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A free speech alternative to Amazon E-Books

It is hard to overstate the importance of trying to use alternatives to oligopolistic companies seeking control what you can see or purchase. Sadly, Amazon is very hard to avoid these days but at least people can seek out competitors in specific areas, such as e-books.

The chaps at Creative Destruction Media suggest Smashwords. Highlighting the existence of alternatives where they exist is important.

13 comments to A free speech alternative to Amazon E-Books

  • Yup, my books are on Smashwords as well as Amazon. That said, Amazon hasn’t been a problem so far – apart from taking a huge bite out of print book copies.

  • Clovis Sangrail

    They’re specialist (sci-fi and fantasy), but Baen books (baen.com) sell Kindle (and other e-reader) compatible books and although they’ve had recent trouble with their member comments they seem to remain committed to free speech.

  • Clovis Sangrail (February 20, 2021 at 1:06 pm), IIUC it is not that Baen themselves have had the least problem with member comments as such, but that the woke are targeting third parties to deplatform Baen. Exploiting some unwoke remark in comments to justify that is standard practice in such campaigns. Baen are therefore keeping an eye on things while (again IIUC) hardening themselves with respect to possible third-party platform capitulation to the woke, where they can. (In effect, following Perry’s recent advice, but I feel sure they worked it out for themselves.)

  • Clovis Sangrail

    @Niall Thank you for explaining that-I was a little (a lot) confused/unclear.

    On a separate but related note-Sarah Hoyt (sci-fi author and Instapundit contributor) has urged people to keep buying ebooks from Amazon (I presume that she would prefer we used Baen where possible) so as not to punish the innocent.

  • Surellin

    Ah, I came prepared to push Baen Free Library, but I see you are all ahead of me.

  • pete

    I rarely use Amazon because they rarely offer the best deal.

  • MadRocketSci

    What alternative booksellers have you used? I’ve attempted to use Kobo, but they have their formats locked down to their reading applications. I hate that. If I can’t crack it, I won’t buy it. (Not to mention prices are 50-100% higher.)

    I haven’t found a good substitute for finding older out-of-print scientific books.

    I buy from Baen whenever possible, and hope they don’t go under. Suddenly it seems like the dark ages – all independent voices are being silenced, and only a few monopolies complicit with the tyranny are left.

  • Paul Marks

    Good news. Although much more needs to be done.

  • Sam Duncan

    I’ve attempted to use Kobo, but they have their formats locked down to their reading applications.

    I’ve had a Kobo for over a decade and never used their store. One reason I chose it was that the account registration is ridiculously easy to work around. After that, it works the way one of these things bloody well should work: you stick ePub, PDF, and plain text files on an SD card and it reads them.

    Having said that, I haven’t updated the firmware in years, and vaguely recall that it was a deliberate decision. Only I’ve forgotten why. They may have been trying to lock the thing down more. There still seems to be an active hacking community for them though, including the newer models, so I may be mistaken.

  • My experience with Smashwords is several years old now, actually thinking about it, it’s about a decade out of date. However a decade ago there was a good reason that Amazon kicked Smashwords’ butt in the ebook world. For both readers and publishers Smashwords was just harder to work with and generally less responsive to reported problems.

    It may have changed but it wasn’t good then and in fact gave me a sufficiently bad experience that I haven’t gone back.

    Responding to comments:

    Baen’s ebook site contains a lot of books that aren’t originally published by Baen, although I think pretty much everything is “speculative fiction” of one variety or another. Due to agreements with Amazon Baen charges the exact same price as Amazon for ebooks that it also sells at Amazon, but you are giving someone other than Amazon the sales cut.

    If I can interpret Sarah Hoyt’s recommendation it would be to continue buying books. If the books are available through non-Amazon sources then by all means buy them there, if they are only available via Amazon then buy via Amazon.

    I would note that if you start getting books from multiple sources and/or if you don’t trust Amazon to not remove access to your Amazon purchases then take a look at calibre (https://calibre-ebook.com ) as a stand alone ebook library/manager that you can use with books bought from many different places includign amazon

  • Clovis Sangrail

    @francisT More helpful stuff! Thank you.

    New strapline for Samizdata-come for the free speech, stay for the e-reader tips!

  • @Clovis Sangrail I’ve been a loyal Baen e-reading customer for about 20 years now – I don’t recall precisely when I bought my first ebook from them but it was some time in 2001. At that time (cue old fart ramble) we didn’t have these newfangled smart phones and ebook reader things and had to read on computers. It didn’t stop me buying and reading lots and lots, particularly thanks to the Free Library getting me hooked on Baen authors I might not otherwise have read

    PS If you look for me on mewe or the Bork of Feces you’ll be easily able to identify which is the legitimate Francis Turner (accept no alternatives) by my current profile pic…

  • In other news, an incentive to find other ways to buy books – https://www.encounterbooks.com/features/statement-on-amazon/

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