unjapanologist: (Default)

Hi! Sorry about the months of silence, I hope everyone's doing well... Dreamwidth seems quiet these days. More soon about the ten million things I've been busy with. First though, a crosspost of a quick analysis thing I wrote for Fanhackers about Amazon's new great idea. The tone of this post is restrained because Fanhackers is not a private soapbox, but my personal objections to the idea of Amazon trying to revolutionize fanfic distribution are, um, extreme.


PaidContent reports that in June this year, Amazon will be launching Kindle Worlds, a legal publishing platform for fanfic. According to Amazon's announcement, Kindle Worlds will start out by allowing fanfic based on Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries.

It's not necessarily bad news that companies are trying to create options for "licensed" fanfic, and I'll leave the in-depth analysis of the legal aspects of this to professionals. Legal issues aside, though, I certainly hope that Kindle Worlds won't become a model for other attempts to legalize fanfic. This concept seems to repeat a lot of fan-unfriendly aspects of previous forays by companies into the weird world of fic monetization. Kindle Worlds would allow fic authors to sell works "without hassle", as PaidContent says, but apparently also without many rights, and within the boundaries of extremely strict content guidelines.

The platform refers to fandoms as "Worlds". Copyright holders can give Amazon Publishing a license to allow fic writers to upload stories about licensed media to Amazon Publishing, which will then offer the stories for sale. Since this is not a self-publishing platform, Amazon Publishing will be setting the prices:
Read more... )Again, I'm not against the idea of "licensed" fic in and of itself, and those who want to agree to Amazon's terms certainly have the right to do so. However, something like Kindle Worlds can be only one option among many for licensing fic, and it definitely shouldn't be a model for other "solutions" to the legal uncertainties surrounding fanworks. The only option for publishing fic legally can't be a platform that takes or licenses away many rights, doesn't give fic authors the option to set prices, and excludes large numbers of fans with its content guidelines. Hopefully, alternatives that strike a better balance between the rights of fans and copyright holders will emerge soon to counter this.
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
So Amazon is now selling the Kindle in Japan, meaning they also have a Kindle store. I might be tempted to think this would enable Kindle-owning me to buy e-books from the Japanese Kindle store, seeing as I live in Japan and already have an account on amazon.co.jp to buy print books.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (Default)
The suspension of Digital Manga from the Kindle Store over unspecified "content violations" has been reversed, which Digital Manga attributes to the outpouring of support from fans who took action. That was fast!

While I'm glad Digital Manga can continue to sell via Amazon, I'm profoundly unimpressed with the robustness of Amazon's judgment here. If they can be swayed by one group of people yelling loudly about their interpretation of the vague content guidelines, they can be swayed by other groups, including those whose interpretations are not so benign and who may want to stop others' voices from being heard on Amazon's massive platform.
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
It seems Amazon just suspended Digital Manga Inc. from publishing on Kindle entirely. Reportedly, this was done over an ill-defined "content violation" related to Digital Manga's yaoi titles. It's not the first time that yaoi titles are the subject of censorship kerfuffles, but apparently Amazon is still not planning to clarify its famously vague guidelines about "pornography" versus "erotica".

(Apple is engaging in disturbingly similar practices, apparently keeping out yaoi titles and other LGBTQ content from its iBooks store. Digital Manga was told to remove its yaoi titles from its iPad app on February 2. It's a bad, bad thing when distributors get to control what appears on people's reading devices and can use drm to lock people even further into their walled gardens.)

Read more... )

ETA: The text above contained a reference to taking my business to the The Book Depository, but [personal profile] eggsbenedict points out that The Book Depository was bought by Amazon last year. I don't know exactly how this is impacting the running of the company, but removed the reference just to make sure. Apparently Amazon also owns Abebooks and a bunch of other book-related companies, including some I use and give money to, such as LibraryThing.

Again, I don't know what being owned by Amazon means for these companies and if it has any influence on, for instance, their content policies. Maybe there's no influence. However, it does seem clear that I'm absolutely unable to buy legal copies of some of the e-books I want or need for work without financially benefiting Amazon. It's not a sign of a healthy system if it's completely impossible anywhere in the world to buy a legal copy of a certain book without somehow going through this one single distributor.
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
I recently bought the Kindle edition of this book. $89 for an e-book is beyond obscene, but I rather desperately needed it for research and there was still room in the budget. I considered getting it as a one-month rental for the equally obscene price of $40, but the rentals page explained that the number of highlights that can be made in a rental book is sometimes limited, and I have a tendency to highlight and annotate about half of everything.

This book, by the way, is the 'official' publication of a PhD thesis that used to be available online for free - I found references and broken links to it from 2008. It's a very interesting and relevant work, and it makes me weep to know that scholars have to lock up this kind of research in $89 vaults just because they need 'real' publications to keep their careers alive.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (Default)
After the disappearance of 1984 and the no-gay-books-in-our-rankings weirdness, it seems Amazon has now decided it does not like fiction containing incest and is prepared to protect the moral integrity of its paying customers by remotely removing any naughty books from its e-reading device. I encourage anyone, especially gullible people like me paying Amazon customers, to send a message to the Kindle team via here.

EDIT: Got a reply from Amazon. "Occasionally books are removed from the Kindle Store for various reasons. We don't have any details about why a particular book may have been removed." Well, that was totally besides the point, since I was complaining about the removal of purchased books from customers' Kindles instead of just from the Kindle Store. Also, "We assure you that the books from your kindle will not be removed and you can go ahead and purchase the kindle content." THE books, meaning any book I purchase in the future? I hope so.


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