Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Amazon.com--a major misstep?

Expand Messages
  • John Landahl
    Today s Seattle Times business digest carries a brief item entitled Amazon.com changes book-search feature
    Message 1 of 17 , Nov 1, 2003
    • 0 Attachment
      Today's Seattle Times business digest carries a brief item entitled "Amazon.com
      changes book-search feature" (http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/
      texis.cgi/web/vortex/
      display?c=1&slug=bizbriefs01&date=20031101&query=Amazon.com) beginning
      "Amazon.com yesterday quietly disabled a user's ability to print pages from books
      displayed on its Web site" and ending by noting that Amazon.com's stock price
      suffered a modest drop on Friday. One possibility here, of course, is that some
      investors are concerned that Amazon.com has incurred substantial legal liability by
      substantially lowering the bar for making unauthorized digital copies of copyright
      material. Was Amazon.com simply incompetent at the technological and managerial
      levels in opening an avenue inviting book piracy, or did they deliberately push the
      envelope too far, permitting them to tighten security a bit and say "we've moved to
      address authors' concerns"?
    • auwg
      ... managerial ... deliberately push the ... All the world s a stage. Plausible deniability. All that stuff. Since no book is completely secure against piracy,
      Message 2 of 17 , Nov 1, 2003
      • 0 Attachment
        --- "John Landahl" <jlandahl@i...> wrote:
        > Was Amazon.com simply incompetent at the technological and
        managerial
        > levels in opening an avenue inviting book piracy, or did they
        deliberately push the
        > envelope too far, permitting them to tighten security a bit and
        > say "we've moved to address authors' concerns"?

        All the world's a stage.
        Plausible deniability.
        All that stuff.
        Since no book is completely secure against piracy, and Amazon's
        preview system is likely one of the least desirable ways to go about
        piracy, given that a different valid email and credit card number
        would have to be used for every twenty-percent chunk of a book.

        And sure, some geek can likely come up with java tools to fool the
        system into coughing up all the pages at Amazon, but so what? Some
        other geek will likely be scanning the paper version a page at a time
        while he watches Star Trek.

        Locks only prevent casual theft.
        They don't prevent theft by determined thieves.

        This whole 'preview' thing was a big step, logistically and
        contractually.
        I think Amazon may be prepping to take BN's place as an ebook
        retailer.
        Ed Howdershelt - Abintra Press
        Science Fiction and Semi-Fiction
        http://abintrapress.tripod.com
      • evvy@cox.net
        ... address authors concerns ? Yea, right.... evvy@cox.net http://www.evvygarrett.com/ ebook store/Poetry4Women/Literary Services/Personal Pages/ Poetry,
        Message 3 of 17 , Nov 1, 2003
        • 0 Attachment
          >"we've moved to
          address authors' concerns"?


          Yea, right....

          evvy@...
          http://www.evvygarrett.com/
          ebook store/Poetry4Women/Literary Services/Personal Pages/
          Poetry, Non-Fiction, Memoirs/Links/&More!


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • John Landahl
          Granting that no book is completely secure against piracy, Ed, I nonetheless think it is a mistake to underestimate how much easier Amazon.com s content search
          Message 4 of 17 , Nov 1, 2003
          • 0 Attachment
            Granting that no book is completely secure against piracy, Ed, I nonetheless think it is
            a mistake to underestimate how much easier Amazon.com's content search system
            has made piracy, especially for groups of like-minded people with a willingness to
            cooperate by pooling their e-mail accounts, credit card numbers, and so forth. The
            fact that Amazon.com is reported to have disabled printing of retrieved pages of
            content certainly points to a system that made piracy too easy at the outset.
            Interestingly, now when I search for "Miss Manette had arrived from London" I no
            longer get the Oxford World's Classics edition of "A Tale of Two Cities"--instead I get
            the Modern Library edition. If I search specifically for the Oxford World's Classics
            edition, when I find it I am no longer invited to "Search inside this book." Instead I am
            invited to "Search inside another edition of this book," suggesting that Oxford
            University Press has withdrawn permission to include its titles in the content search.

            Amazon's reported decision to disable of print of retrieved content was made despite
            reported initial success of the new search feature. An article in last Friday's Seattle
            Times (Amazon is of course based in Seattle, so we get lots of press coverage about it
            here) entitled "New Amazon feature aids sales" quoted Amazon as saying that In the
            first five days, aggregate sales for the 120,000 titles included in its "Search Inside the
            Book" program were 9 percent higher than sales for titles not in the program. (Being
            a skeptic by nature, I immediated noted that Amazon did not say whether sales for
            that group of 120,000 had also been higher before the program started.) The article
            quoted Amazon as saying that the program had launched with 190 publisher
            participating, that none had so far opted out, and that 37 additional publishers have
            ask to participate.

            Actually, the reported disabling of printing of retrieved pages puzzles me a bit. My
            impression was that if you could view something with a Web browser, you could print
            it. The Seattle Times reported that an attempt to print a Web page from Amazon's
            site failed, and I found the same thing, so obviously there is some mechanism
            somewhere for disabling printing of an image, but I wonder if a custom Web browser
            would be required to conform to it. Regardless of that, I found that I could still save a
            JPEG image of a retrieved page of "A Tale of Two Cities" to disk and then print it using
            an application which can open a JPEG.

            As I say, I think it is a mistake to underestimate how much Amazon's search system,
            even tightened up a little in the printing department, lowers the barrier to book
            piracy.

            That said, it is by no means impossible that Amazon subscribes to the ideas
            advocated by DRM opponents and believes that selling content on the honor system
            is the way to go. In this view, few sales will be lost due to piracy and circulation of
            free electronic editions boosts sales of print books--a plus for Amazon's bottom line.
            Knowing that most authors have been reluctant to take the risk of trying non-DRM
            protected electronic publishing, perhaps Amazon intended to present them with a fait
            accompli which would demonstrate not only that their worst fears would not be
            realized, but that they would actually see increased sales.

            --- In ebook-community@yahoogroups.com, "auwg" <auwg@y...> wrote:
            >
            > All the world's a stage.
            > Plausible deniability.
            > All that stuff.
            > Since no book is completely secure against piracy, and Amazon's
            > preview system is likely one of the least desirable ways to go about
            > piracy, given that a different valid email and credit card number
            > would have to be used for every twenty-percent chunk of a book.
            >
            > And sure, some geek can likely come up with java tools to fool the
            > system into coughing up all the pages at Amazon, but so what? Some
            > other geek will likely be scanning the paper version a page at a time
            > while he watches Star Trek.
            >
            > Locks only prevent casual theft.
            > They don't prevent theft by determined thieves.
            >
            > This whole 'preview' thing was a big step, logistically and
            > contractually.
            > I think Amazon may be prepping to take BN's place as an ebook
            > retailer.
            > Ed Howdershelt - Abintra Press
            > Science Fiction and Semi-Fiction
            > http://abintrapress.tripod.com
          • Jerry Justianto
            John, I found one article that might answer your concerns http://arstechnica.com/archive/news/1067712749.html ...What kind of fool would sit and print off 100
            Message 5 of 17 , Nov 1, 2003
            • 0 Attachment
              John, I found one article that might answer your concerns

              http://arstechnica.com/archive/news/1067712749.html

              ...What kind of fool would sit and print off 100 pages of a book, given
              that you can't actually view them sequentially? To get 100 sequential
              pages, you'd have to use the search feature to pull up all of the pages
              in question... not something most people with a life would bother to do.
              But the point about recipes and the like is well taken. Authors of such
              reference material do stand to lose out if users can find the little
              tidbit of information they want and print it off. Of course, they can
              already do that at the library, but Amazon isn't a library. Or is it?
              The solution to the problem as presented by Amazon yesterday assumes
              that folks won't go that extra mile just to print off a page. The
              service appears to have been revamped to eliminate the possibility of
              printing pages displayed through the system. If you print a page with an
              image of the text on it, the text won't appear. You can't right-click
              and save the image, and you can't save the page with the image in it.
              You can obviously take a screenshot of the page and print it, but the
              number of people who know how to do that are few and far between, and
              the number of them that would even bother is surely a fraction of that
              already small group.

              Regards,

              Jerry S. Justianto
              Pocket PC eBooks Watch
              http://cebooks.blogspot.com



              -----Original Message-----
              From: John Landahl [mailto:jlandahl@...]
              Sent: Sunday, November 02, 2003 3:39 AM
              To: ebook-community@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [ebook-community] Amazon.com--a major misstep?


              Today's Seattle Times business digest carries a brief item entitled
              "Amazon.com
              changes book-search feature"
              (http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/
              texis.cgi/web/vortex/
              display?c=1&slug=bizbriefs01&date=20031101&query=Amazon.com) beginning
              "Amazon.com yesterday quietly disabled a user's ability to print pages
              from books
              displayed on its Web site" and ending by noting that Amazon.com's stock
              price
              suffered a modest drop on Friday. One possibility here, of course, is
              that some
              investors are concerned that Amazon.com has incurred substantial legal
              liability by
              substantially lowering the bar for making unauthorized digital copies of
              copyright
              material. Was Amazon.com simply incompetent at the technological and
              managerial
              levels in opening an avenue inviting book piracy, or did they
              deliberately push the
              envelope too far, permitting them to tighten security a bit and say
              "we've moved to
              address authors' concerns"?



              --------------------------------------------------------------------
              Post a message: ebook-community@yahoogroups.com
              Unsubscribe: ebook-community-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
              Switch to digest: ebook-community-digest@yahoogroups.com
              Switch to normal: ebook-community-normal@yahoogroups.com
              Put mail on hold: ebook-community-nomail@yahoogroups.com
              Administrator: ebook-community-owner@yahoogroups.com
              --------------------------------------------------------------------

              Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
              http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
            • John Landahl
              I actually don t have any concerns about Amazon s new search system, being neither an author whose work is among the 120,000 fully searchable titles nor an
              Message 6 of 17 , Nov 2, 2003
              • 0 Attachment
                I actually don't have any concerns about Amazon's new search system, being neither
                an author whose work is among the 120,000 fully searchable titles nor an investor
                whose shares might lose value if adverse legal judgements impact Amazon's bottom
                line. I am more in the position of an incredulous observer who sees a major bank
                launch a promotion to let anyone who wishes enter the vaults and sift through the
                contents of its customers safe deposit boxes. When customers raise concerns about
                loss of their valued possessions, the bank replies, "We don't think that's going to be a
                problem, and we do think this is going to be great for our business. Besides, any
                customer who wants to can just notify us that they want to opt out and we'll stop
                letting everyone go through their safe deposit box." Bottom line: the bank is flying
                in the face of conventional wisdom. Is that simply an incredibly stupid decision of the
                sort that seems to crop up from time to time even in the highest eschelons of the
                corporate world, or is there a method to the madness?

                The objection that most people won't bother to pirate an entire book because the
                process is too cumbersome ignores lesson one of Technology 101: computers are
                great for automating repetitive tasks. Does the tedium of searching Web pages for
                email addresses not already in their databases deter spammers? Not at all--they
                simply delegate the task to a piece of software called a harvester that continously
                searches the Web for email addresses and matches them against a database. The
                potential for casual piracy of an occasional book by someone who doesn't have a life
                is an obvious one that Amazon has taken some steps to discourage. The more
                significant potential, however, is for folks like the ones who brought us the Blaster
                Worm and give the recording industry such heartburn by treating popular songs as if
                they were in the public domain to come up with a content harvester to extract the
                text from Amazon's page image archives and incorporate it into massive illicit
                archives like those for music.

                Although you report that Amazon has tightened up its system so people can no
                longer print pages or save them to disk with whatever Web browser you tried (I can
                actually still save them to disk very nicely with Apple's OS X Web browser Safari), why
                didn't they design it that way to begin with? Because it never occurred to them that
                anyone would bother to do it (maybe they didn't bother to run the new feature by a
                focus group or two?), or because they judged that from a business standpoint it
                wouldn't matter even if people did?

                The Authors Guild and the Ars Technica article both picked up on the fact that certain
                types of books, notably travel guides and cookbooks, could suffer lost sales because
                of the ease of finding and reading a five-page section of particular interest--in fact,
                no one, with the possible exception of Amazon, seems to disagree that this is a
                potential problem for individual authors. One might extend this category to include
                collections of short stories, poetry anthologies, and books on art history.

                Here, it seems quite possible that Amazon is looking at book sales in the aggregate.
                If the content search feature draws lots of additional customers to their Web site and
                results in higher sales overall, any compensation for particular authors who can
                demonstate lost sales to the satisfaction of a court of law is basically a marketing
                expense.

                The Ars Technica article and other suggest that lost sales of cookbooks, etc., is a
                much greater concern to authors of those types of works than to Amazon or to
                publishers. However, I think I can safely say that Oxford University Press's apparent
                withdrawal of its edition of "A Tale of Two Cities" from Amazon's "Search Within The
                Book" was not an action taken at the request of the author.

                I have yet to see a "geek" respond that Amazon's new content search system doesn't
                make massive piracy of book content any easier. It seems to me that those who feel
                that the issue of content piracy is overblown would be more convincing if they argued
                that the impact of even massive piracy would be negligible than that it simply can't
                occur.

                If one wished to take the "negligible impact" point of view, one might suggest that it
                is not clear that the rise of Project Gutenberg has reduced sales of print editions of
                the works it has made available in electronic form. Indeed, Amazon might have data
                indicating that it has actually increased interest in them.

                --- In ebook-community@yahoogroups.com, Jerry Justianto <jsjxyz@i...> wrote:
                > John, I found one article that might answer your concerns
                >
                > http://arstechnica.com/archive/news/1067712749.html
                >
                > ...What kind of fool would sit and print off 100 pages of a book, given
                > that you can't actually view them sequentially? To get 100 sequential
                > pages, you'd have to use the search feature to pull up all of the pages
                > in question... not something most people with a life would bother to do.
                > But the point about recipes and the like is well taken. Authors of such
                > reference material do stand to lose out if users can find the little
                > tidbit of information they want and print it off. Of course, they can
                > already do that at the library, but Amazon isn't a library. Or is it?
                > The solution to the problem as presented by Amazon yesterday assumes
                > that folks won't go that extra mile just to print off a page. The
                > service appears to have been revamped to eliminate the possibility of
                > printing pages displayed through the system. If you print a page with an
                > image of the text on it, the text won't appear. You can't right-click
                > and save the image, and you can't save the page with the image in it.
                > You can obviously take a screenshot of the page and print it, but the
                > number of people who know how to do that are few and far between, and
                > the number of them that would even bother is surely a fraction of that
                > already small group.
                >
                > Regards,
                >
                > Jerry S. Justianto
                > Pocket PC eBooks Watch
                > http://cebooks.blogspot.com
                >
                >
                >
                > -----Original Message-----
                > From: John Landahl [mailto:jlandahl@i...]
                > Sent: Sunday, November 02, 2003 3:39 AM
                > To: ebook-community@yahoogroups.com
                > Subject: [ebook-community] Amazon.com--a major misstep?
                >
                >
                > Today's Seattle Times business digest carries a brief item entitled
                > "Amazon.com
                > changes book-search feature"
                > (http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/
                > texis.cgi/web/vortex/
                > display?c=1&slug=bizbriefs01&date=20031101&query=Amazon.com) beginning
                > "Amazon.com yesterday quietly disabled a user's ability to print pages
                > from books
                > displayed on its Web site" and ending by noting that Amazon.com's stock
                > price
                > suffered a modest drop on Friday. One possibility here, of course, is
                > that some
                > investors are concerned that Amazon.com has incurred substantial legal
                > liability by
                > substantially lowering the bar for making unauthorized digital copies of
                > copyright
                > material. Was Amazon.com simply incompetent at the technological and
                > managerial
                > levels in opening an avenue inviting book piracy, or did they
                > deliberately push the
                > envelope too far, permitting them to tighten security a bit and say
                > "we've moved to
                > address authors' concerns"?
                >
                >
                >
                > --------------------------------------------------------------------
                > Post a message: ebook-community@yahoogroups.com
                > Unsubscribe: ebook-community-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                > Switch to digest: ebook-community-digest@yahoogroups.com
                > Switch to normal: ebook-community-normal@yahoogroups.com
                > Put mail on hold: ebook-community-nomail@yahoogroups.com
                > Administrator: ebook-community-owner@yahoogroups.com
                > --------------------------------------------------------------------
                >
                > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
                > http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
              • Jim Drew
                ... You need to consider why someone wants to print out the pages of downloaded content, though. There are two reasons that come readily to mind: * They
                Message 7 of 17 , Nov 2, 2003
                • 0 Attachment
                  From: "John Landahl" <jlandahl@...> writes:

                  >Actually, the reported disabling of printing of retrieved pages
                  >puzzles me a bit. My impression was that if you could view
                  >something with a Web browser, you could print it. The Seattle Times
                  >reported that an attempt to print a Web page from Amazon's site
                  >failed, and I found the same thing, so obviously there is some
                  >mechanism somewhere for disabling printing of an image, but I wonder
                  >if a custom Web browser would be required to conform to it.
                  >Regardless of that, I found that I could still save a JPEG image of
                  >a retrieved page of "A Tale of Two Cities" to disk and then print it
                  >using an application which can open a JPEG.
                  >
                  >As I say, I think it is a mistake to underestimate how much Amazon's
                  >search system, even tightened up a little in the printing
                  >department, lowers the barrier to book piracy.

                  You need to consider why someone wants to print out the pages of
                  downloaded content, though. There are two reasons that come readily
                  to mind:

                  * They really prefer a printed copy, but for whatever reason, they
                  don't have one. (It might not be available, they may need it now,
                  not in 3-5 business days, they may need to have portions of the text
                  where they don't have a reader system, they think they are bypassing
                  the system but don't realize that their paper and ink costs will be
                  higher than buying the print version would be, etc.) Most of these
                  are quite legitimate reasons, and as you note, aren't stopped (just
                  hampered) by the print disallowance. (And they get a lower
                  resolution print out, too.)

                  Or...

                  * They don't want a printed copy, they want access to the text, and
                  one way to do that is to subvert the print stream. Again, there may
                  be many reasons for wanting to do this, and some of them legitimate
                  (feeding the content to software to read it aloud or show it at a
                  larger size, perhaps), but this also is an easy way to repackage and
                  reformat the text for less legitimate purposes. Shutting it off does
                  cut off one of the easy piracy sources. (And while OCR of
                  screenshots gets around that somewhat, it isn't a perfect method by
                  any means.)
                  --

                  -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
                  Jim Drew Seattle, WA ciaopubs@...
                  http://home.earthlink.net/~rubberize/Weblog/index.html (Updated: 10/21)
                • auwg
                  ... system doesn t ... that those who feel ... convincing if they argued ... that it simply can t ... Sure it could occur, with or without Amazon s assistance.
                  Message 8 of 17 , Nov 2, 2003
                  • 0 Attachment
                    --- "John Landahl" <jlandahl@i...> wrote:
                    > I have yet to see a "geek" respond that Amazon's new content search
                    system doesn't
                    > make massive piracy of book content any easier. It seems to me
                    that those who feel
                    > that the issue of content piracy is overblown would be more
                    convincing if they argued
                    > that the impact of even massive piracy would be negligible than
                    that it simply can't
                    > occur.

                    Sure it could occur, with or without Amazon's assistance. Scanners
                    are cheap these days, lots of people can write programs, and
                    extensive prosecution of piracy is unfeasible.
                    Look at the C-Lit program, which exists only to bust open LIT files
                    and extract the HTML. Is anybody in jail because of it? Nope, not
                    even the author or chief distributors, even though their main
                    adversary is Micro$oft.
                    For the moment, data piracy is like any other new disease; it'll be a
                    while before anyone can come up with a reasonably effective cure or
                    vaccine against it.

                    > If one wished to take the "negligible impact" point of view, one
                    might suggest that it
                    > is not clear that the rise of Project Gutenberg has reduced sales
                    of print editions of
                    > the works it has made available in electronic form. Indeed, Amazon
                    might have data
                    > indicating that it has actually increased interest in them.

                    Seems likely.
                    Ed Howdershelt - Abintra Press
                    Science Fiction and Semi-Fiction
                    http://abintrapress.tripod.com
                    http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/EdHowdershelteBooks.htm
                  • John Landahl
                    ... Touching on just your second point here, Ed, I see that your new Fictionwise eBook bestseller (congratuations!) Assignment: Atlanta is sold for $4.95 in
                    Message 9 of 17 , Nov 2, 2003
                    • 0 Attachment
                      --- In ebook-community@yahoogroups.com, "auwg" <auwg@y...> wrote:
                      Touching on just your second point here, Ed, I see that your new Fictionwise eBook
                      bestseller (congratuations!) "Assignment: Atlanta" is sold for $4.95 in uncrypted
                      "multiformat" edition. From this I infer that you personally either are not concerned
                      about its being pirated or consider its piracy inevitable, so why bother with DRM? Do
                      you in fact anticipate greater sales than if it were DRM-protected?

                      > --- "John Landahl" <jlandahl@i...> wrote:
                      > > If one wished to take the "negligible impact" point of view, one
                      > might suggest that it
                      > > is not clear that the rise of Project Gutenberg has reduced sales
                      > of print editions of
                      > > the works it has made available in electronic form. Indeed, Amazon
                      > might have data
                      > > indicating that it has actually increased interest in them.
                      >
                      > Seems likely.
                      > Ed Howdershelt - Abintra Press
                      > Science Fiction and Semi-Fiction
                      > http://abintrapress.tripod.com
                      > http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/EdHowdershelteBooks.htm
                    • John Landahl
                      I received an interesting e-mail from someone identifying themselves as a techie concurring that Amazon s content security system is eminently crackable
                      Message 10 of 17 , Nov 2, 2003
                      • 0 Attachment
                        I received an interesting e-mail from someone identifying themselves as a "techie"
                        concurring that Amazon's content security system is eminently "crackable" and
                        suggesting that publishers are short-sighted in trying to prevent copying of content.
                        This correspondent asserted that the movie industry opposed the introduction of
                        VCRs due to concerns about copying, not recognizing that the technology would also
                        create an enormous opportunity for "aftermarket" sales of videos and DVDs.

                        Do the two reasons you suggest for wanting to print out the pages of downloaded
                        content point to any overlooked market opportunities for publishers?

                        I note that National Academies Press (http://books.nap.edu) now allows the full text
                        of 2500 of its technical reference books to be searched and read online. Like
                        Amazon.com's system, these books are presented as a series of page images, but
                        unlike Amazon.com's system, pages are sequentially linked and are generated from
                        PDFs rather than scanned. Purchasers have the option of buying the book itself, the
                        book plus a downloadable PDF licensed for personal use, the PDF alone, or the PDF of
                        a particular chapter. Chapter PDF prices are proportional to the cost of the book.
                        Individual pages can be downloaded as printable PDF files by clicking a link named
                        "Printable PDF Page." Obviously the National Academies Press thinks DRM is
                        unnecessary, piracy will be a non-issue, and expects to make money from customers
                        wanting to print downloaded content.

                        I haven't looked at it for awhile, but O'Reilly's Safari Bookshelf is a subscription-based
                        service allowing users to search, read, and browse the full text of 1400 information
                        technology reference books which is reported to be doing well. I imagine it allows
                        printing of at least some text, so that's probably a second example of a publisher
                        that's identified an opportunity related to printing of downloaded content.

                        --- In ebook-community@yahoogroups.com, Jim Drew <ciaopubs@e...> wrote:
                        > You need to consider why someone wants to print out the pages of
                        > downloaded content, though. There are two reasons that come readily
                        > to mind:
                        >
                        > * They really prefer a printed copy, but for whatever reason, they
                        > don't have one. (It might not be available, they may need it now,
                        > not in 3-5 business days, they may need to have portions of the text
                        > where they don't have a reader system, they think they are bypassing
                        > the system but don't realize that their paper and ink costs will be
                        > higher than buying the print version would be, etc.) Most of these
                        > are quite legitimate reasons, and as you note, aren't stopped (just
                        > hampered) by the print disallowance. (And they get a lower
                        > resolution print out, too.)
                        >
                        > Or...
                        >
                        > * They don't want a printed copy, they want access to the text, and
                        > one way to do that is to subvert the print stream. Again, there may
                        > be many reasons for wanting to do this, and some of them legitimate
                        > (feeding the content to software to read it aloud or show it at a
                        > larger size, perhaps), but this also is an easy way to repackage and
                        > reformat the text for less legitimate purposes. Shutting it off does
                        > cut off one of the easy piracy sources. (And while OCR of
                        > screenshots gets around that somewhat, it isn't a perfect method by
                        > any means.)
                        > --
                        >
                        > -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
                        > Jim Drew Seattle, WA ciaopubs@e...
                        > http://home.earthlink.net/~rubberize/Weblog/index.html (Updated: 10/21)
                      • John Landahl
                        Another factor here is Moore s Law, which doesn t seem to have expired yet. Not only are scanners cheap these days, they re apt to get cheaper and/or better.
                        Message 11 of 17 , Nov 2, 2003
                        • 0 Attachment
                          Another factor here is Moore's Law, which doesn't seem to have expired yet. Not only
                          are scanners cheap these days, they're apt to get cheaper and/or better. A pessimist
                          might argue that techological advancement decrees that book piracy is here to stay.
                          If Amazon has come to that conclusion, it may have decided see if it can make more
                          money by ignoring it than by futile attempts to prevent it.

                          --- In ebook-community@yahoogroups.com, "auwg" <auwg@y...> wrote:
                          >
                          > Sure it [massive piracy] could occur, with or without Amazon's assistance. Scanners
                          > are cheap these days, lots of people can write programs, and
                          > extensive prosecution of piracy is unfeasible.
                          > Look at the C-Lit program, which exists only to bust open LIT files
                          > and extract the HTML. Is anybody in jail because of it? Nope, not
                          > even the author or chief distributors, even though their main
                          > adversary is Micro$oft.
                          > For the moment, data piracy is like any other new disease; it'll be a
                          > while before anyone can come up with a reasonably effective cure or
                          > vaccine against it.
                          <snip>
                          > Ed Howdershelt - Abintra Press
                          > Science Fiction and Semi-Fiction
                          > http://abintrapress.tripod.com
                          > http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/EdHowdershelteBooks.htm
                        • auwg
                          ... Fictionwise eBook ... $4.95 in uncrypted ... either are not concerned ... bother with DRM? Do ... I don t anticipate a thing. There s no point. Just about
                          Message 12 of 17 , Nov 3, 2003
                          • 0 Attachment
                            --- "John Landahl" <jlandahl@i...> wrote:
                            > Touching on just your second point here, Ed, I see that your new
                            Fictionwise eBook
                            > bestseller (congratuations!) "Assignment: Atlanta" is sold for
                            $4.95 in uncrypted
                            > "multiformat" edition. From this I infer that you personally
                            either are not concerned
                            > about its being pirated or consider its piracy inevitable, so why
                            bother with DRM? Do
                            > you in fact anticipate greater sales than if it were DRM-protected?

                            I don't anticipate a thing. There's no point.
                            Just about everything about the ebook market is all guesswork at the
                            moment because the market is still being created according to daily
                            discoveries concerning what works and what doesn't.

                            What it all amounts to at present is that -- despite the verbiage
                            from those with misgivings on one side and those with absolute faith
                            on the other -- a number of people have simply decided to take a low-
                            investment chance or two and publish ebooks.

                            I'm personally not too concerned about pirates because they aren't
                            customers. Pirates don't buy, they steal, just as shoplifters steal.
                            In the physical world, the costs of shoplifting have to be covered
                            somewhere along the line, usually by jacking up prices to cover
                            losses of physical goods.

                            In the e-world, a thief is still a thief, but he/she's stealing a
                            data file. There's no empty spot on the shelf. No merchandise
                            representing money spent by a shopowner for resale goods can be
                            reported to the insurance company for reimbursement, although it's
                            pleasing to know that being able to prove someone stole the file
                            could land them in jail.
                            Losses to pirates are inevitable, just as losses to vermin plague
                            farmers, even with today's super-nasty pesticides.
                            Certain losses have always been part of the cost of doing business.
                            In my stoneware business -- http://www.wiccaworks.com -- losses due
                            to breakage or misplacement in shipping dropped dramatically when I
                            switched to UPS, but they didn't disappear entirely. That's just how
                            it is. You pull up your socks and keep marching.

                            I'm writing for those readers who are basically honest people, who
                            don't really have the spare time to screw around with hunting down
                            pirated books, and who don't mind paying a reasonable price for what
                            they like.
                            All others -- pirates, those who don't like my writings, people who
                            don't read, etc... -- are non-customers and therefore don't really
                            matter a rat's rump to my ebook sales. :)
                            Ed Howdershelt - Abintra Press
                            Science Fiction and Semi-Fiction
                            http://abintrapress.tripod.com
                            http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/EdHowdershelteBooks.htm
                          • K. C. Krueger
                            auwg I m writing for those readers who are basically honest people, who don t really have the spare time to screw around with
                            Message 13 of 17 , Nov 3, 2003
                            • 0 Attachment
                              auwg <auwg@... wrote:
                              <snip>I'm writing for those readers who are basically honest people, who
                              don't really have the spare time to screw around with hunting down
                              pirated books, and who don't mind paying a reasonable price for what
                              they like.
                              All others -- pirates, those who don't like my writings, people who
                              don't read, etc... -- are non-customers and therefore don't really
                              matter a rat's rump to my ebook sales. :)<snip>
                              _______________________________

                              On this, I'm with Ed 100%.

                              Most pirated texts are scanned from print editions which are either
                              unavailable as ebooks or way, way overpriced.
                              Unauthorized dissemination of moderately priced ebooks, especially those
                              that are independently published, is not only relatively rare, it's actually
                              frowned in certain quarters. In one instance, after an indie eauthor
                              protested the piracy of one of their titles, the culprits not only
                              apologized, they even paid the author the royalties they would have had
                              otherwise.

                              According to Fictionwise, their unencrypted downloads are running rings
                              around their so-called 'secure' editions, saleswise, (which reportedly ticks
                              off the major print publishers no end), and they don't seem to consider
                              piracy a problem either.

                              I've been selling my own titles online via independent epublishers since
                              1998 and neither they nor I have been particularly concerned about piracy.
                              I'm now with my fourth such publisher and signed a contract for my 13th
                              title last year.

                              Personally, I prefer unencrypted ebooks because I have four different
                              wireless ereading devices; a classic 32 meg Rocket eBook, a Gemstar Rocket
                              1100, an hp jornada 540 Windows 32meg CE, and a Palm Zire 71. While the two
                              Rockets have far and away the best displays, the jornada and the Palm aren't
                              half bad and they're much easier to tote when I'm away from the house.

                              Incidentally, I have never 'shared' any of my purchased ebooks with anyone
                              else, nor would I, and my response to that particular practice is 'let the
                              cheapskates buy their own.'

                              Freddie aka Kate Saundby
                              shippard@...
                              http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/Authors/KateS.html
                              http://www.authorsden.com/visit/author.asp?AuthorID=1745
                              http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/KateSaundbyeBooks.htm
                            • Jim Drew
                              From: K. C. Krueger ... That s the issue that I perennially have the biggest problem with. Every time I see someone stating baldly
                              Message 14 of 17 , Nov 3, 2003
                              • 0 Attachment
                                From: "K. C. Krueger" <shippard@...>

                                >Most pirated texts are scanned from print editions which are either
                                >unavailable as ebooks or way, way overpriced.

                                That's the issue that I perennially have the biggest problem with.
                                Every time I see someone stating baldly that "No eBooks should cost
                                more than $3" (or some other arbitrary, low amount), I realize that
                                "overpriced" (and even "way, way overpriced") varies a lot from
                                person to person. There's always someone out there for whom *any*
                                price is overpriced. (Information should be free, after all.)

                                >Unauthorized dissemination of moderately priced ebooks, especially
                                >those that are independently published, is not only relatively rare

                                With independently produced ones, that doesn't really surprise me.
                                For both the good and bad reasons: there are people who are most
                                respectful of the indies than of the more commercial items just
                                because they are indies, and there's less to be gained (money, fame,
                                whatever) from pirating a book by John Smith than one by Stephen King.

                                How rare is the unauthorized dissemination of new and bestseller
                                books? I haven't checked it out, but my assumption would be that
                                Stephen King and Anne Rice and "Harry Potter" would probably be hot
                                items on the pirate boards, at least briefly after their releases.
                                --

                                ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
                                Jim Drew Seattle, WA ciaopubs@...
                                http://home.earthlink.net/~rubberize/Weblog/index.html (Update: 10/20)
                              • John Landahl
                                Good point, Jim, and perhaps according to subject matter as well. Many of the technical reference books that the National Academies Press doesn t seem
                                Message 15 of 17 , Nov 3, 2003
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  Good point, Jim, and perhaps according to subject matter as well. Many of the
                                  technical reference books that the National Academies Press doesn't seem concerned
                                  about making it easier to pirate are priced in the $40-$50 range. Bruce Eckel's
                                  "Thinking in Java" book that he posts a free electronic version of on his Web site lists
                                  for $40.

                                  --- In ebook-community@yahoogroups.com, Jim Drew <ciaopubs@e...> wrote:
                                  <snip>
                                  >... I realize that
                                  > "overpriced" (and even "way, way overpriced") varies a lot from
                                  > person to person. ...
                                  <snip>
                                  > ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
                                  > Jim Drew Seattle, WA ciaopubs@e...
                                  > http://home.earthlink.net/~rubberize/Weblog/index.html (Update: 10/20)
                                • K. C. Krueger
                                  Jim Drew That s the issue that I perennially have the biggest problem with. Every time I see someone stating baldly that
                                  Message 16 of 17 , Nov 4, 2003
                                  • 0 Attachment
                                    Jim Drew" <ciaopubs@... wrote:
                                    <snip>That's the issue that I perennially have the biggest problem with.
                                    Every time I see someone stating baldly that "No eBooks should cost
                                    more than $3" (or some other arbitrary, low amount), I realize that
                                    "overpriced" (and even "way, way overpriced") varies a lot from
                                    person to person. There's always someone out there for whom *any*
                                    price is overpriced. (Information should be free, after all.)<snip>
                                    ______________________________

                                    By "way, way overpriced", I'm referring to recent fiction titles by midlist
                                    print authors that are priced in double digits from 15.00 to 30.00, or even
                                    more, and usually they're only available in secure formats. Apparently, the
                                    idea is to prevent the download from competing with the hardcover edition
                                    because it certainly has no relationship to reality that I can see.

                                    Personally, I think twice about anything over $6.00--I'm talking fiction
                                    titles here, not reference--and most of my purchases are $5.00 or below.

                                    One of my favorite SF authors is Lois McMasters Bujold. When I saw her
                                    ebooks at Baen were listed for 4.00 apiece I scarfed up the lot. (They're
                                    unencrypted, btw.) Later, when I came across her signed hardcovers at a
                                    convention, I bought them all, so it's not just a matter of money with me.
                                    If I really like an author, I'll buy their print editions as well as their
                                    ebooks, but I still refuse to pay hardcover prices for the latter.

                                    Freddie aka Kate Saundby
                                    shippard@...
                                    http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/Authors/KateS.html
                                    http://www.authorsden.com/visit/author.asp?AuthorID=1745
                                    http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/KateSaundbyeBooks.htm
                                  • Robotech_Master
                                    John Landahl (jlandahl@infostrategist.com) wrote in message ... Well, thank God that it s no longer possible to pirate a PUBLIC DOMAIN book. I was afraid that
                                    Message 17 of 17 , Nov 5, 2003
                                    • 0 Attachment
                                      John Landahl (jlandahl@...) wrote in message
                                      <bo1urp+m38j@...>:

                                      > Interestingly, now when I search for "Miss Manette had arrived from
                                      > London" I no longer get the Oxford World's Classics edition of "A
                                      > Tale of Two Cities"--instead I get the Modern Library edition. If I
                                      > search specifically for the Oxford World's Classics edition, when I
                                      > find it I am no longer invited to "Search inside this book."
                                      > Instead I am invited to "Search inside another edition of this
                                      > book," suggesting that Oxford University Press has withdrawn
                                      > permission to include its titles in the content search.

                                      Well, thank God that it's no longer possible to pirate a PUBLIC DOMAIN
                                      book. I was afraid that civilization as we know it was going to break
                                      down.

                                      > As I say, I think it is a mistake to underestimate how much Amazon's
                                      > search system, even tightened up a little in the printing
                                      > department, lowers the barrier to book piracy.

                                      I'm pretty sure that that's not the only measure Amazon's going to
                                      take to prevent piracy. Remember, Amazon controls the website itself,
                                      and has access to the server logs. If they see books being snagged in
                                      a suspicious pattern like that, I would expect they'll take measures
                                      to block such abuses. Maybe someone will be able to get one or two
                                      books before they catch him and cancel out his accounts, but I can't
                                      see such a widespread pattern of abuse as you envision being allowed.
                                      I think you're _overestimating_ the danger.

                                      > That said, it is by no means impossible that Amazon subscribes to
                                      > the ideas advocated by DRM opponents and believes that selling
                                      > content on the honor system is the way to go. In this view, few
                                      > sales will be lost due to piracy and circulation of free electronic
                                      > editions boosts sales of print books--a plus for Amazon's bottom
                                      > line.

                                      And now you're getting into the realm of conspiracy theory. I don't
                                      for a moment think there was any intent on the part of Amazon to make
                                      books available for free, even in a "nod nod wink wink" fashion.
                                      Never attribute to malice what can be more easily explained by
                                      stupidity (or just a failure to think things through). Besides, it
                                      doesn't fit the pattern Amazon has displayed of being fanatically
                                      paranoid about intellectual property (going so far as to patent the
                                      idea of one-click ordering).

                                      I do have to admit that I can see where you're coming from--as an
                                      author, anything that that increases the possibility you won't get
                                      paid for your work is a possible threat. But on the other hand, as a
                                      reader I like the idea of being able to find citations on subjects of
                                      interest to me in books I wouldn't otherwise have considered. And I
                                      certainly wouldn't consider using the system to pirate a book, even if
                                      someone presented me with the software for so doing ready-made.

                                      The whole book piracy scene depresses me, but sometimes I wonder what
                                      Roger Mifflin from _Parnassus on Wheels_ and _The Haunted Bookshop_
                                      would think of it. Probably be scandalized by the theft, and yet at
                                      the same time impressed that even in this day and age of electronic
                                      media, talking moving pictures that can come right into your living
                                      room, immersive computer games that can take away all sense of time,
                                      people are still hungry enough for reading that they'll go so far as
                                      to steal the books.
                                      --
                                      Chris Meadows aka | If this post helped or entertained you, please rate
                                      Robotech_Master | it at http://svcs.affero.net/rm.php?r=robotech
                                      robotech@... |
                                      | Homepage: http://www.eyrie.org/~robotech
                                    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.