the business of books

Log this in the paper trumps digital books column.

Purchasing a book on Amazon doesn’t mean you own the book in the same way you would if you purchased it hard copy from your local bookstore. It could disappear right along with your money.

From Life Hacker:

When you purchase music, movies or books from Amazon or Apple’s iTunes store, you might be under the impression that that material is yours to enjoy forever; that’s how CDs and paper books work, after all. Why rent You’ve Got Mail for $3.99 every few months when you can “own” it and watch it whenever, forever, for $9.99?

But you’d be mistaken. Anything digital is temporary, even if you clicked “purchase” rather than “rent.” One unfortunate side effect of that you won’t experience with a physical book or record: Your purchases may just disappear if licensing agreements change.

I knew this, and have always been fairly slow to purchase any book on Amazon for more than a couple of bucks because of it. If it costs me more than $5 on Kindle, I cough up the $10 -$12 and buy hard copy if it’s something I think I may want to have in my permanent library.

A lot of people, however, are unaware of the loose hold they have on digital books they thought they owned, so consider this a public service announcement:

“This wouldn’t happen in the physical world. No one comes to your door and demands that you give back a book,” Aaron Perzanowski, a Case Western Reserve University law professor, who studied these digital purchases, told the LA Times in 2016. “But in the digital world, they can just go into your Kindle and take it.”

It’s not like the companies are hiding this fact, though the “buy” buttons may confuse consumers.

For example, Amazon notes in the fine print that “Kindle Content is licensed, not sold, to you by the Content Provider. The Content Provider may include additional terms for use within its Kindle Content.” You also can’t sell or redistribute your ebooks, as you might with a physical copy. Apple’s fine print states that the licensor “reserves the right to change, suspend, remove, disable or impose access restrictions or limits on any External Services at any time without notice or liability to you.”

As with all technologies, if you’re savvy enough, you can work around it:

There’s no simple way to keep the content you purchase from Apple or Amazon “forever,” though there are some shortcuts. For example, you could try converting Kindle books to PDFs (details on that here). You can also download music you buy from Amazon onto your computer.

At the end of the day, when it comes to books, Gutenberg is your best option.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
joys of reading, the business of books, writing

Why Can’t We Be Friends? the non-review

to read or not to read

While researching reviews of Aimee Byrd’s book, Why Can’t We Be Friends? I was struck with the realization that this is a good opportunity to discuss the things that I consider when deciding whether or not to read and review certain books. Since I have decided not to read this one, it is the perfect conversational springboard.

Most of the books I read and review, I find one of three ways. I stumble upon them in the library, read a riveting analysis of said book, or as is often the case, am reminded that it was one I’d always intended to read but never got around to it. Classics most often fall into the last category.

When a book is generating a lot of buzz and I can’t find it at my local library, I embark on a research expedition. The regrettable experience of spending my beloved’s hard earned money on a book that is best fit for the trash heap is a hard learned lesson. As a result, I do my homework and often find that the homework provides plenty about what I am going to find in the book. This either saves both my time and money from being wasted, or heightens my anticipation of curling up with that book.

The former is what happened when I started poking around for some insight on Why Can’t We Be Friends? Most of the reviews were positive, but in ways that only served to solidify my initial skepticism. They were long, wieldy and confusing, explored the book in multiple parts, or otherwise worked to further entrench me into my position. Thankfully, I ran across an article at The Federalist which directed me toward the author’s previously published and readily available words on the subject.

In essence, Mrs. Byrd has written so many articles and blog posts laying out her case for why Christian men and women -regardless of marital status- should be able to have close, personal, even intimate friendships (“sacred siblings” she calls it), that reading her book would have been an exercise in redundancy. The book was an expansion of and explanation of ideas presented in those articles. As a result, I felt no need to purchase, read, or review the book.

This was a good reminder to me that while it is important and vital for any aspiring writer to write, write often, and generate exposure for her writing, it isn’t a good idea to base any potentially publishable work on a conglomeration of ideas that have already been shared and disseminated far and wide. Why should people buy a book that includes ideas and information that I have already shared repeatedly?

Another way I decide which books to read or not is on the basis of a recommendation or down vote from a trusted source.  By that I mean a source that I trust. There have been books I was considering then decided not to read because someone who knows me well gave me a full and complete idea of what it is, and why it’s not worth my time or attention.

Lastly, there are books I read but don’t review for myriad reasons. One of those reasons is because I didn’t finish it.  When a book is taking me an eternity to complete and I constantly find myself picking up other books to give me a break from that book, I conclude that it’s probably not a book for me. That could mean it’s a bad book worthy of a negative review, but if I didn’t finish it I never know if it finally came together in a satisfying way.  This potential for recovery and success is more likely in fiction than nonfiction of course, and is another reminder to me to keep thoughts and ideas cohesive when I write.

Another reason I may not review it is because the ideas are either so personal or so big that I feel it is best not to open a blog discussion about it. Rather, my time with that book is best spent by pondering its ideas privately or with those in my inner circle. That doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.

I’m sure there are as many times that I’ve skipped books I may have enjoyed as there are times I read books that felt like a waste of time. In either case, I try to be deliberate and informed before I read any book that I intend to review in this space. This process of mine is obviously far from scientific, but there is some level of method to the madness here.

How do you decide which books you will read?

 

American history, children's books, Culture, intriguing authors, the business of books

Little House Books victim of woke hysteria.

There have been, throughout history, many great books written; books which have rightfully earned their spot on shelves as timeless classics. If we took a microscope to each and every one of those books with the express intent of removing any and all books with language in them which offends any particular group of people, we would have to remove the vast majority of books from the shelves.

If there was ever a set of books which finds me incredulous at the idea that they are harmful, it’s Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House book series. Our children love those books, and we have no intention of removing them from our shelves, despite being well aware of the “offensiveness” found within their pages. The Association of Library Services to Children cannot abide Wilder’s handling of Native Americans in her stories:

Laura Ingalls Wilder was on the brink of having an award named in her honor, from the Association for Library Service to Children, when in 1952 a reader complained to the publisher of “Little House on the Prairie” about what the reader found to be a deeply offensive statement about Native Americans.

The reader pointed specifically to the book’s opening chapter, “Going West.” The 1935 tale of a pioneering family seeking unvarnished, unoccupied land opens with a character named Pa, modeled after Wilder’s own father, who tells of his desire to go “where the wild animals lived without being afraid.” Where “the land was level, and there were no trees.”

And where “there were no people. Only Indians lived there.”

Although the complaint didn’t spark action at the time, the American Library Association has decided to make things right:

Now, after years of complaints, the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, says it voted Saturday to strip Wilder’s name from the award.

The decision makes Wilder the latest target of efforts to purge from the cultural landscape symbols that honor historical figures who owned slaves, espoused racist views or engaged in racist practices.

Books, as well as their authors, are products of the time and place in which they are set and in which the author lives. All of these elements are an important part of what makes books rich and interesting, providing depth and context of history. If we strip away all evidence of cultural and linguistic markers which are out of step with our modern sensibilities, we lose far more than we gain.

In exchange for the temporary and shallow pride of being able to signal our postmodern virtue, we miss out on the opportunity to discuss the why, hows, and wherefores of the cultural past. We miss out on the opportunity to explain to our children cultural and linguistic evolution, including the things which we find objectionable today.

In our home, we do not shield our children from books which contain derogatory racial terms, including or even especially terms which may be personally offensive to us as a black family. Why should we forgo an opportunity for them to learn, grow, and acknowledge the amount of progress our country has made in its treatment of black Americans, something we believe is generally true against the recent backdrop of inflammatory headlines?

When reading the Little House books, or Peter Pan, or any number of books which refer to Native Americans in ways that our current cultural iteration finds offensive, our children inevitably ask questions. These questions open the door to dialogue and understanding.

Further, I find it offensive to hold authors or anyone else who lived 100 years ago to a standard of behavior which didn’t exist when they were alive so as to retroactively smear their work and exact punitive redress. Laura Ingalls Wilder was a product of her time, and her books reflected that.

To publicly flog her for a series of books which have an imperfect presentation of current ideology, while ignoring the virtues and morals within their pages is just another example of how “wokeness” is killing our humanity, our ability to enjoy life and our ability to enjoy truly great literature.

More than that, to emphasize a cultural negative at the expense of all the hard work, family togetherness, faith, charity and community the Little House books offer does more than shield us from the bad. It shields us from the good as well.

 

joys of reading, the business of books, Uncategorized

Kindle strikes again.

I am an avid library patron. I try more often than not to read books with pages, patronize bookstores, and generally be a good little bibliophile. Books are important. Despite imagining myself fighting the good fight against a digital takeover of reading for myself and for my kids, I just – like 5 minutes ago- downloaded My Man Jeeves onto my Kindle for 0.99. I am not beyond a great deal.

I recently re-blogged posts (here and here) which illustrate the education I’ve been obtaining on Amazon’s book sales pricing and practices. There is definitely cause to pause and consider alternatives to Amazon when purchasing books. I’ve been more careful about taking those things into consideration. I even bought a Barnes and Noble membership which isn’t a complete waste because I buy almost all of our kids’ assigned literature books from Barnes and Noble to the tune of about 12 books a year.

Nevertheless, I own a Kindle. Kindle makes it very easy to download and store a boat load of books at reasonable prices, which makes it very easy to open it, shop, and click my way to a great read in a convenient and inexpensive format.  I often find good books there for free, such as a book I recently reviewed, Miss Maitland Private Secretary.

The downside is that is very easy to nickel and dime my way to spending too much on books when it would be easier to go to the library and check them out. Thankfully, my genuine love of the library creates a very low risk of that happening. When it comes to the value of local libraries, I am a true believer. As such, I rarely purchase a book to download on the Kindle more than once a month.

My Kindle library still isn’t as big as my physical library, but the ease with which I can amass books to read later means the Kindle library could rival the book shelf in the near future. Ease of use, an extensive list of titles and rock bottom prices makes it easier to buy books from Amazon.

I always buy our kids books with physical pages to turn, or check them out from the library because the last thing they need at this point is another screen, even if it’s for a good use such as reading good books. That also keeps me in libraries and books stores more often than I might be if we encouraged them to read digital books. However, I am not a paper book purist, nor even on an all out boycott of Amazon books. I do however, like to consider these things when I spend my money.

This bibliographic stream of consciousness brought to you courtesy of Kindle, My Man Jeeves, and the fact that I am a sucker for a 0.99 book, which together inspired these thoughts.

the business of books

Will Barnes and Noble Actually Fail?

Krysta continues her discussion on the possibility of Amazon eventually signing the death warrant of Barnes and Noble.

I’ve been giving this more thought and while my Barnes and Noble experiences haven’t always been stellar, there is value in having actual, physical bookstores in areas that wouldn’t have any but for Barnes and Noble. I am blessed to be in an area where I have options other than Barnes and Noble, but not everyone does.

I don’t want to absolve Barnes and Noble of any responsibility for their own demise but as a logical consistency, I should shop much less at Amazon for the same reasons I try to avoid Walmart.

Still mulling this thing over, but it’s worth considering what types of business practices we want to support with our dollars.