Ebook piracy

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Today’s post was going to be about Richard III, but really, I’m just too tired. And tomorrow I’ve got to get up at dark o’clock, so producing something worthy of being left out on the internet where just anyone might see it is not going to happen.

Ebook piracy is an easier topic, because I can be opinionated without actually having to quote evidence.

So here we go.

I was a pretty early adopter of ebook technology – I first read ebooks on a PDA with a battery life of about an hour and a half, so today’s book readers with their battery lives of days or weeks of heavy reading are simply lovely. I like pressing buttons (the science museum in Budapest is fantastic – I’ll tell you all about it one day) so I love gadgets. But the ebook always seemed to be such a sensible gadget that I could never work out why so many people seemed to think they would just fade out. Or was it that they hoped it would just fade out? Not going to happen, guys. I mean, I was the person whose bag for going on holiday had a few clothes squashed at the bottom under about ten books. The only way to really be sure of picking the book you’re going to feel like reading in a week’s time is to take lots of choices. But with my ereader (a Sony PRS-T1, if you’re interested) I can take a thousand books, and be pretty sure I’ll want to read at least one of them. And without spending half an hour in agonised indecision in front of the shelves.

So, book piracy. It was always going to happen. You can do a search and find little programs that awfully clever people have written so that anyone can remove DRM from books. Nowadays, they even have graphical user interfaces (GUIs) so it’s easy for the computer illiterate (including myself, when it comes to the mysteries of command line prompts and whatnot) to operate them without in the least understanding what’s happening. So, since removing DRM is so easy, why put it on in the first place? It’s not as if it works. It just annoys people. That’s what Baen books think – they don’t DRM any of their books, and they don’t seem to have gone bust yet. (I like Baen. I like the way they think. They often give people a book – particularly the first in a series – for free, just to get them hooked and therefore more likely to buy more of the author’s work. Well, if it works for drug dealers…)

But why do people pirate books? I guess there’s a number of reasons. Thinking of the downloaders, the fact that they’re getting something for nothing is obviously part of it. But that’s not all of it. A major reason, in my opinion, is that the books are often just not available to buy legally. I live in the UK, and it is really, really depressing to see how many books are available electronically for American readers, but UK publishers have not brought out a UK electronic edition. So if I want to read the book, I either have to buy a format I don’t want (paper) or I have to pirate. I don’t have a choice that is both acceptable to me and legal. And why should I buy something I ultimately don’t want? While I would like to live in a house with as much shelf space as the British Library, the fact is that I don’t. I live in a little house with far too many books (paper) already. I don’t have room for more. (That’s the other reason I like ebooks – it’s not all about a love of pressing buttons or having room for enough underwear.)

Then there’s price. One might justifiably feel a little peeved about having to pay the same price for an ebook (which is basically an electronic file) as for a large hardback. I mean, we all know hardbacks are expensive. All that paper, then the transport and storage, etc… But ebooks? Yes, there are hosting costs, and there’s the rakeoff that the retailer (as opposed to the publisher) will take. But you can’t tell me it costs as much to produce a thousand ebooks as a thousand hardbacks. So why should ebook readers pay the same price? That is not fair. That is someone making a nice fat profit out of people who use ereaders. Oh, right… up until the file turns up on a file sharing site, and the annoyed and exploited potential customers download the book for free and the publisher, retailer, and author all get nothing at all. Did nobody ever tell them the story about half a loaf being better than no bread? Lower the prices and you might find that people go back to buying the book. People are fundamentally lazy; if you make it easy for people to do the right thing, then that is what they will do. Mostly. You’re never going to avoid piracy completely, but it’s certainly possible to keep it down to ‘manageable’ levels, I think.

Give people the book they want, in the format they want it, for a price that is fair, and many people won’t go to the trouble of trying to find a pirate copy. It’ll be ultimately easier to pay for the legitimate copy.

Annoy people by not making the book available in the format they want it, or by charging a price that is obviously unfair compared to other formats, and piracy not only becomes the easier (or only) option, but also becomes an act of defiance.

Publishers, remember. I am the consumer. I make the choices, and I ultimately call the shots. If you do not give me what I want, my money and I go elsewhere.

It’s as simple as that.

Film about Islam

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Want to see a really good film about Islam? Well, check out The Message starring Anthony Quinn.

You can get it on Amazon. As soon as I figure out how to put a link in here, then I will.

Hah, not the film about Islam you thought it would be eh?

Honestly, if you really want to know about the origins of Islam, then this is the film to watch. And it’s good just as a film, too, rather than being overly educational and preachy. Also interesting how they manage to make a film about the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) without actually having him in it. The closest you get is seeing his camel…

And here is the link for The Message.

Names

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OK, first real post (and there should be a ‘d’ before ‘river’ in the previous post. In case you were wondering).

I don’t have kids myself, but I’ve often thought that something happens to people’s brains when they reproduce. Maybe they have them removed, I don’t know. Normally sane, sensible people go very weird, and people who were weird to begin with go outright Looney-Tunes.

Take kids’ names, for instance. It’s an important thing, your name. You’re stuck with it all your life, unless you get it changed. And you’re certainly stuck with it as a kid. So don’t you think a loving parent would choose the kind of name that wouldn’t cause trouble?

But no…

My husband knew a girl called Pearl Harbour. And that’s pretty tame in the schedule of appalling names parents inflict on their kids. What were they thinking? I bet they thought it was just too cute. ‘Pearl Harbour’ – a real laugh at dinner parties.

Then there’s the other kind, where the loving parents go entirely the other way and pick the same name as every other kid born that year. So junior goes through childhood thinking his name’s Joshdee (and the kid next to him in class is Joshbee).

And names that are contractions of other names…. Molly! Sounds like a rag doll. It certainly doesn’t sound like Ms Executive. At least call the kid Margaret, then you can call her Molly while she’s at home and when she leaves she can change it to Maggie, or Peggy, or Marge, or Greta, or whatever…

And before you ask… Theophania only on the most formal of occasions. Otherwise, it’s Tiffany, or Tiff. Theo is dreadful, and as far as I’m concerned, Fanny is an invitation to Grievous Bodily Harm. You Have Been Warned.

The first post.

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This isn’t going to be earth-shattering; not with a bang but with a whimper. Still, at least it’s a start.I’ve been wanting to do this for ages, but there’s always the little voice that says And what are you actually going to talk about? You? With the most tedious job in the world?” OK, not quite that, but coming close. Other people have great, exciting jobs like being ambulance rivers in London, or call girls in London…

Not so me, so if you’re expecting something like that, you’d better leave right now. Otherwise the buildup of anticipation as you wait for me to blow your mind with some kinky secret, or wow you with a tale of heroism, is likely to be lethal. The human body just can’t stand that kind of pressure.