Harlequin changing ebook providers (and there’s more bad news)

Harlequin has announces that they are changing ebook fulfillment providers in mid-November. If you’ve purchased books directly from Harlequin Books in the past, you may need to act quickly in order to download your titles, especially if you have an older device or one that is not web enabled.It seems after the provider changeover, old titles will no longer be able to be side.

According to Harlequin’s help page:

  • Currently, you can continue to download your ebooks to the OverDrive app on your device or access them through the Read Now option as usual.

  • Once the new ereading experience launches, you will be able to read your ebooks through your Mac or PC web browser, iPhone, iPad, Android OS smartphones and tablets, Nook HD+, as well as the Kindle Fire HD line of tablets. The free reading app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play Stores respectively.

      *Requires Android 4.0.3 and above. *iOS 8.0 and above are only iOS versions supported.

  • It important to note that while the new ebook reading experience does support offline reading through the web browser and app, you will not be able to download files and transfer them to older devices that are not web enabled. If you would like to keep copies of the files for this use, please download them prior to November 12th, 2018.

  • When the new ereading experience launches, you’ll be notified and provided with instructions on how to access your ebooks in the new app.

Past purchases from the the Harlequin store are protect with Digital Rights Management from Adobe Digital Editions (ADE). These past purchases must be downloaded into the ADE software in order to be side-loaded into an e-ink e-reader. New purchases

This ONLY affects books purchased directly from Harlequin Books. Titles purchased through retailers like Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, etc. are not affected.

There are several interesting discussions on the topic on the MobileRead site that you can find here (starting at post #1662) and an entire thread dedicated to discussing the topic here. There is a lot of speculation about whether Harlequin is doing this as a cost-cutting measure and how this will play out as publishers are attempting to establish direct to consumer sales.

Harlequin stopped providing audiobooks direct to its customers in October 2018.

Halrlequin’s actions reinforce the concept that when you buy digital content, you do not own it. You are merely purchasing a license to use the content. The publisher can take the content away or alter your ability to access it. It also really emphasizes the down side of buying  books protected by DRM.

Remember, you have until November 12, 2018 to download any purchased books!

Harlequin Announcements

Daily Links and Deals – DRM: You have the right to know what you’re buying!

daily_links_1Today, The EFF want the FTC to force labels identifying DRM restrictions. Also, Microsoft has changed the Windows 10 rules (again), Target starts selling Kindles again and the those software bundles you install may be worse than malware. In deals, an automatic pet feeder, select Crayola products and deals on Mountain House Emergency food bundles. Amazon also still has savings on Fire tablets as well.

Daily Links for Monday, August 8, 2016:

Google: Unwanted bundled software is way more aggressive than malware (ZD Net) You may want to think twice about installing that software bundle….

Microsoft’s giving you just 10 days now, not 31, to change your mind about Windows 10 (PC World) This is the friendlier, less pushy and aggressive Microsoft, right?

Target starts selling Kindles again after a four-year break (Engadget) This makes it easier to try before you buy.

DRM: You have the right to know what you’re buying! (EFF) Organizations are putting pressure on the FTC to make sure we know what our rights are before we buy.

Deals of the Day:

Amazon’s selection of Kindle Daily Deals includes Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

In Today’s DealsArf Pets Automatic Pet Feeder Food Dispenser for Dogs & Cats, up to 50% off select Crayola products and savings of up to 40% on Mountain House Emergency Food Supply. Amazon also has the Fire HD 6 (my favorite Fire tablet) for $69.99. The Fire HD 10 Tablet on sale for $50 off.

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find is The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson. The Romance Daily Find is Crashing Down by Cathryn Fox.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks. The Extra Daily Deal is The Devil in Winter:  Wallflowers (Book 3) by Lisa Kleypas.

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson.

Google Books has a selection of Topsellers Under $10.

(A note on Daily Deals: All prices current at the time of posting and subject to change. Most items marked Daily Deals are good for only the day posted.

Many large promotions have discount pricing that is set by the publisher. This usually means that titles can be found at a discount price across most platforms (with iTunes sometimes being the exception). If you have a favorite retailer you like to patronize, check the title on that website. There is a good chance that they will be matching the sale price.)

Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news. I also post other, different links of interest on Twitter, Facebook, and on the Google Plus eBook Evangelist Page.

Did we really win the e-book debate?

award-smallThis week, the Guardian published an article by Anna Baddeley definitively declaring the reading public the winners in the digital debate.

E versus P. Digital versus paper. That, for Baddeley, is evidently the essence of the digital debate. According to her, readers have now “won” and we get move on to other issues:

More serious questions about the book industry now have space to be aired. Are we publishing too many books? Why are the authors whose books make it into bookshops overwhelmingly white and middle-class? Is there a crisis of mediocrity in nonfiction? Is the hardback/paperback cycle outmoded?

Huh? To reduce the digital debate down to simply digital versus paper is a vast oversimplification and totally ignores a large number of important issues that readers struggle with every day.

In her piece, Baddeley describes the e-book debate of three and a half years ago and concludes:

The answers tended to be very black and white. You were either an ebook zealot or a luddite refusenik.

I started this blog around the same time (January 2011) and agree, at that time, E versus P was a huge part of the dialogue about digital books. But even then, the digital debate was about so much more than e-book versus print and it had been for a long, long time. While Amazon may have had the first commercially successful ereader with its first generation Kindle in 2007, it was by no means the first e-book reader. According to Wikipedia:

There have been several generations of dedicated hardware e-readers. The Rocket eBook[42] and several others were introduced around 1998, but did not gain widespread acceptance. The establishment of the E Ink Corporation in 1997 led to the development of electronic paper, a technology which allows a display screen to reflect light like ordinary paper without the need for a backlight; electronic paper was incorporated first into the Sony Librie (released in 2004) and Sony Reader (2006), followed by the Amazon Kindle, a device which, upon its release in 2007, sold out within five hours.

Even at that time, other issues affected digital readers. Pricing was also a big issue. Back in 2008, the Dear Author blog had a post on how publishers were trying to price e-books the same as hardcovers.  The digital bookstore in question was the now defunct Fictionwise, not Amazon,  and the article mentions very high prices from Avon, Macmillan and Penguin as well.  Some of these were priced at twice the cost of the paper versions.This was long before publishing’s 2009 collusion with Apple, or the 2010 kerfluffle with Macmillan over buy buttons and pricing.

The same 2008 Dear Author post also talks about the issue of Digital Right Management (DRM) and the problems that this created for readers of e-books. The post implies that publishers at the time were blaming high ebook prices on having to incorporate DRM for various formats:

It is true that margins in ebooks are not as great as one might perceive what with Hydra of Lake DRM. In other words, because of the many formats that exist, publishers have to spend $$ to convert into each format which raises the overhead and reduces the ebook margin. I don’t feel sorry for publishers because this cost could easily be eliminated with say, excision of DRM. What an idea, right? And no, I don’t want to hear about the dangers of piracy because guess what? E publishers sell their books with no DRM and still manage to make money.

There were quite even more digital issues coming to a crisis point.  Windowing, the practice of releasing an e-book version months after the hardcover. You can read the publishers’ justification here and the reader take on the issue here.  When Harper Collins decided in early 2011 to limit library e-books to only 26 checkouts before a new copy had to be purchased, there was an uproar and a boycott by both librarians and customers.

Back in 2011,  I wrote an article for this blog on the discussion that were taking place about an ebook bill of rights.  Most of the issues talked about are still issues the digital reader has to contend with.

For example, we still do not have the freedom to buy, sell or lend ebooks that we have bought and paid for. All the shopping buttons still say buy now, not license now.

We still can’t freely transfer an e-book to another device. And no, Kindle, Nook and Kobo app being available on every device is not quite what we had in mind.) Try transferring a book  from your Kindle to a Nook or a Kobo without using a thrid party application like Calibre .

DRM is mostly still there. A few small publishing houses release books without it. Amazon gives authors the option not to add DRM and Smashwords doesn’t add it at all. For other publishers,  the face of it may be changing to other types like watermarks, but for now  it is still there on many books. For some readers and privacy advocates, it is more of an activist issue than ever.

In the area of fair pricing, many ebooks sell for as much as their paper counterparts. With the return to agency pricing in 2014, most traditionally published books are higher, especially for new releases. (See my last blog post about that one….)

Library pricing practices for ebooks may very well be worse than it was in 2011 when the Harper Collins boycott was under way. Recently, the Toronto Public Library city librarian called e-book pricing “unsustainable,” then went on to say:

According to information provided by the library, the Big Five, large publishers that provide about half the library’s books, charge libraries roughly 1.5 to five times the price average consumers pay for ebooks, and some stipulate they can be used only a certain number of times or over a certain period.

The highest prices come from Random House Canada and Hachette Book Group, which charge up to $85 and $135 per book, respectively.

HarperCollins Canada appears to have the strictest usage restrictions, allowing a book to be used only 26 times. Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster make libraries repurchase the titles after a year.

That is a big, big  jump from even the $13.99 that I personally think is too much to pay.

So, have we won the digital debate? It may well be that publishers boil the argument down to P versus E, but I think that the rest of us don’t. While we may have solved the debate over whether or not ebooks will cause the downfall of literary civilization and while many more books are available in e-book form, we are a long way from winning here. Forgive me if I don’t start the victory party just yet, okay?

What about you? As a reader, do you feel like you have won the digital debate? Or do you have issues you think still need to be resolved? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

International Day Against DRM

No DRM for the Web FBToday, May 6th, is the ninth annual Day against DRM. Digital rights management in one of the primary limitations affecting digital goods. It places controls on the access to books, movies, software on devices. It is a feature that keeps us from truly owning the content we purchase.  As digital content continues to rise in popularity, DRM, geo-blocking, licensing terms and file format types are important issues that affect our digital lives.

You can visit the official Defective by Design website for more information.


Image credit: From Defective by Design via Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.