Canada's On Spec magazine crowdfunding after grant is cut

On Spec, Canada's leading science fiction magazine, faces closure after its Canada Council grant was abruptly, unfairly cancelled. They're raising funds to keep going.

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Comixology adds DRM-free option! Excelsior!

Unlike some of its stablemates, the Amazon-owned comics platform is to allow authors and publishers to distribute their work without the shackles of proprietary rights-management, writes Cory Doctorow

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Harpercollins will offer discounted ebooks to print book owners

They're the first major publisher to sign with Bitlit, an app that lets you send a photo of your book's copyright page with your name inked on it in exchange for a deal on the ebook.

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DRM-free indie ebooks outsell DRM-locked ones 2:1


Author Earnings has published its latest eye-popping data-analysis of ebook sales and rankings on Amazon.

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Jeff VanderMeer's name-your-price bundle of great, indie New Weird fiction


Jeff VenderMeer has curated a name-your-price bundle of New Weird fiction of great repute and deep weirdness, hosted at Storybundle.

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Name your price for 11 books in the Humble Science Fiction Bundle

The latest Humble Ebook Bundle focuses on science fiction, with name-your-price DRM-free ebooks from Harlan Ellison, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Dan Simmons, Buzz Aldrin and more.

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Humble Dynamite Bundle: name your price for $258 worth of comics


The Humble Bundle Dynamite 10th Anniversary edition features $258 worth of comics on a name-your-price basis, and supports charities including the indispensable Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

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Kickstarting a Lovecraftian game where the object is to stay sane and alive

Labratory's kickstarting a new game: "Shadows of Arkham," which is pure Lovecraftian Ameri-trash for people who know that you can't fight the Elder Gods, but you might be able to avoid mind-death if you're quick enough.

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Kickstarting a Progress City book of Disney history articles

The excellent Disney history blog Progress City is kickstarting a book of its best articles, including several that are substantially rewritten and polished for the project. $15 gets you a PDF, $30 for a paperback.

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Publishers offer free/discounted ebooks of the print books you own with Bitlit


Bitlit works with publishers to get you free or discounted access to digital copies of books you own in print: you use the free app (Android/Ios) to take a picture of the book's copyright page with your name printed in ink, and the publisher unlocks a free or discounted ebook version. None of the Big Five publishers participate as yet, but indies like O'Reilly, Berrett-Koehler, Red Wheel Weiser, Other Press, Greystone, Coach House, Triumph, Angry Robot, Chicago Review, Dundurn, and PM Press (publishers of my book The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow) are all in.

(Image: Bookshelf, David Orban, CC-BY)

Podcast: How Amazon is holding Hachette hostage

Here's a reading (MP3) of my latest Guardian column, How Amazon is holding Hachette hostage, which examines how Hachette's insistence on DRM for their ebooks has taken away all their negotiating leverage with Amazon, resulting in Amazon pulling Hachette's books from its catalog in the course of a dispute over discounting:

Under US law (the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act) and its global counterparts (such as the EUCD), only the company that put the DRM on a copyrighted work can remove it. Although you can learn how to remove Amazon's DRM with literally a single, three-word search, it is nevertheless illegal to do so, unless you're Amazon. So while it's technical child's play to release a Hachette app that converts your Kindle library to work with Apple's Ibooks or Google's Play Store, such a move is illegal.

It is an own-goal masterstroke. It is precisely because Hachette has been so successful in selling its ebooks through Amazon that it can't afford to walk away from the retailer. By allowing Amazon to put a lock on its products whose key only Amazon possessed, Hachette has allowed Amazon to utterly usurp its relationship with its customers. The law of DRM means that neither the writer who created a book, nor the publisher who invested in it, gets to control its digital destiny: the lion's share of copyright control goes to the ebook retailer whose sole contribution to the book was running it through a formatting script that locked it up with Amazon's DRM.

The more books Hachette sold with Amazon DRM, the more its customers would have to give up to follow it to a competing store.

MP3

Collaborating with your kids: the story of "A Dark and Dismal Flower"

JC Herz and her five year old daughter, Eve, created A Dark and Dismal Flower, a beautifully-animated picture book. In this essay, Herz offers her advice on how to collaborate with your own kids.

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How Hachette made the rope that Amazon is hanging it with


In my latest Guardian column, "How Amazon is holding Hachette hostage," I discuss the petard that the French publishing giant Hachette is being hoisted upon by Amazon. Hachette insisted that Amazon sell its books with "Digital Rights Management" that only Amazon is allowed to remove, and now Hachette can't afford to pull its books from Amazon, because its customers can only read their books with Amazon's technology. So now, Hachette has reduced itself to a commodity supplier to Amazon, and has frittered away all its market power. The other four major publishers are headed into the same place with Amazon, and unless they dump DRM quick, they're going to suffer the same fate.

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Interviewing Leila Johnston about Hack Circus


My latest Guardian column is an interview with Leila Johnston about her Hack Circus project, which includes a conference, a podcast and a print magazine, all with a nearly indefinable ethic of independence and art for its own sake.

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Court finds full-book scanning is fair use


The Hathi Trust has won another important victory in its court battles against the Authors Guild over the right of academic libraries to scan books under the banner of fair use. Hathi creates full-text indexes of books from academic institutional libraries that were scanned by Google, so that academic libraries can access full-text indexes of the books, as well as offering the books in assistive formats used by people with visual disabilities, and providing long-term archives of rare texts that are still under copyright.

The Authors Guild members are overwhelming trade-book authors; the books scanned by the Hathi Trust are overwhelmingly scholarly books written as part of an academic tradition that takes free access and sharing as its foundation. The court remanded a question of standing in the case, asking the Guild to demonstrate that it represented authors of the affected works.

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