Monday, November 26, 2012

Guest post : 3 Barriers to Ebooks on the International Market by Tara Maya

Among all the task she set on her plate for November (a NaNoWriMo fiction, writing a ""Writer's Guide" book to NaNoWriMo, a blog tour for the new episode of her Unfinished Songs series), Tara Maya  also took the time to explain in this post her view on the international Ebook Market, as seen by a self-publishing author.

Since our first exchange, where I explained her my view, as a French man, on the same subject -- was it only two years ago ? -- much has changed. Self-publishing got some kind of approval stamp in the US, and ereaders/ebooks finally got some traction in France. Still, there is still a long way to go, before the situation stabilizes.

So, let's read what Tara says on the subject of International EBook market, and discuss it afterwards, okay ?

3 Barriers to Ebooks on the International Market

There are three important barriers to selling ebooks on an open international market.

Technological Barriers

As far as your computer is concerned, there should be no international borders. The internet is global, but there are connectivity issues for some countries. The United States has the greatest penetration of ereaders, with the UK about a year behind, and other countries behind that.

Eventually, however, most countries will probably make the same leap from paper to ereaders. Third World countries where paper books are expensive may leapfrog directly to ereaders in the long term. Penetration of the ebook technology impacts sales in the short term, but is it a good idea to sell international right (while keeping US or UK rights)? Of course, this will depend on the author, but in the long term, authors should assume that the entire global market will switch mainly to ebooks.

Legal Barriers

Traditionally, authors sold rights to publish their work separately through different local publishers on a national basis. Nations, meanwhile, regulated books sales within their borders. The two systems meshed.

Now, in theory, indie sellers on Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo and other international venders, can opt to sell their books worldwide in one swoop. Yay!

Unfortunately, the laws of the various states still impede free global commerce. Many states have protectionist laws, which apply both to merchandise in general, and—unfortunately—ebooks in particular. A number of countries have prejudicial taxes levied against ebooks (but not paperbacks) or against international venders (to support government-favored businesses).

A more serious problem in some nations (such as China or Iran) is censorship. Not long ago, for instance, China passed a bizarre law forbidding time travel as a literary device in fiction. While the recent Star Trek movie has made me sympathetic to this urge, it’s obvious that such laws are extremely hostile to both an open market and the flowering of the creative arts.

Language Barriers

Even if technological penetration proceeded evenly and if there were no protectionist or censorship laws imposed by nation states, a huge barrier remains from the point of view of an author selling ebooks internationally. This is the oldest barrier to intellectual cooperation of them all, the language barrier.

Writers using English have access to the largest and most progressive ebook market, and therefore are going to be most tempted to ignore other markets. Writers in Lithuanian are more likely to pursue translation.

There are three possible solutions to the translation problem. One is better translation software, but this seems remote at the moment. Present generation software translators do not even suffice to translate email legibly, never mind literature.

The other is a more accessible service market of translators. Right now most qualified translators will not work on spec, and the cost of their services is well beyond what indies can afford.

One third option would be if a large company such as Amazon, Google, Kobo or some new player, were to have their own team of translators (perhaps aided by software to make their work economically practical) who would offer to translate books sold through their sites. They could vastly increase the number of books they could offer to international customers, and by keeping translators on salary, decrease the risk to translators of translating less popular works.

Meanwhile, any author who can make their book available in languages like French, Japanese or German can take advantage of the smaller pool of competitors.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Short Review : 'NetWalkers by Jane Fancher

I'v read a few weeks ago two books by Jane Fancher : 'NetWalkers "Partners" and "Of Mentors and Mimetrons" (also available as an omnibus), directly sold (without DRMs of course) from the "Closed-Circle" (follow the link ;-) ).

You don't know Jane Fancher ? She's a close friend and partner of C.J.Cherryh's. And if you don't know C.J. Cherryh, she's one of my favorite -- and Hugo-winning but that's not that important-- science-fiction writers.

And when I say partner, I guess it could be known that they work in close relationship, one doing the editing of the other's work (and the other way of course). From that point, I guess it's no surprise I like Jane Fancher's work almost as much as CJ's.

While the whole universe set by Jane Fancher is totally different to those of C.J. Cherryh, we find some common themes and preoccupations (Solitude, trust, education, responsibility... ). Just like the two sides of a coin, some of the problems set aside (but not left forgotten) by one, are addressed by the other, and I find in 'NetWalkers a real resonnance with Cyteen, a book I've read and re-read since my first discovery when I was a young adult.

I won't say more than that, except that if you like C.J. Cherry's works, you'll most likely like these books, as I did. An easy 4 stars for both of them

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Trop de casseroles sur le feu !!

Bon, en ce moment, j'ai la tête qui me crée des idées à pleine bourre, j'ai l'envie qui me démange de tout démarrer, et du coup j'ai pleins de trucs sur le feu.

Je suis sur que dans le lot y'a du bon, mais aussi du moins bon. Il faudrait que je déleste ou priorise.

Alors je vais en faire un petit inventaire, et s'il vous plait, donnez moi votre avis sur ce qui vaut le coup, ou non !

DRMs :
  • Faire bouger les lignes sur l'affichage des DRMs, en contactant les députés concernés par le numérique, les associations de consommateurs, les libraires numériques etc. (Ca en fait du taff, à étaler sur plusieurs semaines ?)
  • Faire bouger les e-libraires qui font du Watermark pour qu'ils le rendent au moins en partie visible, mais pas trop. (Il parait que chez Immateriel, ils ont fait quelque chose pour les livres PUF, mais j'ai pas regardé).
  • Continuer de promouvoir l'implémentation des Watermarks chez les gros e-libraires anglophones. (Mais pas vraiment d'idé là. Plus un objectif

Promotion de l'ebook
  • Une page "objective" Wikipedia sur les e-libraires . Ebauche en cours, si vous voulez m'aider à la compléter...
  • Pourquoi pas compléter avec la même pour les éditeurs, mais pas de moyen fiable de gérer ça de manière objective. (voir Ma liste subjective à moi d'éditeurs numériques à soutenir )
  • Créer une association ou un "label" "eLecteur Equitable" (ou electure équitable) , qui regrouperait les lecteurs  (éditeurs/libraires) qui respectent le droit des créateurs à vivre de leur travail (et des éditeurs lorsque ceux ci sont respectueux des même droits...). Pourquoi pas mettre à leur disposition des listes de ressources recommandées, aussi bien éditeurs que libraires ou autres sources de contenus légaux et équitables.
  • Créer un module (une application) d' hebergement/gestion de librairie pour owncloud (concurrent open-source de dropbox), avec feeds OPDS, accès Web, upload facile, qui profiterait de la gestion "native" des synchronisations pour duplication et support multi-plateformes. J'ai démarré quelque chose, mais des problèmes techniques me gènent pas mal avant de pouvoir avancer.

Je prends du retard sur mes chroniques de lectures, et ne trouve pas de motivation, même si j'en ai envie... Arghhhh !

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ma liste subjective à moi d'éditeurs numériques à soutenir

Bon, cette liste d'éditeurs est clairement non exhaustive, hautement subjective, et concerne autant de pifomètre que de données réelles. Etant donné que je n'ai aucune vision sur les contrats éditeur/auteurs, je ne peux en aucun cas me prononcer sur l'équilibre de cette relation, à part les éléments de "communication" dans les médias.

Je m'accroche surtout à la politique de prix, de DRMs, et d'approche générale.

Si vous voyez des éditeurs que j'oublie dans ma liste, n'hesitez pas à la compléter en commentaire, le cas échéant, je complèterais

Dans un ordre alphabétique (ou pas), les voilà:

Editions Verdier
Editions de Minuit
Presses Universitaires de France

On m'a soufflé aussi
et j'approuve.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Life of Self-publishers/Auto-publiés ...

This english comics seems quite close to what self-publisher's life can be ...
C'est pas ça la vie d'auto-publié ?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Critères pour un "Comparatif" des e-librairies francophones

J'envisage de créer une première ébauche de comparateur des e-librairies francophones...

Celle-ci pourrait-elle s'intégrer par exemple sur une page Wikipedia ?
Ou sur une autre Wiki ?

Critères :

Offre (livres, périodiques etc.)
Formats : epubs, pdf, mobi/prc/azw, audio, papier
Modes d'"Acquisition": Achat/Location/Abonnement/A la page
Modes d'Accès : Téléchargement/Streaming/Streaming+Déconnecté/Web
Plateformes de lecture "dédiées"
Protections possibles DRM/Watermark/Sans
Langues du catalogue
Affichage des protections
Paiement : CB/PayPal/Autre
Ouverture aux auto-publieurs
Recommandations personnelles
Evaluations: notes et commentaires, ouverture aux "non clients"
Modèle financier : publicité, à l'acte, freemium/premium

De même, je penserais intéressant de diffuser (mais pas la même page bien entendu) la même chose pour les éditeurs...

"Gamme de prix" ?
Ecart constaté par rapport au papier
Type d'édition
"Exclusivité" : Première epliotattion, seconde,
DRMs : DRM/Watermark/Sans
"rémunération des auteurs" ?

Qu'en pensez-vous ? Manque t'il des critères (Objectifs et vérifiables facilement !)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Procédure pour recouvrer vos droits sur des livres

Juste un petit billet pour ne pas perdre ce lien qui me semble important.
En fait j'avais voulu écrire un truc comme ça, mais sans service juridique pour éviter les connories, j'ai préféré éviter. (via )

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sauvegarde de ma bibliothèque personnelle

On m'a fait remarquer que je n'avais nulle part expliqué ma stratégie de sauvegarde de bibliothèque et que ça pourrait intéresser les lecteurs... C'est vrai.

En fait, si j'y fais allusion à droite ou gauche, sans rentrer dans les détails, c'est parce que c'est à chacun de se prendre en main et s'impliquer. Mais à la réflexion, je me dit qu'il est peut-être utile de montrer un exemple de ce qui peut se faire, de ce qui pourrait-être amélioré, en prenant mon "système" comme exemple.


Je suis un "re-lecteur", qui aime régulièrement relire des livres acquis précédemment,
L'objectif est simple: Ce qui rentre dans ma bibliothèque y reste, sauf à ce que je le supprime explicitement. Et ce, quelle que soit la manière ou le service par lequel je me le suis procuré (mais toujours de toute façon légale).

Quelles sont les moyens par lesquels je pourrais perdre ma bibliothèque ?

  1. cessation de service (ou changement des conditions d'utilisation d'un service qui le rend inacceptable) des "e-libraires". Il n'est donc pas question de laisser les livres "aux bon soins" exclusifs desdits e-libraires. Je dois donc avoir gérer moi même au moins une copie de la bibliothèque.
  2. problème matériel sur le PC qui assure la fonction de bibliothèque. Une copie sur un PC unique ne peut donc suffire
  3. problème grave qui détruirait mes PCs personnels : Un virus ou gros problème technique par exemple. Une copie distante 
  4. cessation de services de stockage type cloud


Au final, j'adopte donc ceinture, bretelles et tout le reste...

  1. J'achète de préférence chez des e-libraires qui conservent mon historique d'achat et peuvent me refournir les livres achetés à la demande. Ainsi, en cas de problème de "mon côté", j'aurais toujours la possibilité de retourner chercher mes achats chez eux.
  2. Dès l'achat, je télécharge le fichier en local sur un de mes PCs, puis je l'ajoute  ma bibliothèque à l'aide de Calibre. Je m'assure que cette bibliothèque contienne exclusivement des fichiers sans DRMs. (Noter que sauf exception, l'ajout non automatisé dans la bibliothèque duplique le fichier. Ca fait donc une redondance de plus)
  3. Le répertoire "bibliothèque" est synchronisé dans le cloud par intégration dans Dropbox. Non seulement une copie en est faite dans le nuage, mais elle est également reportée sur les autres PCs de la famille.
  4. Toutes mes données personnelles sur mon ordinateur principal (dont la bibliothèque) sont de plus sauvegardées par un second service de "Cloud" : Carbonite.
  5. Enfin, une copie physique du disque de cet ordinateur est effectuée et stockée sur un disque dur externe. (Il faudrait d'ailleurs que j'effectue plus régulièrement cette sauvegarde, et que je stocke le disque dur en dehors de chez moi, mais je crois que je suis déjà plutôt au point).

Bref, je suis un tantinet paranoïaque sur le sujet...

Défauts et améliorations possibles

Bon, ma solution a le mérite d'exister, de ne pas être trop compliquée ou contraignante, de résister aux incidents les plus probables ou mineurs. Et s'il arrivait un accident majeur, la bibliothèque ne serait sans doute plus la priorité.

Après, elle nécessite un peu d'intervention manuelle, duplique les documents à outrance (sans doute jusqu'à un peu étirer le droit à la copie privée), n'est pas intégrée dans les écosystèmes ou ergonomie des liseuses.

Idéalement, la partie "cloudisée" et synchronisation devrait permettre un service d'accès distant à ma bibliothèque distant, soit par OPDS, soit par formulaire Web (un peu comme le fait déjà le content server de Calibre). De plus, idéalement aussi, ces interfaces devraient permettre l'upload de nouveaux documents et les modifications de métadonnées.

Enfin, toutes les plateformes de lecture (liseuses tablettes, smartphone ou autre) devraient pouvoir se connecter par ODPS à ces services.

Attention, dans cette partie "cloudisée", je ne souhaite pas perdre (vous l'aurez deviné) la possibilité de synchroniser en local afin de conserver un miroir pérenne de la bibliothèque, sur mes PCs bureautiques ou disques durs de sauvegarde externes...

Et vous, comment gérez vous votre bibliothèque ?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Blog Tour : Wing (The Unfinished Song Book 5) by Tara Maya

The first comment on this blog was by Tara Maya, more than a year and a half ago. I seem to remember I'd discovered her in the comments on Joe Konrath's blogs, was interested by what she said, and read the first of her books : "The Unfinished Song : Initiate" (Free).
While not perfect, Initiate was one of the books that convinced me that, indeed, good to great books could be found from self-published authors.
Last month, Tara published the 5th book of here Unfinished Song Series : Wing. As she was looking for hosts for her blog tour, I proposed she stop by as a guest on mine.
In her blog tour, for 12 days, each host will post an excerpt of Wing on his blog. What follows is my excerpt, and I must say that I'm really gratefull I got that part, since it fully reflects my feelings about her series, as expressed on my review.
Additionally, and if all goes well, I should have an other post from Tara Maya (you can follow her on her blog at before the end of the month.

But for now, I'll leave you with Dindi and Umbral

Wing : Book Five, released on October the 12th

She was helpless. With a single touch, the man in black had reduced her to quivering flesh, yearning for more of whatever he had done to her. Even after he released her, the aftershock left her whole body tingling.
Dindi recognized the Deathsworn menhirs, but he had no right to bring her here. She was not wounded, condemned or sick. By the law of light and shadow, his kind had no claim to her. But he had stalked her, deceived her and captured her. If he knew the law of light and shadow, he obviously did not give a damn.
She still did not know why he wanted her.
His strange, dark beast crouched overhead, hiding them from the rain under huge leathery wings. The man in black lit a circle of flame around them with a single gesture.
His face. His lie of a face. Why did he have to have that face?
He loomed over her with a jet knife in his hand. Despite the fire, her teeth chattered.
He brushed the wet hair from her face. The dagger rose and fell, and a piece of her wet Tavaedi’s costume fell away. Methodically, he cut away her clothes. When nothing remained but a wet scrap over her most discreet elements, he draped a dark wool wrap over her and toweled her wet skin. Where he had had the woolen stored, she did not know. His strong hands brushed her flesh, but he took no liberties. No pinching, no grabbing. He might have been rubbing down his horse. Bat. Whatever it was. Yet that only made the sensation more insidiously sensuous.
Once the wet clothes were gone, the warmth from the fire stilled her shivering.
“Better?” he asked.
The voice. Even the voice was his.
“Untie me.”
He shook his head with a slight, sad quirk of a smile.
That twist of his lips, so familiar, broke her heart.
“I don’t belong to you,” she said.
“I know.”
“Set me free.”
“I will.” He held up the blade. “Though not in the way you hope.”
Terror colder than the ice rain pelted her. “You promised you would not hurt me.”
“And I will keep my promise. It won’t hurt. I will deliver you to my Lady as gently as a mother wraps a babe in lamb fleece. It will feel just like falling asleep. Warm and soft. Painless. Except you will never wake up.”
Tears squeezed out the corners of her eyes. “Please don’t kill me.”
“I take no pleasure in this.”
“Then don’t do it.”
“I have no choice. It is your destiny to die, and my duty to be the one who takes your life.”
He wanted to justify himself? Good. Keep him talking. She searched the ground where he had cast her cut up rags. Among the debris was the corncob doll. She did not want to draw his attention to it.
“Make up your mind,” she said. “Is it destiny or duty? If it is a duty, then you have a choice. You can only blame destiny if you are someone’s slave. Are you a slave, Umbral? Or are you your own man?”
His lips twisted again. “You are tied to a rock, helpless, about to feel my blade at your throat, but you won’t give up, will you? I’m afraid I’m not easily goaded, sweet swan.”
“Don’t call me that.”
He stopped smiling. “You are correct. I haven’t the right.”
Slowly, he circumambulated the stone where she was bound. He scraped the tip of the obsidian blade against the granite as he walked. Backlit by the circle of fire, he was an ominous silhouette. The scratch-screech of stone rubbed on stone made her fists clench.
“If I am to die, may I at least know what I have done to deserve this so-called fate?”
“It won’t change what must be done. But if it comforts you, I will tell you what I know. In all of Faearth, there were only two strands left of Aelfae power which bred true. One ended in Kavio, only son of the White Lady. The other was hidden for generations, but at last we have found it. It ends with you.”
“So you killed Kavio and you’ll kill me, all to eradicate the last speck of the Aelfae?”
“The Lady of Mercy offered you a chance to join her. You rejected her love. Instead, you aligned yourself with the fae, and promised to undo the Gift of the Unfinished Song.”
“The Gift? You mean the Curse? You mean the genocide of the Aelfae?”
“It may have been a Curse to the Aelfae, but it was a Gift to humankind. They had to lose this world that we might gain it.”
Knife scrapped stone. A vulture circled helpless prey the same way he circled her. When he reached her wrists or ankles, he let the dagger very lightly trace a line over her limbs, though without drawing blood. The blade did not yet cut, it caressed.
“I know what you would argue,” he said. “Why could I not simply accept your word that you would not help the Aelfae. You could still learn to love Lady Death—”
“No.” Dindi found herself strangely calm. Angry yet serene, afraid yet fierce. “I will never love or serve your Lady. As long as I have breath, I will fight Death.
If I could bring the Aelfae back this minute, I would do it. Not because it’s my destiny, but because it’s wrong to destroy a whole people, even in a war. Humans crossed a river that should not be crossed.”
His low, throaty chuckle tickled over her.
“Thank you, Rainbow Dancer, for trying to make my job easier by relieving me of any dismay I might feel saving the world from you. But strangely, even knowing you would be a willing traitor to you own kind, I cannot love my duty to destroy you.”
“Traitor to my own kind? You yourself said that I am the descendent of both human and Aelfae. How can I take sides in their war without betraying half of my blood?”
“Indeed. I do not blame you for following your nature.” He paused so that he stood right over her, and the firelight illuminated his face. He brushed his fingers against her cheek. “The Aelfae were ever the most dangerous of the fae to humans: More seductive than any of the other High Faeries, and the only ones whose unions with humans bore fruit. For their part, we meant nothing to them.
All our taboos, our tamas, and our betrothals were but toys to them, to enter or break at will. Yet despite their scorn, or perhaps because of it, we found them irresistible. Some say no human could ever meet an Aelfae without falling in love.
“Maybe that is why when I saw you, I…”
He pulled back his hand abruptly.
Then, to her disbelief, he knelt before her. “Let me do you the honor of being the first and last to recognize you, Vaedi, before I end your life. You will never know what it costs me to do my duty.”
A moment later his dagger poised over her throat. She felt the cold knapped edge balanced against her jugular.
“It will be quick,” he promised hoarsely.
“Please,” she said with a catch in her voice. “At least do not do it wearing his face. Do not let me die looking at my murderer in the body of the man I loved.”
“It is you who determines how I appear,” Umbral said. “I cannot change it.”
So, for a moment, Dindi stared into the devastating face of Kavio as he prepared to kill her.
Then she squeezed her eyes shut and called on a Vision.