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« R & R (& R? M?): Reading, rest, and . . . | Main | THUD. »

March 11, 2008


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Donna Druchunas

Here's a post on Fair Use, which is only sort of related to this topic, but still interesting:


Donna Druchunas

I'd like to add something regarding Michelle's comment:

IF knitters want online patterns and books, then publishers had better find a way to provide them legally, or they will be continually dealing with problems like this. On that, Michelle is exactly correct. What happened with Napster and the music industry is a clear example of this. Consumers wanted downlaodable, digital music, the industry did not recognize this, and peer-to-peer file sharing came to the rescue. Since then, the music industry has (somewhat reluctantly) caved to the desires of consumers and we have everyone from iTunes to Amazon to Wal-mart selling MP3s for download now.

I don't actually know that knitters want online books, although I do know they love downloadable patterns -- both free and for money. So it might be something to consider.

I don't think this is really what has happeend with the current issue however. It seems that these files have been posted by people in parts of the world where the books are either unavailable or the prices are not practical given the exchange rates and the currencies in use. That's an entirely different problem and it's unclear to me whether the same type of solution (whatever that might look like -- maybe selling PDF versions of the book with some kind of encryption, ala DRM?) could possibly solve both problems.


P.S. Understanding these issues has nothing to do with age.

Deborah Robson

You're right, Donna, and I've been working for a while on how to make electronic versions available.

Donna Druchunas

I am not sure that PDFs are viable for selling books because even at low res the files are just so huge. Plus there's the question of copy protection. I find DRM to be annoying for the most part, but I certainly understand why artists want some kind of projection. People want to be able to copy their digital files for their own use -- for example to play a song or video on their TV, computer, and iPod and to make personal backups, which is totally acceptable as far as I'm concerned; but it shouldn't be too easy to just copy and give away files to other people, which is stealing.

As far as ebook readers go, they keep failing in the marketplace. I am not sure there is a solution until a good hardware device is accepted by the public.

I personally buy books because I like books. I like to have information in electronic formats for research, but I don't like to read anything long on the screen. It's completely uncomfortable. Plus books are accessable to anyone, no expensive or special technology is required to read them. That can't be said for any form of electronic media.

Deborah Robson

I agree completely, Donna, about PDF size (so far, our books have enough illustrations that even web-quality PDFs are pretty big), and DRM is an obvious question. I *want* people to be able to use their books freely and easily. The creators of the material (authors and publishers) also *need* to be able to have some income from each user.

I actually have sold one electronic copy of a book, personally burned onto a CD, for someone who traveled a lot and made an individual request.

My primary goal at BookExpo America last year was to find out answers to these problems. I came away with fragments of information, but no solutions.

Janet Szabo

I'd love to know what Michelle does for a living.

Abby Franquemont

Okay, Janet wins.

Lola LB

I like eBooks, but mostly its fiction ebooks that I buy. I'd prefer to have these in print, but I don't have the money right now for printed copies and ebooks are cheaper for me right now. And, I still prefer my knitting books to be in print since I refer to these very often.

And even with ebooks in the form of PDFs (which is what I use since I do not have the $$$ to buy Kindle or the like), you still have the problem of illegal copies being passed around and resold on eBay. Some romance fiction authors have had problems with this happening to them. There's just no way to have some sort of net crawler going around and "destroying" bootleg copies of pdfs, at least not with the current technology that we have nowdays.

I suspect that there will always be the need for knitting books to be in print - the problem is how to get these books to cross-country markets where the predominant language is not the same as that of the original books and booksellers may not be aware that people really are interested in these books.

Janet Szabo

Regarding the issue of making books available in foreign markets: I guess I am wondering specifically which countries cannot get these books. I ask only because in the past week I have filled book orders from The Netherlands, Germany, France, Israel and Italy. They all came through my Amazon merchant acount (which is different than selling through Amazon as a publisher). Clearly, those people who are having trouble getting access to these books are NOT suffering from lack of access to the Internet--they are surfing the Internet to find outlaw copies they can download. So if it's not lack of Internet access to order the book from a US source, what exactly is the issue? Is it an import problem? A money problem?

If we're talking about a translation problem (I've never gotten an order from Japan, for example) then that's a completely different issue and one that needs to be addressed--but again, they are downloading English-language versions of these books so it can't be an insurmountable issue. I am just not sure that "we can't get those books here so we have to download pirated copies" is as legitimate an excuse as it might appear.

Deb, perhaps your foreign reader will be able to provide some feedback and give me some information on why orders come in from some countries and not others.


Deb, I'm on your side. I also think that this person's conclusion--that those who want to make a living from their creativity and protect their copyright must be old? It doesn't hold water. I'd love to be making a better living from my creativity, and I want to maintain copyright wherever it's useful. I think the commenters on this post may know more about the issue than the original commenter. By the way, when my hardcopy patterns were available from Knitpicks, they sold hundreds of copies. The same patterns are now available as low price pdfs. Volume is way way down, maybe ten copies of each pattern a year. Even ignoring the issues of advertising, one can focus on hard copy catalog delivery along with the hard copy pattern. Obviously, there is still a big market out there for the hardcopy, whatever it is.

Lee Kottner

I hate to say this, but Michelle is just cracked. This is not a technology issue. As I write this comment, it is protected by copyright--my copyright. Once it is made into tangible form (not just floating around in my head), I own the copyright to it--just as you own the copyright to your words on this site. Technology has nothing to do with who owns their own work. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act assures that, as earlier copyright legislation protects print works. "On the internet" does not equal "free for anyone to use."

There is not a craft book in the world I would buy as an E-book, although I buy a lot of fiction in that form. Craft books need to be seen and handled, just for the sake of usefulness. PDFs are okay for short instructions, but for a whole book? No. Too cumbersome.

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