Writing4all.ie

Eoin Purcell

UPDATE: Writing4all.ie have now updated their terms and conditions and I believe that the terms i referenced in this post have been erased. I am happy to say that they have been much more specific in their language. The ownership clause now reads:

You own your User Content, not us. User Content is defined as text, pictures, video, sound and other files legally posted by you on the Site. You grant the Company and its affiliates a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free right to display your User Content (in whole or in part) on the Site or on site affiliates that bear the Writing4all name – Facebook, Twitter. You also grant each user of the Site the right to access, display, view, store and reproduce such your User Content for personal use. You represent and warrant to the Company that you have the right to grant the licenses stated above.

This is a huge improvement!
Eoin

On the face of it, Writing4all.ie seems a nice idea, a place for Irish writers to share, collaborate and build community:

Welcome Guest! You’re viewing these pages as a guest. To be able to add or comment on works please join or login. Writing4all.ie is an online writing community and resource centre for Irish writers. Share your creative writing with others and get instant feedback and constructive criticism.

Our writing resources give you all the latest news on writing courses, writing groups, book launches and workshops in your area. Read the latest news in our blog or discuss books and the world of literature in our lively forums.

Free memberships are available to all and we welcome poetry, fiction, non-fiction and drama. Members can enter our regular poetry, fiction and non-fiction competitions and contests.

Sounds very nice and indeed, if that was it I would be fine with it. But it’s not it. When you read through the site terms and conditions you find this gem (emphasis mine):

You own your User Content, not us. You grant the Company and its affiliates a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and publicly display your User Content (in whole or in part) and/or to incorporate such your User Content in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed.

What this means is that if you upload writing to the site, Original Writing, the owner of Writing4all.ie and a self-publisher company I have discussed here before, can publish that work without any need to pay you a royalty or even consulting you as far as I can tell. Those are some pretty extravagant permissions!

Most other sites will specify these permissions for the extra content you provide but not the creative writing you upload. The basic problem is that the terms makes no allowances for separating the content that you create on the site and the creative work you upload TO the site. If they made this differentiation clearer and excluded the creative content from the terms above I believe the terms would be much fairer. If you doubt that, read the definition of user content:

You are solely responsible for any activity and content (including, without limitation, data, text, information, screen names, graphics, photos, profiles, audio and video clips, and links to third-party content) that is posted under your screen names (collectively, “User Content”).

It is possible of course that this isn’t intentional and that the terms are simply sloppily drafted but there is much to be wary of here. At the very least the terms as set out need revision and extra definition, not a situation you should allow your content to get trapped in.
Eoin

There is literally too much digital news to know where to start

Eoin Purcell

But start we must
So how about with this piece from Crain’s New York about a new ebook publishing house (strangely sans website yet) OR Books. The house is run by, John Oakes and Colin Robinson, two veterans of New York’s independent literary scene. To my mind the most interesting tidbit in the article was in terms of their business plan:

Publishing only e-book and print-on-demand editions, OR won’t have to deal with any returns. The company also won’t share revenue with distributors, wholesalers and bookstores, which together can collect as much as 60% of sales. The savings will go into online marketing campaigns that will run about $50,000 to $75,000 per title—huge sums for so-called mid-list books.

Print-on-demand trade paperbacks will sell for $15 apiece, but the partners have yet to decide what to charge for e-books. Typically, prices for new titles range from around $26, or the same as a hardcover, to the discounted $9.99 that Amazon charges for most of its Kindle titles.

OR will also make a small number of books available to cooperating bookstores on a nonreturnable basis. And it will consider a title a success if it sells just 5,000 electronic copies.

I’ve added the emphasis there. That, frankly seems a pretty significant sum to be even contemplating in ad spend online (or will that mean print ads for ebooks? And the ebook price is not yet set? Stranger and stranger I say.

Wherever Spanish is read
Everywhere online and digital if the latest reports are to be believed. The top three Spanish publishers have joined forces to create a digital distributor. Seems eminently sensible. A much fuller article can be read on Publishing Perspectives a relative but very interesting newcomer to the publishing news scene, focused on international views and opinions. from the text it seems like these major players have developed a pretty sensible model too:

In negotiations with the Association of Spanish Literary Agencies (ADAL), the publishers have agreed to price ebooks at 80% of a printed books cover price, with a standard 25% royalty rate. Booksellers will be offered a maximum discount of 50%.

The truth, plain and unvarnished
I’ll only cover three items today and perhaps do a follow up post tomorrow, but that third item must be Andrew Savikas’ really gauntlet throwing down piece over at o”Reilly Radar in which he basically calls B*llsh*t in people who think the value is in theur conent. twitter has been abuzz with publisher types praising it all day and with real reason. it is clear, concise and devastating for those who disagree with his perspective:

“But people are still buying content when they buy a book or an album,” the argument goes. Yes, they are. The same way that you’re buying food when you go to a restaurant. You are purchasing calories that your body will convert to energy. But few restaurants (especially those you visit frequently) have ingredients any different from those you can get yourself at the corner store, for much less money. So it can’t be true that your primary goal is to purchase food; you’re purchasing a meal, prepared so you don’t have to, cleaned up so you don’t have to, and done so in a pleasing and convenient atmosphere. You are paying for the preparation of the food and the experience of eating it in the restaurant, not the food itself [2] (beyond the raw cost of the physical ingredients, which in the case of digital content is effectively zero).

And to finish the sad news, for the staff of Borders in Blanchardstown, the book buyers and the publishers of Ireland is that the only Irish store in the UK arm is closing along with four UK based branches. It is a real shame, I liked the store though I will freely admit I got there irregularly. I wish there was some way to avoid this outcome.

Not happy this evening,
Eoin

Quartet Press: One to watch

Eoin Purcell

Start your engines
If business models in publishing are to change and if people are to adopt digital over paper books as their main reading method (whether that be in ebook, online access or whatever), publishers are going to have ro embrace the online world in a real way. To date, although some publishers have started to do this, few major movers in the Trade Publishing world have shifted in any earth shattering way.

Which is why the new, digital only, house Quartet Press is an interesting launch. For one thing the three members of the quartet that we know of are not easily dismissed. They are serious people with a record of expressing informed opinion on the trade, not to mention actually engaging on one level or another with the trade and making things happen.

The stature that Quartet will have because of the prominent status of its founders suggests that the digital publishing space is about to become much more interesting. Quartet may be the trailblazer but there is a every reason to expect that most trade publishers will follow suit and launch digital only imprints (or indeed change the basis of their publishing to digital first), maybe not in a rush but eventually as they translate their publishing from a predominantly paper based business to one that revolves around the types of verticals that Mike Shatzkin discusses in this post and many others and communities like Tor.com.

In any case, we watch this space with interest!
Eoin

Why I HATE One Dollar Orbit

Eoin Purcell

OneDollarOrbit.com
You might wonder why I hate something that is such good value. E-books of sci-fi books I am almost sure to enjoy for the startlingly low price of $1?

Simply put, because I cannot buy them
I know its selfish, it is hardly Orbit US’ fault, but I was so excited by the idea I went straight to the website and tried to buy something, I mean ONE DOllAR. I am technically banned from buying any books until I read nine books from my newly acquired list of TBR, but an e-book is not a paper book and a dollar is nothing! And then the book was one I have spied in several places and thought “now that looks good”. BUT I couldn’t buy it, I was restricted by territoriality!

Funnily enough this is touched on today by bigger news here & here.

As a publisher I should care about this but as a consumer I just think what a freaking waste of my time, effort, attention and interest. Now I hate a thing that I should have loved! This nonsense will just have to stop, I cannot see territoriality of e-books lasting very long but that probably means it will last for ever!

Annoyed,
Eoin

A Spot of Conflicting Copyrights For Apple’s Apps Store Books

Eoin Purcell

I don’t want to be a bore
But this ebook and this one too, should not be for sale in Ireland for another 3 years at least, yet they are. I know, I just bought one from the Apple Apps Store

Considering a new paperback edition of Ulysses is available for about £7.50 and Portrait Of The Artist for a measly £2.50 on The Book Depository, I’d say 79 cent each is a massive bargain.

The copyright on Joyce‘s works has lapsed in the US if I’m not mistaken (or at least if Wikipedia is not mistaken) but not here or in the UK. I’ll be Apple never anticipated a territorial issue with iPhone Apps?

The Joyce estate will no doubt be onto this one quick, in the meantime, download away. Hopefully this post will not be prescient if the ebooks are eventually withdrawn.

Mildly amused
Eoin