Well two-and-a-half cheers! eBook-sharing is back on the agenda again.
One day after stopping Lendle in its tracks, Amazon relented and they’re back in business again, with just a teensy bit of sync-ing goodness (‘useful but non-essential’ say Lendle triumphantly) removed. If only we could deal with all the world’s great crises so amicably!
And for indie publishers and writers, it’s an important victory too, because it leaves us the right to choose whether we want to share our books or not. If Lendle is to survive, so will Booklending.com, and both figure in my long-term marketing plan.
… With Reservations
But the news doesn’t quite get the full three cheers.
First there was a thumbs down from Shiori, the Japanese student who’s been living with us for several months now. I used ‘Lendle’ for a few harmless pronunciation exercises. Sadly, she now hates the word, and says the thing would never catch on in Japan anyway, with a name like that.
Not that she needs to worry, not yet anyway. Because when I started the sign-up process with Lendle, this was the Welcome I got:
Please note that Lendle is currently only available in the United States. We expect Amazon to allow book lending elsewhere soon.
Well, I’m a Brit, and the news wasn’t entirely a surprise. You know what we’re like, we’d be awful at returning books on time – though perhaps not as bad as your George Washington who, I hear, had a book out on loan from 1789 until last year – and then got off without paying the $300,000 late fee.
But the Japanese, the Germans, the Swedes … surely you could have trusted them!?
My guess is that Amazon will want to install a GPS book-sniffing device inside each eBook before introducing sharing outside the US, so that recalcitrant foreign libracriminals can be hunted down. Whether the expiry of the Patriot Act at the end of May will have any impact is hard to say.
But at least the principle seems now to have been accepted – that writers should have the choice whether to offer their books for sharing or not.
With big reservations
Of course, there will still be writers who think that Amazon’s change-of-heart will open the door to unspeakable evils, and this view has been eloquently expressed by Steven Lewis on the Kindle Writers blog. In an open letter to Jeff Croft, co-founder of Lendle, he writes:
Maybe I don’t have Mr Croft’s vision thing. Have I even understood your business correctly? (It is a business, right?) After all, as a publisher, I have what Mr Croft calls an old school business model, that’s the one where I expect to be paid for my work.
Perhaps you agree with Steven. That’s fine. If so then you don’t need to offer up your books for sharing. Everyone should have the right to opt out too. But before you come to a decision about it, take a look at the comments following Steven’s post. As well as a response from Croft, you’ll find other writers making a cogent case for participating in a book-sharing scheme – because they’re convinced it will increase both readers AND income.
Getting started with sharing
We’ll let the argument rage over there. Assuming you have made the decision to be a book-sharer, where do you go from there?
The starting-point is your copyright notice – and I was delighted today to get a ringing endorsement for the wording I’ve proposed from none other than Andy Woodworth, the co-sponsor of the eBook User’s Bill of Rights. So you could share this too.
Treat this ebook as you would a printed book. If you enjoy it and want to share it with friends and family – as we hope you will – then please do so. The best support you can give is by helping to spread the word about a (publisher’s) author or book. All we ask is that you respect the author’s right to make a living from his art: so please do not re-distribute this book in any format for commercial purposes, or modify the content in any way.
But that’s only the start. Just because I allow people to share my book, it doesn’t follow that anyone will want to do so. There are 130 million other books published (according to Google, whose plans to scan all of them came to a crashing halt yesterday at the end of a long-running law-suit). Over 18 million WordPress blogs – and probably as many more that are not WordPress). 200 million Twitter users sending 1 billion tweets a week, as Twitter celebrates its 5th birthday today. How has your book got a chance unless it’s either extraordinarily good – and even then maybe not – or extraordinarily bad?
That’s where we’ll start next time – with a look at how to create passionate early adopters, those who will help to launch your book out into the world.
- Lendle statement ‘back in business’
- The Guardian, 20 May, 2010 : George Washington’s library pecadillo
- Kindle Writers letter to Lendle – be sure to read the comments too
- The eBook User’s Bill of Rights – where this discussion first started
- Wikipedia: Google Books: plan to scan every book ever written
- Suite101.com – discussing the dispute between Google and Amazon+Microsoft after yesterday’s court ruling
- Techshout.com – reporting on a deal to display 18 million WordPress blogs on the iPad
- Fastcompany – Twitter statistics on its 5th birthday – March 23
- Mashable on Rebecca Black – it’s March madness, how could there not be a Rebecca Black reference? Must-read article!
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