The People’s E-Book(?)

I saw the Kickstarter for The People’s E-Book, and it interests me greatly. Using webcraft to tackle a different aspect of book making is a great idea. They didn’t have a FAQ up at the time, so I sent them a message:

How will the code be licensed? I suggest the AGPL. There is a lot of interest in creating open source publishing tools, and if it is going to be open source it would be great to say so. If not, that is important as well.

They’ve since updated the FAQ, which mirrors their reply:

Hi maiki,

Yes, have been getting this question a lot, so just added it to our FAQ section. Here’s what I wrote:

Will The People’s E-Book be open source? Yes! We just haven’t worked out the details of how much (maybe all) or under what license. As soon as we do, we’ll post more here. Regardless, it’s our mission to free e-books and we believe that means in content and creativity, as well as in creation.


That is good (maybe great). The people making the software are in Oakland, a firm called The Present Group. If they end up going with sane licensing, which is basically any FOSS license as long as it applies to the whole thing, then I am going to fund them, but even more so, I am going to evangelize on their behalf locally, since it would be a great project to gather around and hack.

I don’t think this fills the same niche as Booktype, as it seems more like a polishing platform. It will be neat to see how other orgs use it. I could imagine this replacing the current engine that powers Smashwords, which requires an author or publisher to upload a Word document.

Here’s hoping they make this for the people. ^_^

Books, and how I read them

A friend asked me how I preferred books that are bought for me. My reply was:

DRM-free ePub. Paper book. I can also read PDF, but it isn’t that great. Oh, I guess I should mention HTML, just in case. ^_^

Yeah, I put use that smiley everywhere.

Eir reply was simple enough, “how does one find a DRM-free ePub?”

That is an excellent question! If you haven’t read it, Mako posted about how publishers show the DRM status of an ebook, which is to say, they don’t. And while there are publishers like Smashwords that do not use DRM, they are mostly an indie publisher, so one wouldn’t expect to pick up the digital version of a recent bestseller there.

The short answer is, I don’t know. At this point, the digital book scene is obscure on the few points that we would all agree are easy features, like informing a person if their purchase is going to be locked. It is ironic that one of the ubiquitous practices of avid readers is sharing books, which is easy with physical items, but now require additional information from the receiver, such as their platform, devices and/or principals. Way to encourage buying digital books as gifts, mainstream publishers.

Of course, we always have the fallback of The Pirate Bay.