12 posts categorized "eBooks"

As An Author, Why I Truly Hate Ebook DRM

DayAgainstDRMAs an author of multiple technical books, and a prolific online writer, I care a lot about intellectual property issues as they pertain to my content. On one level, you might think I would be extremely concerned about people stealing and re-using my content. And don't get me wrong... I am concerned. I choose distribution licenses carefully and I have pursued those who have scraped my content to simply wrap it in ads.

But I do NOT see "DRM" as the answer.

As a reader and as an author, I truly hate Digital Rights Management (DRM) for ebooks and look forward to the day when it ceases to exist. My latest book, "Migrating Applications to IPv6" was published DRM-FREE by O'Reilly and I plan to publish all future books DRM-free as well.

So on this "Day Against DRM", let me clearly state WHY as an author I am against DRM:

1. DRM Is Anti-Reader

DRM starts from the premise that all readers are slimeballs and thieves. That they will steal a book rather than pay for it. That readers are inherently untrustworthy and need to be monitored, policed, checked.

Is that really the relationship I want with my readers?

Do I really think that all my readers are crooks?

With a printed book, as a reader, when I buy a book, it is mine. I have a piece of dead trees that I can read wherever I want. In a chair. In bed. Outside under a tree. In the bathroom. On a train. In a hammock. In a car. At night. In the morning.

Wherever. Whenever.

Beyond that, I can give my book to someone else. I can lend it to a friend. I can let my wife read it. Or my daughter. Or my mother or father. I can... (gasp)... sell that book to someone. Or I can donate it to a library or church or book sale.

It is my book, to do with it as I will.

With "ebooks", the argument is that they are so much easier to pass around. That because it is electronic bits, the book can be emailed or otherwise sent to people. It can be published on websites. It can be sold by people other than the author/publisher. It can "escape" from the control of the author and publisher.

All of which is true.

But is DRM really the answer? Is treating all people as thieves and locking down the content really the answer?

Now, granted, there is a grain of truth in there... some readers will steal a book, but would they have paid for it in the first place? Some people will steal paper books from bookstores and libraries, too! Some people will steal books from other people.

Some people are thieves - but just because of that, does it warrant treating all people as thieves?

2. DRM Locks Readers In To Platforms

Every time you buy a book for the Amazon Kindle, you are just that much more locked in to Amazon's "walled garden". If you decide you are tired of the Kindle and want to try another reader, sorry...

... you can't take your books with you!

They are locked to the Kindle. Now, yes, you can use the Kindle "app" on your PC or other device (like an iPad), but you are still locked in to Amazon's Kindle ecosystem.

This is the beauty and genius of the whole scheme from Amazon's point of view. Make it super-simple for people to buy and read ebooks... and get a whole generation of people locked in to your ereader platform.

And then Amazon gets to use its power as platform to bully publishers and authors so that in the end Amazon gets higher profits. If pretty much the only route to readers winds up being through the Kindle ecosystem, then Amazon gets to dictate how your ebooks get distributed - and at what cost.

Authors get screwed. Publishers get screwed. Ultimately readers get screwed. But Amazon makes a healthy profit.

Lest you think I am purely anti-Amazon, I'm not... they're just the biggest. Barnes & Noble's Nook, Apple's iBookstore, the Kobo reader... any of them can equally lock you in with DRM... and all of them would probably love to have the kind of lock-in that Amazon has right now!

With DRM-free ebooks, we can read them on whatever platform you want - and change ereaders and devices. We are not locked in!

[UPDATE: In a comment to this post, a reader named Markus points out another downside to DRM-enabled ebook platforms - a platform can easily "unpublish" an ebook. The ebook can just "disappear" and be removed both from the online service and also from your own ereader. Remotely. Without any involvement on your part. Gone. Because you are locked into the platform's infrastructure and don't own your ebook, you are completely at the mercy of the platform operator.]

3. DRM Adds Unneeded Complexity

Want to see how badly DRM screws up the reader experience? Check out these instructions for how to get started with ebooks that you borrow from your library - specifically take a look at these slides about how to borrow ebooks with a Nook or Sony Reader.


You have to be seriously committed to wanting to borrow ebooks to go through all these steps! It's crazy! And then to have to go through many of those steps each and every time you want to borrow an ebook?


And all because libraries must include DRM in order to make the books available to their readers.

This kind of complexity exists with DRM ebooks... except of course for the platforms that make it so insanely easy, at the price of locking you in.

4. DRM Stifles Innovation

We have "ereader" devices and software... we have "epublishing" tools... but we could always use better and more innovative tools. Right now there is undoubtedly someone out there building an insanely awesome reader that will just blow our minds. Or figuring out a way to make ebooks more accessible to people who can't read... maybe converting them to audio in new ways. Or figuring out a way to translate books into other languages on the fly....

Maybe someone's coming up with a reader that will let you display the contents of an ebook inside a pair of glasses so that you could just be sitting there on a train reading a book with just your glasses on.

The inventors and entrepreneurs of the world can be out there doing all this... but then the moment they want to make these products publicly available and working with all ebooks... BOOM... they run into the issue that they have to deal with DRM on ebooks!

That means licensing someone's DRM-reading software.

Which means big bucks...

... and probably kills any type of business model they may have.

Goodbye insanely amazing reader... it will linger on the side as something that can work with DRM-free content like Project Gutenberg books, O'Reilly books... and those from a few other publishers who have gone DRM-free.

Why stifle the innovation?

Why not make it so that the inventors out there can do anything with ebooks? Why not get rid of the DRM so that they can figure out new and amazing things to do with ebooks?


5. DRM Will Ultimately Impact Sales

People are buying zillions of ebooks right now. More from some publishers than print books. It's a new space... everyone's excited... everyone's doing it. It's incredibly convenient.

Sooner or later, though, readers are going to figure out that they are getting royally screwed.

They will figure out that they don't "own" their DRM'd books. That they have effectively leased them. That they can't use them on other computers or ereaders.

They will be pissed off, angry.

And they may stop buying... or at least changing their buying habits.

Why set readers up for failure? Why?

Why not make it so that they can keep buying and buying and buying?

I know that I personally would buy far more ebooks if I knew I could "own" the ebook. I believe that ultimately more people will be in this mindset.

(DRM proponents, of course, believe that all people are sheep and will just continue to buy through locked-down DRM'd platforms because of the convenience. Sadly, they may be right.)

6. DRM Halts The Spread Of Ideas

Finally, DRM stops the spread of ideas and information. With DRM-free books, they can spread to people who would not have - or could not have - paid for the book in the first place. There are people in impoverished areas who cannot afford ebooks. There are people in countries where ebooks are not available through the major distribution channels. [UPDATE: There are people who would like to borrow an ebook from their library but are unable to do so in some cases because DRM makes it difficult.]

This is admittedly where it gets a bit tricky.

In my case, the kinds of books I have written so far are informational and for more niche technical audiences. I don't expect to ever get rich from them. I don't expect to pay my mortgage, send my kids to college, or anything like that. I might get a few nice dinners out of the proceeds or maybe buy a new computer... but that's about it. I'm realistic because there are only so many people out there who really care about things like IPv6 or VoIP security.

I write to help people understand topics. I write to contribute to the discussions going on. I write to help people learn.

So if someone really couldn't afford to buy my ebooks, can't get them in their region because of distribution issues, or can't borrow my ebook from their library, I'm personally okay if they wind up getting the book somehow. For me getting the ideas out there is most important.

I realize that some authors (and more importantly publishers) may be entirely profit-focused and want to squeeze every single penny out that they can... and so they have a different view.

The point, though, is that DRM prohibits these ideas from spreading where they wouldn't have gone.

In the end...

I guess I go back to my comments at the beginning - I believe that most people are NOT thieves... and if they have the opportunity to purchase an ebook in the channel of their choice for the ereader of their choice at a reasonable cost, they will do so.

I believe DRM is not the answer and that there are other ways and means to pursue those who violate intellectual property rights and copyrights. I don't want a world in which we are locked into specific ereader platforms.

I want readers to be able to purchase - and own - my books. And as a reader, I want that kind of trust relationship with authors and publishers.

So on this day, I encourage you to think about how DRM creates a defective and negative experience for readers... and to:

  • Buy DRM-free ebooks where you can. (Update: Here's a list.)

  • Ask publishers and authors if you can get their ebooks DRM-free.

  • Think seriously about the choice of ereader you are using and what the long-term impacts will be.

  • If you are an author, ask your publisher if you can make your ebooks DRM-free... or consider another publisher... or consider self-publishing without DRM.

  • Raise this topic with others, so that they can be aware of the choices they are making when they use ereaders and purchase ebooks.

The future of ebooks is in OUR hands, as readers, authors and publishers. Let's make it a good one!

UPDATE #1: In the comment thread on Hacker News for this post, user spatten pointed out this list of dealers and publishers with DRM-free ebooks. (By the way, that Hacker News comment thread does make for interesting reading.)

UPDATE #2: Two other excellent posts on the topic have come out yesterday and today:

I particularly liked this line of Mike's post: "Obscurity is more of an enemy than piracy." Tim O'Reilly expanded on this point way back in 2006.

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My Report into For Immediate Release (FIR) Podcast #646

In this week's For Immediate Release episode #646, my report covered:

If you are a FIR subscriber, you should have the show now in iTunes or whatever you use to get the feed. If you aren't a subscriber, you can simply listen to the episode online now.

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The Danger of Amazon's Power

Amazon comAs an author, I have mixed feelings about the incredible power Amazon.com has within the publishing space. More specifically... the degree to which they are not just the proverbial 800-pound gorilla, but rather more like the 8,000-pound gorilla.

On the one hand, Amazon continues to be the largest channel for my own books, which are admittedly in some rather niche areas that would not be found in typical bookstores. As one who has long considered self-publishing for some of my even more niche ideas, I have celebrated the tools and services that Amazon has brought to the table such as CreateSpace and their Kindle Direct program. Amazon's leadership in the ebook space has really helped create an entirely new way of reading.

The publishing industry is being incredibly disrupted by Amazon and in many ways that's a good thing for authors and ultimately for readers.


... on the other hand, the part of me that advocates for open networks strongly detests the "lock-in" of Amazon's proprietary ebook format (Mobi) and their distribution network. Even more, I've been very concerned lately by the extent to which they've been using their massive distribution control in their contract negotiations. Here's a view on one of the latest skirmishes:

Now, this is perhaps to be expected... Amazon needs the absolute lowest costs possible for their commodity model to work. If you want to sell your books through their service, you have to come to terms with Amazon.

Still, it's troubling. As more and more bookstores close... as people increasingly move to using ereaders... we are increasingly getting to the point where Amazon really is the choice to buy books, particularly when they make it so incredibly easy to do so.

The great danger here lies in having that near-monopoly on our ability to purchase books. How else will they wield that power to extract concessions from others in the publishing chain? Will that be good or bad for authors and for readers?

O'Reilly's Joe Wikert had a good post out recently:

While he obviously comes at it from the publisher's perspective, it's definitely worth thinking about.

How can we as consumers encourage the existence of multiple ecosystems of book/ebook distribution so that we can have a choice?

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The Exquisite Beauty of an Ebook as a Living, Breathing Document

It's Alive!
What if a "book" is more than just a fixed collection of text at a given point of time? What if the "story" inside the book evolves and changes over time? What does this mean for the idea of a "book"?

Books have always changed over time, of course. There have always been "second editions", "third editions", etc. There have been different printings by different publishers - or differences between a hard-cover and paperback version. There have been translations... and other various different versions of books.

But those were historically very discrete "BIG DEALS". I mean... whoa... there was enough interest to create a second edition? or a 3rd? or a 4th? Wow!

They involved great amounts of time, effort and perhaps most importantly money to go through the whole production process again to great the new "edition" of the book. It was not an easy process.

Ebooks fundamentally change all of that.

Last night I was working late into the night on an update to my "Migrating Applications to IPv6" book and thought about how bizarrely different ebooks are.

Consider this:

  • I originally wrote the book in May 2011 prior to World IPv6 Day on June 8, 2011. The original book refers to that event as coming up in the future.

  • Last night I updated the book to discuss some of the lessons learned from World IPv6 Day in 2011 and to also talk about the upcoming World IPv6 Launch on June 6, 2012. I expect this update to go out in a week or two.

  • In July (or anytime after June 6), I can then update the book to talk about World IPv6 Launch in the past tense and talk about anything learned out of that experience.

The "book" is no longer fixed to a specific point in time.

Again, sure, this has always been true with creating new "editions" of a book, but this is where ebooks make this so... trivial.

As an author, here is the full extent of my update process:

  1. I update the text of the book on my local computer. Have someone proofread it, check it, etc.

  2. I commit the changes to O'Reilly's Subversion repository for my book. (Yes, O'Reilly is a geeky kind of publisher that lets authors work via SVN repos.)

  3. I send an email to my production editor with bullet points of changes.

  4. Assuming he's fine with the changes, he triggers a process that creates the appropriate ebook files and puts them up on O'Reilly's distribution site, Amazon, etc.

  5. Readers who purchased the book directly from O'Reilly get an email saying that they can download the updated version. I can blog about it, promote it. Anyone who buys the new version will at this point have the updated text.

Boom. That's it!

Simple. Easy. Done.

Now, granted, O'Reilly has done a bunch of "magic" to make that step #4 "just work" from the author's point of view... but it doesn't matter to me. The point is that I can write my updates, commit the changes, ping my editor and... ta da... a new version is out there!

It's that last step that is really the differentiator for ebooks. Notifying the reader that a new version is available.

Because, of course, the precise version of a book or an ebook is fixed to a specific point in time. When you download it to your computer or ereader, you have the version of the ebook as it exists now at this moment in time.

Without a notification/update system, you may never know that there are changes and updates that you can download.

But with such a system, the "book" becomes so much more... it is now a living, breathing document that will change and evolve over time. Perhaps slowly... or not at all if an author doesn't create updates... but then perhaps VERY rapidly under changing circumstances.

The book that you read today may be completely different than that exact same book that you look at again in a month.

It changes the notion of the "permanence" of books... you have the capacity to enter into more of a "relationship" with the book and the author. You have the chance to see it grow and evolve. Or not.

As an author I actually find it incredibly exciting. A chance to keep a book always up-to-date. A chance to evolve the book based on reader feedback. A chance to change the "book". Sure, there is a bit of a responsibility to your readers as you enter into a relationship like this where updates may come to be expected - and some authors will not want to enter into that relationship. They may want to simply throw the book out there and be done with it.

But for those of us who do want to treat the book as a living, breathing document, that is the exquisite beauty of an "ebook" (with an update/notification system).

The "book" is alive.

Image credit: drooo on Flickr

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O'Reilly Offers Free Ebook: "Publishing with iBooks Author"

PublishingwithiBooksAuthorIn an interesting move, O'Reilly Media has made their brand new ebook, "Publishing with iBooks Author", available for free download (assuming you have a free account set up with O'Reilly). As is standard with O'Reilly now, the ebook is DRM-free and available as EPUB, Mobi (Kindle) or PDF.

Now, I personally have serious issues with iBooks Author with regard to its deviation from the EPUB standard and the legal lock-in that restricts sales to Apple's iBookstore. It also annoys me that books created with the tool will only work on the iPad, even while I understand Apple's strategy.

Having said all that, I've played with iBooks Author and it is a great tool for creating ebooks. Apple has raised the bar on ease-of-use for ebook creation tools and that is definitely a good thing. As my attendance at O'Reilly's Tools of Change conference last week in New York certainly showed to me, we need tools that are easier-to-use for even more people to be able to create ebooks.

My sincere hope is that creators of other ebook authoring tools will take a serious look at what Apple has done with iBooks Author and figure out how to deliver a similar (or better) user experience where the final output can also work on other ebook platforms. The tool vendor who can do that will certainly receive a lot of interest judging from the conversations I've had with people both at TOCCON last week and also in numerous other venues.

So to that end, I commend O'Reilly on releasing this new ebook for free and I do hope people will download it and understand just what Apple has done to make ebook creation so easy... and then use that knowledge to build even better tools!

P.S. In full disclosure, O'Reilly is the publisher of my most recent ebook, but that has nothing to do with why I am writing about them here. (And it was written entirely in DocBook XML, because that's just the kind of author I am... )

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Attending O'Reilly's Tools of Change Conference (TOCCON) This Week in New York

 This week I will be in New York City at O'Reilly's Tools of Change for Publishing Conference, a.k.a. "TOC" or "TOCCON". As I wrote about recently on the Deploy360 blog, TOC is really the premiere gathering of the people behind the technology behind digital and online publishing.  While there certainly are people there from the "traditional" publishing industry, the event really brings together all of those who are disrupting publishing as we know it. 

For my part, I am going to primarily to do a deep-dive into the technology and tools behind ebook publishing. While some of my own books are offered as ebooks, the publishers have been the ones doing the actual ebook creation. I certainly understand the basics, but want to really dig deeper. I have a strong interest in seeing what we can do within the Internet Society Deploy360 Programme to take some of the long-form content we or our partners have and make that available in an ebook form. Partly I want people to be able to take the content and have it very easily accessible in an offline form. Partly I want to offer people the ability to consume our content using an ebook reader. And partly I want to experiment with marketing our content through some of the various ebook stores. LOTS of ideas... now, whether I will be able to carve out the time to implement those ideas is a different question. :-)

Anyway, if you are going to be down at TOCCON this week, please do say hello or drop me a msg via email or Twitter.

P.S. TOCCON will be an interesting event for me as I am not speaking, as I often do, nor am I staffing a booth, live tweeting, reporting or anything else. I am just there to learn, meet people and explore new ideas. I'm actually looking forward to the change of pace, bizarre as it will be for me.  :-)

The Challenge of Apple Forking the EPUB Standard with iBooks Author - 4 Articles to Read

IBooksAuthorWhile I ranted last week (here and here) about the lock-in aspect of Apple's launch of iBooks Author, an even more disturbing action Apple took was to "embrace and extend" the EPUB standard and create their own version. In programming-speak, they "forked" the standard and are now off with their own proprietary - and incompatible - version.

What this means is that I was wrong in my last post - there is in fact a technical restriction on how you can view ebooks created with the new iBooks Author app.

Basically, you can only view them on the iPad using iBooks.

That's it.

Complete lock-in, both legally and technically.

Here are four posts that go into great detail about the new format and explain how Apple deviated from the EPUB standard:

I share the frustration of both authors and have to end quoting Baldur Bjarnason's last post in his series:

The idea behind ePub3 is that it would, finally, bring ebooks to a relative feature parity with the web and enable more advanced authoring and reading tools. The iBooks Author application is exactly the sort of app people expected would be brought to market as a result of ePub3’s capabilities. The iBooks new textbooks are exactly the sort of dynamic, interactive, and rich ebooks that ePub3 enables.

Now that Apple has decided to deliver both as a part of a custom format that throws the future of ePub3 into question. Apple isn’t an outsider who decided that a format somebody else didn’t have the capabilities it needed, it is essentially one of the format’s co-authors. One of the format’s biggest proponents and supporters has forked ePub3.

This is akin to Google deciding to build support for an incompatible fork of the HTML5 standard in Chrome after it had gone through the trouble of building consensus around the standard.

Will Apple add ePub3 to iBooks now? If they do, will they do a full-featured implementation that matches the capabilities of the textbook format, or will they just work like a warmed over ePub2 files?

What was the point of Apple’s participation in the ePub3 standards process?

No. I have to say, I still don’t understand why they did it.

Again, iBooks Author just makes me sad...

P.S. Hat tip to Rich Ruh for pointing me to one of these articles, which then led to others.

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Apple's Great Big FAIL: iBooks Author Is Amazing - But Locks You In To iBookstore!

IBooksAuthorIt could have been beyond amazing!

Apple's iBooks Author app, announced today and available for free in the Mac AppStore, could have severely disrupted the ebook publishing space. I mean... watch the video... it's got all the ease-of-use, the simplicity, the drag-and-drop goodness... everything we've come to know and love from Apple apps.

It could have been beyond simply "amazing".

As an author and online writer who is employed full-time to create new online content, and who has several ebook ideas in the queue, both professionally and personally, I know first-hand the challenges of ebook creation. While the tools have gotten better over the years, the market could still use the disruption of an app that truly makes it drop-dead simple to create ebooks.

You know, the kind of app that Apple is so good at creating.

However, Apple's iBooks Author app, as amazing as it may be... is a great big FAIL in my book.

It could have been beyond amazing.

Now, I probably won't ever use it.




Go ahead... download the app. It's free, after all. (Assuming, of course, you have a Mac.)

Then go up to the "iBooks Author" menu and choose "About iBooks Author". You'll get the screen below:

IBooksAuthor 1

Click on the "License Agreement" button... and prepare to cringe.

Right at the very top in bold print is this message to you:

If you charge a fee for any book or other work you generate using this software (a “Work”), you may only sell or distribute such Work through Apple (e.g., through the iBookstore) and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple.

And if you aren't disgusted enough, keep reading down to section B, clause (ii):

B. Distribution of your Work. As a condition of this License and provided you are in compliance with its terms, your Work may be distributed as follows:

(i) if your Work is provided for free (at no charge), you may distribute the Work by any available means;

(ii) if your Work is provided for a fee (including as part of any subscription-based product or service), you may only distribute the Work through Apple and such distribution is subject to the following limitations and conditions: (a) you will be required to enter into a separate written agreement with Apple (or an Apple affiliate or subsidiary) before any commercial distribution of your Work may take place; and (b) Apple may determine for any reason and in its sole discretion not to select your Work for distribution.

Soooo.... you can use it to write documents that you will give away... but if you want to sell them you can do so only through Apple???

And Apple "may determine for any reason and in its sole discretion NOT to distribute your work? So you go through the whole process of creating an ebook only to find out Apple will not carry your ebook in their iBookstore???


And of course, you see this message again when you go to actually export a document you create:




It could have been more than just amazing.

It could have severely shook up the ebook authoring environment.

It could have been yet-another-reason why people would choose to use a Mac.

Instead, Apple decides that they will use it as a way to lock people in to their specific platform.


Sorry, Apple. You've lost a potential user.

Instead you'll find me at the Tools of Change Conference (TOCCON) next month in New York, where the real revolution in publishing will be unfolding as we look at new apps and technologies that can truly feed an open ecosystem of authors and publishers.

Too bad.

It could have been beyond amazing!

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Amazon and the Incredible Disruption of The Publishing Industry

used books

Have you been tracking the insane degree to which Amazon.com is utterly disrupting the traditional publishing industry? Have you been paying attention to how incredibly the business models and the players are changing?

As an author of multiple books who has been published through the traditional publishing industry (ex. O'Reilly, Syngress, Sybex, QUE) and who still has a zillion book ideas in my head, I've obviously been paying close attention. For those of us who write, it's an incredible time of opportunity... and choices.

The 800-Pound Gorilla

Amazon.com is at the heart of the disruption and the opportunity. I first started watching Amazon closely about 5 years ago or so when I learned of CreateSpace, Amazon's "do-it-yourself" publishing site where basically anyone can upload a PDF, choose a cover (or create your own) and... publish your book into Amazon.com! The cool thing is that your book shows up in Amazon listings just like those from the traditional publishers.

  1. Write your book.
  2. Export to PDF.
  3. Upload to CreateSpace.
  4. Start Selling!


That's the sound of the traditional publishing industry business model going up in smoke...

In the years since, CreateSpace has of course expanded into ebooks and Amazon's rolled out many other services helping authors get their content out.

Now, of course, to do it on your own is not quite that simple. Traditional publishers provide some key assistance to authors:

  1. Editing - a critical piece of writing a book
  2. Design - of the cover, the book, graphics, the typefaces, etc.
  3. Marketing - promoting the book across many different channels, advertising, etc.
  4. Distribution - getting the book out to where people will buy it

Editing, design and marketing are all areas where you can find people to help you... and the distribution is the whole point of what Amazon.com, Smashwords, Lulu and a zillion other sites will now help you with. Sure, the traditional publishers can help you with distribution out to brick-and-mortar bookstores... but how are those doing these days? (The sad subject of another blog post at some point.) For some authors those bookstores may be a market... and for them the traditional publishers may be necessary. For other authors starting out - or writing for more niche audiences, the "indie publishing" route may work better.

Amazon's Latest Move

This month brings news that Amazon is signing authors to its own publishing imprint and there are two great articles out analyzing what this means:

Mathew Ingram's GigaOm piece, in particular, is useful for all the links he includes to other articles and information. The NY Times piece also had this great quote from Amazon executive Russell Grandinetti:

“The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader,” he said. “Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity."

The time has never been better for authors to be able to get their content published. We've had this world of "blogging" now for over a decade which has let anyone publish their thoughts online... and services from Amazon and the others have let you get into "print-on-demand" so easily.

And ebooks! Look at how the way people consume books have changed just in the last few years....

But of course there is an entire industry that was used to being the gatekeepers of that content: publishers, agents, bookstores...

Some Traditional Publishers Get It

I should note that some publishers certainly "get it", have seen the disruption and are doing what they can to both survive and thrive in this new world. The primary reason why I signed with O'Reilly for my latest book, Migrating Applications to IPv6, was because the entire idea behind the the book was for it to be an "ebook" that could be constantly updated as we as an industry learn more about IPv6 application migration.[1] O'Reilly has long been paying attention... they brought out Safari Books Online many years ago... they have their excellent Radar blog/site that indeed includes ongoing commentary about the disruption in the industry... and they sponsor the annual excellent Tools of Change for Publishing conference. I wrote earlier about how O'Reilly makes it so easy to get ebooks onto your mobile devices.

O'Reilly is a stellar example of publishers who see the changes and are looking at how to be part of that wave. There are others, too. The smart ones are evolving.

Some Traditional Publishers Don't

Others aren't. As both the GigaOm and NYT piece mention, some of the traditional publishers are instead fighting tooth and nail to hang on to some relevance.

I loved Mathew's ending paragraph:

Here’s a hint for book publishers: take a lesson from the music industry, and don’t spend all your time suing people for misusing what you believe is your content — think instead about why they are doing this, and what it says about how your business is changing, and then try to adapt to that. Amazon is giving authors what they want, and as long as it continues to do so, you will be at a disadvantage. Wake up and smell the disruption.

Wake up and smell the disruption, indeed!

If you are an author, have you been following what Amazon is doing? Have you self-published any work? Or are you considering it?

Image credit: babblingdweeb on Flickr

[1] To be entirely clear, another HUGE reason for signing with O'Reilly was because of the marketing they could do on my behalf to their existing channel of techies, early adopters, etc.

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Facebook Acquires eBook Maker Push Pop Press - See The TED Video To Understand

PushpoppressIs Facebook going to get into eBook publishing? That was the first question I had when I saw the news that Facebook has acquired Push Pop Press, developers of a very cool eBook technology that was used mainly by Al Gore for his latest "Our Choice" book. The announcement on Push Pop Press' site said this:
Now we're taking our publishing technology and everything we've learned and are setting off to help design the world's largest book, Facebook.

Although Facebook isn't planning to start publishing digital books, the ideas and technology behind Push Pop Press will be integrated with Facebook, giving people even richer ways to share their stories. With millions of people publishing to Facebook each day, we think it's going to be a great home for Push Pop Press.

Which was similarly confirmed in a statement from Facebook that was published on All Things D (and other sites):

Facebook isn’t planning to get into the digital book business, but some of the ideas and technology behind Push Pop Press will be integrated with Facebook

I'd not seen their book myself prior to this news, but to understand how cool Push Pop Press' "publishing technology" is, check out the video of co-founder Mike Matas' demoing the technology at TED:

It will be fascinating to see how Facebook adds Push Pop Press' technology into the Facebook user experience... could be fun!

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