Thursday, December 23, 2010

Books in the Cloud !

Most ebooks resellers that I know of work with one of 2 kinds of delivery models :
1) they send you / give you access to a link (or list of links) where you can download the book in a "limited fashion" (time, number of downloads ...). This induces almost necessarily the use of a PC to download and manage the ebooks collection.

2) they keep the bought ebooks in a "library" section of their site, where you can download the book "at will". This allows you to remove the ebook from your reader, (archiving), without losing access forever to it. It also allows you to manage your ebooks collection without any other device (PC for example).

The "major resellers"  (Amazon, Google, B&N, Smashwords...), and some others (Webscription for example) all  work on that second model.
This also allows them to develop a model where you don't even need to download the entire ebook to your device, but use a specific browser to access it on their server as with the "PC version" of the Google EBooks reader. The Book is kept "in the cloud" for you in "eternity", or ... as long as the reseller keeps the ebook at your disposition ...
There have been incidents whrere bought ebooks where removed from the "Library" as well as from the "device" !

So while the Library is that (a Library), we should not consider them "Safe" : the "librarian" can "at will" change the content of that library, either by adding/removing books, but also by "corecting" them the way they choose without our knowing...

If we want to have a more "long-lasting" library, I think we need to maintain our own "library" in addition to the reseller's ones. In our own library, we should have a copy of each and every ebook we have bought, if possible without DRM so that we also will be able to convert them to other future-proof format ... How to set up such a library is left as an exercice to the reader... but I guess you should backup it the same way you do your digital photographs (you DO backup your photos right ?)

This does in NO way mean say that we should NOT use the reseller's library facility (in some way, if our own library goes down, we will be most happy to use theirs as a backup :) ), but we should NOT trust them the same way we would a Safe in a bank.

There is even one comment on mobileread about kindle DRM :
Originally Posted by abookreader
Unless something has changed recently that I am not aware of - If the only copy of an eBook you have is one DRM'd for a Kindle with a firmware 2.5 or higher and the books are no longer available to you to re-download from the archives, as of right now you would not be able to strip the DRM.
 This means that if you want to get rid of the DRM, do it ASAP !

Friday, December 3, 2010

Self-Publishing, Self-Editing, Self-Reselling, Self-...

I've been an avid fan of C.J. Cherryh's work since my first read of her's "Cyteen" book when I was a teenager. A few years ago I found out what later became her "Blog" and a forum of fellow "worshippers". Since I'm not a native english speaker (and don't feel at ease enough) I've only written a few posts there (not under this handle though), but I should say I'm one of the "silent lurkers" who follows her adventures.

One of the many points of interests which leads me back to her blog is her recent adventure in self-publishing, with her two friends Lynn Abbey, and Jane Fancher. They opened up an e-store  (Closed Circle) where they sell among other things e-books either of new works, or of back-listed books.

Here is a copy of a post I put on Jane's blog this evening :

Dear Closed Circle authors,
This post is an answer to Jane's "Facebook ads and publishers" blog.

I hope my comment doesn't sound harsh, and if it does please take it not as something I want to express, but put it on my insufficiently fluent english.

Regarding your Closed Circle results, I think there are a few problems :
The first one is that even though you put MUCH love and time on the e-shop, it still is NOT on par with "commercial" ones.

The second one is that even with 3 authors, your volume is WAY under critical mass. By that, I mean that the site has not yet attained a volume that enables it to attract new potential readers. By you three, you are not able to provide sufficient "new" meat to have more than a few visits a year, and since you write MUCH more interesting things about your writing on your blogs (as well as the announcements), I (and maybe a lot of others) only go there to buy a book at the occasion of such an announcement. I should mention that if you did NOT do announce the news on your blogs first, I wouldn't even go to CC (except once or twice a year)...

Last one, taking and maintaining the CC takes (or has taken) you a lot of  energy which may have better been used elsewhere... Your last attempt  with your FB add seems to me one of such diversions.

In my opinion, you took with the Closed Circle the right turn, but followed it a little bit too far : instead of going from Author to Author/Agent/Editor/Publisher/Reseller, you should have stopped at the Publisher step, and left the reselling to specialized companies such as Amazon and/or B&N. Of course it forces you to leave the reseller a part of the pie, but if they do the hard work and allow you to assemble a larger pie (ie more sells) it may be worth it. (But you're right, read the little lines of the contract, there may be people there quite as devious as Tabini).

Of course, you NEED to attract new readers, and as such to advertise your work, but I think a better way to do that would be to "open up" to a new crowd instead of limiting yourself to readers already familiar with your work.

One way to do that is indeed to publish at least one of your work on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, Webscription and/or other "e-resellers". I woudn't recommend putting that work for free since it's not always seen as a sign of quality, but rather at a low price. That first step would increase your visibility. You most probably would receive there good reviews, links to/from authors or related books, which will link your network with other author's in a much more visible way than through your blogroll alone ...

I think you also need to advertize your work on general science fiction forums/blogs, at least when publishing a new book, and maybe also between publications.

Yeah, that advertizing is a publisher's work, but you're "self-publishing" so I guess it has become YOUR work too.

Do you know about Joe Konrath ?  He's a
thriller author who went from "big publishing" to "Self-Published" in
a year with outstanding results. He documented his experience and
results on his blog ( ), and I think
you may find interesting ideas in his blogs, (comments as well).

All in all I hope my post was not too disheartening, and wish you'll find the best way to sell lots of your great books to lots of happy readers, and keep going !

Friday, October 15, 2010

Two Sites where I buy DRM-Free books

Just to mention 2 websites where I buy Good E-Books... and DRM-Free !

Closed Circle is  the brainchild of three authors, multiple Hugo award winner, C.J. Cherryh, Best-selling co-creator of Thieves’ World, Lynn Abbey, and critically acclaimed Jane Fancher.

I didn't know about Lynn and Jane Fancher until I began to follow C.J. Cherryh's recent blog, but I really like their work, website, as well as their take on e-publishing...

Even if the the "Shopping experience" at Closed Circle is not the one I am accustomed to, it's close enough and fulfills it's role... Upon checkout completion, an email is received, giving the link to two kinds of downloads : "full format" gets a complete package of formats for the book, while the "lite" version gives only a selection of the more common ones.

I also shop at, more on that later...

DRMs and ebooks

In a comment under an other blog's post, Frances Grimble writes:

"People who complain about DRM should realize that if the lack of it means that piracy will cut significantly into sales, publishers will either insist on DRM or not produce e-books."

Here is my answer to that:

And do you have data showing how much piracy is cut-down by DRM ? Guess why the music industry has STOPPED using DRMs for their music ? From all I've seen, it's had NEGATIVE influence on sales.

DRM DOESN'T WORK !!! It needs only ONE person to take the book and re-type it for it to be available worldwide ... and once ONE skilled person breaks the DRM-scheme, 10 seconds and a PC is all that's needed to make a book available worldwide ...
By now all the major DRM (not only ebooks ones) schemes ARE broken. For people to be able to read a DRMized book, you have to give them the "key" to that book (in that sense the "reader application" IS a key, while the DRM can be seen as the safe). Once they have the key and the safe, they can EASILY extract the safe's content, and make it available illegaly. The only winning people are the Safe's creators and distributors.
And in the meantime, the customers that bought the book with DRM are the only one penalized by having an inferior product...

Once a Mom is unable to play the books she has bought for her Kindle (which took a plunge in the babie's bath) on her new Nook (or the other way for that matters), she will be tempted to try and find it in illegal places. Once she finds out that it's available and easier (as well as "free"), it'll be that much more tempting for her next time she wants to buy a book ...
That's BAD strategy that leads people to illegal practices instead of driving them to legal/respectful regarding the authors and publishers.

Oh, yes, you're right, Grandma WON'T know how to bypass the DRM, and together with Mom, they Won't give illegally downloaded products for Christmas, but guess what ? The teenagers WILL learn the "bad ways", instead of the good ones, and they'll ask Santa for things that they can't "grab" for free (as in no books and no money for authors and publishers). That fight is LOST before it even begins unless you want to go all the way to Orwell's worst nightmares, and I know you don't want to go that way.

The alternative ?
Show respect for the consumer, not assuming each and everyone is there to steal the goods. STOP using DRMs which makes no sense in the long run. Explain (again and again as you do really well) why You (authors, publishers and distributor) deserve to get paid for your work.

Friday, October 8, 2010

La découverte de la lecture "électronique"

Dans le post précédent, je faisais mentions d'auteurs découverte en français, et que j'ai retrouvé ensuite en Anglais.

C'est le cas de David Weber, que j'ai découvert à la FNAC avec le premier livre de sa série Honor Harington, chez l'Atalante.
Sitôt le premier tome lu, sitôt à la recherche du second puis du troisième etc. Très vite (La traduction de la série venait de commencer), je me suis retrouvé à sec, et ai donc cherché la suite en VO. Après quelques allez-retours chez Brentano's, où j'ai enchainé les achats de ladite suite, je suis tombé sur un volume un peu particulier : En plus du livre, une pochette contenant un CD (Honorverse CD) était proposé à l'intérieur.

Ce CD contenait l'intégralité des livres de la série aux format Rtf et HTML, sans aucun DRM, et accompagné  ...
S'en est ensuivi une série de tests de la lecture desdits livres sur PC ou après impression, et surtout la découverte que BAEN (maison d'édition de David Weber) mettait à disposition un ensemble de livres gratuitement et dans ces mêmes formats.
Les tests en question ne m'ont pas plus plu que cela, les versions imprimées ou le PC ne se révélant pas complètement convaincants pour la lecture, mais la démarche en elle même (détaillée en ici VO ),  assez proche de celle des logiciels libres, me semblait intéressante.

C'était en 2000, et de l'eau a coulé sous les ponts.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Science Fiction et Fantasy en VO et en VF ?

Cela fait de nombreuses années que je lis (principalement de la Fantasy et de la SF), aussi bien an français qu'en anglais.
Jusqu'à l'apparition d', ma consommation de livres en anglais était principalement centrée qur l'achat de livres chez Brentano's à Paris (un très bon libraire qui a fermé depuis). L'ouverture d' a changé celà : Pour les imports, je faisais appel à Amazon, ce qui me faisait gagner du temps (délais moins importants et surtout plus d'obligation d'aller jusqu'à Paris) et de l'argent. Le seul soucis de cette solution était la perte de la "découverte" d'auteurs que je faisais bien plus facilement dans les rayons de Brentano's que chez Amazon.

Le libraire du coin (très bon par ailleurs)  n'ayant pas de rayon SF/Fantasy très à jour, je découvre maintenant souvent des auteurs en achetant un de leur livre en français soit à la FNAC, soit à la maison de presse. Si un livre me plait, j'achète souvent les volumes suivants en francais également, et finir par acheter les livres non encore traduits en anglais.
C'est ainsi que j'ai découvert Bujold, Gemmell, Cherryh, et bien d'autres...

Et maintenant je les suis principalement en anglais, veillant la sortie des livres sur les blogs des auteurs...
Ayant tendance à acheter les livres sur des coups de tête, et à acheter principalement les nouveautés, je me suis retrouvé avec une bibliothèque bien rempli non seulement de livres "poche" mais aussi de grands formats...

En plus de ces canaux "commerciaux", je m'approvisionne en lecture à la médiathèque de ma ville et à celle de mon Comité d'Entreprise... dont le contenu est pour le coup essentiellement en français.

En parallèle à cette lecture "classique", j'ai essayé dans le passé deux autre modes de consommation d'oeuvre "littéraires" : les livres lus (solution idéale pour les trajets en voiture), et les livres électronique. Dans ce second cas, j'avais jusque récemment testé quelques livres que j'avais soit imprimés, soit lus directement sur ordinateur. Autant le livre lu m'a bien plu, autant j'ai été déçu par les livres électroniques.

Mais ce dernier constat a changé ...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

First Blog, Tweet like posts and points and general orientation

Welcome all (although no one should read this unless I've reached FAME (which is not my goal anyway)) since this is the first post in a new blog...

First, I hope if you've come for the Ray-Tracing, waiting for code/implementations/images etc, you won't be too disappointed when I tell I won't be producing much : I don't have time to code, or test, so I'll mainly post about Ideas, reading of papers, and so on.

Secondly, regarding science fiction (and Fantasy), I hope I'll be able to post reviews of my reading, and my experiments with a soon to come ebook reader (NOOK).

I may also post short "twitter like" posts and maybe open a twitter account ...

Well, I'll see how far I go with these broad directions ...