While we were waiting, my wife and I chatted with the bank president. They were talking about iPads and the Nook when the bank president remarked that she'd found a service called "eBookr" on the internet that offers a Netflix-like experience for ebooks: download all the ebooks you like for a flat fee of $9.99 a month.
I thought, Hmm... Sounds fishy to me.
Upon further investigation, I think it's not only fishy, it stinks of fish gone bad. And you know how stinky bad fish is.
Plainly put, I think eBookr is ripping publishers and authors off.
This is how they're doing it:
Users of the site upload ebook files to the eBookr site (eBookr laughingly calls these "Contributions"--see below). eBookr charges their members a monthly fee to download the ebooks. No money makes it back to the publishers, including, obviously, self-published authors.
Check out their ridiculous disclaimer on their Terms of Service page: (I've set the important parts in boldface and make my comments in parentheses.)
7. Contributions to eBookr or the Service.
eBookr does not host any content on the service, other than user-provided commentary, “Contributions”, and related indexing information.
(This is how they attempt to pass the buck to the "user" who made the "Contribution".)
You hereby grant eBookr and its successors a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicensable and transferable license to use, copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, prepare derivative works of, communicate to the public, publicly display, and publicly perform such Contribution on, through or in connection with the Service in any media formats and through any media channels, including without limitation, for promoting and redistributing all or in part of the Service (and its derivative works). This license terminates once you or eBookr removes your Contribution from the Service. You understand that your Contribution may be transmitted over various networks and changed to conform and adapt to technical requirements.
(Of course, "users" don't own the rights to the books they're illegally uploading, so they can't assign them to eBookr.)
Now, some may make the argument that the users bought the ebook and so should be able to share it with others, like they could a physical book. If I buy a paperback, I can give or lend it to anyone, right?
But you can't distribute or lend my ebooks to anyone you please because I own the copyright and I've forbidden you to do that.
If you buy one of my ebooks from Amazon, you can lend it to someone else through Amazon because I said you could. THAT works like a real book: you can only lend it to one person at a time AND, to my knowledge, Amazon doesn't make anything off the transaction.
eBookr is making ebooks available to potentially millions of people, is profiting off the transactions, and nothing is being sent to the publishers.
I checked to see if they were profiting off my two novels, and they weren't. I'm not all that popular. Yet. Doesn't matter though, I think what they're doing is criminal and they need to be stopped.
Here's what I think needs to be done:
1. If you are self-published, check to see if they have any of your books. If they do, go to their DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) page here to learn how to get them to remove your works.
2. Even if they haven't stolen any of your books, pass the word to other self-published authors either directly or by forwarding the link to this post. Everyone needs to know.
3. I'm not an attorney, but hopefully someone who reads this post is and will know how to get these scammers off the internet.