ereaders

Sharis Pozen

DoJ Assistant AG Sharis Pozen

Sharis Pozen
DoJ Assistant AG Sharis Pozen

Get this: The federal bureaucrat who last month started the litigation against Apple and book publishers for ebook pricing is the same person who, back in the stone age, represented Netscape in its lawsuit against Microsoft.

Recall that Microsoft was trying to give away its Internet Explorer to computer users for free. Netscape went nuts and got the government to clobber Microsoft for being so nice to consumers. It put the company through litigation hell and even demanded that Microsoft change its operating system code to untie it from IE.

The person’s name is Sharis Pozen, and she is acting head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division and a political appointee of the Obama administration. She claims that she is threatening state violence against Apple and publishers for pricing collusion — and that it’s her job to protect consumers.

Interesting. She began her career trying to protect the rights of an old-line company to rip off consumers. To her, a price of zero was unfair competition. She was sure that a browser should be a paid product. The progress of history flattens that argument. Today, dozens of companies beg you to download their browser for free. Browser use is all over the place, sort of like a free market. There is no Microsoft monopoly, contrary to the overheated predictions.

Given that history, one might suppose she would retire from public life and maybe go into flower arranging or something. Instead, she is still at it. Last year, she denied a proposed merger between T-Mobile and AT&T that would have improved your cell service. This year, she says that a deal between publishers and Apple is harming consumers, so she has to act.

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I’ve made a number of changes and improvements to Prometheus Unbound recently.

I think the three most important are our new mailing list, Support page, and Dwolla account.

Email Newsletter

Previously, you could subscribe to our posts via email using a widget in our sidebar powered by Feedburner. That you could do this was not obvious, however.

We now have a new and improved mailing list powered by MailChimp. And there’s a new email subscription form at the top of the sidebar. It should be hard to miss.

I’ve kept the subscription form simple. All you have to do is enter your email address and click “subscribe.” Later, you can choose to add more information to your account profile, such as your name. You can also choose to receive the email newsletter in html (default), plain text, or mobile format.

Once subscribed, you will receive an email in your inbox at the end of any day on which we have published new posts. We may also use the mailing list to send out the occasional special announcement. We promise not to spam your inbox.

If you’re subscribed to our posts via Feedburner or WordPress.com (Jetpack), please switch over to the new mailing list.

Support Page and Dwolla

Over the past few weeks and months I’ve added more ways that you can support Prometheus Unbound. I’ve also added a Support page that lays out clearly all of the ways you can support our work, both financially and non-financially, as well as what we plan to do with any money we receive. Big plans. But we need your help to accomplish them. Head on over there and check it out.

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In my last news roundup, I briefly discussed the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction being put online for free by Gollancz. At the time, I speculated: “Why [put it online for free]? Oh, I don’t know, maybe reading through the encyclopedia will tempt people into buying more books and ebooks of and about the stories and authors described within it.” This was before I had heard about Gollancz’s new SF Gateway imprint.

SF Gateway will be publishing online in ebook form a catalog numbering in the thousands of out-of-print backlist books from its authors. Including “the classic SF pulp writers of the Golden Age right through to modern award-winning authors,” SF Gateway purports to be “the largest library of digital Science Fiction and Fantasy ever assembled.” All of these titles will naturally be directly interlinked with author and title entries in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, so the encyclopedia will serve as a handy way to spur sales. The SF Gateway site will also serve in part as a social network, which is another clever idea — build up an online community around the encyclopedia and that large library of sf&f ebooks. You can read more about it in the pdf press release.

Also in the last news roundup, I mentioned some innovations in publishing. Here is some more info on a couple of them:

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I’m pleased to announce that you can now subscribe to Prometheus Unbound on your Kindle ereader.

Simply follow the link to the product page or click on the ad-button below, in the sidebar, or at the bottom of each post.

Amazon sets the price, which is currently at $0.99/month, with a 14-day free trial.

We get a cut of 30%, which will go toward operating costs: domain registration, hosting, mailing review materials to reviewers, and the like. If we build a big enough revenue stream, I’d like to also begin paying contributors by the word, so that we can bring you more and better content, but that’s probably a ways off.

If you have a Kindle ereader — not an app, sorry, but the physical device (the service is limited to them for the time being) — consider the advantage of subscribing to Prometheus Unbound. Posts will be delivered to your Kindle wirelessly (when you’re connected) when they’re published on the site. You’ll be able to read our news and lengthy reviews at your leisure on a lightweight, very portable device, in sunlight, away from a decent wireless or 3G/4G connection. Good for commutes, plane flights, camping trips, and similar situations in which you’re not consistently connected to the world via the internet and can’t reach our site — particularly if you don’t own a 3G/4G-connected tablet pc and don’t like reading on a computer screen or lugging around your heavy laptop.

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  1. In July, Amazon announced that Kindle book sales had surpassed hardback book sales. Analysts pooh-poohed this milestone as paperback sales are far greater than hardback sales. But now Kindle book sales have overtaken paperback sales as well. Amazon is now selling more digital or ebooks in its bookstore now than physical print books. We’ve reached a turning point in the way people read books.

    There is still a ways to go, however, for ereader owners are still buying print books and ereader ownership is still not mainstream. While the adoption of ereaders is spreading, even at an accelerating pace, a recent survey of book shoppers shows that only 21% own one. I don’t own one yet, though I hope to buy an Android tablet in the next year or so.

    I’m not sure print books will ever go the way of the dodo. Print books will increasingly have collector value. Some people may still prefer reading them, if only out of nostalgia for a bygone era. There are ways to add value to a print book as well: high-quality production, handwritten signatures, personal notes, and so on.

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Clarkesworld Magazine is an online science fiction and fantasy magazine that features at least two original short stories per month from new and established authors as well as artwork, podcasts, and non-fiction articles. Founded in October 2006 by Neil Clarke, its online content is totally free. The magazine has been experimenting with innovative methods of funding. No paywalls or DRM or desperate IP aggression here.

While its content is freely available online, Clarkesworld sells print versions of its fiction. An annual anthology series, Realms, is available in trade paperback, hardcover, and ebook formats. Additionally, several months after online publication, each month’s fiction is collected in chapbook form; the value-add here is that the chapbooks are limited print run (100), numbered editions that are signed by the authors. If you happen to have a tablet pc or ereader, you can also purchase ebook editions of each monthly online issue in epub or mobi/kindle format.

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