As angry accusations sailed across the cybersphere about the deletion of self-published titles from Kobo’s, Amazon’s, and even Barnes and Noble’s websites amid an atrocious crisis of judgment that caused WHSmith to remove content and close its e-store, more than one indie author took to social media to hurl insults about the censorship involved. Kobo’s head of the Writing Life self-publishing platform issued this statement to its authors only moments ago:
“To our Kobo Writing Life and self-publishing partners:
As you may be aware, there has been a significant amount of negative media attention in the UK regarding offensive material that became available across a number of eBook platforms. Kobo was included in the reports from media and we are taking immediate action to resolve an issue that is the direct result of a select few authors and publishers violating Kobo's content policies.
In order to address the situation Kobo is taking the following steps:
1. We are removing titles in question from the Kobo platform.
2. We are quarantining and reviewing titles to ensure that compliance to our policies is met by all authors and publishers. We will ensure that content meeting the policy is made available online as soon as possible.
3. We are reviewing our policies and procedures to implement safeguards that will ensure this situation does not happen in the future.
We are working hard to get back to business as usual, as quickly as possible. We appreciate your patience and understanding in this matter.
Our goal at Kobo is not to censor material; we support freedom of expression. Further, we want to protect the reputation of self-publishing as a whole. You have our promise that we will do all we can to ensure the exceptions that have caused this current situation will not have a lasting effect on what is an exciting new channel that connects Readers to a wealth of books.
Hopefully this statement will be enough to assure authors that their contributions are valid and appreciated, but that the protection of young readers has to take precedence over freedom of expression. According to the statement, Kobo is at work even now to replace the titles that have been removed.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Self-published authors and small presses have had a number of their titles pulled from the Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Amazon bookstores due to an erotic firestorm. This was attributed to hardcore material being listed side by side with kids material on most major bookstores. Kobo has taken action by deleting erotic content and just published an update to authors participating in Kobo Writing Life.
The Director of Kobo Writing Life Mark Lefebvre released the following statement to all self-published authors. “As you may be aware, there has been a significant amount of negative media attention in the UK regarding offensive material that became available across a number of eBook platforms. Kobo was included in the reports from media and we are taking immediate action to resolve an issue that is the direct result of a select few authors and publishers violating Kobo's content policies.
In order to address the situation Kobo is taking the following steps, We are removing titles in question from the Kobo platform. We are quarantining and reviewing titles to ensure that compliance to our policies is met by all authors and publishers. We will ensure that content meeting the policy is made available online as soon as possible. We are reviewing our policies and procedures to implement safeguards that will ensure this situation does not happen in the future.”
Mark went on to mention “Our goal at Kobo is not to censor material; we support freedom of expression. Further, we want to protect the reputation of self-publishing as a whole. You have our promise that we will do all we can to ensure the exceptions that have caused this current situation will not have a lasting effect on what is an exciting new channel that connects Readers to a wealth of books.”
Welcome to a breaking audio update edition of the Good e-Reader Radio Show. Today Michael Kozlowski and Jeremy Greenfield talk about the hottest topic in self-publishing right now, the bulk deleting of erotica content from major eBook stores.
Over the weekend WH Smith has shut down their online bookstore and Waterstones have released statements on the removal of content. They all basically blame indie authors for putting their erotica titles side by side with children’s books, hampering eBook discovery and raising a firestorm.
Kobo has been cleaning up their bookstore by removing titles from publishers such as Draft2Digital and indie authors. All of these eBooks feature questionable covers and subject matter such as incest. Amazon and Barnes and Noble have yet to release official statements but they have also been cleaning up their catalog of digital books.
Are these major digital publishing companies just trying to mend the situation with deleting a few titles and getting their PR departments to deal with it? Erotica is big business and its highly dubious if they will start policing the genre. What can be done to stem the tide of highly provocative titles being listed side by side with genres that have nothing to do with it? Michael and Jeremy break it all down.
At the beginning of this month, OverDrive announced the availability of our all-new library Circulation APIs, which enable check out and hold of the OverDrive collection within approved partners' OPAC. Taking advantage of this new offering, last week Marmot Library Network officially launched their API solution for circulating OverDrive-hosted eBooks and audiobooks from within their own OPAC interface.
Marmot is a consortium of Colorado public and academic libraries that uses VuFind, an open source OPAC on top of a Millennium system. Marmot had already been using OverDrive's Discovery APIs that were released last year, enabling patrons to search and discover eBooks and determine availability. The new Circulation APIs allow users to check out, hold or return eBooks and audiobooks all in one place, without leaving the Marmot website. Patron authentication and account integration are also available through the new APIs.
"Working with (OverDrive) developers was very gratifying because they were responsive, conscientious and fun to work with," said Jimmy Thomas, Executive Director of Marmot Library Network. "(With the implementation of the APIs,) you can find your physical books and your eBooks all in one handy place, and you don't have to learn two or 12 user interfaces."
The full complement of OverDrive APIs simplifies the user experience and promotes the discovery of digital media content on library and school websites, meeting the ReadersFirst guidelines. Find out more about how to incorporate OverDrive APIs with your OPAC at developer.overdrive.com.
Heather Tunstall is Public Relations Specialist at OverDrive.
For the past few years, however, Frankfurt has opened its doors to the public towards the end of the event itself, which is typically a time when business meetings are concluded and executives have headed back home, leaving their exhibits staffed by company representatives or hired exhibitors, per Fair regulations. Not only do public attendees get to see some of the wide varieties of publishing industry businesses who make the books happen in some way, they can also get a glimpse at some of the titles and technology that are on the horizon.
Of course, the opportunity to network with other authors drives self-published authors to the event, as does the chance to meet with some of their favorite bestselling authors in attendance. A guide put out prior to the event by Publishing Perspectives’ Hannah Johnson gave authors nearly forty pages of valuable advice for attending the event, and a recent Twitter chat put on by BiblioCrunch and featuring Porter Anderson let indie authors discuss the merits of this type of effort.
For others though, the Fair has turned into a general spirit of book partying and cosplay fandom, with an outdoor stage and festival area focused on reading, live music, and more.
For whatever reason people choose to attend the Frankfurt Book Fair, an event that practically overtakes the entire city for a week each fall, rest assured that there is no more book-centric spot on Earth at that time than the city of Frankfurt.
Local government CCTV is awful, and it’s everywhere in the UK. But I’m much happier about surveillance in the hands of private people – it’s a matter of quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who watches the watchmen?), and I’m pleased to see the Raspberry Pi bring the price of networked motion-sensitive HD surveillance cameras down to be affordable by consumers. Off the shelf, you’re looking at prices in the hundreds of pounds. Use a Pi to make your own HD system, and your setup should come in at under £50, with a bit of shopping around. This is a great use case for the value bundle our distributors are offering at the moment, where a camera board and a Model A Raspberry Pi with an SD card is coming in at $40.
Christoph Buenger has used a Pi and a camera board as the guts of his project, and, in a stroke of sheer genius, has waterproofed the kit by housing it in one of those fake CCTV shells you can buy to fool burglars. The fakes are head-scratchingly cheap – I just found one that looks pretty convincing on Amazon for £6.24.
Christoph has made build instructions and code available so you can set your own camera up. It does more than just film what’s in front of it: he’s added some motion-detection capability to run in the background, so if the camera spots something moving, it’ll start recording for a set period.
At the moment, Christoph saves video to a Windows shared folder (you can, of course, save it wherever you like if you’re not a Windows person). The live stream is also available to be viewed online if you configure your local network.
Christoph’s looking at adding more functionality to the setup. He says:
There are a thousand things you can do with such a surveillance cam basic setup now. How about sending Growl notifications when some motion was detected? This guide explains how to add this functionality easily.
Or you could easily add a temperature-sensor to the cam. It’s only a few bucks and can be integrated very easily.
We’re currently working on integrating the live stream into MediaPortal server so that we can switch to a TV channel to see the live stream from the cam in our office.
If you want extra security, you could also add a battery pack to the camera. Be sure to buy one that is able to charge simultaneously while powering the Raspberry. This would enable you to detect if some bad guy cuts the power strips of your camera and send some alert messages to you (i.e. SMS or email) including the video of the disturber.
Let us know if you set up your own security camera with the Pi. We’d love to see what adaptations you come up with!
Many libraries do a great job engaging with their community through Facebook. Take it to the next level by leveraging the valuable space on your Facebook page to promote your OverDrive service. If your library is new to Facebook, you can reference the last section of our Best Practices Handbook for some social media tips.
At the top of your page, you can directly link to your digital collection with Facebook Tabs. We've added some Facebook Tab images to the Social Media section of the Partner Portal to make it easy to get started.
It is always great to remind users of your digital collection, whether it is a reminder that titles are available 24/7 or that new titles were added, don't be afraid to promote! We've created some Social Media Images that are optimal size for Facebook posts to jazz up your message.
Facebook Cover Photos
Lastly, don't forget about that GIANT REAL ESTATE at the top of your page! That space is a great spot to promote your digital collection with our ready-to-use Facebook Cover Photos. We've added various options for every season, as well as some that can be used all year around! When you post a promotional photo to your Facebook page, don't forget to add a description that includes your digital collection URL so users know where to find the eBooks!
For more great marketing ideas, take a look at our Partner Portal.
Cassie is a Marketing Specialist with OverDrive
But on the other hand, is this excitement because we still aren’t there yet, because the industry keeps talking about innovation but is slow to follow through? Good e-Reader sat down with book futurist Kristen McLean, founder and CEO of Bookigee, on the very first day of the Frankfurt Book Fair to gauge whether or not her predictions for a frustrating industry would be prevalent at the event.
“I really want to rethink what we do when we come together. I don’t feel like we’re progressing. I asked a question to a panel [at a recent publishing conference] that I probably would have asked three years ago. I have a joint venture going on right now with what I think is going to turn out to be a super disruptive partner who’s building a very large ebook reading and purchasing environment that’s going to be global, going out through the wireless providers and doesn’t require anything from the publishers. Publishers can play on it, but it’s not publisher controlled and there are no pinch points with the retailers because he’s just building this big retail platform. Because he’s coming from wireless, the things that we’re so used to fighting for he’s just like, ‘You want the data? It’s no problem.’ He’s building a large fluid, frictionless platform with many installs and versions of his app feeding data and pushing it back out again. It’s going to roll out this fall, is techinically super competitive with Kindle, and it’s got pricing that’s competitive because he’s doing direct deals. It’s going to become the Verizon ebook app that ships out on every phone, same thing with AT&T, T-Mobile, Cricket wireless. It’s built for 153 countries. I’m starting to mention it because direct to consumers is such a big deal.”
“There’s all kinds of interesting opportunities. My big thing is I’m really going after three things, that I’m measuring against: bigger profitability for anybody, direct ownership of and authentic communication with your end user to own your consumer relationship, and real-time data so that you can make real-time business decisions and move at the speed of this business environment. And mobile has the ability to provide all three of these things.”
“I went with this company, Page Foundry, because his vision for what he’s trying to do and his approach to the market is so disruptive.”
|Barnes and Noble is offering a sale on their E Ink Nook ebook readers for what feels like the hundredth time. This is about as low as the prices have gotten, though, so they are definitely worth considering. Both Nooks are marked down by $20 at B&N.com and in Barnes and Noble retail stores until […]|
In what can be termed as a shocking revelation, a retailer as respected as WHSmith has been found promoting pornographic content among children by listing them alongside children's titles on their official website. The problem could well be deeply imbibed in the software as searching a terms as innocent as 'daddy' has been found to reveal some hardcore sexual content dealing with incest or violent sexual behavior along with the usual bed time stories for children.
The retailer responded immediately to the allegations by bringing down the site altogether while also promising enough changes in its systems and processes to avoid a re-run of the same anytime in the future.
WHSmith has been found to have on its lists more than 60 such titles dealing with immoral subjects, with most of them being self-published. The retailer has entered into a deal with Kobo and has stated they are working with the ebook company to deal with the issue.
"We were made aware last week that a number of unacceptable titles were appearing on the Kobo website that has an automated feed to ours.
“This is totally unacceptable and we in no way whatsoever condone them.
“We are urgently working with our ebook partner, Kobo, to remove them from our websites as soon as possible,” the retailer revealed in a statement.
WHSmith though blamed the recent spurt in self-publishing that led to the illegal content having slipped through their screening process.
“This is an industry wide issue impacting retailers that sell self-published ebooks due to the explosion of self-publishing, which in the main is good as it gives new authors the opportunity to get their content published.
“However, we are disgusted by these particular titles, find this unacceptable and we in no way whatsoever condone them. It is our policy not to feature titles like those highlighted and we have processes in place to screen them out,” said WHSmith sources.
What should be equally disturbing is that several other big name ebook retailers such as Amazon, Waterstones and Barnes & Noble have also been found selling ebooks dealing with hardcore porn the majority of which are again found to be self-published.
Barnes & Noble though assured users they have in place a robust system to tackle such issues.
“When there are violations to the content policy that are brought to our attention, either through our internal process or from a customer or external source, we have a rapid response team in place to appropriately categorise or remove the content in accordance with our policy,” revealed B&N sources.
Waterstones sources revealed in a statement: “As with other bookselling websites, Waterstones takes a feed from central databases of book publications, notably Nielsen. Any of these titles can then be ordered by a customer. We do not stock in our shops or in our warehouses for internet supply any of these titles and we have never had any ordered from us in the past. Now that we are aware of the theoretical ability of a customer to order such titles by fact of their listing by Nielsen, we will investigate with them how this might be avoided.”
Meanwhile, there have been widespread protest from all quarters condemning the revelation.