As SF Signal is reporting, author Mur Lafferty is offering up all her current eBooks for free for the months of May and June of 2012.
This includes awesome novels like Playing For Keeps, Marco and the Red Granny, and the Afterlife series. I particularly suggest Playing For Keeps and the novella Marco and the Red Granny. You can download the books here.
If you still would like more info about the series, you can read SF Signal’s book descriptions or all the books. Here are the descriptions for Playing For Keeps and Marco and the Red Granny:
Playing For Keeps
The shining metropolis of Seventh City is the birthplace of super powers. The First Wave heroes are jerks, but they have the best gifts: flight, super strength, telepathy, genius, fire. The Third Wavers are stuck with the leftovers: the ability to instantly make someone sober, the power to smell the past, the grace to carry a tray and never drop its contents, the power to produce high-powered excrement blasts, absolute control. over elevators. Bar owner Keepsie Branson is a Third Waver with a power that prevents anything in her possession from being stolen. Keepsie and her friends just aren’t powerful enough to make a difference. at least that’s what they’ve always been told. But when the villain Doodad slips Keepsie a mysterious metal sphere, the Third Wavers become caught in the middle of a battle between the egotistical heroes and the manipulative villains. As Seventh City begins to melt down, it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad, and even harder to tell who may become the true heroes.Marco and the Red Granny
By bringing back the patronage system, a new alien species has transformed the moon into the new artistic center of the universe, and Sally Ride Lunar Base soon gains the nickname “Mollywood.” These aliens can do amazing things with art and the senses, allowing a painting, for example, to stimulate other senses than simply sight. When someone asks a starlet, “Who are you wearing?” she could as easily say “J.K. Rowling” as she could “Gucci.”
Every creative person in the world wishes for a patronage. It’s quite competitive.
Marco wanted one, once. But then his girlfriend got one and shuttled off to Mollywood for fame and fortune, and Marco stayed home, waiting for his own patron. After several years, he gave up entirely. His career faltered. His agent dumped him. And then, one morning, he gets a call. At last he has a patron, at last the aliens want him. But he’s about to find out that an artistic patronage isn’t what it was in the good old days, and that the only friend he’s made, a tiny old woman who’s the star of a blood sports reality series called The Most Dangerous Game, has secrets of her own.
I just came across this article about how Harper Collins is suing Open Road claiming copyright infringement. Open Road is publishing as an eBook Jean Craighead George’s storyJulie of the Wolves. Harper Collins already published this as a book back in the 1970s.
Random House did this back in 2001 but was shot down in two court cases that ruled that eBooks were not the same as books, and therefore prior contracts about publishing books did not include the rights to digital publishing. These cases, however, ended up having a settlement between the ePublisher and Random, likely because Random threatened to continue appealing and most eBook publishers are small operations that can’t handle sustained court cases.
I personally suspect HC is attempting the exact same thing as Random. They know precedence is against them but they are hoping to either overturn the rulings, and therefore not have to renegotiate to turn their back library into eBooks, or at least sue every eBook publisher who has already contracted with the original estates or authors for settlements and licensing agreements out of court. HC unfortunately may have a chance due to the wording of their prior contracts due to wording. The contracts included a clause which gives HC the exclusive right to publish “in book form” as well as the right to exploit future technologies “now known or hereafter invented,”. The argument will be that this implicitly includes a grant of electronic rights–even though those rights did not exist when the contract was signed.
If the courts rule in favor of this, contracts are going to get very scary here soon. Adding the “now known or hereafter invented” clauses will start appearing everywhere and it is going to be up to the courts to really start to decide if something is a new media, or just a “future technology” of the same media.
This one is only four minutes long and it is well worth watching.
I do wish he had manage to work in comics but there are plenty of other storytelling formats he glossed over so I can’t claim discrimination. I can point out that when he uses the word book here, he is talking about the physical medium, a set of bound pages, and not necessarily a novel, or story. What I love is the multimedia approach to his particular story. The presentation wasn’t about an iPad. It was about how stories can be so much more than words, or performances, or images, or sound, etc. It can be all of those things. This is the kind of story I can’t wait for. In the mean time I’d settle for eBook readers which allow me to organize the text the way I want (including replicating a book if I want).
This is a great example of what I’ve been talking about regarding where books are headed. Wolfram is releasing a document format that will contain not only text and images, or maybe even the occasional embedded video, but actual interactive information. Geared primarily towards business documents, text books, and research documents, the idea could still hold true for any type of written work. Embedded within the text are apps that display information visually that the user can then manipulate to show how things can change. Graphics that actually allow a modification of variables, math equations where you can quickly and easily plug-in values to see how the equations change, and more.
The document standard is designed to make it easy enough for any person to create a document. No need to be a programmer to create the interactive features of the CDF. This is the real novelty of the idea, since webpages and flash have granted capabilities similar to this for years but their methods of creation have a steep learning curve.
If you’re interested in learning more, the below video goes over the various features of the CDF.
Remember back in February I talked about some of the shenanigans Apple was pulling with eBooks? Namely that they lobbied to get the industry to sell eBooks on an agency model and then setup their app store to take a percentage cut of sales. This combined with the agency model made it so that all non-apple e-book distributors selling their books directly via an app, rather than via a website, paid all their profits to Apple? Also do you remember iFlowReader? A small time eBook reader that had to removing itself from the app store (and effectively dying) because of these policies?
At the time it was not clear if perhaps Apple was even going to enforce these policies, since they hadn’t before and yet, suddenly, the Kindle, Nook, and Kobo apps no longer sell eBooks, and the Google Books app is mysteriously missing from the App Store. This came only after Apple “relented” by saying that all Apps didn’t have to sell everything that they sold outside of the store, as long as the app didn’t provide an easy way to get to the alternative purchase area. Basically Apple told everybody: “If you sell eBooks, you have to sell them in the App, and let us take all your profits. Otherwise you have to remove your apps.”, then Apple came back and said, “Okay we won’t remove your apps as long as you make it so you can’t sell anything in your eBook reader. It’ll be a viewer only. Not even a link to your websites.”
This is what I am scared of when we see App Stores becoming the future. Their convenience does not outweigh the market control we’re giving Apple and really any other “App Store” gate keep out there such as Google and Backberry. The fact that Apple is pushing Apps for their desktops is a disturbing trend. A desktop that can only run Apple approved software? Apple approved websites?
I’m using exaggerated rhetoric to help you see how these maneuvers by Apple are amazingly anti-competitive. They’ve maneuvered in two completely different arenas (publishers and the app store) to create an amazing combo where in nobody can sell eBooks in the App Store for a profit but Apple itself, and have managed to mostly look like a responsible and sensible corporate citizen protecting their investment while doing so.
This one is a short one. Promise.
Another great example of what books might transform into in the near future. An amalgamation of media that is as addictive to browse as Wikipedia and tv tropes. For more ideas see my prior posts about eBooks.
While it doesn’t seem to be official that Apple is enforcing the policy iFlowReader is talking about, it is most certainly on the books and the creators of iFlowReader have succinctly connected all the pieces of this amazingly anti-competitive move by Apple. I talked about this in detail back in February and honestly it is making me nervous about owning an iPad or the eBook industry in general. The iFlowReader is a great example of ingenuity in the eBook area and that has now been squashed.
This isn’t a perfect blow against eBooks. There are other mediums out there for reading, such as the Kindle and your cell phone and Android based tablets. However the iPad is one of the best tables out there, making it a prime example for others to follow, and I do enjoy using it for reading. This restriction of my ability to read eBooks on it to basically just Apple sold eBooks and stuff I can get off the web is as disturbing to me as DRM.
This future Bob presents is interesting and I want to see it come to life but I also don’t want people to take away from this video the idea that mobile and specialized digital devices are going to kill the PC. Much like the eBook will never eradicate print and bound books, general computing devices will always have a place in society. Perhaps not as prominent as they once were, assuming we can shake some of the bad habits forming in the current mobile computing trend, but they will survive. After all we need something to program all these little specialized devices, at the very least but having a system that can run many different kinds of software freely is far too valuable a tool.
So one of the topics I am very much interested in is the evolution of media and information technology. One of the budding areas that we are watching grow into its toddler, if not teenage, years, is the ebook. To keep the metaphor going, it really is only a matter of time before our teenager starts experimenting in order to figure out what they really are. But first lets talk about where stories, in the form of books, have been going.
The popular e-readers of today are trying desperately to copy books. This is because books have an established niche of readership that keeps them afloat financially that has been steadily declining since the invention of video. Declining but not being erased. Actually since the internet became popular, we’ve seen an increase in the amount that people read daily, thanks to email and websites.
The internet gave birth to what I’ll call the first evolution of story, that being the jump to self published internet fiction, which you can find all over the internet in audio and written form if you try. Serialized web novels are popular these days, along with terabytes of fan fiction and much more. But this evolution doesn’t hold up economically for most authors, at least not until recently. There has been another slower evolution, the eBook.
[feed]More on the site, including a peek at a possible evolution beyond eBooks.[/feed] (continue reading…)
The other day Apple rejected Sony’s eReader app for the App Store/iOS platform. This wouldn’t have made much news, since Apple has a history of rejecting it’s competitors in certain markets regularly. What made it news was the new policy behind the rejection: All “storefront” Apps must use Apple’s in app purchasing (IAP) system when purchasing content for the app.
And from a standard perspective, this makes sense, if perhaps a little greedy. You use Apple’s device, apple wants a cut of everything you sell to the user via their device. Not a standard computing concept but we’ve all come to love the mostly fascist control of software/Apps on the iOS and the marketplace that distributes it, so perhaps it is the standard these days. I digress.
If you dig a little deeper, you find that this appears to be a maneuver by Apple to push out competing eBook distributors while appearing to be simply capitalistic rather than monopolistic. Let me explain.
Apple, way back in January of 2011, pushed for eBooks to be sold via the Agency Model like most standard books are sold. In the Agency Model, rather than the distributor purchasing books and then re-selling them at whatever price they prefer, the publishers set the price and there is an agreed percentage that the distributor gets from the cut. Most big publishers, back in the spring, adopted at 70%/30% agency model with distributors like Sony, Amazon, Apple, and others. So when you’re purchasing a book off your Kindle there is a very good chance Amazon is only getting 30% of the price you’re paying.
Now the Agency Model isn’t bad. It has it’s upsides and downsides but the publishing industry is used to it. Where the problem lies is in Apple’s rules regarding IAP. Apple gets a 30% cut of anything sold via IAP. Starting to see where this is going? So if you have an eBook, and you’re say, Nook, Barne & Noble’s eBooker Reader, and you’re now forced to sell your books via the IAP, here is how your profits for selling eBooks is going to look: 100% – 70% Publisher – 30% Apple = %0 profit for B&N.
You can replace B&N with any non-Apple eReader device that does deals with major publishers. Take into account the fact that running a storefront app does require manpower, and therefore has an upkeep cost, and not only are getting no profit, you’re losing profit. Apple has basically just said: eBook readers, get out of our App Store, without having to say that specifically and looking like the bad guy.
Now there are some defenses Apple has. For example they are now disallowing purchasing via non IAP routes. Storefront apps can still send you to the App owner’s website to purchase. They are only requiring the capability of IAP. Even so, it’s easy to see that from a user-friendly perspective, the majority of users are going to choose an IAP route unless App designers make using IAP within their app more difficult than using a webpage that the app switches to. Additionally Apple has stressed that it is not cutting off content purchased outside of the App Store from Apps but in my opinion, these are flimsy defenses compared to the obviously anti-competitive strategy. Combine this with the fact that Apple obviously knows that 30% is the agreed upon Agency Model and Apple really starts to look like it’s maneuvering and trying to throw its weight around.
This doesn’t sit well with me and something tells me there won’t be enough Apple user outcry to have Apple back peddle on this like it has on some other usability features. After all money is on this line this time.
This decision doesn’t just affect eBooks, of course. The rules apply to all storefront apps. Dark Horse comics has announced “unforeseen setbacks” in regards to their digital comics distribution system they were developing very quickly after Sony’s eReader App was rejected.
I gathered the above information from several sources, some of which explain the effects of Apple’s decisions with more in-depth. If you want to know more, follow these links: