Monday, September 21, 2015

Oyster closed its shell today

UPDATE: CEO of Smashwords Mark Coker  has confirmed that Oyster was bought by Google and that the shutdown won't be fast.  The service will continue to run until early 2016, no exact date has been determined as of yet.

Oyster the service that was poised to be the pearl of the eBook subscription model (all the books you want for $9.95 a month) closed its shell today.  I wrote about then shortly after they opened.  At the time they were the first on the scene, with Scribd right behind them.  While they only supported iOS I figured it was only a matter of time before that was expanded (support for Android was added, eventually).  Scribd by contrast had support for iOS and Android at the start.

This announcement comes only a few months after Scribd ran into problems and had to scale back its catalogue of romance titles or risk going out of business.

It is very difficult to balance giving a all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of books to the customer, while not loosing your shirt in the process.  But this closure signals a possible end to the subscription model, or at the very least hands it over to Amazon.  They are the only company left in good financial standing that can  weather out this unknown business model with ease.

Details are vague as to what exactly happened at Oyster.  There are rumors they were purchased, and are being quietly shut down as a result.  Re/code says most of the team is transferring to Google.  And while Google is not saying they purchased the company, but rather is paying for the right to hire some of its staff.  But at 17 million, that is a high price to pay unless you have some big plans for the team.  I am guessing, and it is only a guess, that you will see some sort of monthly subscription plan show up on Google Books in the near future.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

I Try My Best Not To Have This Happen To Red

I try my best not to have this happen to Red.

But you know time travel is tricky.

Don DeBon is the author of Italian Fever, Red Warp, and Soulmates.  Currently available on  Nook, iBook, Kindle, Smashwords, Oyster, Scribd, and Kobo

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Clean Reader: Blessing or Curse?

I have seen a lot of discussion and comments over the past few months about a app called Clean Reader.  What is it?  Well if you haven't heard, Clean Reader is a app for Android and iOS that hides profane or otherwise "questionable" words from a book you are reading.  It has several settings and you have a choice of simply hiding the words or replacing them with cleaner equivalents.

Many people are shouting censorship and it should be illegal.  Well technically it is censorship yes, however it is on a per reader aspect.  The reader themselves decides if they want to use this app or not on a book they purchased, and then further choose to what level of editing to take place.  But it is not truly editing a work or otherwise changing the work, it is only done "on the fly".  The original file is never changed.  Nor are the edits ever saved in anyway, making it impossible for the edited version to be shared.

This is why I do not understand the controversy.  Many people do not care to read profane or otherwise harsh language.  It can ruin the book for them (depending on the language and how prevalent).  Some authors may be shouting from the rafters against the app, but think about this: if your book contains language that people feel offensive, they may actually read it with this app.  You just made a sale where you wouldn't have before.

Years ago I use to do this kind of "clean up" on books with a word processor via search and replace.  It didn't take very long to make the changes and put it back on my PDA for reading.  Some books I wouldn't have bothered reading without these changes, but it was a wonderful story with the careful word substitution.  Nowadays, I just do not have the time to edit books like that.  Some authors feel the need to use profane language in every single paragraph to make a point.  Personally I think it is excessive, but this is, of course, up to the author.  But it limits who will like the book as well.  If you can reach a larger audience, why not?  And your book is still there in all its original glory should someone wish to read it.

Something else to consider: many Television broadcasts are edited and toned down a bit for a wider audience reach (often where kids are in the audience for example).  To my knowledge this has not been fought over. In fact I remember the large issue that happened years ago with Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction."  People were very angry that this was even allowed to happen, and were demanding censorship.  Television broadcasts of box office movies are always known to be edited, either for content or time allotment.  And if you want the full thing, go buy the movie.  So again we have a instance of editing that most people don't have any problem with.  How is Clean Reader any different?  Except that now the reader has the power to choose the way the book is read, instead of  simply choosing to read it or not.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Red Warp II: Time Rock cover Reveal

The release of Time Rock is almost here!

Time Travel.  One man thinks he has it all figured out but what began as a simple test has turned something beyond his worst nightmare.  With his equipment failing all around him and lost millions of years in the past, only Red and James can save him.  Can they reach him in time?

Don DeBon is the author of Italian Fever, Red Warp, and Soulmates.  Currently available on  Nook, iBook, Kindle, Smashwords, Oyster, Scribd, and Kobo

Friday, September 4, 2015

The New York Times Has It Wrong: It is Plagiarism not Piracy!

In the past few weeks and months there have been many stories about people uploading books they did not write to Google Play Books and selling them.

But what is a Pirate? I have often spoken about piracy here, but what is it really? 
Merriam-webster defines a pirate as:
"Someone who attacks and steals from a ship at sea,
Someone who illegally copies a product or invention without permission,
A person or organization that illegally makes television or radio broadcasts"

So by that definition, yes the New York Times is, technically, correct. However I would like to suggest that the term "Plagiarism" fits better. There are different kinds of pirates. And sometimes it is hard to distinguish. One can become a 'pirate' (at least in some minds) by removing the encryption or protection from a eBook you legally purchased. Laws among different countries vary on this, some allow it, some do not.

Then there is the common understanding when it comes to piracy: downloading a book you did not purchase. One I am certainly against. But there are grey areas as well. For example if a book is out-of-print and you are not hurting the author/publisher then I do not, personally, see a problem. Some disagree but again if it is not worth it to the author/publisher to have it available then they really should not care if it is downloadable somewhere either. And on the flip side this might have a good consequence: the author staying in the mind of the public. And perhaps if there is enough demand, the author/publisher will rerelease the book (and if they do, always go buy a copy).

And finally there is the really really bad pirate. The one that this post is about. The lousy scum-of-the-universe type. This is the pirate that takes a ebook they have downloaded, uploads it to a retailer as though it was their own work, and collects the royalties. This is the worst kind and the hurts the author in many ways. Even if we don't mention the stealing of royalties that should be paid to the author, often the pirated books are not of reliable quality. Damaging the authors reputation. And in publishing, a reputation is the most valuable asset one can have.

Long before there were computers and technology, there has been plagiarism. Not only in literature but also art. Piracy usually means to steal and consume. Not steal and resell as though you created it. There are chop shops that steal and resell car parts, but they are not called car pirates. Everyone knows about downloading piracy but this new kind of uploading a work that you didn't write? Well that is just plagiarism plain and simple.

Don DeBon is the author of Italian Fever, Red Warp, and Soulmates.  Currently available on  Nook, iBook, Kindle, Smashwords, Oyster, Scribd, and Kobo