Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Alternative book formats for the disabled raise copyright issues; Amazon as a publisher

Carolina Rossini has an article at the Electronic Frontier Foundation regarding the proposal to change an international treaty regarding copyrights to give the blind, visually impaired or with print disabilities more rights in accessing other versions of conventionally published books. 

The debate goes on at at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Alan Adler speaks for the Association of American Publishers (AAP), which is resistant to the idea of corporate publishers giving up any ownership rights in a manner that sets a precedent for situations for which publishers already have well established practices.

The link for the EFF story is here.

The story is provocative for me for another reason.  In 1997, when I self-published my first “Do Ask Do Tell” book with 350 copies from a book manufacturer in Gaithersburg, MD, I remember the issue of controlling costs.  There was no way I could have presented my book in a variety of other formats, such as large print, braille, or audio tape, had that been expected.   

With print on demand, such possibilities may emerge as practical capabilities of print-on-demand companies, which, so far, have many been interested in e-book alternatives, particularly for the Amazon Kindle.  In fact, some small, mainly self-published, books have been available by Kindle only.

On that issue, I still like to have a hard-copy of a book if possible.  I like to have something I can use even if the power is out or there is no Internet connection (although you don’t need one once you download the book) – even on a camping trip, even in the Third World some day.  Yet Amazon says that sale of Kindle are booming in comparison to hard-copy.  I see Kindles on the Metro (that is, either in Washington DC or the NYC Transit System) all the time, and on the Amtrak train and plane. (Yes, I’ve been to the Big Apple a lot in the past year.)  Amazon has created a flap by becoming a “publisher” itself, as in this Wall Street journal story Oct. 17 by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, link here

Barnes and Noble was unwilling to stock Amazon titles in its stores – not even right next to my favorite Landmark Theater.  

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