30.3.11

Happy Document Freedom Day!

Today is Document Freedom Day!

Document Freedom Day (DFD) is a global day for document liberation. It will be a day of grassroots effort to educate the public about the importance of Open Document Formats and Open Standards in general.
Complementary to Software Freedom Day, we aim to have local teams all over the world organise events on the last Wednesday of March. This is the forth year that Document Freedom Day is happening, and we are again looking for people around the world who are willing to join the effort.
DFD's main goals are:
  • promotion and adoption of free document formats
  • forming a global network
  • coordination of activities that happen on last Wednesday of March, Document Freedom Day
Once a year, we will celebrate Document Freedom Day as a global community. Between those days, DFD will be focused on facilitating community action and building awareness for issues of Document Freedom and Open Standards. We hope that you will join the DFD community.
There are celebrations in 36 different cities worldwide, including four in Portugal (Viseu, Lisboa, Porto, Coimbra). I'll be in the Lisbon party, and you should attend the one near you.  Here's the list of events, come and celebrate with us!

PS -> DFD in Portugal has a special flavour, since today we heard news that the final law proposal to make open documents and formats in the Public Administration mandatory was finalized, and will probably be voted next friday.

1.3.11

HarperCollins' greed: the "why" of my boycott on them

Long story short:

After decades of traditional book business (and what a great business it was, I have quite a good number of books from them), HarperCollins decided to stop selling books to libraries. Instead, they'll sell a new kind of objects that self-destruct after a while.

You probably heard about it by now: HarperCollins decided to stop selling ebooks to libraries, and instead to sell them self-destructing licenses that will let libraries borrow an "ebook" for 26 times only. The arguments against this are obvious, but HC's arguments /for/ it are... well, laughable.

Of course, they announced it and hell broke loose. Every librarian with Internet access yelled against HC, and thousands of others too. HarperCollins now decided to reply... and dig an yet bigger grave.

In an open letter to librarians, they say that doing the business they did for almost 200 years, would now, suddenly, "undermine the emerging e-book eco-system, hurt the growing e-book channel, place additional pressure on physical bookstores, and in the end lead to a decrease in book sales and royalties paid to authors. We are looking to balance the mission and needs of libraries and their patrons with those of authors and booksellers, so that the library channel can thrive alongside the growing e-book retail channel." In other words, they aren't doing it because of their greed, no, they're doing it to, ultimately, "protect libraries and their patrons". Of course they do say they believe such things would happen all the sudden, but they don't say why. But they say other things:

Twenty-six circulations can provide a year of availability for titles with the highest demand, and much longer for other titles and core backlist. If a library decides to repurchase an e-book later in the book’s life, the price will be significantly lower as it will be pegged to a paperback price point.
In other words "we'll sell you a book that self-destructs after roughly an year, but you should be thanking us, because you can buy another one (self-destructable, of course) cheaper then the first cost you".

And they had the nerve to write that offensive "open letter". Bite me. I won't ever buy an HC book until they deserve it again - for instance by respecting books and book readers, which they obviously don't nowadays. And I incite every library to boycott HarperCollins until they show some respect to libraries. HC owes libraries what they are. And when libraries unite, they sure are powerful. Look at the past, what happened with the "Nature case" with University libraries. You can - you should - do the same here. Every kind of library, public or private, should have pride in not letting not even a single other HC book enter its shelves, until HC gets back into the book selling business again.