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Amazon Delaying Public Domain Submissions On Kindle 100

Posted by kdawson
from the cultural-gatekeepers dept.
John B. Hare writes "Many publishers of public domain content on the Kindle are being turned away for reasons that Amazon declines to clarify. In the past two weeks any publisher posting a public domain book (or a book that appears to be a such) has received the message 'Your book is currently under review by the Kindle Operations team as we are trying to improve the Kindle customer experience. Please check back in 5 business days to see if your book was published to the store.' Amazon claims that this is a quality control issue, apparently believing that readers can't figure out on their own that a five-page Kindle book for $9.99 is a rip-off, or that yet another Kindle edition of 'Pride and Prejudice' is pointless. This was supposed to be the point of user feedback and the Kindle return policy: users can quickly decide what the best choice is, and if they don't like it, back out without any harm done." Read on for details of this reader's interaction with Amazon on the subject of public domain Kindle submissions.

I own and run one of the primary contributors of new public domain e-texts on the web: sacred-texts.com. I am (was?) in the process of converting all of the 2,000+ e-books at sacred-texts into Kindle editions. I use a homebrew preflight Kindle filter to construct the Kindle binary from my master files, which we have invested nearly a million dollars into creating. We spend thousands a month in-house doing legal clearance, scanning, OCRing, and proofing, often by domain experts. So we are hardly a fly-by-night operation. In fact, many of the PD texts floating around on the Internet and on the Kindle were originally done at sacred-texts at great investment of labor and time. Our Kindle return rate is close to zero.

I just received the following email from Amazon:

Dear Publisher,

We're working on a policy and procedure change to fix a customer experience problem caused by multiple copies of public domain titles being uploaded by a multitude of publishers. For an example of this problem, do a search on "Pride and Prejudice" in the Kindle Store. The current situation is very confusing for customers as it makes it difficult to decide which 'Pride and Prejudice' to choose. As a result, at this time we are not accepting additional public domain titles through DTP, including the following:

The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ
The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ
Traces of a Hidden Tradition in Masonry and Medieval Mysticism
The History of the Knights Templar by Nicolas Notovitch
...

If you believe that we have wrongly identified this title as a public domain title, and you are the copyright holder or are authorized to sell it by the copyright holder, then please reply to title-submission@amazon.com with appropriate documentation of your e-book rights.

Thank you, Amazon.com

One key point is that Amazon has applied this ban completely non-selectively. Established publishers such as myself and others who have never had any quality control issues whatsoever, and give good value for the price, have all been tarred with the broad brush of "Public Domain Publisher — do not post."

By banning new public domain books from the Kindle, they are making an implicit decision as to which books people should read. You can argue that "you can get these texts anywhere," but by excluding high-quality Kindle books from the nascent Kindle marketplace, Amazon is implicitly deciding what is a valid part of our culture and what isn't. This trend does not bode well for the future of e-books.

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Amazon Delaying Public Domain Submissions On Kindle

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  • 1984? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:01AM (#29466593)

    This move is probably related to the whole 1984 incident, which was caused by someone uploading and selling content that they didn't possess the rights to. The whole episode was a huge embarrassment for Amazon, and I can certainly see why they're being more diligent in this area.

    • Re:1984? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mh1997 (1065630) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:22AM (#29466853)

      Dear Publisher,

      We're working on a policy and procedure change to fix a customer experience problem caused by multiple copies of public domain titles being uploaded by a multitude of publishers. For an example of this problem, do a search on "Pride and Prejudice" in the Kindle Store. The current situation is very confusing for customers as it makes it difficult to decide which 'Pride and Prejudice' to choose.

      It's about time. I own a Kindle 2 and hate searching thru the garbage before I find the correct title.

      • by Zerth (26112)

        Ditto, public domain Kindle books would probably be the next big "turnkey internet business" scam. It's bad enough all the people who try to sell CDs of PD info on auction sites.

        If I wanted such books, I'll get them off of Gutenberg.

        • Lots of stuff is not available on Gutenburg. Also converting the work PROPERLY is work that traditionally costs quite a bit of time.

          One of the main problems is that the quality of some of the PD work conversion process is very poor. They may have skipped a few pages here and there in the scaning. not spell checked it. scanned a page twice, not formatted with paragraphs correctly ....

          Also, if Big Publisher can have books up on Kindle but little guy can't because they stay in review forever.
          • by Zerth (26112)

            What isn't available on Gutenburg will be available on Gutenburg, because, as you said, it takes time. If you're in a hurry, try Google:)

            And little guys could have content on the Kindle, they just can't use DRM or sell directly through Amazon. There are several stores besides Amazon that sell ebooks that are readable on the kindle(Baen comes to mind). There are a magnitude more sites offering kindle books for free through the kindle's wireless web browser.

            I'm kind of suspicious about the submitter, since

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Agree 100%. It really is annoying how many "publishers" think a public domain book is worth $4.

        Having said that, Amazon should really go all out and just offer the entire Project Gutenberg catalog (giving credit to PG, of course) and be done with it.

        "Publishers" who really want to make a new public domain book available to a wide audience can just help Project Gutenberg and it should automatically show up for the Kindle.

        • The problem with these public domain books is that they are free or low cost and Amazon has to pay for the air time to download them. If they don't get a fair cut of the royalties, their business model doesn't work. I can understand that. They probably have a percentage of low cost/free books they can tolerate before they are not profitable.
        • They already do offer the entire Gutenberg catalog. But if you think Gutenberg has every PD title there is, you are sadly mistaken. In fact, Gutenberg has only a tiny fraction of all the books ever published before 1923. And of that tiny fraction, only a tiny fraction is formatted for the Kindle so the reading experience is somewhat bearable.
    • caused by someone uploading and selling content that they didn't possess the rights to

      That's kind of the point of public domain [wikipedia.org] works. Nobody (everybody) owns the rights to them.

      • Re:1984? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by sqlrob (173498) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:33AM (#29466995)

        Public domain still isn't the same the world over. See 1984.

      • Re:1984? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by natehoy (1608657) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:39AM (#29467079) Journal

        And the publisher who put "1984" and "Animal Farm" on Amazon's marketplace claimed they WERE Public Domain. Except they turned out to be wrong.

        Amazon was roundly criticized for it, and their clumsy handling of it. Now Amazon needs to make sure that any works that they publish as Public Domain REALLY ARE Public Domain. They can't recall the works - they promised they wouldn't. But if they are not authorized to sell it then they end up selling it, things could get really ugly.

        I sincerely doubt that Amazon is involved in a black helicopter conspiracy to keep anyone from reading any public domain work they damned well please on their Kindle, for the very simple reason that there is no benefit to Amazon for doing so.

        However, they do have an obligation to copyright holders and their own stakeholders to make sure that anything they claim as public domain is, in fact, public domain. They can't afford another mistake.

        And they also have a vested interest in making sure that people can find a single, well-formatted, vetted version of each book. If I search for (as the example states) "Pride and Prejudice" and I find dozens of copies of it, I'm going to think that the Amazon bookstore is a jumbled confused mess. Especially if I have to download a dozen of them to find one that is in acceptably readable format for the Kindle.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Thansal (999464)

          I sincerely doubt that Amazon is involved in a black helicopter conspiracy to keep anyone from reading any public domain work they damned well please on their Kindle, for the very simple reason that there is no benefit to Amazon for doing so.
          Thank you. That line in the summary really bothered me.

          And they also have a vested interest in making sure that people can find a single, well-formatted, vetted version of each book. If I search for (as the example states) "Pride and Prejudice" and I find dozens of cop

        • by WNight (23683)

          However, they do have an obligation to copyright holders and their own stakeholders

          I'm sure Apple has just as annoying of a justification for the iPhone app-store... "If we didn't keep dictionaries with bad words off our service, someone might sue!!1!"

          That's why these walled gardens like Steam, the iPhone, Kindle (the Kindle is less so, but still totally controlled by Amazon) are worthless to consumers.

          If PG mistakenly offers a book for download as PD they'll be forced to remove it but all the downloaders will be fine. But if someone like Amazon is there to be sued, they will be, and if t

    • Re:1984? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Nadaka (224565) on Friday September 18, 2009 @11:17AM (#29467585)

      wrong. Someone who had rights to 1984 uploaded it and started selling it. However, those rights didn't cross all international borders.

    • No, these seem to be books which Amazon has identified as being in the public domain. 1984 would not have been detected by this system. Amazon is detecting that the book can probably be legally published, and has chosen to not publish those.

      If only there were a way to review and rate book purchases so the buyers could decide between different versions. (Amazon search for Alice in Wonderland sorted by Ratings: 811 results) [amazon.com]

  • Self interest (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:03AM (#29466611) Homepage

    The article would be more interesting - if it were an actual article rather than a rant about how Amazon won't grant them unlimited access to Amazon's customers. (Which is their right dammit! They've spent a million dollars!)

    • Most of the stuff on my Kindle is public domain, stuff I have downloaded from legit free text sites. Yeah, they are not in the "Kindle format," and that's a drag... for about 20 seconds, and then I remember how much I paid for the free text, versus how much I pay for a Kindle Version of anything, and then I am happy again.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      well said... The author also assumes Amazon's actions and intents although they contradict the email from them. They haven't banned all public domain books they are currently "working on a policy and procedure change..."
      Seems reasonable after the 1984 issue, they need a system to make sure the copyright is public domain and need to protect the customer to ensure the copy is worth buying and not just copy and pasted from any number of free public domain book sites.
      There was/is a book you can buy that turns
      • by WNight (23683)

        they need a system to make sure the copyright is public domain and need to protect the customer [...]

        Or, they could take out the ability to revoke a book. That'd protect the customer, and not having the ability they couldn't get sued and forced to use it.

        They're exactly as interested in consumer protection as Apple and Microsoft are.

  • A couple points (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wiredog (43288) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:03AM (#29466619) Journal

    1. Why don't you sell the books yourself?

    2.One key point is that Amazon has applied this ban completely non-selectively.

    This seems to me like a good thing. They've identified a problem, too many public domain titles that are dupes (Slashdot had a dupe problem too). They are apparently working on a solution.

    Now if, in a few months, they are still blocking all public domain book, then there's a problem.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      I agree that this is probably not a big problem. You might think that having public domain books wouldn't be attractive to Amazon because they miss out on the profit of selling books, and therefore there's some nefarious motives here.

      On the other hand, having public domain books available is probably very attractive to Amazon in that it makes more content available for the Kindle, which means the Kindle is a more attractive product. If they want to sell Kindles and sell content to the Kindle, then having

    • (Slashdot had a dupe problem too).

      ...had?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I agree that this post is a little strange, in that (a) there's nothing stopping them from offering Kindle editions on their own website, or (2) offering them in other etext formats (there's certainly more than there need to be now).

      I can also see how Amazon would be cautious after their 1984 debacle.

      However, I'm struck a little by the reactions here on Slashdot. Amazon *is* being hypocritical in their practices compared to their online sales of physical books, and I find it hard to believe that Amazon woul

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Otherwise, people might start asking questions like "If copyright used to expire, why doesn't it now? Are effectively infinite copyright terms really in the public interest?"

    • by Enry (630) <enryNO@SPAMwayga.net> on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:12AM (#29466725) Journal

      I disagree, since the Kindle has a large quantity of free and PD books available.

      But I think the larger point that Amazon has is correct - that having multiple versions of the same book, each of varying quality, is not a good thing.

      Take the case of freecddb vs CDDB (just from a technical standpoint, forget politics or the nasty stuff that CDDB did). When I rip a CD and use freecddb, I'll get varying answers. A 2-CD set often has different artist or album names between the two CDs. Misspellings are common. But CDDB has the CD listed only once, and the information is almost always correct (of course, I still use freecddb most of the time, then mutter, make corrections, and send them up for verification).

      Some of the free ebooks I've downloaded for my Kindle are of okay quality (I've found a number of formatting or misspelling issues) compared to non-PD books I purchased from Amazon.

      The answer, unfortunately, is that Amazon has to have only a few copies of a book on its site that is of good to great quality, but allow you to download ebooks from other sites (I note that sacred-texts.com didn't have an ebook version of the KJV Bible, for instance, otherwise I may have downloaded it).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by croddy (659025)
      That reminds me -- when's the last time a copyrighted work passed into the public domain? I'm 28 years old; has that ever happened in my lifetime? A brief discussion with some of my lawyer friends a couple of weeks ago concluded that it probably hadn't.
      • when's the last time a copyrighted work passed into the public domain?

        Not that long ago actually [wikipedia.org]

        • by mweather (1089505)
          In order for Night of the Living Dead to pass into public domain, it had to be copyrighted properly in the first place. It was not, thus it was always public domain.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by alva_edison (630431)
        There was a three year period between 1995 and 1997 where some works passed into the public domain due to copyright expiration (falling under the 75 year term of the Copyright Act of 1976), prior to that it was 1975 (under the 28 or 56 year terms of the Copyright Act of 1909).  The next time something might fall out is in 2018 (under the 95 year term of the Copyright Act of 1998).
      • by Comboman (895500)
        In the United States, 1998 was the last time anything entered the public domain. If there are no more extensions, items will start entering the public domain again in 2019.
      • by croddy (659025)
        well, that's certainly more recent than i thought. but it's preeeettty pathetic that the 20 years since then have seen not a single work enter the public domain.
    • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:36AM (#29467027) Homepage Journal

      BTW, another take on the same idea: PD compicates DRM. It is imperative that Amazon makes sure that none of their technical measures and other barriers to interoperability, never get applied to PD works. And even if they don't apply the DRM itself, they still might necessarily do things that inhibit access to PD stuff.

      Why does this matter? Because DMCA does not prohibit bypassing DRM. Saying that it does, is an over-generalization. It only prohibits circumventing DRM on copyrighted works without the copyright holder's permission. You can legally bypass DRM on PD works. You can legally distribute and traffic in DRM-defeating tools, provided you can show that it's primarily intended and marketed for accessing PD stuff. And Amazon and the Kindle are big enough names, that just publishing one book is enough to generate a tools market for people who want to read that book.

      One might think it's simple enough, to just not set the evil bit for PD works. And as far as the bottommost DRM layer itself, it probably is. But no DRM system lives in isolation. If any user is ever allowed to access any file on a Kindle, that justifies users and developers to peel back 99% of the Kindle's shittiness.

      I think this basic idea -- situations where DRM is legally attackable (either by PD or by copyright holders authorizing it) -- is the one flaw in DMCA that can lead to the eventual legal (not just technical) defeat of many DRM systems.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Almost anything that is uploaded to the Kindle store that was based on a public domain work is no longer entirely public domain.

        The amount of work you need to do to convert the source work properly to the Kindle is not trivial. Yes people can OCR direct to a file and upload that but the quality is not much better than a google translation in many cases.

        Go to a mainstream bookstore and pick up a copy of one of Mark Twain's books and look at the copyright notice.
        • by jgs (245596)

          Almost anything that is uploaded to the Kindle store that was based on a public domain work is no longer entirely public domain.

          That may be, but the GP says that it potentially only takes a single DRM'd PD work to establish a legal use for DRM circumvention. If that's so, then "almost" isn't good enough for someone in the DRM business. If your goal is to execute this kind of legal hack, your first step would be to create and upload a work which you explicitly place into the public domain. That would seem to address your points.

        • by eclectro (227083)

          Almost anything that is uploaded to the Kindle store that was based on a public domain work is no longer entirely public domain.

          No. It remains in the public domain. Parent poster would be right, and trying to apply a copyright to expired material is a form of copyfraud [wikipedia.org]. Others have tried to re-copyright stuff [arstechnica.com]. A mere digital translation does not a copyright make either (i.e. it's not a creative work, it's algorythmic).

          I suppose there is that whole dubious "End User License Agreement" that Amazon has gooed up the Kindle with. But I guess that's why it's called the "Kindle Swindle." The only reason to own a Kindle is if you want to jo

        • Yes people can OCR direct to a file and upload that but the quality is not much better than a google translation in many cases.

          Huh? OCR is a direct conversion of printed letters and has nothing to do with translation. And having done some OCR myself I can confidently say that printed texts are absolutely no challenge whatsoever, even with the bundled software that came with my scanner over 10 years ago.

          Go to a mainstream bookstore and pick up a copy of one of Mark Twain's books and look at the copyright notice.

          Irrelevant. A publisher can print whatever they want. Whether their claim is valid is another matter.

        • by WNight (23683)

          Sure, and buy a copy on XP or Vista, Photoshop, etc. You're absolutely entitled, by common-law and explicitly through copyright statute, to use the work.

          But the EULA says otherwise.

          So yeah, those Mark Twain books can say whatever they want but if they're primarily a reformatting of a now-copyright expired work they aren't actually under copyright.

          If I had my way lies like that would result in a direct forfeiture of the rights claimed and any related rights. That might end up public-domaining a few operating

        • by gronofer (838299)

          Go to a mainstream bookstore and pick up a copy of one of Mark Twain's books and look at the copyright notice.

          I don't think they would be claiming copyright just for the scanning and proofreading. More likely they have added a few pages of introduction over which they can claim copyright. As far as I know it would be fraudulent for them to claim copyright over somebody else's text otherwise.

          • by Marauder2 (82448)

            More to the point, they don't (and can't) claim copyright to the text of "Tom Sawyer", but they can and are claiming copyright to that particular print version (ie. the aspects of the presentation (bound/electronic volume) beyond the words of the title book itself. So while the words are not under copyright, the rest of the total of the "presentation" is, and include the entirety of the other aspects such as fonts used, pagination, cover art/design, page/chapter art/design, prefacing commentary, etc. effect

  • Public Domain (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Drunken Buddhist (467947) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:08AM (#29466679) Homepage

    By banning new public domain books from the Kindle, they are making an implicit decision as to which books people should read. You can argue that "you can get these texts anywhere," but by excluding high-quality Kindle books from the nascent Kindle marketplace, Amazon is implicitly deciding what is a valid part of our culture and what isn't. This trend does not bode well for the future of e-books.

    Actually they're really making a decision on which books they wish to deliver on their service, paid or unpaid. Honestly I can get behind Amazon on this as the appropriate policy to have in this situation is broad-based denial to avoid exactly what they're stating; multiple copies of public domain works, whose redundancy will create a negative user experience, and to which the public (not an individual) holds the copyright. And in this situation, if the work isn't being provided for free (as a public domain work), the potential for abuse is extraordinary. I would chide Amazon for not providing a dispute process based on the quality of the supplied work, or an alternate pricing scheme for businesses such as the OP's, but I do not fault them for this policy in general.

  • by qoncept (599709) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:08AM (#29466687) Homepage

    Amazon is implicitly deciding what is a valid part of our culture and what isn't. This trend does not bode well for the future of e-books.

    No shit? It looks more like they're deciding to limit copies of a book to one in their store. The implications of that are probably more like "... deciding what they think is in their own best interest as a profit seeking company."

    I like how you took the high road here and argue your point on a moral level. You know, when it's obvious your beef with Amazon is over the income it's costing you. Normally "yro" means a bunch of annoying BS to me, but masquerading as someone that generally think the decision by a company to limit the books to one copy (not even prevent you from reading it, but eliminate the dupes!) that can be read on a device I've never even seen anyone use is going to somehow have even a slight impact on society takes the cake.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MisterSquid (231834)

      Your reply seems a little harsh and your points made me think of a valid objection to the "elimination of duplicates," which is what to do about variant editions. In the history of publishing, many texts have been published as a single volume only to be changed at a later time. Sometimes the changes are corrections to the text such as spelling corrections. However, in some cases the revisions are much more substantive. Charles Dickensâ(TM) Great Expecations has two endings. William Faulkner's As I Lay

  • have you tried? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:09AM (#29466689)
    Have you tried contacting Amazon about this to clarify that you're not simply a "fly-by-night" publisher? Or was your first reaction to start posting this around the net to illustrate how Amazon is treating you unfairly. I can understand their position, especially considering the issues that they've had to deal with in the recent past. It wouldn't surprise me that they're throwing out the blanket "ban", but that they're also more than willing to work with the larger publishers as soon as they step forward. So I suggest doing just that -- step forward and clearly explain yourself and your position to Amazon directly instead of whining to the web.
  • by Mozk (844858)

    Why not just have all the public domain books downloadable for free? Then it doesn't matter what the quality of the version you downloaded is. Just download another one. It doesn't make sense for anybody to be profiting from selling public domain books unless they're selling hard copy editions that take time and money to create, which doesn't apply here where it's just a 20 KB digital copy.

    Or just make it clear to the buyer that the book is in the public domain and may be obtained for free elsewhere so they

    • Re:Why not? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by natehoy (1608657) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:29AM (#29466931) Journal

      A lot of older works are/were only available in hardcover editions, which means there is a cost of converting them to a text format. It's a one-time cost, sure, but it's not insignificant.

      There are a number of sites like Distributed Proofreaders who organize a boatload of volunteer effort to convert the print works to digital. The article yesterday about Google's application of reCAPTCHA is another way of getting the words into digital format.

      But then, beyond that, there's the issue of formatting. A lot of people like readable illustrations, placed in the text where the original author intended. Some want the book to show as pages, with page numbers matching that of the original work, and if Amazon wants a good user experience they have to make sure to select (or reformat) a work that looks good on the Kindle.

      The works themselves are public domain, yes, but that doesn't mean there's no profit to be made in formatting them for a specific device or even converting them from one format to another.

      I agree that Public Domain works should be clearly labeled so if the user wants to go get the Project Gutenberg or Distributed Proofreader version for free (or a donation if they want), they have that option. However, that doesn't mean that Amazon or their publishers shouldn't be allowed to profit from doing the conversion and formatting work.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Um, text does not a book make. Typesetting and arrangements (and of course accuracy) are the areas where versions compete. I would be willing to pay $10 for a book that was pleasant to read instead of a plain .txt version of the book. I'm sure I'm not alone in that. As Google's efforts demonstrate, acquiring copies of ALL public domain works is difficult and in most cases probably will not recoup the investment. By deferring to 3rd parties, Amazon isn't taking on the full risk for each book's successfu

  • by natehoy (1608657) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:12AM (#29466717) Journal

    Didn't Amazon get in hot water by allowing someone to offer up "1984" and "Animal Farm" claiming they were public domain works, then yanking them back when it turned out the third party who submitted them was (I'll give them the benefit of doubt) in error as to the status of that work in the US? Didn't everyone get their unmentionables in a big old snarled bunch about that? I think I can still hear faint echoes of the screams.

    Result: Amazon has to make damned sure every claim of public domain work is accurate by the laws of the country in which the work is sold. So if someone submits "1984" as a public domain work again, they'll have to stop it before it gets published. If they make another mistake, they're either gonna get boned with sand instead of vaseline by the copyright holder or have to break their promise never to delete the works again and suffer another PR nightmare.

    If Amazon is to be held responsible in the eyes of the public for any mistakes their publishing partners might happen to make, then they have an obligation to their stakeholders to audit the holy living crap out of everything, which means even if FSM Himself came down with the 10 Rules of Noodly Appendagement claiming them to be public domain, Amazon would have to do a due diligence check.

  • Shelf Space (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deemen (1316945) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:16AM (#29466767)
    Brick and mortar stores have something called "shelf space". Having 80 different copies of Pride and Prejudice in a real store wouldn't make any sense. This is simply Amazon doing the same thing, but online. Just because they have unlimited digital shelf space, doesn't mean they HAVE to carry your book. The user experience comes first, and if I walked into a brick and mortar store and was met with 80 different publishings of Pride and Prejudice, I wouldn't be so happy either. So quit bitching, Amazon is entirely within its rights.
  • And? (Score:3, Informative)

    by dieman (4814) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:17AM (#29466777) Homepage

    Let me get this straight, amazon sells PD books while Sony has free PD books powered by google and epub support. Yikes. Happy I didn't get a kindle now.

    • Re:And? (Score:5, Informative)

      by fractalVisionz (989785) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:29AM (#29466937) Homepage
      No, the PD books on Amazon are free. However, there have been an ever increasing amount of duplicates submitted by 3rd parties that have a price tag. They are just trying to remove the duplicates that have the price tag to provide a better user experience.

      Please see Pride and Prejudice [amazon.com] kindle store search. The first PD copy that comes up is free, the rest charge. That is not a good user experience as the free one is just as good as the rest (or should be).

      I completely agree with this policy, as it makes it easier for me, a user, to determine what book I should get. I don't think they should limit the different editions of books, but seriously, how many public domain books have multiple editions, like super deluxe edition with forward by Abraham Lincoln himself. Not many.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by langelgjm (860756)

      Let me get this straight, amazon sells PD books while Sony has free PD books powered by google and epub support. Yikes. Happy I didn't get a kindle now.

      Why, exactly? You are aware that with free software like Calibre, you can convert EPUB to something the Kindle can natively read, like MOBI, right? It's very easy. It can even be scripted with the Linux version of calibre (well, I guess all versions, but easiest on Linux). Or, if you have a Kindle DX, you can download the PDF version from Google.

  • Jumping the Shark (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jhouserizer (616566) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:21AM (#29466847) Homepage
    I've loved Amazon in most ways (excepting mainly their patents) for many years now. However since their introduction of the Kindle, my opinion of them has steadily declined. I think the Kindle was perhaps Amazon's shark-jumping.
  • One can always transfer them to the device for free via a cable. The limitation seems to be on what shows up in the Kindle store.

    • by Deag (250823)

      You can even download directly on the kindle if you use the crappy web browser, for example manybooks.net has kindle versions for download. They appear in the home screen afterwards.

  • Where's the Outrage? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dmomo (256005) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:26AM (#29466895) Homepage

    I cannot find it.

    I would welcome less noise on an eBook store, and if this honestly is quality control, that's a good thing.

    A delay may also be necessary to ensure something actually is public domain.

    I just don't see the conspiracy here that I would like to see. It's certainly in Amazon's interest to provide any literature that their competitors might.

  • Looking at the rejected titles, I suggest that someone at Amazon has read Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco, and thinks they're being taken for a ride by Manutius Press.

    Spoiler note: for those who haven't read it (your loss) it's about how a vanity publishing company has the idea of making its fortune by printing mystical conspiracy theory books. Unfortunately the mystical conspiracy nuts decide that the publishers know the secret answer to everything, and hunt them down to extract the secret. I guess that

  • Ok, suppose Amazon did accept the Religious Texts for sale with a marginal profit for their efforts. What happens when the other Religious Faiths decide to sue Amazon for not carrying all their Religious Texts? Everybody knows that "The Unknown Life of Zeus" will be a real hot seller, wouldn't it? How about "The Aquarian Gospel of Varuna"? I bet Amazon makes a bundle on that one, don't you think? Just where does it stop? Who decides what is worth publishing with regards to Religion? At what point do you say
  • Um, waaah? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc,paradise&gmail,com> on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:40AM (#29467101) Homepage Journal
    While I understand that submitter's company has spent a lot of time and money on this, he surely must realize that there are dozens or hundreds of others trying to do the same thing; and nobody is served by having to choose from 10 or more identical copies of the same book released by different publishers. This isn't a matter of Amazon trying to control what people read - it's a matter of trying to keep the "noise level" down for their platform.

    The fact that other 'publishers' are using the versions of the work that his company produced is unfortunately the nature of "freely available", and how a certain subset of the population tries to capitalize on it.

    • by Zerth (26112)

      Subby will be really unhappy when somebody rips their books, then puts it on Amazon as plaintext for 1/100th price and eats their lunch.

      Public domain books are the information equivalent of commodities. If there is an initial cost, but subsequent players have no barrier to entry and their costs are nearly zero, first movers usually lose. Good formatting may be worth money, but if you've got 50 sellers of the same title, many people will pick the $.05 "bestselling" plain text before the $5 nicely formatted

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Or maybe most people do not value formatting that much?

        I would much rather have the plain text actually, as it is very hard to use grep on a pdf. Also I can let it screen wrap, which I really like. Layout on an electronic document varies between unneeded and a hindrance.

    • that is a bad logic.
      amazon owns the platform so they can do what they want and i cannot complain.
      but to think that this is good for customers is hopeless.

      different people would have different needs. where do you draw the boundary?
      * can we have different publishers offering same book with identical content?
      * can we have different publishers offering same book with different formatting?
      * can we have different publishers offering same book with different spellings (color vs colour)?
      * can we have different publ

  • Suckers (Score:1, Troll)

    by Jaysyn (203771)
    Kindle users are suckers.  Nuff said.
  • The Kindle platform is based on a proprietary distribution model that has no interest in selling books that don't have rights associated with it. You should be putting your focus else where on Models that don't restrict choice. Especially since your works are public domain.

  • by tfmachad (1386141) on Friday September 18, 2009 @11:58AM (#29468175)

    "By banning new public domain books from the Kindle, they are making an implicit decision as to which books people should read. You can argue that "you can get these texts anywhere," but by excluding high-quality Kindle books from the nascent Kindle marketplace, Amazon is implicitly deciding what is a valid part of our culture and what isn't. This trend does not bode well for the future of e-books."

    Wow! Who died and made this book selling company the sole gatekeeper to all human knowledge?

  • by macbeth66 (204889) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:05PM (#29468257)

    There are alternatives to the Kindle. Why would anyone use a device where someone else, without your permission or prior knowledge can remove things. Screw that.

  • by Shagg (99693) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:47PM (#29468885)

    They're doing it for all of the "self publish" submissions. The reason is that people were uploading copyrighted works that they didn't have rights to, and trying to sell them through Amazon. Because Amazon is financially benefiting from the sale, they are also liable for any copyright infringement. The policy change to require a review process is to cover their butts.

    IMO, it's a good thing and should have been done from the beginning. What they were originally doing, letting anyone put items up for sale on their store with no oversight, was a really bad idea.

    • The only real problems I have with the changes are:

      > You only find out about the change after you submit. The how-tos for publishing do not tell you of the change. They do not warn you when you sign up. You do not find out about the public domain issues until you start to search in Google for the message. The email the article submitter got is not sent to everyone.
      > They tell you to check back in 5 days. That does not mean in 5 days it will be reviewed.
      > Larger companies may not be held t
      • I would rather they filtered the submissions for pirated stuff, removed/downgraded stuff in the store which was returned, and perhaps even charging a review fee for submission (something small like 5 dollars) Improvements to the store search tools could be a huge help as well.

        I agree I think you have a better idea there. That would probably improve the quality of the submissions which is really what they (Amazon) are trying to do. (you should suggest that by sending an email to title-submission@amazon.com )

    • Actually you are incorrect. They have instituted a "no public domain" policy. This is not meant to filter out copyright infringement because that could still happen under their new policy and process. In fact, it may be even easier under the new process because they are concentrating their review process on weeding out public domain works only, rather than asking for proof of rights to the work.
  • Simply do not use the kindle, other ebook readers are more public domain friendly, especially since you can get epubs from google and project gutenberg.

    • by dmoynihan (468668)

      Gutenberg also gives away Mobipocket-formatted books (which are one of the Kindle's native formats).

  • Gutenburg + mobi converter = PD on kindle.. ( and lots are already in the proper format )

    • Gutenberg has only a tiny fraction of all the PD titles that exist. And even of that tiny fraction, only a tiny fraction are formatted for the kindle so the reading experience is halfway bearable.
  • Can you create Kindle files and put them on your web site? Is it possible for a Kindle user to grab a file and just copy it to their device?

    If so then being kicked out of the Amazon store sucks but it isn't a mortal blow. Someone who googles for "Jesus H. Christ on a Kindle!" will get to your site sooner or later.

    If the ONLY way you can get books on your Kindle is through Amazon, then, well, I'm glad I never got one. Even the "F You, We're Sony" reader lets you put your own text on the device.

  • I just looked for "Pride and Prejudice" at Amazon. It really is chaos. There are 12293 versions in paperback, 4047 in hardcover and 198 for the Kindle.

    So, they think the Kindle is the problem?

  • I personally truly appreciate Amazon's efforts to trim the garbage from their store. I find that the user reviews are often incomplete or self-serving.
  • Bezos' oft stated grand vision with the Kindle is to make every book ever published available for Kindle readers. Right now they have about 350,000 titles (30,000 of which are various versions of "Pride and Prejudice" j/k ;-) 350,000 titles is obviously a far cry from the vision. Even if you throw in the poorly formatted Gutenberg collection into the mix, that only represents a small fraction of every book ever published. Clearly it doesn't make any sense for Amazon to exclude public domain titles, because

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