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Amazon Blocks Arch Linux Handbook Author From Releasing Kindle Version 242

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the sharing-isn't-an-amazon-value dept.
An anonymous reader writes "We've all heard the horror stories of Amazon swindling the user out of their content on the Kindle, but this time they've managed to do it preemptively: by blocking the GFDL licensed Arch Linux Handbook from the Kindle Store." Reasons include: "We’ve reviewed the information you provided and have decided to block these books from being sold in the Kindle Store. The books closely match content that is freely available on the web and we are not confident that you hold exclusive publishing rights. This type of content can create a poor customer experience, and is not accepted. As a result, we have blocked the books listed below from being sold in the Kindle Store." The workaround: he uploaded a mobi copy to the Arch website.
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Amazon Blocks Arch Linux Handbook Author From Releasing Kindle Version

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  • What the hell? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:24PM (#41294779)

    This summary is confusing! Who is 'he'? When did this happen and who exactly is involved?

    • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday September 10, 2012 @10:32PM (#41295685) Journal

      This is not an Amazon vs Linux case

      It's a case of Amazon refusing to sell a "book" that was essentially written by a community, that can be gotten online for free (it's wiki stuffs).

      And that "author" of that "book" happens to be a "packager", not an "author" in the truest sense.

      I dunno what's going on with Slashdot lately.

      Truly, I don't !! And I've been visiting Slashdot for a long-long-time !

      • by humanrev (2606607) on Monday September 10, 2012 @11:39PM (#41296093)

        I dunno what's going on with Slashdot lately.

        The people running Slashdot are trolls, examples of the worst characteristics of journalism that we see many times elsewhere but can't understand why such behavior exists on a site supposedly for geeks (who we've been conditioned to believe are smarter than everyone else). They know that a Linux vs multinational corporation story (no matter how baselesss and inaccurate it is) will pull the emotional strings of people who see the existence of Linux as a fight against the "man".

        Why do you think those multiple "Linux desktop is dead" stories which were posted here in the last few weeks garnered so many comments? I find it interesting that ArsTechnica has not posted a SINGLE story regarding this supposedly controversial issue. Maybe because they already know the Linux desktop is dead and don't see the point in beating a dead horse, I dunno. But Slashdot is ripe with people believing that phantom possibility so it gets posted here. And people eat it all up. So the folks running this place keep posting such stories because we're all idiots. :)

        • by ridgecritter (934252) on Monday September 10, 2012 @11:59PM (#41296193)

          Agree with your point. I've been spending more time at Ars lately, less here. Overall quality @ /. (stories and posts) is on a downtrend, IMHO.

        • by tsa (15680)

          I come to Ars more and more Because of the quality of the stories there. I think the Firehose on Slashdot was a bad idea. The editors should pick the stories, not the readers.

          • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:09AM (#41296777)

            Unfortunately ars has a bit of a scattershot of quality. Article on network security? Awesome stuff they wrote themselves. Article on particle physics, no problem they have a PhD in nuclear physics for that. Article on chemistry... they've got nothin'.

            It's like they have the right idea, but not enough money (or a poor HR department) and just can't find the right people to cover a diverse range of topics.

            Despite the writing quality of the summary here, I actually think this article is sort of relevant. Amazon (rightly) doesn't want to let you sell books that you can get for free on the same device. That's a good thing overall, and reflects and underlying shift in how we think of books. The market for references, how to guides, etc. all have to change to keep up with the internet, there's isn't much place for trying to print and sell something you can find more effectively with google.

            • by NormalVisual (565491) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @07:54AM (#41298011)
              Amazon (rightly) doesn't want to let you sell books that you can get for free on the same device.

              Yet they allow sales of works in the public domain such as Frankenstein, Alice in Wonderland, etc., which are freely available in electronic form on the Internet as well. Granted, those titles won't become dated like a technical reference would, but it's still a bit inconsistent on Amazon's part.
              • by CowTipperGore (1081903) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @08:47AM (#41298309)

                Yet they allow sales of works in the public domain such as Frankenstein, Alice in Wonderland, etc., which are freely available in electronic form on the Internet as well.

                Yes, I've "bought" all of those books on Kindle. Of course, you failed to mention that they are available for $0.00. (Frankenstein [amazon.com], Alice in Wonderland [amazon.com]) To be fair, I would wager you can find non-free versions of these from others but Amazon must be exercising some control or there would thousands of versions of these public domain books in the store. The real issue is not the fact that it can be gotten for free elsewhere - the problem is that Dusty is not obviously the author or copyright owner of the material. Perhaps this case is perfectly innocent and there is no problem with him publishing the material under his name, but if Amazon cares about the quality of their marketplace, they ought to be careful about letting any random person scrape a community-created document from the internet and publish it as an ebook.

                This thread actually brings up another point that I've wondered about recently. With the recent reports of ebook sells now outstripping printed books, I have to imagine that the huge number of free ebooks contribute significantly to these "sales" numbers. If I download a free book from Amazon, it is treated like a purchased item. Google does the same on their Play store. I've purchased about 40 Kindle books and spent less than $10.00 because most were free. I would love to see the ebook vs printed book numbers if you exclude all the free ebooks.

        • by Wovel (964431)

          Nailed it. It is ridiculous.

        • by Drathos (1092)

          The people running Slashdot are trolls, examples of the worst characteristics of journalism that we see many times elsewhere..

          You seem to misunderstand Slashdot. There's no "journalism" here. Almost all of the content is user submitted, including most of the summaries. And with the "firehose," the "editors" take a step even further back in letting users select which submissions get posted.

          • by humanrev (2606607)

            You seem to misunderstand Slashdot. There's no "journalism" here. Almost all of the content is user submitted, including most of the summaries. And with the "firehose," the "editors" take a step even further back in letting users select which submissions get posted.

            The users might be the ones selecting the submissions, but the editors have the final say as to what stories to run exactly how the summary should be worded. I've seen submissions turned completely on their head by the editors for shock/anger val

            • by decora (1710862) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:23AM (#41296831) Journal

              all through college you listen to the 'engineer' and 'computer' kids and professors shit all over the 'liberal arts morons' and 'worthless degrees like english'.

              then you get in the real world and try to, you know, fucking write something. turns out those 'morons' in 'liberal arts' were actually doing something that is every bit as difficult as creating an OS kernel or a graph algorithm.

              things like 'fact checking' and 'editing' evolved over centuries, centuries of the craft, yes, the fucking craft of this thing called 'writing', which is as technical and difficult as any other field of human endeavor, from metallurgy to blacksmithing to CPU architecture.

              the difference nowdays is that writing is fucking debased and devalued by society due to various factors that have barely, if ever, been studied. then we wake up one day and wonder why the fuck we are so ignorant. because we threw the writers and editors in the garbage can, because, after all, the work they did was 'worthless'.

              • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @06:12AM (#41297585) Journal

                professors shit all over the 'liberal arts morons' and 'worthless degrees like english'.

                There has been a strong anti university undercurrent on /. recently by people who haven't got the first clue about universities.

                At my undergrad university, the engineering professors would frequently lament the poor standard of student writing in the examiners report. But they knew that the had too little time to teach it properly.

                Any research professor knows that students almost universally suck at writing papers, and it's the job of the professor teach students how to write. The first few times this is usually very painful because you have to plough through a terribly written research paper multiple times and really give constructive criticism. otherwise the paper won't get published.

                I have never, ever, met of professor in any discpline who considers things like good writing or English degrees worthless.

          • You seem to misunderstand Slashdot. There's no "journalism" here. Almost all of the content is user submitted, including most of the summaries. And with the "firehose," the "editors" take a step even further back in letting users select which submissions get posted.

            There is also something good in that kind of approach, in the sense of "the world needs curious amateurs too". Maybe that's part of the Slashdot's charm.

        • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:30AM (#41296853) Homepage

          Why do you think those multiple "Linux desktop is dead" stories which were posted here in the last few weeks garnered so many comments?

          Page views, and hence ad impressions.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Amazon has also been under a lot of pressure to clean up the mountains of garbage that gets bundled up from online resources and sold in their bookstore as actual books. People will try just about any shady thing to make $3.

        I have no doubt that this particular reference is good enough to be called a book. And I imagine the guy had to do some work to prep it for Amazon. I am not, however, surprised by this.

      • by McFadden (809368)
        Replying to revert moderation - accidentally slipped with the mouse and modded you flamebait.
      • by dadioflex (854298)
        There was a big problem with scammers packaging wiki-ed information from community game sites to look like official game guides and selling it for stupid prices. I wondered why I hadn't seen any for a while. Personally I'm glad Amazon are actively blocking stuff like this because it was really poisoning their site.
      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        Exactly, and as many nasty lawsuits as we have seen over copyrights I don't give a crap if the books was about Linux, Windows, or OSX the thing would be banned from the store and rightly so.

        This "book" is no different than going to any "tips and tricks" site and simply bold faced copying the content and putting your name on it, and just because it has "Linux" in the article does NOT mean you are free to take someone else's writing and pass it off as your own or repackage it for profit.

      • I'm on Amazon's side on this one -- a GFDL book should either be free on Kindle or distributed another way -- selling it for any value would create confusion as you cannot claim full Copyright ownership of the book.

  • Not unreasonable. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dyinobal (1427207) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:27PM (#41294817)

    TBH I don't think Amazon is being that unreasonable. They've a right to ensure that people enjoy using their site, and their site would be less enjoyable if I had to wade through a bunch of content that is otherwise very easy to find on the rest of the web. Such as his website.

    That isn't to say his book doesn't have some original content, but it likely doesn't have a lot of it when it comes down to it and when you start being super inclusive you can really flood the market place with a lot of low quality products.

    Does this suck for him? Yes I'm sure it does, but there are plenty of sites out there dedicated to proving hosting to free books.

    • Re:Not unreasonable. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pushing-robot (1037830) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:35PM (#41294873)

      Agreed. Not that long ago I was reading (on Slashdot) about the scourge of 'authors' that do nothing but spam the Kindle store with content they trawl from the web, and how Amazon desperately needed to crack down. Damned if you do...

    • by recoiledsnake (879048) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:40PM (#41294913)

      Summary incorrectly states that he's the author. He only did some editing, the content was written by the community.

      • by icebike (68054) * on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:10PM (#41295169)

        Exactly. He at most, packaged the wiki, no doubt cleaning some things up a bit along the way.

        B&N has a similar self-publish program called Pubit.
        When it was first introduced it was flooded with ebooks that were merely a couple paragraphs of wrapper around public domain books. I saw one such pubit book that still has the Project Gutenberg trailers attached.

        B&N, and I suspect Amazon, has since modified the TOS to require that the "authors" at least hold the copyright to the vast majority of the submitted work.

        The GFDL does allow him to do what he did. But Amazon doesn't have to be a party to this sort of thing.

        They told him exactly why they rejected it:

        The books closely match content that is freely available on the web and we are not confident that you hold exclusive publishing rights. This type of content can create a poor customer experience, and is not accepted.

        Exclusive publishing rights. Just like B&N, they want their program to be something more than simple wrappers around public domain content.
        That's their choice. He has other alternatives for distribution, and has decided to GIVE it away.

        • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Monday September 10, 2012 @10:08PM (#41295561) Journal

          B&N, and I suspect Amazon, has since modified the TOS to require that the "authors" at least hold the copyright to the vast majority of the submitted work.

          The GFDL does allow him to do what he did. But Amazon doesn't have to be a party to this sort of thing.

          I wonder, then: Should Shakespeare's work be allowed in the Kindle store? Nobody holds exclusive publishing rights, and it's freely available on the web [gutenberg.org].

        • by bcrowell (177657) on Monday September 10, 2012 @10:50PM (#41295803) Homepage

          Exclusive publishing rights. Just like B&N, they want their program to be something more than simple wrappers around public domain content.
          That's their choice. He has other alternatives for distribution, and has decided to GIVE it away.

          This particular case has a lot of features that will make people sympathize more with Amazon and less with the author. But there are many other cases where the facts are different. As an example, I'm the author of some math and physics books [lightandmatter.com] that are licensed under CC-BY-SA, free in LaTeX, PDF, and HTML formats, and also available in print. I'm essentially the sole author, although I do have material in the books such as photos from wikimedia commons. I basically operate on a nonprofit basis, but I do have significant webhosting expenses. (The PDF files are a lot of megabytes, and a lot of people download them, so I can't use el cheapo webhosts.) I don't mind making a few bucks here and there to offset those expenses. I looked into selling my books on amazon for, say, $0.99, in kindle format. Well, one thing I immediately learned is that ebook formats and readers don't have good enough support for math to do a good job on books with a lot of math in them. But anyway, there were also two showstoppers: (1) amazon requires exclusivity, and (2) this: "You must set your Digital Book's List Price (and change it from time-to-time if necessary) so that it is no higher than the list price in any sales channel for any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book." So for a book that is free in any format, amazon is not an option. OK, you don't have to cue the world's smallest violin. It's not a huge tragedy for me that I can't sell on amazon. But slashdotters might find that the facts of my situation evoke a different feeling in their fuzzy little free-information-loving hearts than the facts of the one in TFA.

          Yes, it's also true that in a free-enterprise system, we don't expect to be able to tell a company that they have any moral or legal duty to sell a product that they don't want to sell. However, it's worth bearing in mind that amazon is very close to being a monopolist in the ebook business. If someone held a monopoly on paper, we probably would be a little concerned if they started refusing to sell various broad categories of books.

          • by icebike (68054) *

            It seems there is a misunderstanding about those two terms you quoted.

            If the first is true, but second would be unnecessary.

            If the second is true then the can not be insisting on exclusivity.

            Further, a free download is not a sales channel. So number two may not apply. That would be like saying if you ever once give away a copy you must forever give it away on Amazon.

            • by Wovel (964431)

              Amazon does not require exclusivity...

          • by Daemonik (171801) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @07:38AM (#41297923) Homepage

            (1) amazon requires exclusivity

            Before people get their knickers in a twist about this, it doesn't mean exclusivity ie. Amazon must be the only source for this book, it means exclusivity ie. YOU, the author/publisher must be the only source for the book. They don't want to deal with legal tussles over who owns what and how much of the cut they should get.

            Nothing to see here.

            (2) this: "You must set your Digital Book's List Price (and change it from time-to-time if necessary) so that it is no higher than the list price in any sales channel for any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book." So for a book that is free in any format, amazon is not an option.

            Let me fix this for you "For a book that is free in any format YOU MAY NOT ALSO SELL IT FOR PROFIT ON AMAZON.

            But slashdotters might find that the facts of my situation evoke a different feeling in their fuzzy little free-information-loving hearts than the facts of the one in TFA.

            Not really dude. Because when someone buys your book for $0.99 on Amazon and then writes a big huge blog about how Amazon scammed them because they just found out the books were free from another website, you're not the one who's on the hook there, Amazon is. You're not the one who has to do damage control, call out the lawyers and the publicity spin-doctors, because your $0.99 book is effecting their entire business.

            Frankly there is nothing stopping you from publishing the book in MOBI & EPUB formats (what do you have against Nook?) and setting up a pay what you like website. So no, no violins for you.

            However, it's worth bearing in mind that amazon is very close to being a monopolist in the ebook business. If someone held a monopoly on paper, we probably would be a little concerned if they started refusing to sell various broad categories of books.

            Weird, I could have sworn there were iPods/iPads/iPhones/Nooks/Sony Ereaders/A billion Android devices out there, and that there were about a gazillion web shopping cart systems to setup a retail channel, from hosting your own to we'll do all the work for you setups. I was sure that MOBI & EPUB were published standards that anyone can create ebooks with with software like Calibre.

            Amazon is not the only source for ebooks. They're the most well known, possibly, but they are not the only source. Take your hyperbole somewhere else.

        • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday September 10, 2012 @11:00PM (#41295871) Journal

          They actually document this in KDP FAQ [amazon.com] as well, so he should have known in advance:

          Public Domain and Other Non-Exclusive Content

          Some types of content, such as public domain content, may be free to use by anyone, or may be licensed for use by more than one party. We will not accept content that is freely available on the web unless you are the copyright owner of that content. For example, if you received your book content from a source that allows you and others to re-distribute it, and the content is freely available on the web, we will not accept it for sale on the Kindle store. We do accept public domain content, however we may choose to not sell a public domain book if its content is undifferentiated or barely differentiated from one or more other books.

      • by stephanruby (542433) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @04:12AM (#41297199)

        I think we all got scammed here on Slashdot. I'm willing to bet this Dusty Phillips is the one who originally submitted the story anonymously to Slashdot. Here is why I'd think that.

        Summary incorrectly states that he's the author. He only did some editing, the content was written by the community.

        Correction: For the paperback version, he did not do **any** editing whatsoever.

        Here is the only customer review for his book in paperback version.

        What I was hoping for in this book was a little better laid out and explained version of the tutorial from Arch's website. What I received is a verbatim printed version of the website in a pocket sized soft cover book. I wanted a printed version that I could follow along with, and had considered just printing the website in the first place. At least for $11 the book might have cost less than it would have to print out all those pages on my own. Ink is expensive! My biggest complain is that it really is word for word from the website. For example, the VERY FIRST PAGE has an underlined hyper-link to go for more info. Go ahead, try and click it... I dare you

        You can actually confirm this by going to his book [amazon.com] and 'click[ing] to look inside'. The book is horribly edited. The table of content is misaligned. It's just a very poor print out of the wiki site with blue links all over the place.

        Furthermore, he's listed [amazon.com] on Amazon for the paperback version of the book as its sole author, which is a listing he has complete control over. And no, I'm not talking about the cover of the book, or inside the book, I'm talking about the way he listed himself in the Amazon index, which is the part almost everyone sees even if most never take a close look at anything else. And yes, even if he didn't want to list Aaron Griffin and Judd Vinet as the main authors/original copyright holders of this work on Amazon, it is indeed possible to list himself as an (editor) only, for instance just like these guys did with the Richard Feynmans' letters [amazon.com].

    • More importantly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:48PM (#41294991)
      Nothing stops someone from sideloading books onto their Kindle. Amazon does indeed have a right to decide what they will or will not sell in their own store, as long as Kindle users have other options -- which they have. I see little to take issue with here.
      • by icebike (68054) * on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:27PM (#41295311)

        Well, you could take issue with the perfectly HORRIBLE job of conversion to mobi that he did.
        Find the download a the end of his rant. Compare it to the on-line wiki that he sourced.

        Pathetic.

      • by BLKMGK (34057)

        They even provide an email address for users to send content to their device. I use it for Mobi books all the time!

        • The neat trick with those Kindle email addresses is that at some point, they've changed it from merely pushing the book directly to your device, they push the book to their "Kindle cloud" first, and from there to the device. If you only have one Kindle (and I'm being inclusive here and counting all devices that run the Kindle app), the only difference that makes is that it'll show up in "Archived Items", and you'll be able to re-download it if you deleted it.

          However, when you have more than one device, not

          • by BLKMGK (34057)

            Completely correct and is exactly the experience I enjoy! However on a darker side I cannot help but think that Amazon now knows all of my reading habits and just exactly how fast I read any particular book....

            • Well, I have "Mein Kampf", "Das Kapital" and Breivik's "Manifesto" on mine, among other things. Given that the Feds haven't knocked my door down yet, I figure they aren't really interested much.

          • Nook did that from day 1...

            And supported ePub natively

            And allowed 1 two-week lend to 1 other device

            And could be used with overdrive, which is the craptastic way libraries are dealing with ebooks

            And had a neat gimmick to transition away from the blackberry "take up half the space with a crappy keyboard" paradigm *.

            * in practice, this didn't work so great the first iteration, but fortunately you only need to type in stuff every few hundred pages (the next book you want..)

            And yet people continue to talk about

            • Nook does not sync current position in the book between their device and the app (at least on Android). At least it didn't last time I tried it, which was a couple month ago when GlowTouch was released.

              • by Wovel (964431)

                You should know that nearly everything in his post was just made up out of thin air.

    • Re:Not unreasonable. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fm6 (162816) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:27PM (#41295305) Homepage Journal

      They've a right to ensure that people enjoy using their site, and their site would be less enjoyable if I had to wade through a bunch of content that is otherwise very easy to find on the rest of the web.

      Good lord, have you seen some of the crap in the Kindle store? Lots of poorly written stuff that badly needs an editor. And there are titles carefully chosen to make people buy them by mistake.

      This is not about content quality. They just don't want people selling content that they can get for free elsewhere — bad customer relations.

      (Or is it? Back in 2006, I co-wrote a book [amazon.com] for Sun Microsystems. I was well-paid for this work, and I wasn't expecting royalties, but for some strange reason I got them, showing that the book sold reasonably well, despite being available online [oracle.com] before the book came out.)

      Now, Amazon has every right to do this. But that's just the problem: the Kindle platform is another walled garden. Just as I don't like Steve Jobs telling me I can't have lame iPhone apps [juggleware.com], I don't like Jeff Bezos telling me I can't buy lame books. The fact that the app or book is lame is besides the point. The central control is the problem.

      If I ever become a sufficiently popular author so that people want to by ebooks written by me (unlikely, alas) I will make sure they're available in portable formats, such as EPub/Adobe. I won't try to prevent them from being available in Kindle format, but I won't stand for an exclusive release,.

      Unless, of course, the Kindle starts supporting open formats.

      • by BLKMGK (34057)

        Kindle supports PDF, Mobi, and other formats. Calibre will convert between them and easily allow you to email them to your Kindle. I have no issues sideloading books to my Kindle or my Kindle app on 3 different devices...

        • by fm6 (162816)

          Yes, you can read all kinds of unprotected files on Kindle. But if you want to buy books on Kindle, you have to go through Amazon.

          Whatever one's feelings on DRM, the fact is that 99% of all ebooks available for purchase are DRM protected. If you can make a go of it selling DRM-free books (Pragmatic Bookshelf seems to do OK) good for you, but most publishers will only release titles in a DRM-protected format.

          Now, there are two dominant formats for DRM-protected books. There's the Kindle format, which is only

          • Re:Not unreasonable. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday September 10, 2012 @11:10PM (#41295935) Journal

            Whatever one's feelings on DRM, the fact is that 99% of all ebooks in English available for purchase are DRM protected.

            FTFY. Luckily for me, for my native language I have a fully legit online store where all books are DRM-free, and are provided in a dozen formats for all imaginable book readers (they even package them up as J2ME midlets for feature phones), including Mobi. What more, they even have a special version of their website that you get redirected to if you open it in Kindle web browser.

            Then there's the EPub format with Adobe DRM, which is supported by every popular ebook reader except Kindle.

            And iBooks. Which is probably the second most popular reader after Kindle right now.

            Then again, it doesn't really matter for someone who reads Slashdot, since Kindle DRM has been circumvented a long time ago, and there are single-click tools to handle it now (IIRC there was one integrated with Calibre, even).

            • by EGSonikku (519478)

              iBooks uses ePub (as well as PDF).

              • Yes, it does, but it uses its own DRM scheme, which is incompatible with Adobe's. So you cannot buy DRM'd ePub books elsewhere and read it with iBooks. The other way around is even worse - there's no other app on any platform (not even on OS X) that can open DRM'd iBooks books.

      • by dzfoo (772245)

        Well, let's get something straight: It's a store, not a bazaar.

        It is a wall garden in the same sense that going to a retail, brick-and-mortar store is entering a wall garden.

        If you want a free-for-all, everybody-bring-whatever-you-want-to-sell, you can go to a flea market or a bazaar or one of those bartering marketplaces in Calcuta, or something. Most people go to stores because they trust the quality of the experience and the goods, which involves a reasonable amount of control over what articles to put

    • Someone in the comments to that blog post actually referenced the relevant bit from Amazon publishing guidelines:

      Public Domain and Other Non-Exclusive Content

      Some types of content, such as public domain content, may be free to use by anyone, or may be licensed for use by more than one party. We will not accept content that is freely available on the web unless you are the copyright owner of that content. For example, if you received your book content from a source that allows you and others to re-distribute it, and the content is freely available on the web, we will not accept it for sale on the Kindle store. We do accept public domain content, however we may choose to not sell a public domain book if its content is undifferentiated or barely differentiated from one or more other books.

      So it looks like they have already considered it (at least enough so to distinguish between public domain and various free licenses), and decided that it's not worth the bother for them - perhaps because they have estimated that the likelihood of getting involved in some lawsuit over that content, like Apple almost did with VLC for iOS, is too high?

      • by Jiro (131519)

        If you look at Amazon's normal bookstore, there is, or at least was until recently, a rash of fakers who automatically generated printouts of Wikipedia articles, titled them with a random title from one of the articles, and sold it as a "book". People constantly complained about these fake books.

        Looks like they're trying to prevent that sort of thing,

  • by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:28PM (#41294821)
    There is all kinds of spam in these bookstores. People go out and grab open licenced content and then package it as an ebook and try to sell it for $0.99 You wind up with 20 ebooks for The Tale of Two Cities listed in catagories like romance or science fiction. Makes the new release section a joke. On B&N there was once a problem where a publisher was selling machine generated books sourced from wikipedia.
    • by PvtVoid (1252388)

      There is all kinds of spam in these bookstores. People go out and grab open licenced content and then package it as an ebook and try to sell it for $0.99.

      Except that isn't what what the author was actually doing. From TFA:

      "I have had a handful of requests that the Arch Linux Handbook be made available for the Kindle platform. It seemed like an odd request, given that the latest version of the Beginners’ Guide is already freely available in electronic format online. However, I had some free time this week and tried the conversion. It wasn’t difficult and I uploaded a version of the Handbook to the Kindle app store"

      This seems entire

      • Sure, but how does Amazon identify who is a spammer and who is isn't? Anyone can do what he did. Anyone can go to his site and copy paste the contents into an ebook. How do they pick what contributor of a wiki gets to sell a book in their store? They only want one copy for sale.

        we are not confident that you hold exclusive publishing rights

        Seems like Amazon wasn't sure he was the author.

      • by 1u3hr (530656)

        "I have had a handful of requests that the Arch Linux Handbook be made available for the Kindle platform. It seemed like an odd request, given that the latest version of the Beginnersâ(TM) Guide is already freely available in electronic format online. However, I had some free time this week and tried the conversion. It wasnâ(TM)t difficult and I uploaded a version of the Handbook to the Kindle app store" This seems entirely reasonable, and absolutely nothing like the spamming you describe.

        It is exactly the same as many "Kindle spammers" do. Copy slabs of text from a wiki, Project Gutenberg, wherever, convert to Kindle format (quick and dirty), upload to Amazon, write a description that entices the reader to buy it (the only creative part of the process), sell for 99 cents.

        Amazon seems to search for the text online and found it. Quite likely actually a bunch of real spammers had already tried to upload exactly the same text earlier and been blocked.

  • Arch Linux (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:38PM (#41294893)

    Ah yes, Arch Linux, the operating system where people brag about their superiority even though it comes down to copy/pasting commands from a wiki [archlinux.org] without understanding what the hell they even do. Who woulda thunk that the first published book is just a copy/paste of other people's work?

    • by vigour (846429)

      Ah yes, Arch Linux, the operating system where people brag about their superiority even though it comes down to copy/pasting commands from a wiki [archlinux.org] without understanding what the hell they even do. Who woulda thunk that the first published book is just a copy/paste of other people's work?

      Sadly you're right. I moved to Arch from FreeBSD four years ago and I was amazed at the amount of clueless arrogant fanboys which diluted the signal-to-noise of the people who know what they're talking about. Don't get me wrong, I love Arch and I still use it over any other distro on my personally owned PCs, but you're right that some of the community are idiots, especially the zealous, newish members who can't take any criticism of Arch.

  • by spottedkangaroo (451692) * on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:40PM (#41294917) Homepage

    ... was document that he held the copyright or that he had permission to publish it.

    This is standard procedure actually. You have to show that you hold the copyright or they won't publish it. I published a book for an author of a book that's been on the web for years. He (the author) had to fully document that he wrote it or they would have pulled the book -- despite the fact that we had a contract agreement that I was supposed to publish it. They insisted that only the copyright holder can publish under the model we had selected and they made him document it. That policy actually makes sense. There's like 6,000 copies of most public domain books, most of which are easier to read or better formatted for the web.

  • by tezbobobo (879983) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:12PM (#41295193) Homepage Journal
    Book download link was broken - here's the correct url: http://archlinux.ca/arch_linux_handbook_3.mobi [archlinux.ca]
  • Good! Amazon has recently suffered from a severe problem in that companies like Hephaestus Press [lawrenceperson.com] and Webster’s Digital Services [lawrenceperson.com] have created "books" out of scraping public domain content like Wikipedia and slapping them between two covers (or digital equivalent thereof) and putting deceptive titles on them. For example, Hephaestus published the book Novels By Jerry Pournelle, including: The Legacy Of Heorot, The Mote In God’s Eye, The Gripping Hand, Footfall, Inferno (novel), Fallen Angels Starswarm, which looks like an omnibus edition, but which is actually scrapped Wikipedia content.

    Sounds like they're finally cracking down on this practice, which is a good thing.

  • DRM is the problem? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:32PM (#41295343)

    Some comments on the linked-to site question whether it's even allowable for Amazon to make the content available as a DRM encumbered Kindle eBook, because of this clause in the GFDL:

    You may not use technical measures to obstruct or control the reading or further copying of the copies you make or distribute.

    • by sirwired (27582) on Monday September 10, 2012 @10:00PM (#41295517)

      DRM is optional for Kindle books sold on Amazon. They do not require it's use; it's up to the Author.

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        DRM is optional for Kindle books sold on Amazon. They do not require it's use; it's up to the Author.

        Is a DRM-free .azw file the same as a .mobi file or will it only work on a Kindle?

        • by 1u3hr (530656)

          Is a DRM-free .azw file the same as a .mobi file or will it only work on a Kindle?

          I think you can just rename it to .mobi and mobi readers can then read it.

  • by WolphFang (1077109) <mjoyner&vbservices,net> on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:41PM (#41295383) Homepage
    Yes, I am sure it is *not* the fact that his content was free elsewhere, but more likely the weak association with the rights of the work. I have two books published in KF8 format, (http://goo.gl/DkR4T) and (http://goo.gl/r6oDN), both also available as free non-KF8 epub/pdf downloads, and Amazon sent me a query as to the RIGHTS as (using some automated system I presume) they detected that the content was available elsewhere for free. I responded appropriately, as the primary copyright holder, and my material has remained published accordingly. And for those worried about GPL, etc, content, as the author, you can specify NO DRM!
  • by kriston (7886) on Monday September 10, 2012 @10:21PM (#41295631) Homepage Journal

    Just like any other publisher, Amazon does not want to dilute the value of its market offerings by reselling content that is available freely elsewhere.

    Note that this does not stop Barnes & Noble Nook store from providing compilations of public-domain works. The downloadable products do say that they are freely available from Project Guutenberg or otherwise, but the easy access to a collection of 20 or 50 works at $0.99 is an undeniable value.

    Too bad that this author couldn't spin it that way, because most of these public-domain compilations are available on the Kindle, too.

  • Most free programming/systems administrator/etc. free books seem to be available only as PDF, which is pretty much unusable on a Kindle.

    Does the Slashdot hive mind know of any sources for free computer books suitable for a Kindle or Nook (Calibre solves the epub to mobi problem)?

    • by tsa (15680)

      Calibre can also turn PDF into something else. It works well with texts but I don't know what it does with pictures.

  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @12:28AM (#41296355)

    Amazon theoretically pays royalties of 35 to 70 percent of the retail price of their Kindle e-books to the copyright holder. However, what is not perhaps so widely known is the 'Amazon Gotcha' which is: "As the publisher, you (the author) set the "list price" for your content. Amazon.com reserves the right to set the retail price at our sole discretion. See the Pricing Page and Terms and Conditions for information on how royalties are calculated. Please note, We reserve the right to set the retail price we charge for the books you provide to us. We may offer your book at a price below your list price if, for example, the price at which a competitor sells your book, or the price at which we sell a physical edition of your book is lower than your list price. In that case, if you chose the 70% royalty option, your royalties will be calculated off of this offer price for sales that qualify for the 70% royalty option. If you chose the 35% royalty option, you will be paid off of the original list price you chose.

    What does this mean? Amazon can set the price at anything they want to, including "zero." Guess what 70 percent of zero is? So...when Amazon is restricting content as TFA refers to, by claiming that the content is already 'freely available on the web' they are dissembling since a goodly portion of their kindle store is already 'free.' The main reason for Amazon's action is more likely embodied in the Amazon statement "we are not confident that you hold exclusive publishing rights." Amazon is happy to sell content for free because it builds their Kindle brand but they don't want there to be any chance of a copyright violation coming back to them as a costly claim.

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