Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 24 January 2014

Posted: 23 Jan 2014 09:30 PM PST

Top stories this Friday morning include a look at how copyright infringement can coincide with popularity (link), why reading superhero comics is like a deal with the devil (link), why you should read books by monsters (link), DRM-free audiobooks (link), and more.

  • The 2 Teenagers Who Run the Wildly Popular Twitter Feed (The Atlantic)
  • All library audiobooks going to DRM-free MP3s (Boing Boing)
  • Data journalism professor won’t assign e-books. Here’s why. (New Republic)
  • Except, except, except (Studio Tendra)
  • Kindle Lost or Stolen? Here's What You Need to do (The eBook Reader Blog)
  • Readability 2.0 is out with new iOS 7 design and other improvements (iDownload Blog)
  • Tech happens: When tablets and schools don’t mix (GeekWire)
  • Using Your iPhone for Work? Bringing Your Own Device Might Mean Losing Your Data Later (
  • USTR Tells China To Do ‘Spot Checks On Libraries’ To Make Sure They’re Not Violating Copyrights (Techdirt)
  • Why reading superhero comics is like making a deal with the devil (io9)
  • Why It's Important to Keep Reading Books By People Even If They're Monsters (BOOK RIOT)

The post The Morning Coffee – 24 January 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Story Surgeon is a New Type of Fair Use, Not Copyright Infringement

Posted: 23 Jan 2014 01:24 PM PST

There’s storysurgeon[1]a fascinating post over on Writer Beware today which links to a new Kickstarter project and cries copyright infringement. Victoria Strauss, editor of Writer Beware, is concerned by a new app called Story Surgeon.

So…playing now on Kickstarter, a project called Story Surgeon. Created by aspiring author Ryan Hancock, Story Surgeon is:

An eBook notation app that saves your personal edits as a separate file, and can be shared with anyone who owns the original eBook.

In other words, Story Surgeon is an app that enables anyone to alter a published book in any way they like, and spread the altered copy around at will.

I would disagree with her interpretation, actually.

According to the description (it’s clearly stated) Story Surgeon is going to give readers the ability to edit an ebook and create a custom version of the ebook. They can then save the changes as a separate file, and then share the edits (the user’s work) online so anyone who owns a copy of the ebook and the Story Surgeon app can recreate the edited version of the ebook. It won’t enable you to share the ebook itself, just your own work.

Arguably that is not copyright infringement any more than taking a pair of scissors to a paper book and then explaining online how to duplicate your efforts.

It’s a great idea, IMO, and it’s one I’ve heard before. Chris Walters wrote about a similar idea once or twice a couple years ago:

A wholly formed and unauthorized Harry Potter novel would clearly be a violation of U.S. copyright law, but the process is decentralized so that neither the author of the new work nor the template website is responsible for the final creation of the infringing work. In fact, other templates are available that would turn the story into a brand new work with original characters and places, or that would let a reader personalize it with friends and local places. If you're feeling perverse, you can apply a Vampire Chronicles template and giggle at Lestat, Louis and Claudia as mystery solving young wizards vampires.
Now I've got a new, unauthorized Harry Potter book.

This is certainly the first time that I have heard about someone trying to develop an app to share the instructions to edit a file, but it’s not the first time that I can recall reading about fans, parents, and other parties re-editing works for one reason or another.

For example, back in 2001 a Star Wars fan edited the commercial release of The Phantom Menace to create The Phantom Edit. This was in the pre-Youtube era, and that movie was probably the first most famous re-edited work which probably inspired many of the custom movie trailers, fan flicks, and other fan generated content found on Youtube today.

There’s also the gamer dad who reprogrammed The Legend of Zelda so his daughter could play Link as a girl. And it was only last month that Slate published an article about a parent rewriting The Hobbit as she read it to her daughter, only in the new version Bilbo is a she:

My 5-year-old insists that Bilbo Baggins is a girl.

 The first time she made this claim, I protested. Part of the fun of reading to your kids, after all, is in sharing the stories you loved as a child. And in the story I knew, Bilbo was a boy. A boy hobbit. (Whatever that entails.)

But my daughter was determined. She liked the story pretty well so far, but Bilbo was definitely a girl. So would I please start reading the book the right way?

I hesitated. I imagined Tolkien spinning in his grave. I imagined mean letters from his testy estate. I imagined the story getting as lost in gender distinctions as dwarves in the Mirkwood.

Then I thought: What the hell, it's just a pronoun. My daughter wants Bilbo to be a girl, so a girl she will be.

And you know what? The switch was easy. Bilbo, it turns out, makes a terrific heroine. She's tough, resourceful, humble, funny, and uses her wits to make off with a spectacular piece of jewelry. Perhaps most importantly, she never makes an issue of her gender—and neither does anyone else.

Do you see what I did there?

I just gave you a couple examples of a positive way for someone to use and share an app like Story Surgeon which might possibly be copyright infringement, but only a cad would argue against them.

And that’s not the only way this app could be used. What if one reader used it to create and insert their own glossary or map index? This could prove useful when reading large fantasy novels like the Game of Thrones, ones where the reader cannot keep track of the hundreds of characters in a dozen locations. What if a teacher created their own annotation file for a Shakespeare play being read in class? Or what if (giggle) Story Surgeon were used to edit Bram Stoker’s Dracula so it resembled Twilight?

None of those uses are infringing, so clearly Chris Meadows was right when he argued that this app has numerous non-infringing uses. Sadly, that’s probably not going to stop someone from complaining and getting the app pulled from Kickstarter, though they might not have to bother.

This funding campaign has only raised $170 of the $15,000 requested, so it’s probably not going to go anywhere.
Which is a shame, because there’s a market for this idea.

The post Story Surgeon is a New Type of Fair Use, Not Copyright Infringement appeared first on The Digital Reader.

John Biggs’s Crowd-Funded Mytro Book Project Relied on the Oldest Form of Crowd-Funding

Posted: 23 Jan 2014 10:36 AM PST

Crowd scaled.mytro-banner2[1]funding websites, be it Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or what have you, are very popular right now and are getting a lot of press. But the idea of crowd-funding is quite old, and as John Biggs has shown us with his soon to be complete Mytro project sometimes the older methods still work better.

Back in early December 2013 John announced that he was writing a book called Mytro, a YA novel about a secret train system that runs under New York City, and was raising funds to he could self-publish it. John has been regularly posting about the Mytro project ever since he launched the funding round, and he was back again today to share details on where the money came from and discuss the effectiveness of his crowd funding efforts.

You might recall that he started the crowd funding for his YA novel on Indiegogo, but that was just the beginning. He reports that contributors found the project via Facebook, Google, and even the Techcrunch website.

Now, you might think that Indiegogo was how most of the contributors discovered the project, but you would be wrong. Most of John’s funds, and most of his contributors for that matter, came from direct mailings. Rather than rely on the flashiest crowd funding tricks, he instead relied on one of the oldest. He’s been sending out mass emails for about a month now, and so far he has raised over half his funds ($9,376) from email alone:

I sent out lots of email. I hated myself for it. But it works. If you don't have a large list and a solid mailing-list provider, you're probably sunk. That said, we need to remember that I wrote a kids' book. I'm not working on a pocket drone or body tracking smartwatch. The email list consisted of people I know and who submitted their email to my Mailchimp account or other email gathering systems I've had over the years. These leads, as they say, are gold.

I am one of the people who has been getting those emails, so I was deeply curious to see just how well it worked. I don’t like spam any more than the rest of you, but as you can see from John’s data this can be an effective way to raise funds.

The chart below (click to enlarge) shows the amount of contributions over time. Do you see the 3 huge spikes starting on or about 15 December? Those are from the email blasts, and so are some of the smaller spikes in January.


So do you think this is a choice that indie authors should make?

IMO that would really depend on whether they know enough people. Remember, John’s mailing list came from people who had exchanged emails or who had “submitted their email to my Mailchimp account”. He didn’t go out and buy a mailing list (what I thought when I got the first email), and that is probably why this technique worked.

If you buy a mailing list, chances are the emails will get caught in a spam filter. I can’t speak for any other service, but Gmail is very good at catching unsolicited emails. John’s emails, on the other hand, went into my inbox because of my previous contact with John.

This funding method would probably work best if it matches the interest of your network of contacts. For example, a non-fiction title which focuses on a specific part of a specific industry could be crowd funded if the author knows enough people in that industry. And that’s just one example, I’m sure there are others.


The post John Biggs’s Crowd-Funded Mytro Book Project Relied on the Oldest Form of Crowd-Funding appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Map: Where in the World are comiXology and Digital Comics Fans?

Posted: 23 Jan 2014 07:50 AM PST

If you RtHA3Yd[1]buy digital comics from comiXology there’s a 50-50 chance that you aren’t in the US.

ComiXology reports that they saw great growth in 2013, and as part of showing off how well their international plans are progressing they released the following heat map. This service now offers over 45,000 comics and graphic novels from more than 75 publishers, and that immense catalog is proving to be popular around the world.

ComiXology was the most popular non-game iPad app for 2013, and it is also the top iOS Book App in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, India, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, & many more. 51% of comiXology users are outside the US and can be found in countries as diverse  China, Brazil, and India.


via MetaLifeEva





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Amazon Launches New Christian Publishing Imprint

Posted: 23 Jan 2014 07:12 AM PST

Amazon AmazonPublishing_thumb.jpgexpanded on their publishing efforts today with the launch of a new imprint. Brilliance Publishing, the audiobook publisher that Amazon acquired in 2007, will take another step into print publishing with the launch of Waterfall Press.

This new imprint will specialize in faith-based non-fiction and fiction in a variety of genres. Waterfall Press non-fiction will aim to provide spiritual refreshment and inspiration to today’s Christian reader, while fiction will include stories in the romance, mystery, and suspense genres.

Three titles have already been scheduled to be released in 2014, including Mark Buchanan’s The Four Best Places to Live, Cherie Hill’s When You Need a Miracle, and The Quiet Revolution by Jay Hein. Waterfall Press also has 3 shorter works scheduled for 2014.

Waterfall Press will be edited by Tammy Faxel under the auspices of Grand Harbor Press. Brilliance launched this publishing division in December 2012, and over the past 13 months it has published numerous self-help and inspirational titles in print, digital and audio formats.

Along with Jet City Comics, Day One (short literary fiction),and StoryFront (short fiction), Waterfall Press is the 4th new publishing imprint launched by Amazon in the past 6 months. It joins sister imprints 47North, AmazonCrossing, AmazonEncore, Amazon Publishing, Grand Harbor Press, Kindle Worlds, Lake Union, Little A, Montlake Romance, Skyscape, Thomas & Mercer, and Two Lions in the Amazon Publishing family.






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