December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays From The Salvettes


December 19, 2011

Stop the SOPA Before It's Too Late

In case you haven't heard, the House of Representatives in the old country are going to vote early this week on passage of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). As the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains, the law is basically a cowtow by the corrupt US government to lobbyists in the film, media, and pharmaceutical industries. The law would not only allow for the federal government to seek court orders against sites that stream content that is under copyright, but to file court orders against search engines (e.g. Google) and payment systems (e.g. PayPal) that do business with these sites--very Orwellian stuff.

Hot Air has some good analysis on what the SOPA is really about:
In other words, a site like YouTube could be shut down just because one of its users posted content that infringes copyright laws. As critics have pointed out, that’s akin to punishing a car company because a car user crashed his vehicle into another person’s vehicle. In other words, to critics of the bill, SOPA is not about piracy — it’s about censorship.
If you enjoy websites with user-generated content (Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, etc.), it may be a good idea to write an angry letter to your congressman regarding the havoc that SOPA will wreak on the way we get information in the 21st century.

Piracy of digital goods was a longstanding problem even before the internet came into popularity in the 1990s. I seem to recall the silly DRM of early games like the original SimCity, where you had to type in a code based on some cardboard readout included in the software packaging. Unfortunately, laws like the SOPA and various DRM schemes do nothing but inconvenience honest users. In the developing world where piracy flourishes, the problem is that legitimate content is way too expensive for the average person to afford.

Hopefully, we will see a new distribution system whereby citizens in countries with lower GDPs can purchase digital goods on a sliding scale. This would be a mechanism to undermine the root cause of piracy and for creators of content to make a few bucks in the process. Until then, we will continue to see these ridiculous lobbyist-created laws that could potentially ruin the internet.

December 16, 2011

Amazon Sells Over 1 Million Kindles per Week

In the past, Amazon has tended to remain mum about the specific sales volume of Kindle eReaders and eBooks. The only figure you hear is the occasional snippet from the CEO, Jeff Bezos, that Amazon was making "millions" of Kindles or they had sold millions since the device was released in 2007. However, Amazon issued a press release on Thursday, December 15, that they were selling millions of Kindles per week. From the press release: today announced that Kindle devices remain the hottest products this holiday season – for the third week in a row, customers are purchasing well over 1 million Kindle devices per week, and Kindle Fire remains the #1 bestselling, most gifted, and most wished for product across the millions of items available on since its introduction 11 weeks ago.
The rock-bottom prices for the Kindle is certainly contributing to the high sales, and as Liza Daly points out in this excellent, scholarly report on eBooks, Amazon really revolutionized the content distribution infrastructure for their gadgets. But we all need to beware of the Ides of March. Large companies that get too big to fail tend to collapse under their own bureaucracy and lack of innovation. The poor roll-out of the new Kindle Format is just one symptom of a larger problem. The embarrassing deletion of best-selling Sugar & Spice from the Amazon UK store is another symptom.

While I'm generally supportive of Amazon, they can hopefully address some of the issues that publishers, self-publishers, and readers are complaining about. Because, Amazon is a lot like Frank Sinatra, it's their world and we just live in it.

December 5, 2011

An EPUB 3 Discussion

Are you a publisher/author trying to figure out what the new EPUB 3 spec means for the future of eBooks? Well, that's make two of us. I did a little bit of research on the nascent subject and wrote an article for Password Incorrect if you're interested. It includes some of the new features we can hopefully look forward to down the road (better interactivity, better layouts, and some other goodies).