Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Do you really own the ebook you just bought?

A report says that a recent appeals court decision in the US suggests that “software makers can use shrink-wrap and click-wrap licenses to forbid the transfer or resale of their wares.” What that implies is that just because you bought it, it does not mean you own it.

How does this apply on a book? When you buy a physical book (that is, the dead tree variety), you own it, right? You can resell it as a second-hand copy, or a collector’s item (if it is rare or a first edition), put it in a library where people can borrow it, or even sell it at ‘remaindered’ bookshop. For one thing, a certain amount of physical deterioration is taken for granted, and collectors are known to spend an enormous amount of money to acquire rare books.

But in the case of ebooks, who owns it? Can one resell it? College students who can ill afford the price of new text books thrive on the used book trade. Often it does not matter if it is not the current edition. Will they be allowed to borrow them from libraries?

Says Greg Beck, the defense attorney in the case who represented an eBay seller sued by Autodesk, “The other ramification, there is no reason a similar license could not be put into the cover of a book. It wouldn’t be difficult for everybody to implement this.”

Not surprisingly, the American Library Association argued against it saying, “It feared that the software industry’s licensing practices could be adopted by other copyright owners, including book publishers, record labels and movie studios.”
Scary, isn’t it?

The most unwanted authors

A report in the Telegraph says that “givers donated more Dan Brown books to Oxfam than any other author”. Copies of The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons topped the list of unwanted books that were given away to the charity. (Of course, it is entirely possible that sometimes people do give away their favourite books as well.)

(The story is also interesting in that it has links to several websites with heading like: Dan Brown: 50 factual errors, Dan Brown’s 20 worst sentences, and others.)

The top ten are:

1.Dan Brown
2.Ian Rankin
3.Patricia Cornwell
4.Alexander McCall Smith
5.John Grisham
6.Danielle Steel
7.JK Rowling
8.Jeremy Clarkson
9.Maeve Binchy
10.Bill Bryson (New

The report says that, “The survey gathers information from the charity's network of 686 shops ... Oxfam is Europe's biggest high street retailer of second-hand books and the third-biggest bookseller in the UK ... The charity sells £1.6 million of books a month, enough to pay for 64,000 goats or 800,000 bags of seeds, or provide safe water for 1.7 million people.”

There is no mention if Oxfam will be accepting ebook donations.

The Telegraph

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Opening an indie bookshop

Ever since Silverfish opened its doors, I have had dozens of people walk in and say how they too have always wished they could open a bookshop and goyang kaki. (One customer even said we had stolen her name -- to which another said that “Termite Books” was still availalble.) Some ask for advice, and I give them the best advice I got from Thor of Skoob Books: don’t expect to make much money.

But if there are some of you who are still thinking of opening a bookshop, you could do worse than read this story by Robert Gray in Shelf-awareness of his interview with: ‘Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman--of Paz & Associates: The Bookstore Training & Consulting Group--who facilitate a workshop retreat, Opening a Bookstore: The Business Essentials, and partner with the American Booksellers Association to provide training for people interested in entering retail bookselling.’

Gray quotes the Kaufman: "Our goal ... is to reach prospective store owners early in the decision-making process, so that they're on the right track from the moment they open their doors rather than having to dig themselves out of a hole."

“"Before the advent of the 'information age,' we suspect that many booksellers opened stores with a Field of Dreams attitude--if you build it, they will come. With a great deal at stake, our trainees realize how much they don't know; they see the number of indie bookstores that have gone out of business and want to know why ...”


The Wankh award

Yes, you are right. It is what you think it is, but it is not named after what you think.

The Guardian is inviting nominations. The story says: ‘The Wankh awards shall be named in honour of that classic of science-fiction, Jack Vance's Servants of the Wankh. The 1969 novel, the second in Vance's Tschai quartet, has had to battle a barrage of titters over the past half-century, thanks to its title. In Vance's world, the Wankh are one of four warring races who inhabit a distant planet. In the Britain of saucy postcards, Carry On movies and Benny Hill, they are a cause for such hilarity that later editions were edited to change the titular alien race to "Wannek".’

The award is for the smuttiest title and works of fiction. Some examples are given for this Guardian award: Drummer Dick's Discharge and Shag: The Story of a Dog. Fanny Hill and Moby Dick are considered obvious, so look for something creative. It does not say if they will be giving out a prize every year. Anyway, follow the link below and see if I have missed it.

The Guardian