Wednesday Briefing

An Appeal to Authors on Behalf of Reviewers

Recently, in a LinkedIn Group, I was answering a thread.  It raised something that I felt needed addressing.  I did what I could in a few words, but I’d like to spell it out more fully here.

We all need feedback, and it’s a subject that I’ve already covered, to some degree.  However, there’s an aspect of it that I missed entirely!  We authors have certain duties to those we ask to provide us with feedback.  The obvious one is to offer a product worth their time, of course.  Or, at least, to genuinely believe that we are doing so!  But how many of us take the trouble to offer review copies in more than one format?  As far as this is concerned, authors using Kindle direct, and especially Kindle Select, are perhaps the guiltiest, I’m afraid.  We must not fall into the trap of believing that we need only concern ourselves with one ebook format!  I have experienced the problem myself – where I’ve been asked to review books but been offered ‘Kindle or nothing’.  That’s really not good!  Of course, it’s possible to convert ebooks to other formats, but if you have elected to employ DRM, then conversion is impossible!  So, I appeal to all authors: produce your books in as many formats as possible!  I’m not saying you have to offer them all for sale.  If you want to stick with, for example, Kindle – then by all means do so!  Just make it easier for potential reviewers!

News On Shade of Evil

I am currently working towards making the paperback version of my novelette, Shade of Evil (Being Part 1 of G1: The Guardians), available through CreateSpace and, therefore, Amazon.  I only submitted it yesterday, but I was amazed to find that it is now available from CreateSpace and will be available from Amazon.com and Amazon’s European stores within about a week!   The links will be added to the book’s page on the blog.  it should, I hope, be easier for some to buy a copy.  If things go well enough, then I’ll be inclined to make my other books available through the same channels.

This does not signal an abandonment of skoobebooks!  Far from it!  I couldn’t be happier with the help and service that I’ve had from them, and I suspect that it is far superior to what I could expect from CreateSpace!  It is simply a reluctant acceptance of an unavoidable fact – more people shop through Amazon, especially internationally!  It is also a reflection of the fact that, sadly, I can’t afford the extra fee for wider distribution (including through Amazon), imposed by skoobebooks.

One last word on skoobebooks!  If you live in the United Kingdom, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend your use of skoobebooks.  Having used both them and UK-based FeedARead, I am very happy to say that skoobebooks  win hands down on service!  From the very first book that I submitted to them, I have been constantly impressed by the help provided, and the fact that they work so hard to get your precious creation printed in the way you want!  Working with Keith at skoobebooks has taught me a great deal, and I can only publicly express my gratitude to him, and his colleagues.  Without them, I doubt that there would have been a printed option for any of my books!

~ Steve

Feeling Cheated – DRM and ebooks

As I mentioned in my last post, I was given a kobo mini eReader for Christmas.  I was also given some cash.  I thought about it carefully (so I believed) and decided that, as shopping locally is difficult, I would get my wife, Jenny, to buy me iTunes gift cards.  The plan was that iBooks are generally in ePub format so would suit the kobo.  With the gift cards activated and registered on iTunes, I hunted down C S Lewis‘ “Space Trilogy” and purchased all three books, though I thought they were rather pricey.  I then copied them to the kobo, only to discover that they wouldn’t work!  I had fallen foul of that vile invention: DRM!

DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is a copy protection system, of sorts.  In fact, for ebooks, what it does is stops you from being able to reading your ebooks in the way you choose.  I could read these three volumes on my iPod, but as that has top remain plugged in to the mains or a computer, that really wasn’t what I was looking for!  If I had bought paperbacks, I could take them wherever I wanted and read them at my leisure.  I simply wanted to do the same with the ebooks on my kobo.  DRM ensured that I couldn’t make that happen!

I don’t apply DRM to my own works.  I have a strong dislike of it, whatever media it’s applied to.  If I’ve paid good money for something, then I expect to have certain rights.  I expect to be able to read ebooks in the way that suits me.  There’s a big difference between the iPod Touch screen and the kobo mini eReader screen.  Apart from the obvious size difference, reading on the iPod isn’t possible in string sunlight.  Then there’s battery life.  With wifi turned off on the kobo, the battery will last a very long time between charges.  The iPod drains very quickly in comparison.

Apart from the fact that many ebooks from mainstream publishers are overpriced, the application of DRM is a limiting factor which must surely impact on sales, which also impacts on the author’s income.  There is nothing like such protectionist systems to encourage the “black hats” to break the encryption and then “share” the cracked items with all and sundry.  If DRM didn’t exist, then piracy would, I’m sure, be greatly reduced.  Eliminating DRM and asking a more reasonable price would encourage far more people to remain firmly on the legal route for obtaining ebooks.

~ Steve