One of the requests I got while writing The English Major’s Guide to Getting a Job was to make it available on Kindle. Rather than sell the guide through Amazon’s storefront, I decided to build my own site (at my own expense) and sell it directly.
I’d like to briefly explain why I’m doing this the hard way – and why I think it’s worth it.
You Don’t Really Own Books Purchased Through Amazon’s Kindle Store
In 2009, Kindle users who had purchased George Orwell’s classic 1984 woke up to their own Orwellian nightmare. The book had been erased, without their knowledge or consent, from their devices.
Why did it disappear? Because of a legal rights dispute.
That’s some bull, but it did have an upside. In addition to being the most ironic book this could have happened to, it brought some awareness to the public about ebook ownership.
Ebooks are like software in that when you buy a copy, you’re not actually buying the software; you’re buying the license. You’re buying the right to use the digital files (whether that’s software, a song, a movie, or an ebook) according to the license agreement. (You know, that license agreement you agreed to but probably didn’t read?)
Rather than deal with that nonsense, I took matters into my own hands.
My Self-Built Alternative to Amazon’s Kindle Store
Using skills I developed both in my coursework and on my own, I built this website with memberships in mind.
Did this cost me a lot more upfront than simply dropping my book on Amazon? Sure did.
Does this mean I have to work harder to promote the book than other authors? You bet.
But this means that when you buy a copy of The English Major’s Guide to Getting a Job (and anything else I might ever sell), you don’t have to worry about it suddenly disappearing from your e-reader one morning.
You’re getting a DRM-free downloadable that you have access to even if I decide to stop selling the guide.
While I still own the copyright, distribution rights, and other related intellectual property rights, you at least have something I can’t come in and take away.
This is basically like a traditional book. You own a copy, even if you don’t necessarily own the legal rights to the material.
(Imagine if an author were able come into your home and delete any copies of his or her book from your devices. That’s insane, but it’s basically what happens on most digital marketplaces. If you consent to that, fine. But I think it’s wrong that big companies do this without explicit consent of the possible risks to consumers.)
Anyway, that’s my soapbox moment. Hope it wasn’t too preachy.
Reading Proofwriting Materials on Your Device
At the moment, I’m trying to figure out the best way to make Proofwriting materials (including The English Major’s Guide to Getting a Job) available on all devices. Basically any device can open PDF files. I’m also trying to figure out how to create native Kindle/Nook/Whatever files that still retain the formatting I want.
A simple Google search for your device will give you step-by-step instructions on how to read PDFs on your device. (Simply type “how to read PDF on [DEVICE]” for solid results.)
If you want to support Proofwriting in our mission to help English majors identify, develop, and demonstrate skills they need to get great jobs, consider buying a copy of the guide. (You’ll get lots of awesome bonuses, too, and I try to update it regularly.) Plus, I try to keep it cheap.
And feel free to contact me if you have any other questions about reading Proofwriting materials on your ereaders or other devices.
To your success as an English Major,
PS: Want to protect your ebooks from being automatically deleted? Ars Technica shows how to do this.