CNN has an interesting look at something we all do without thinking about it. Whether we use an iPod, iPhone, or iPad for e-reading or just for music, when we want to upgrade iTunes, we don’t bother to read through 52 pages of legalese. We just click the accept button and assume that “Nothing bad is going to happen.”
But CNN has talked to a couple of lawyers who remind us that we are entering into a binding contract when we click that “agree” button.
According to New York technology attorney Mark Grossman, selecting "Agree" serves as an electronic signature, due to a law passed in 2000. It has the same validity as typing your name in an e-mail or signing a document using a pen.
Jonathan Handel, a Los Angeles-based entertainment attorney who specializes in digital media, technology and intellectual property, said that because the iTunes terms are essentially a contract, people should treat them as such and give them more than a cursory glance.
The lawyers bring up three points from the contract that users may not be aware of but might want to pay closer attention. First, the Genius feature allows Apple to make use of data from their computer, such as your iTunes playlists, in order to generate recommendations for you. Second, you’re responsible for backing up your own purchases—if you lose them, Apple won’t replace them for you. And third, you’re licensing the content you buy—not purchasing it outright.
The lawyers note that there really isn’t any way Apple can cut the length down, because everything that is mentioned is legally important, and Apple could get in trouble for leaving it out.
"Whatever is in those 50 pages needed to be said," [Grossman] said. "Could you try [reducing] 50 to five and not lose anything? Someone is going to say that it wasn’t in the summary and therefore does not count."
And also, some of that legalese is included at the insistence of the media companies that provide Apple with content.
Handel notes that it would be helpful if Apple would at least clarify some of the content, if not shorten it. But he also suggests it’s incumbent on users to read the terms as well.
I don’t know if there’s really any kind of answer here. If we read the terms and conditions thoroughly on every piece of software we used or website we visited, we wouldn’t have time to do anything else. It’s an ingrained habit to click through those licenses, and I doubt very many people actually bother to read any of them. And the people who write those licenses darned well know it—if they don’t, they should by now.
So we’ve got a whole industry that spends its time writing licenses nobody ever reads. I wonder if the courts will ever accept “Nobody ever reads those and you know it,” as a valid defense?
English teachers and other grammarians have long complained about the prevalence of texting abbreviations causing a corruption in the grammar of our youth. But I think there may be a more pressing new-media threat to proper grammar: desktop publishing.
Think about it. In the old days, when you wanted to put a “No admittance” or “Authorized personnel only” sign up, you had to pay a fairly large sum of money to have it fabricated. When you were paying that much money, and getting a permanent artifact in return, you (and the artifact makers) would make damned sure that everything on it was right.
But now, that kind of sign is made through the virtues of desktop publication…and without as much care taken. The first four signs in this article are all hanging at my place of employment in one place or another. Not on the main work floor (where cameras are not permitted, or I couldn’t have taken the photos), but in the entrance (not “enterance”) and breakroom areas. They’ve all been hanging there for days at least, without any changes. It seems likely they’ll continue to hang there for the conceivable future.
After all, it’s not really worth anybody’s time to hunt down the person to whom to complain about them. (Certainly hasn’t been worth mine, for all that I was raised by English majors to have the grammatical equivalent of “perfect pitch.”) I imagine lot of people don’t even notice anything is wrong with them.
And even if someone did, would it be worth the time of the people who made the signs to go back, remake them, laminate them, and re-hang them? Anyone who sees them knows what they mean, even if they’re not spelled quite right, and those people have other demands on their time—it’s a busy place.
And in this way our tolerance to bad spelling and grammar increases, and perhaps people who don’t know any better see the signs and assume that’s the way it’s supposed to be spelled, since clearly nobody’s bothered to change it. The good-enough is the enemy of the perfect.
Of course, desktop publishing signs aren’t the only place to find typos and bad grammar. Today I was out at a local arts fest, sampling beers from a local microbrewery, Mother’s Brewing Company, and examining the (apparently professionally-printed) stand-up signs talking about their beer. I happened to notice that one of these beers, in particular, offered “hints of frit.” So I asked the microbrewery staff serving it exactly what “frit” was. “I was in a hurry,” one of them explained embarrassedly. Of course, they used the sign anyway. (But I’m mostly willing to forgive them because they have some very nice beer.)
And the other day on my peanut butter jar, I noticed something else that suggests I need to be careful what individuals I allow near it. After all, it “contains peanut products which may be allergic to some individuals.” I certainly wouldn’t want those peanut products to get sick. (Though, to be fair, this is on a product imported from Argentina. Perhaps the grammatical construction of the Spanish language is to blame.)
In a way, I suppose this mirrors the complaint that some have about self-published books: when it’s so cheap and easy to publish, it’s much easier for errors to creep in. There’s not the incentive to spend the extra time and money to make sure everything is correct. But then again, judging by the quality of some commercially-produced e-books, there doesn’t seem to be much incentive to spend that extra time and money there, either.
(And as a side note: it’s one of the physical laws of the Internet that any post complaining about spelling or grammar will have at least one spelling or grammar mistake in it itself. I’m willing to stipulate that such an error probably exists in this one, so just take it as read and don’t rub my nose in it if you find it, okay?)
On his blog the other day, Eoin Purcell brought up an interesting point about how electronic books are changing the nature of the book market. In the old print market, bookstores could only present a limited number of titles so they concentrated mainly on new releases plus a very small selection of publisher backlists.
Of course, providing full access to the “long tail” of all titles was the foundation of Amazon’s business model, but even then it was limited to titles that were available in print. But with e-books, there’s no reason any title should go out of availability (and Google’s scanning project means that even out-of-print and never-publisher-scanned titles could be available for sale if they ever get the lawsuits out of the way).
Purcell points out that most people don’t focus on whether a title is newly-published or backlist—what matters to them is whether or not they’ve already read it. Where a consumer might be reluctant to buy it (or, more likely, never even notice it) as a beat-up used paperback copy, there’s nothing about an e-version of it that’s any different from the e-version of the very latest thing to be published. (Save that the price of the backlist title is likely to be lower, of course.)
He believes that is making publishers—who depend on good sales from their latest blockbusters to keep going—very nervous. While they could, of course, rake in money from their own backlists just as easily, they’re not necessarily set up to take full advantage of that market yet. (Not to mention that authors whose contracts pre-date mention of e-book rights might have their own ideas about where to take their backlist books.) Meanwhile, publishers such as Open Road Integrated Media are setting up specifically to handle authors’ backlists and finding that the future looks very bright.
As Purcell notes, the jury is still out on whether or not this is entirely a good thing—but certainly it’s going to make the next few years more interesting.
At Techdirt, Mike Masnick has an interesting piece looking at the dynamics of Groupon, and how they’re able to keep ahead of competitors. You would think that there’s nothing particularly special about a coupon site, but Groupon manages to stay ahead of the competition through its execution—most notably, the snappy, humorous copy it comes up with to promote even the most prosaic of deals.
As a final aside, the quality of Groupon’s content highlights another key point that we’ve raised many times before: how "infinite goods" like content make scarce goods more valuable. In this case, the "content" created by Groupon’s writers (and, yes, this is also an example of how advertising is content) is valuable. But no one’s selling the "content." What Groupon is doing is using that good content to make the scarcity of the deals more valuable, making more people willing to buy them.
This also puts me in mind of Woot.com, the one-day bargains site which did well enough that Amazon snapped it up, which also punches up its deals with witty prose. And it makes me wonder how it might be applied to using e-books to make physical goods worth more.
Of course, we’ve already seen some companies, like Baen, doing this by giving away free or selling inexpensive copies of e-books, and even bundling them onto giveaway CDs. And a lot of e-readers bundle free public-domain content. But it feels like that sort of thing is only scratching the surface. I wonder what other potential uses are out there?
Chinagram, a wonderful interactive ebook for the iPad:
ToDo have recently launched a most intriguing interactive ebook for those who wish to understand and learn how the Chinese write…. All those thousands of rather beautiful but confusing characters.
I have had a look at it, and as one who has struggled to learn how to read and write in Chinese, I found it both useful, to the point, accurate and fun as well. full of background information about how all the various characters evolved over the roughly 4000 years that the Chinese have been writing, how they should be written (the order and direction of the brush strokes) and so on.
A fascinating and useful ebook for anyone interested in this intriguing language.
In the press release they sent me, they describe what this application actually is rather well, so here is how they describe it:
Chinagram is an iPad application that tells the story of Chinese writing, explaining its logic and showing its beauty, sign after sign.
Chinagram blends the fascinating story and aesthetics of Chinese characters with beautifully crafted graphics and a sleek, intuitive user interface.
Based on the book “Chinese Writing” by Yuan Huaqing, a renowned Chinese language professor and translator, Chinagram is not a dictionary, but an annotated history of Chinese writing that will show you how to see beyond the elegance of the characters to understand their origin and rationale.
Each character is either a beautiful example of calligraphic art and a distillation of China’s history and traditional culture.
Chinagram includes a historical and a linguistic overview, which will help you understand how Chinese writing has changed over the centuries and what are its basic rules today.
With Chinagram you can approach Chinese by discovering the meaning and the evolution of over 120 symbols chosen among the most representative ones. For each symbol you can read an in-depth explanation, including examples of how each word is used today in common idioms and sayings.
You can also listen to its pronunciation and try your hand at tracing your first ideograms right on your iPad’s screen.
When you bear in mind that most educated Chinese may know anything up to 50,000 characters, you begin to understand the complexity of it all – Me, I managed to learn about 100 while living in Beijing, and was pretty pleased with myself for getting that many under my belt, so I am overwhelmed with admiration for all those Chinese kids who learn 50 or so a week.
On the website dedicated to this App, they show you roughly what you will get if you purchase the thing, it is rather beautiful and well worth a visit I think.
Chinagram for iPad from todo.to.it on Vimeo.
Chinagram is now available on the App Store at launch price of EUR
2.99 (USD 3.99, GBP 2.39). Full price will be EUR 3.99 (USD 4.99, GBP 3.49).
With the smaller 7 inch PlayBook tablet slowly settling down, more so with twin OS updates that RIM came out with in quick succession, the focus now is probably on a bigger 10 inch PlayBook that is rumored to be under development. So while there are reports of RIM having ramped up its production on the back of an increase in demand, there also come news, though from various unconfirmed sources about the bigger PlayBook making a market splash sometime during the holidays.
While this is yet to be accorded the official status from RIM, pure business sense does point out it would let RIM have better control over the tablet market with two products in two different size segments. Also, its would be probably safe to assume the next PlayBook will come loaded with all the necessary software enhancements such as an e-mail client to ensure better consumer penetration right from the start.
- PlayBook to include calendar, e-mail and contact apps in a future update
- BlackBerry PlayBook tablet may cost 9
- 64GB BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet Confirmed
- Blackberry PlayBook may cost only 0
- Latest PlayBook video shows the tablet in portrait mode
- PlayBook will run Android apps
It’s called the Live Tablet and will cost US9. You can find out more here. According to their site it should be available on June 21.
Here are some of the details:
From the press release:
Bookish (www.bookish.com), a new digital platform for readers, is set to launch this summer it was announced today. Backed by Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group (USA), and Simon & Schuster, Bookish has been designed to provide readers — from the most casual to the most dedicated — with a personalized experience connecting them with their favorite authors and books through original editorial features, unique tools and more. The AOL Huffington Post Media Group is partnering with the site to engage users with Bookish content across the network’s wide range of destination sites; AOL will provide advertising sales support for the new venture.
Editorially independent, Bookish will be a place for readers to find great content about books and authors from a variety of publishers. Bookish will highlight a wide range of genres and allow readers to find their next book as well as recommend books to each other.
New media veteran Paulo Lemgruber is leading the effort as Bookish’s CEO. Previously, Lemgruber developed and ran digital businesses for Comcast and Reed Elsevier. Also part of the Bookish team is Charlie Rogers, who will serve as Editor-in-Chief. Prior to becoming part of Bookish, Rogers was Editor-in-Chief, Digital Media at NBC Universal and worked at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and The Paris Review. Technology efforts will be directed by Bookish Chief Technology Officer Andy Parsons, who previously served as CTO for Outside.in and Digital Railroad, Inc., as well as Director of Software Development at Juice Software. Bookish’s Director of Product in charge of the user experience is Brad Dickason who previously sold a company, Giant Realm, to Burst Media and then served as their Director, Creative Products and Services. He is also a former competitive video gamer.
“Bookish enjoys the support of significant, established players in the publishing and online space. Nobody is more intimately familiar with the multitude of elements that make a book appealing than its publisher,” explained Lemgruber. “In addition to working with Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group (USA) and Simon & Schuster, we look forward to working with the entire publishing and book-selling community to make Bookish an exciting destination that will delight readers. We are also thrilled to work closely with AOL Huffington Post Media Group to tap into its groundbreaking ability to start real-time conversations around content and partnering with AOL on our advertising sales effort.”
Said Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief of AOL Huffington Post Media Group, “As a lifelong book lover — and reading evangelist — I’m always on the lookout for innovative ways to get people excited about books, to remind them why they are so important, and to spark a thousand conversations around big issues, fun ideas and great writing. That’s why we’re delighted to be working with Bookish — and to use our multimedia, social, and community engagement tools to help connect our readers with authors and their books. And we’ll highlight this content through our entire network and hyperlocal sites.”
Designed to answer the question “What should I read next?” as well as to deepen the reading experience around books, authors and genres, Bookish will feature exclusive content covering a wide selection of titles and formats. It will also offer readers the convenience of purchasing print and digital books directly or through other retailers. Bookish is dedicated to working closely with book retailers, and in the coming weeks will reach out to explore ways to complement the retailers’ efforts and enhance all reader experiences.
“We’ve assembled an incredibly entrepreneurial and dynamic team at Bookish that embraces the most cutting-edge trends in publishing and technology,” says Lemgruber. “With our team’s startup expertise and credentials, as well as our ability to leverage the knowledge of publishers, retailers and authors, Bookish is innately positioned to fuel people’s passion for books.”
From the Calibre website:
Lots has changed in calibre-land in the last year. A great feature is “Get Books” which allows you to search for a book by title and author and returns the list of web stores that sell it in ebook form, allowing you to easily find the lowest prices for popular books or search many different places for hard to find ebook editions.
The last year has also seen the maturing of the calibre plugin infrastructure, which has led to a vibrant community of user developed plugins that extend calibre’s functionality in many novel ways. See the Index of plugins.
calibre has an all new metadata download system that allows you much more control over the process. For example, you can now choose a cover from many different online sources.
As always, calibre has gained support for dozens of new devices, conversion of a few new formats, notably, SNB and the Plucker formats. The performance of calibre has been greatly improved, especially with large libraries of tens of thousands of books.
While not directly calibre related, a new website that catalogues unrestricted access ebooks for sale was started: Open Books. All the books on this website are for sale, but they do not have DRM, which means you actually own them after paying for them. You can convert them to different formats, fix typos in them, view them on as many devices as you like. At calibre, we believe that DRM free is the future of digital information and Open Books is a small effort to help speed that future along.
Click to watch some of the new features in calibre 0.8
These and many more new features are described in detail below.
- Get Books
- Lots of new calibre plugins
- New metadata download system
- Interface improvements
- Content Server improvements
- E-book viewer improvements
- Conversion engine improvements
- Library management improvements
Ebook:Barnes and Noble Nook Color e-Reader Tips and Tricks
In this video, we respond to many questions we got on our Blog and Youtube channel on your Barnes and Noble Nook Color! We go into detail on how to get ebooks you copied over via Adobe Digital Editions to appear on your Book Shelf. We also show you how to copy music files over and how to get them to play properly. Finally, we show you how to copy over Wall-Papers and tell you exactly what sizes you need for Static and Scrolling Wall-Papers. Check out our blog for more news on e-readers at goodereader.com
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