Friday, August 10, 2012

The Day I Became Ashamed To Be An Indie Author

My regular readers know I'm very much pro-indie. But what my enthusiasm boils down to is I'm pro-story-teller. pro-reader and pro-business.

For the most part, the indie writer community is an intelligent, innovative group looking to get quality books to the public. But by selling books to the public, they need to understand not just craft, but every other angle of business from marketing to contract and copyright law.

Education is paramount in any endeavour, but this country's population seems to be going downhill rapidly in the willingness to read the fine print of the contracts they sign, much less try to understand what a copyright is and is not.

Many retail site such as Amazon allow e-books to be lent. Specifically, Amazon's Terms and Conditions says:

5.2.2 Kindle Book Lending Program. The Kindle Book Lending program enables customers who purchase a Digital Book to lend it subject to limitations we establish from time to time. All Digital Books made available through the Program are automatically included in the Kindle Book Lending program. However, for Digital Books that are in the 35% Royalty Option (as described in the Pricing Page), you may choose to opt out of the Kindle Book Lending program. This will disable lending of the Digital Book by customers who purchase it after you have opted it out, but this will not affect the right of customers who purchased it when lending was enabled to continue to lend it. You may not choose to opt out a Digital Book if it is included in the lending program of another sales or distribution channel. If we become aware that a Digital Book you have opted out is included in the lending program of another sales or distribution channel, we may enable it for lending. Digital Books that are in the 70% Royalty Option (as described in the Pricing Page) cannot be opted out of the lending feature.
Right now, Amazon allows lending ONLY ONCE for each title bought. The lendee has access to the title for  fourteen days. For those fourteen days, the original buyer does not have access to the book. And, yes, Kindle Select books are included in these terms. (Lending is kind of the point behind Kindle Select, now isn't it?)

A disabled U.S. veteran named Dale Porter created a website called LendInk. LendInk was a book version of eHarmony. It matched folks who had an e-book that was still lendable with someone who wanted to read it.

Apparently, some writers got it in their head that LendInk was doing something illegal, unethical, immoral...fill in the blank. A Twitter mob (or twitmob as the online magazine TechDirt called it) claimed LendInk was a pirate site based on a rumor without any INVESTIGATION WHATSOEVER. These people sent multiple complaints to Amazon and DMCA takedown notices to LendInk's host. Now, some people are sending THREATS to both Dale and his family as well as folks at the hosting company.

Indie author April Hamilton has a pretty intelligent takedown of the wrongness of the situation. And now, April is getting harassed by these same people who didn't bother to read the Terms and Conditions. She has had to turn off comments on her blog.

Did the twitmob truly succeed? No. Even if Dale calls it quits forever, other sites, like Good E-Reader are stepping into the void. Hell, I'm impressed Michael Kozlowski and others still stand up for us indies after the utter bullshit that happened with LendInk.

What it comes down to is ignorance on the part of the writers who bullied Dale and his ISP into shutting down the site. A site that was legal when I checked it out a few months ago. A site that gave GREAT exposure to all of us authors.

I've been proud to be an indie writer.

Until today.


  1. I agree completely. A marketing mailing list I'm on had an outburst of this idiocy, and I was eyerolling and muttering to myself the whole time I was reading their crap. This list is very busy -- often five or six digests per DAY -- so I was reading too late to be able to post any relevant comments. A couple of other people were all, "Umm, folks, this isn't illegal, and yes you DID agree to allow it when you or your publisher signed up for Amazon," but it's amazing how many people didn't get it, didn't read any posts that weren't indignant rants, or thought that being "fair" meant maintaining a slightly lower level of indignation.

    Seeing something like this happen makes it that much more understandable whenever Dean talks about baby writers doing stupid crap. :/ I guess this comes under "Not understanding the contract you signed," or something similar.


  2. Hi Angie! I've had my head down and blinders on trying to get pages in before school starts. I didn't know what these idiots were doing to Dale until it was too late.

    Now, there's a reader twitmob going after the instigators of this fiasco. Their biggest tactic is leaving one-star reviews for these writers. All I can say is "Karma's a bitch."