Round up #167: no DRM doesn’t increase piracy for Tor, Mothers’ Day specials

Round up #167: no DRM doesn’t increase piracy for Tor, Mothers’ Day specials

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Mothers’ Day specials

Oh, how the pace of commerce has changed! Mothers’ Day is this Sunday in the USA, and you can still get deals on line and get the item in time. Whether you are buying for a Mom or not, I thought I’d mention a couple.

First, there’s the deal on the Kindle Fire HD 7″ models directly from Amazon (this doesn’t appear to apply to the 8.9″). You have to enter this code at checkout:


Note that entering it a checkout means you will not get the opportunity to enter it if you use 1-click. This deal is good through May 12th, and only for USA customers. Here is a link to the rest of the

Kindle Fire HD 7″ deal details

Second, DecalGirl has a deal on skins. Skins are really a way to personalize a device, including Kindles and Kindle Fires. It’s like a super duper sticker you put on it. You can even do customized ones by uploading a photo. They have a promotional code for 25% off through May 13th…I guess they even have the late folks covered…so to speak. 😉 Of course, you could also let Mom pick her skin.

You can shop here:

DecalGirl Mothers’ Day skins

At checkout, enter the code


I assume it’s okay to post this, since they sent me an e-mail they said I could forward to friends…you’re my friends, right? 😉

Senate passes equal collection legislation

I’ve written about this a lot before, and I’m happy to see it moving along (even though it isn’t law yet).

There’s nice coverage of the vote by the Senate to pass equal collection legislation in this article

Just to summarize, it would mean that large internet retailers would collect sales tax at the point of sale on online purchases, similar to what happens in a brick-and-mortar store.

This is key: it is not a new tax.

If people think of it as a new tax, it probably won’t pass the House of Representatives, despite the bipartisan support it has had.

Nobody will owe a penny more of sales tax if this passes…but the vast majority of people will pay more.

That’s because you are probably expected to pay sales/use tax in your state on your annual taxes when you buy things from out of state retailers…but most people just don’t. We do in my family, and it’s a bear…if this does pass, it will simplify things for me.

Can you imagine figuring out your own sales tax on your brick-and-mortar purchases, and then paying it as one lump sum once a year?

I’m not convinced it will pass the House, although there are certainly  motivations  to do so. Amazon and Wal-Mart both support it. More importantly, the Federal government might be able to send less money to the states if the states were able to collect the sales tax they were already owed. However we all know that “logic” isn’t spelled “lawgic” for a reason…the two don’t have a whole lot to do with each other. 😉

Tor going DRM-free has not increased piracy

There’s a fascinating post

that talks about how things are going after a year of being DRM (Digital Rights Mangement) free. Tor is a major publisher (part of Macmillan), and I reported on their decision.

DRM is code inserted into digital content by the publisher to control the use of that material.

When you download an e-book that is DRM-free, there is nothing it that technically stops you from copying it or altering it.

That doesn’t mean that you have the right to do anything you want: you could still do things (like distributing it freely over the internet without permission) which would be illegal infringement.

However, if you want to convert it from an e-book you can read on a Kindle to an e-book you can read on a NOOK, that is apparently okay.

Here’s the key line in a short excerpt:

“As it is, we’ve seen no discernible increase in piracy on any of our titles, despite them being DRM-free for nearly a year.”

That doesn’t mean there has been no piracy (there can even be piracy of DRM-protected files…it’s just harder), but that releasing without DRM hasn’t meant that there was any more or it (as far as they can tell).

As they note, their success doesn’t mean it would be equally successful for all books, but you can bet other tradpubs (traditional publishers) are looking at this carefully.

Taking a Kindle for a test drive…really

My Significant Other and I knew that it was getting to be time to buy a new car (I had a Scion XB with over 150,000 miles on it…it was still doing fine, but you start thinking about maintenance costs at that range).

For me, tech in the car is a big thing. I’ve been listening now to text-to-speech in the car for years.

In the Scion, that was with an FM transmitter, playing through the radio.

We wanted a hybrid. We’d been driving Toyotas (I did like the Scion a lot) and had pretty much settled on a Prius.

Then, we drove a Ford Fusion over the weekend…and bought it. 🙂

For us, the drive was just so much better…the feel of it, and especially the visibility.

The tech was fine: it’s practically like having gotten a new computer, which is a fun day for me. 😉 I’m not that big on driving, but I really enjoyed it today. I have a touchscreen in the car, but I can also talk to it. The Kindle Fire (and my phone and my Blackberry and my Significant Other’s phone) paired to the Bluetooth with no problem. I start the book on the Kindle (before I start driving), and tell it to play Bluetooth audio…and I’m off and running. It also has two USB charging ports, so I don’t need a car adapter with this one.

Unrelated to the Kindle, the back-up camera is crazy cool. I haven’t had a new car for about nine years, so this all new to me. I really like that it shows me two virtual reality lines for where the car is going to go…and if you turn the steering wheel (even before you start moving), it shows you the projected path. It’s going to take quite a while before it feels natural to look forward (at the screen) when backing up, but I can clearly see the advantages.

That “taking a while” thing happens, though. I had a funny one the other day. The clock in our bathroom died, and I’m often reading on my Kindle Fire in there while I exercise and brush my teeth (I take a long time doing the latter). However, I did have a paper magazine up on the towel rack where I normally put my Fire. I caught myself reaching up to push something on the paper magazine to see what time it was. 🙂 I didn’t get very far, but that’s clearly become a habit for me.

Some people ask why an RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle…anything but a Kindle Fire) doesn’t show a clock all the time. One reason why their batteries last so long is that they do very little when you are reading. They redraw the “page”, and that’s about it unless you tell it to do something. If there was a clock, they’d have to redraw the page at least every minute…that would eat up battery charge life.

What do you think? Will equal collection legislation pass the House? How will it affect Amazon if it does? Did you buy any more books from Tor because they went DRM-free? How do you use your Kindle in the car? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

9 Responses to “Round up #167: no DRM doesn’t increase piracy for Tor, Mothers’ Day specials”

  1. Zebras Says:

    I’m very jealous of your new back-up camera in your car. I can’t turn my head around far enough to back up like other people do, so I’m the world’s worst person to back up a car. I’ve seen one in operation on my friend’s Prius, and even it night the screen looks like daylight. Won’t be getting anytime soon my 9-year-old car is just going to have its 70,000 mile birthday today.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Zebras!

      My Significant Other particularly wanted the back up camera, but I do really like it now. 🙂 One good thing I found was shifting into reverse after getting into a parking space in a parking lot, just to make sure I’m inside the lines. 🙂

      I do have some trouble twisting around…it’s a back thing I’ve had since I was a kid. It’s actually more if I reach around from one side to the other (using my left hand to grab something on my right side…being ambidextrous, that could happen either way).

      Hopefully, your car lasts a long time! I’m not fond of buying new things, actually, but sometimes you have to do it. I’ve bought new Kindles, but that’s more to write about them and help people…otherwise, I might still be using my Kindle 1. 😉

      I used to drive a lot in my job…there was a time I was doing a thousand miles a week. I always remember going into my local gas station, and having the person tell me I was their “best customer”. I wasn’t sure that was a good thing at a gas station…

  2. Zebras Says:

    I think its just that I haven’t got much of a neck! I hear you about buying new things. Fridge broke down over the weekend, and we realized it was the same repair we did about 6 years ago, and the thing is only about 8 years old. So, we decided to go new, and I had to make my decision about the new one as to who could deliver on Monday, and then pick an available model. Not the best way to have to make a choice, but husband’s home all day recovering from an operation, and since it hadn’t entirely broken down yet, we had a chance to save the food with quick delivery.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Zebras!

      Well, we tend to do research before we buy something, although that isn’t always a choice, like you and the fridge (!). It seems to people like we just go out and buy something (we hadn’t planned to buy a car this weekend), but actually, it’s because we typically have done the research in bits and pieces for months first.

      One of the things I wanted to know is if Sync would take upgrades (I suspect there will be some big in-car deals made in the next year or two), and it does. 🙂

      The car uses my phone, though, so I probably won’t be streaming web audio (like Songza) through my Kindle Fire for it…but that’s no big deal, I can do that through my phone.

      I had a funny conversation with my Significant Other about my irrational resistance to buying new clothes. I always feel (not think) that that is a failure. That you should stay the same size once you are an adult, and never wear out your clothes or change your style. I know that’s silly, but that’s how I feel about it. 🙂

  3. Western Reader Says:

    Using the Kindle in the car: One of the things that was appealing when I got my first Kindle (Gen 2) was the ability to have it read to me when I was on the road. After trying it a few times, I realized the monotonous tone of the reader (whether male or female voice) spoiled any enjoyment of the book. It certainly is not like listening to an audiobook … not by a long shot. The situation did not improve when I bought the Kindle Keyboard. Thus, this feature is not missed in my latest Kindle, the Paperwhite. When my DH and I are on the road, I find reading the Kindle very relaxing, and have even read books aloud to him as he drives (we take some very long treks). I never go anywhere without this neat electronic reader, even if it’s just a shopping trip. I never know when I’ll have to wait around for something. Like you, I LOVE MY KINDLE!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Western!

      Yes, text-to-speech and an audiobook are two very different things. Unlike you (and most people, I expect), I greatly prefer the former. I don’t want the narrator (actor or author) to interpret a book for me if I haven’t read it first. I like the “monotony”. 🙂 Yes, sometimes I like comics…but generally, I wouldn’t want a book where there is a cartoon before each sentence to tell me how the person feels, or if every word was a different font and color. The sameness of the TTS lets me put my own interpretation on it…just as sight-reading does.

      Having somebody in the car read to me, though? That’s great, and we have done that! Our kid used to do that for us as well.

      I also do want to mention that the TTS on my Fire is much better than it was on the Kindle 2, or Kindle 3 (Kindle Keyboard). It still doesn’t interpret things, but it does sound smoother.

  4. Does Amazon need DRM? | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] Fun and information about the Kindle and the world of e-books « Round up #167: no DRM doesn’t increase piracy for Tor, Mothers’ Day specials […]

  5. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I thought I’d make a couple of comments on the internet tax issue.

    First the statement that it’s not really a tax increase, That everyone is obligated to pay sales taxes is true for California, Massachusetts, NY, NJ (the states that I know about), but not necessarily for all states that have sales taxes — the laws vary quite a bit. In some jurisdictions it really will be a tax increase.

    However, that’s probably besides the point: many years ago I lived for some years with a high-ranking politician in the Koch administration in NYC. We would from time to time discuss the issues of the day. I would often try to discern what the facts or “truth” surrounding an issue might be. She always mildly pointed out that to a politician what is ACTUALLY true or factual is irrelevant, it’s what people BELIEVE to be true or factual that matters.

    I submit that for most this will “feel” like a tax increase. I suspect that in the House you will find nary a Representative from either party getting up on his hind legs to argue that this isn’t really a tax increase.

    Two weeks ago I would have said that the internet tax bill would pass into law. Today, I would say passage in the House is a crapshoot. Attacks on the bill are coming along 3 broad lines.

    One is the tax increase argument which will resonate with many republicans.

    The second is that the exclusion to collect in the bill applies only to businesses with annual revenues less than $1 million. Ebay has been arguing for this exclusion to be increased to $10 million — as many of their sellers would fall under that higher umbrella. Thinking about that aspect makes me wonder what Amazon’s 3rd party sellers (who make up 40-45% of Amazon’s revenue) think about this bill and Amazon’s position on it? I also got to wondering how much of Amazon’s support for this bill revolves around a desire to increase the burden of entry into the internet sales business — to in effect to make it harder for smaller competitors to exist?

    Lastly (and most recently), it appears that at the 11th hour Harry Reid inserted language into the bill redefining the definition of “state” to include not just the 50 states, but Indian tribes, territories, possessions, and a lot of other entities. This matters because each of these entities under the bill would have the right to audit the collection activities of any business. The original sponsor of the bill (as reported in the WSJ) didn’t even know that this language was inserted into the bill he voted for. He said he’ll have to go read it to see what it actually says :grin. I wonder what Harry Reid’s motivations are here. Is it on its face an attempt to be more inclusive; or is it perhaps a kind of “poison pill” designed to ensure the bill won’t pass the house?

    At this point my opinion is that the senate bill will not pass as written. If anything passes the house, it will probably be modified in some significant ways. I could easily see Ebay gaining traction with the exclusion increase. I’m not sure what will happen with the auditing rules. The House (no matter which party) is much more sensitive to the desires of small businesses.

    If something does pass, then it would go to a conference committee where I suspect the true lines on this bill to emerge. In the meantime the House hasn’t even scheduled any hearings on this, nor has the House leadership given any signals as to whether they are willing to take the senate bill up at all. They could decide to write their own bill, or do nothing at all.

    In any event my advice: don’t hold your breath :grin

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Well, the way it has been proposed (and as you point out, that doesn’t mean it will end that way), it would only be a case of collecting the sales tax which would be paid in a brick-and-mortar. If a state (like Nevada) has no sales tax, they would be unaffected by this. I’ll have to keep up with the revisions, but my understanding is that this really is not a tax increase on anyone…it’s enforcement of existing tax laws.

      Yes, Amazon may certainly be supporting it in part because it raises the bar to be an online seller…and they are already so far above the bar that they can’t see it any more. 😉

      As someone (and I don’t remember who, unfortunately) said recently, “I don’t think this Congress could pass gas.” 😉 We’ll see what happens…

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