for weeks on the coffee table, that we’ve reluctantly slid onto the shelf, that we’ve watched descend the queue of our Kindle or iPad. Books we know we eventually must read. When the time is right. When things slow down. When we get to it. An experience meant to be a part of our lives. A burden and pleasure we won’t bypass. A journey we’re destined to make.

. . . .

Someday I’ll tackle Underworld like I tackled Ulysses. I’ll finish A Visit from the Goon Squad and surrender months to Tolstoy. But some nights, I just want to be home, dinner on a plate in my lap, instant Netflix streaming. The homebound commute, the last thing I want is to find myself face-to-face with one more New Yorker, likely another Brooklynite headed home, a serious reader, a pair of hands holding that big white book, the king of clubs collaged with IRS codes, the digital signature of David Foster Wallace. The last, unfinished novel. Another book I haven’t read. Stalking me. I don’t deserve this. A dog-eared Netherland waits half-read inside my shoulder bag. I swear I’ll finish it.

Link to the rest at BookRiot

E-Books and Fifty Shades Drive Random House to Record Profits

31 August 2012

From Digital Book World:

Revenues at Random House grew to €947 million ($1.19 billion) in the first half of 2012, up from €787 million in the first half of 2011 on the strength of selling 30 million copies of Fifty Shades of Grey, half of which were e-books.

. . . .

“Growth in our e-book sales, which continued to rise significantly in each of our divisions, was complemented by our increasing market share among physical retailers,” said Random House chairman and CEO Markus Dohle in a letter to the company.

According to a company spokesperson, digital revenues as a share of total company revenues rose in the first half of 2012 to 27% in the U.S., up from 20% in the first half of 2011. Perhaps more significant for the world’s largest publisher is that worldwide digital revenues were 22% of total revenues.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Publishers to Pay $69M in eBook Pricing Settlement

31 August 2012

From Galleycat:

55 attorney generals from different states, districts and U.S. territories have reached an agreement with HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster in the ongoing litigation over eBook pricing.

According to the terms of the deal, consumers who bought an eBook from any of the “Agency Five” publishers during April 1, 2010 until May 21, 2012 will receive compensation.

Link to the rest at Galleycat

Here’s a press release discussing the settlement from the Connecticut Attorney General.

Amazon Publishing buys 1,000 titles from defunct Dorchester

31 August 2012

From Paid Content:

Amazon Publishing has acquired the rights to 1,000 titles from Dorchester Publishing, which closed in February.

Dorchester primarily published romance, Westerns and horror books. Dorchester had been in economic trouble for years. In the auction for Dorchester’s assets — where Amazon was the only bidder, the company confirmed – “Dorchester authors were offered the opportunity to join Amazon Publishing and receive the full back royalties that Dorchester indicated were owed.”

“Working with the Dorchester author community during this auction process has been a tremendous experience for all of us,” said Philip Patrick, Amazon Publishing’s business development director. “We are happy to be able to pay their back royalties and we’re thrilled to welcome them to the Amazon Publishing family.”

. . . .

“Under the terms of Amazon’s bid, any former Dorchester Publishing authors that chose not to work with Amazon Publishing will have their rights revert back to them to pursue other publishing opportunities including self-publishing via the Kindle Direct Publishing platform.”

Link to the rest at Paid Content

Kindle Fire ‘sold out’ as talk grows of new Amazon tablet

30 August 2012

From The Chicago Tribune:

Amazon.com Inc. said on Thursday that its Kindle Fire accounts for 22 percent of U.S. tablet sales and that the device is sold out.

. . . .

Amazon is holding a press event next week in Santa Monica, Calif., fueling speculation it will launch new tablets.

Link to the rest at The Chicago Tribune

Five questions that may explain some aspects of the Apple e-books litigation

30 August 2012

From Legal Minimum:

As I’ve been reviewing the documents and the posts around the Web on the Apple e-books price-fixing litigation, I’ve seen a few things that it seems people don’t understand. To help give some background I’ll explain so that you can have an easier time following this important litigation.

. . . .

1. So what’s the illegal activity in this situation? The technical term is something called horizontal price maintenance. There’s two types of price maintenance: horizontal and vertical. Vertical is the one we’re more familiar with: the manufacturer sets the price and everyone else agrees to pay it. Horizontal is less common because it requires a conspiracy among competitors: it occurs when everyone at a certain level in the market (e.g. the publishers) agrees on the cost for a certain good (e.g. e-books).

It’s illegal because it harms consumers. Everyone in the chain of commerce before the consumer actually benefits from this. The DOJ has explained it in the Apple context so let’s use that: publishers get higher prices therefore higher profits, and Apple gets a percentage of those prices therefore higher revenues as well as gets to make sure its competitors can’t undercut it. (And don’t forget authors: higher prices means higher royalties for them too.) The only people who lose out are consumers. That’s why it’s illegal: because if it wasn’t then everyone would do it.

. . . .

3. Why did the DOJ sue publishers that were willing to settle? Although the DOJ brought charges against 5 publishers, 3 of them were willing to settle immediately. So why charge them? Two reasons:

  1. If the DOJ gets a settlement from a publisher, it has a contract with them. If the publisher breaches the contract, the DOJ can sue them. But if it charges first and settles in the context of the trial, then it gets a judgment. If the publisher breaches a judgment, that’s contempt of court.
  2. Antitrust laws exist to protect the public, so it’s important not to settle a criminal offence in quiet behind closed doors. Think of this as similar to a plea bargain: even where both sides agree on a plea charges still have to be filed so that a judge can review the arrangement and decide whether it should be acceptable. In an antitrust case there’s also a law called the Tunney Act that requires the court to solicit, receive, and review comments from the public before accepting a settlement, which has happened here and about which I’ve written a few times (links below).

Link to the rest at Legal Minimum

I called him from a phone booth

30 August 2012

I called him from a phone booth. The voice that answered was fat. It wheezed softly, like the voice of a man who had just won a pie-eating contest.

Raymond Chandler

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