At this point in our journey into major sources of free ebooks, we are able to see that some of the collections operate as academic consortia, some use board members to set policies, and still others strive to be a true community of users (e.g., Unglue.It). This week, we will again focus on the last group because my sense is that this approach to sharing knowledge is where the sympathies of those advocating true free access are. Therefore, I’ve chosen eserver.org.
Eserver is (justifiably) proud of its community and describes itself this way: The EServer is a growing online community where hundreds of writers, artists, editors and scholars gather to publish works as open archives, available free of charge to readers.
In a publishing industry dominated by corporate publishing of books and ebooks, value is placed on works that sell to broad markets. Quick turnover, high-visibility marketing campaigns for bestsellers, and corporate “superstore” bookstores have all made it difficult for unique and older texts to be published. (Further, the costs this marketing adds to all books discourage people from leisure reading as a common practice.) And publishers tend to encourage authors to write books with strong appeal to the current, undermining (if unknowingly) writings with longer-term implications. Continue reading EServer.org, an alternative niche for free quality content (including ebooks) in the arts and humanities
This week, we focus on Unglue.it, which also uses a collectivitst approach to DRM (Digital Rights Management), somewhat along the lines used by Knowledge Unlatched (the focus of Free Content Alert last week). Unglue.it was launched in 2012 and is based on the premise that small gifts by many users can free ebooks from the DRM fetters that bind them…in essence, ‘ungluing’ them in a virtual way.
The concept was to use ‘crowdsourcing’, as is done with sites such as Kickstarter and Gofundme. In contrast, Knowledge Unlatched uses membership fees paid by a consortium of academic libraries to purchase the necessary Creative Commons License (CCL) giving access to verified members of those academic communities. Unglue.it’s method at the outset was described by the Huffington Post here. As I understand it, authors who are independent (or otherwise hold the copyright to their work) set a fee for releasing their work as an ebook. If Unglue.it is interested in acquiring it for their collection, a fundraising campaign to reach that amount in a certain time frame is launched. Various incentives are offered for various levels of gifts, much like fundraising for public radio and public television in the United States. Unglue.it gives details in its FAQ page. Continue reading Unglue.it, an ebooks site that functions like a true participatory democracy
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