Monthly Archives: October 2017

Another Site Design Experiment

31 October 2017

UPDATE: PG saw a couple of immediate deal killers with the theme experiment that weren’t obvious during his live previews of the theme.

The search continues.

. . . . . . . . . .

PG is trying a different WordPress theme experiment.

Comments/suggestions, etc. are welcome.

To be clear, this is not a done decision. I can switch back to the old theme with a couple of mouse clicks and sincerely appreciate your feedback.

Do You Know Where Your Domain Names Are?

31 October 2017

From CommLawBlog:

Failure to renew a domain name can cause your website to go down. The need to renew your domain names seems obvious and simple enough, but numerous companies and individuals have gotten famous for forgetting and letting domain names lapse, including Microsoft, Jeb Bush, the Dallas Cowboys, and,  recently, Sorenson Communications.

Last year, Sorenson Communications let a domain name lapse. It was SORENSON.COM which it used for providing access to its Video Relay Service (which Sorenson operated under the brand name “SVRS”). The domain name expired, the website was inaccessible, and Sorenson’s customers could not receive or place video relay service, 911, and other calls during the outage. Sorenson’s SVRS customers lost their telecommunications relay services, which left individuals with hearing and speech disabilities without the ability to communicate using a phone to call. Although Sorenson notified the FCC the morning the outage began, the domain name was not renewed – nor the website available — for another two days. Although the SVRS services were restored, the FCC was not amused by what it called at “preventable, internal operational failure.”

In the FCC’s September Order, Sorenson agreed to “reimburse the TRS Fund the sum of $2,700,000, and pay a settlement to the United States Treasury in the amount of $252,000.”

. . . .

Accordingly, set your domain names to Auto Renewal. Whether you have registered your domain names for one year or ten years, you will probably forget when they expire (and inevitably the email reminder will be sent to your spam file). Auto-renewal service is found under various names for different domain name registrars, but it operates in the same manner and allows you to post a credit card on file and automatically renew your company’s domain name(s) in case someone on staff forgets, avoiding unintended expiration. Even if you don’t actually want to renew the domain name, the cost of renewing the name – even to “park” it for the short term – pales in comparison to the expense of getting it back.

Link to the rest at CommLawBlog

PG will add that if the credit card on file with whatever company is responsible for auto-renewing your domain name expires or if the old credit card is retired for any reason (it’s reported as lost or stolen, for example) and you receive a credit card from the same issuer with a different number, you’ll need to update the credit card information that is used to auto-renew your domain name.

As a specific example, Costco has long offered a Costco co-branded credit card to its customers. Among other things, the credit card could also serve as a Costco membership card which must be displayed when a member enters a Costco store. At checkout, the membership card must again be presented and scanned, so, although it is not required, it is convenient for the customer to use the same card for the purpose of both providing a customer number for checking out and paying for their purchase.

A year or so ago, Costco terminated its relationship with its co-branded card issuer, American Express, and, with customer consent, transferred all their customers to a new Costco branded Visa card. The Amex accounts were cancelled with no option (that PG could find) for continuing to use a newly-issued Amex card with the same number.

If a Costco customer had used the Amex credit card for auto-renewal of domain names and neglected to replace that card number with a new one, auto-renewal would have failed.

PG will note that some domain registrars are not noted for high levels of customer service so you can’t count on receiving a message when your domain registration is about to expire.

I can walk into a bookstore

31 October 2017

I can walk into a bookstore and hand over my credit card and they don’t know who the hell I am. Maybe that says something about bookstore clerks.

E. L. Doctorow

As One B&N Store Closes, Another is Granted a Reprieve

31 October 2017

From The Digital Reader

Barnes & Noble has said that stores are their future, but the retailer is still closing locations.

This includes the B&N store in Detroit, which is scheduled to close early next year.

. . . .

The B&N store in Hawaii is more fortunate; The Maui  Times reports that this location, which is one of only a handful of bookstores on the island, was granted a last minute stay of execution:

Barnes & Noble in the Lahaina Gateway Center will not be closing at the end of the year as had been planned, reported the store’s manager Cindy Mauricio on Wednesday.

“We are not foreseen to close. We are back in business,” said Mauricio, who was overjoyed after just hearing the news from her district manager late Wednesday afternoon.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

Isabel Allende on Harry Potter, Dostoyevsky, and the Gift of Reading

31 October 2017
Comments Off on Isabel Allende on Harry Potter, Dostoyevsky, and the Gift of Reading

From The Literary Hub:

What was the first book you fell in love with?
In my early childhood I lived in my grandfather’s somber house, where my mother found shelter with her three babies after her husband abandoned her. It was the 1940s, at the end of the Second World War, in Chile. We, children, were mildly neglected, as most children were at the time. No one read to us, our Mom was depressed and the nanny was illiterate. Early on an uncle taught me to read and for my fifth birthday gave me a book of Nordic fairy tales with gorgeous illustrations which I practically memorized. To this day I dream of snow princesses, ice castles and villains turned into bears.

Name a classic you feel guilty about never having read?
As a teenager the only books available in my grandfather’s library were the classics. At 17, I was reading mythology, Shakespeare, Cervantes, and many others. (I would discover Jane Austen much later.) I savored every page of War and Peace and managed to struggle through most of Dostoyevsky, but not Crime and Punishment: I have never been able to pass page 30.

What’s the book you reread the most?
I keep rereading Pablo Neruda’s poetry for inspiration and metaphors, also to recover the richness of my native Spanish language, which I tend to forget because I have lived in English for the last 30 years. I also reread Kathleen Norris, especially Cloister Walk, because it nourishes my soul. Secretly I envy the Benedictine way of life.

Link to the rest at The Literary Hub

A Story About Piracy

31 October 2017

From author Maggie Stiefvater:

I’ve decided to tell you guys a story about piracy.

I didn’t think I had much to add to the piracy commentary I made yesterday, but after seeing some of the replies to it, I decided it’s time for this story.

Here are a few things we should get clear before I go on:

1) This is a U.S. centered discussion. Not because I value my non U.S. readers any less, but because I am published with a U.S. publisher first, who then sells my rights elsewhere. This means that the fate of my books, good or bad, is largely decided on U.S. turf, through U.S. sales to readers and libraries.

2) This is not a conversation about whether or not artists deserve to get money for art, or whether or not you think I in particular, as a flawed human, deserve money. It is only about how piracy affects a book’s fate at the publishing house.

3) It is also not a conversation about book prices, or publishing costs, or what is a fair price for art, though it is worthwhile to remember that every copy of a blockbuster sold means that the publishing house can publish new and niche voices. Publishing can’t afford to publish the new and midlist voices without the James Pattersons selling well.

It is only about two statements that I saw go by:

1) piracy doesn’t hurt publishing.

2) someone who pirates the book was never going to buy it anyway, so it’s not a lost sale.

Now, with those statements in mind, here’s the story.

. . . .

It’s the story of a novel called The Raven King, the fourth installment in a planned four book series. All three of its predecessors hit the bestseller list. Book three, however, faltered in strange ways. The print copies sold just as well as before, landing it on the list, but the e-copies dropped precipitously.

. . . .

I expected to see a sales drop in book three, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, but as my readers are historically evenly split across the formats, I expected it to see the cut balanced across both formats. This was absolutely not true. Where were all the e-readers going? Articles online had headlines like PEOPLE NO LONGER ENJOY READING EBOOKS IT SEEMS.

Really?

There was another new phenomenon with Blue Lily, Lily Blue, too — one that started before it was published. Like many novels, it was available to early reviewers and booksellers in advanced form (ARCs: advanced reader copies). Traditionally these have been cheaply printed paperback versions of the book. Recently, e-ARCs have become common, available on locked sites from publishers.

BLLB’s e-arc escaped the site, made it to the internet, and began circulating busily among fans long before the book had even hit shelves. Piracy is a thing authors have been told to live with, it’s not hurting you, it’s like the mites in your pillow, and so I didn’t think too hard about it until I got that royalty statement with BLLB’s e-sales cut in half.

. . . .

Floating about in the forums and on Tumblr as a creator, it was not difficult to see fans sharing the pdfs of the books back and forth. For awhile, I paid for a service that went through piracy sites and took down illegal pdfs, but it was pointless. There were too many. And as long as even one was left up, that was all that was needed for sharing.

I asked my publisher to make sure there were no e-ARCs available of book four, the Raven King, explaining that I felt piracy was a real issue with this series in a way it hadn’t been for any of my others. They replied with the old adage that piracy didn’t really do anything, but yes, they’d make sure there was no e-ARCs if that made me happy.

Then they told me that they were cutting the print run of The Raven King to less than half of the print run for Blue Lily, Lily Blue. No hard feelings, understand, they told me, it’s just that the sales for Blue Lily didn’t justify printing any more copies.

. . . .

I was intent on proving that piracy had affected the Raven Cycle, and so I began to work with one of my brothers on a plan. It was impossible to take down every illegal pdf; I’d already seen that. So we were going to do the opposite. We created a pdf of the Raven King. It was the same length as the real book, but it was just the first four chapters over and over again. At the end, my brother wrote a small note about the ways piracy hurt your favorite books. I knew we wouldn’t be able to hold the fort for long — real versions would slowly get passed around by hand through forum messaging — but I told my brother: I want to hold the fort for one week. Enough to prove that a point. Enough to show everyone that this is no longer 2004. This is the smart phone generation, and a pirated book sometimes is a lost sale.

Then, on midnight of my book release, my brother put it up everywhere on every pirate site. He uploaded dozens and dozens and dozens of these pdfs of The Raven King. You couldn’t throw a rock without hitting one of his pdfs. We sailed those epub seas with our own flag shredding the sky.

The effects were instant. The forums and sites exploded with bewildered activity. Fans asked if anyone had managed to find a link to a legit pdf. Dozens of posts appeared saying that since they hadn’t been able to find a pdf, they’d been forced to hit up Amazon and buy the book.

And we sold out of the first printing in two days.

Link to the rest at Maggie Stiefvater and thanks to Barb and others for the tip.

Here’s a link to Maggie Stiefvater’s books (hopefully all legit). If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

PG loved Maggie’s strategy. Since she’s the owner of the copyright in her books, she can put up legal versions of the first four chapters of her book.

Depending on the wording of her publishing contract, it’s probably not a violation of the contract. If it is a technical violation, PG doubts any publisher would complain about her use of a portion of the book for anti-piracy purposes, particularly since it proved to be an excellent sales promotion strategy.

PG wonders if there’s an anti-piracy/sales promotion business to be created out of this strategy. The basis for the business would be to flood fan forums with incomplete copies of a book in the manner described in the OP in order to boost legitimate sales. If a pirate uploaded a complete copy, the anti-piracy business could respond by posting warnings on the forum that the pirate copy was another defective one.

PG hasn’t thought through the legal implications of polluting the pools where pirates swim, but he’s in a mood today. As Maggie clearly demonstrates in the OP, piracy does steal ebook sales from from legitimate online stores and definitely harms authors.

PG doesn’t advise escalating the strategy further by implanting a harmless virus in an incomplete pdf copy of a book and uploading that to forums where illegal copies are circulated, however. However, a flurry of antivirus program warnings that were triggered when a pirated copy was downloaded might further discourage the use of illegal copies.

Or, perhaps, simply posting messages on the pirate forums warning that some illegal pdf copies on the forum contained a virus might serve the same purpose.

While he doesn’t claim to be a programmer, PG suspects writing a simple program to at least partially automate this anti-piracy strategy would not be terribly difficult.

For clarification, this is not the lawyer’s side of PG’s brain producing these thoughts. PG has an anarchist section of his brain that he keeps carefully separated from the attorney section.

The lawyer side of PG’s brain does say that filing suit against the operators of forums devoted to ebook piracy is another possible approach. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides some protection to owners of such forums, but PG suspects an inventive attorney could find some ways to make the lives of the organizers and hosts of such forums uncomfortable.

So, for a final warning, PG is not making recommendations here, only speculating about possible anti-piracy strategies and giving his anarchic self a bit of morning air. He’ll stop listening to the voices in his head for the rest of the day.

Australian retail’s ‘calamitous’ ecommerce failure sets stage for Amazon’s rise

31 October 2017

From The New Daily:

One in two Australian retailers has failed to develop mobile shopping capabilities, despite massive and growing demand from consumers, a new report from online payment service PayPal Australia has revealed.

The figures come ahead of US ecommerce giant Amazon’s imminent Australian launch, and do not bode well for the domestic retail sector.

One expert went so far as to say the sluggish efforts to modernise reflected in the figures were “calamitous” for the industry, and would allow Amazon to “steal business” from both online and physical retailers.

In its survey of more than 1000 consumers, PayPal found almost three quarters (72 per cent) were now shopping or making payments on a smartphone or tablet.

And a growing number – 48 per cent – were doing so at least once a week. That’s a huge rise on last year, when just 36 per cent were shopping on their mobile devices more than once a week.

. . . .

In the 18 to 34 age group, a massive 89 per cent of consumers were shopping and making payments on mobile devices.

. . . .

Of the more than 400 businesses surveyed, just over half (51 per cent) had built the capacity to receive mobile payments – a 21 percentage point mismatch with consumer demand.

The survey revealed businesses consistently underestimated the extent to which poor online or mobile shopping experiences put their customers off.

For example, 37 per cent of consumers said they were put off by slow page loading. Conversely, just 21 per cent of businesses thought this would be a problem for customers.

. . . .

Mr Kilmartin, who works as an ecommerce consultant to local retailers, said whenever he meets with retailers, the conversation inevitably “gets skewed into Amazon”. And he said retailers were right to be worried.

“I definitely think they [Amazon] are going to open with a bang. They have that Apple-like buzz, and that will drag customers over,” he said.

Link to the rest at The New Daily

Internet “Entrepreneur” Shocked That Copyright Owner Sued Him for Stealing Their Work

30 October 2017

From DIY Photography:

Most people, especially content creators, such as those with YouTube followings of 60K+ people know that much of the Internet is copyrighted. That just because an image appears in a Google Images search result does not mean that it’s free to use. It’s just plain common sense. At least, one would think so.

But YouTuber and Internet “entrepreneur” (that word is so overused these days), Dan Dasilva had to learn this the hard way. After stealing a photographer’s work, the photographer, the legal copyright owner, sued him and won. Dan, though, seems to believe he’s the victim in all this. The victim of a “malicious” photographer.

. . . .

Most people, when they do something like this, get called out on it, and prosecuted, they may post a similar video. Warning people about the dangers of infringing copyright and why it’s not a great idea. Dan, on the other hand, chose to warn his viewers about the “malicious” photographers.

Yes, that’s right, you know the types. They exist all around us. The ones who’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on gear. Who’ve spent years learning and developing their craft. Those who try to profit from their work and enforce the rights they have to their own intellectual property.

. . . .

Dan definitely doesn’t see it that way, though. He thinks that all we do is create images, copyright them, upload them to the Internet, and then wait to sue people.

. . . .

To put it into context, the reason I was sued was because I used a picture that I found on Google Images. Now, I should have known better, yes, in my position I should know better. But, again, I never really thought that there are malicious people out there that […] maliciously put pictures on the Internet.

[People] that copyright pictures that they take and what they do is they’ll get like a copyright on it, and they’ll put it out on the Internet, and it’s freely available on the Internet […] and they literally, some people specifically do this as a job.

. . . .

I still love that he thinks we shoot images to upload to the Internet just so we can sue people for stealing them. That we have teams of people just waiting to pounce. That he actually calls it a “business model”.

. . . .

Dasilva reached a settlement with the photographer for $27,000 in June. He says he also paid around $10,000 in legal fees. That’s $37,000 in total. An expensive lesson to learn. If not for the fact that he doesn’t really seem to have learned a thing.

He certainly didn’t listen to his lawyer, because he was also told that he shouldn’t post this video online.

Link to the rest at DIY Photography

The video described in the OP follows. To be clear, PG doesn’t endorse anything in the video as a statement of current laws or cases relating to intellectual property.

PG does recommend that no one use the creative works of others that are protected by copyright without obtaining prior permission from the creator or owner of the copyright, especially if the creative work is used for commercial purposes.

 

Bookstores

30 October 2017

Bookstores see a book by a woman and they put it in the romance section.

Barbara Taylor Bradford

Waterstones Owner Exploring Sale, Debt Refinancing

30 October 2017

From Shelf Awareness:

Waterstones, the main bookselling chain in the U.K., may be for sale.

Alexander Mamut, the Russian billionaire who bought Waterstones in 2011 for £53 million (about $70 million at current exchange rates), has asked N.M. Rothschild & Sons to advise him on strategic options, including a sale of the bookseller for £250 million (about $329 million) or refinancing of its debt, the Times of London reported late yesterday. According to a followup story from City AM, Mamut asked Rothschild to handle the matter during the summer, and the process isn’t expected to be conducted in earnest until after the holiday season.

In any case, the matter has been given new impetus by the collapse of Russia’s largest private bank, Otkritie, in which Mamut was a major shareholder.

. . . .

Waterstones managing director James Daunt, who was appointed by Mamut when he bought the company in 2011, told the Bookseller this morning that a sale by Mamut would be “sensible enough” because the company has become profitable and “that is what he does–buys companies, invests, turns them around and then sells them. If he can get the £200 million plus for us, he will have done very well!”

Link to the rest at Shelf Awareness

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