Friday, March 8, 2013

Digital version of Daas Torah - is it possible without loss?

I just received the following email regarding putting my books in digtial form. I agree with the writer who would prefer an electronic version over a printed version - I use the electronic form almost exclusively.  The simple problem is how to do this without losing all my rights and possible financial compensation as thousands of copies proliferate across the internet with the click of a mouse. The NY Times has a good article on the demise of the industry as the result of being able to get an electronic book for nothing or at most pennies. At the present I am not presenting my books in electronic form - but I would like to. Anyone have a realistic solutions?
I think your book Daas Torah is an invaluable work, really fantastic. If possible I would really like to buy a digital copy of the book, preferably PDF. The reason for this is that, as a student of the 21st century, indexes and tables of content don't do much for me when I'm looking for source material. I search for keywords. I use Bar Ilan daily. B"H my Beis Midrash has Wifi. For this reason, you're book would be indescribably more practical to me if it was in a digital format that would allow me to type in keywords and find exactly what i'm searching for. I'll pay you the full 35 dollars for the book. And I will do my utmost, bli neder, to never distribute the book, or parts of it, in any way that would breach the copyright. I would probably not even tell anyone else that I have a digital copy so that they don't even ask for it. But it would be extremely helpful and useful for me to have a digital copy of the book, again, preferably PDF.


  1. There is some software that makes it difficult to copy, ie it is not PDF but a protected one. However, even these will be eventually be hacked.
    the question also is who is your target market? Are Talmidei hahamim software savvy or do they still prefer a hardbound Sefer?

    Do the gains of having it available as an ebook outweigh the possible losses? Gains could be more recognition of the book, and of the contents.

    And then there is the option of having a shorter version eg abstracts of each chapter..

    Hope this helps

  2. I don't believe that there's any downside to selling e-books. I've been doing it for years now and I certainly haven't seen any black market developing for my writing! Sixteen year old kids might want their movies or music without paying, but I really don't believe that someone who is interested in Torah books would have the time, inclination or know-how to create some kind of illegal file sharing business!
    And I'll tell you something else: over the last twelve months, I've sold nearly 400 copies of my various books through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Itunes and Lulu - and only 14 of them were hard copies - all without me investing a single penny or lifting a finger for promotion.
    And this is besides the fact that Amazon Kindle offers authors the option of copy protecting their works (something I don't bother with).
    Boruch Clinton

  3. I should add, however, that Kindle doesn't yet support Hebrew, so you would have to remove all your original sources.

  4. I agree with Eddie. Given your market the chance of illegal copies are small. It's far more likely that someone will make unauthorized photocopies of the sections he likes.
    On the other hand, being cynical, given your market the chance of someone deciding to make illegal copies in the name of Shamayim are quite high.
    Amazon must have some kind of technology to prevent illegal copying though.

  5. Amazon Kindle does have some kind of technology to prevent illegal copying. But there are apparently ways of breaking it.

  6. I just got around to reading the NYT article you linked to.
    I would suggest that the possibility of a legal resale market for digital media is primarily a threat for publishers/authors who currently overcharge for their products. Considering that there are virtually no production costs for an ebook (even if you choose to outsource the conversion process, in many models your costs could be very quickly offset by royalties), charging $12-20 per ebook is just greedy. Such publishers should expect to face a resale market that undercuts them.
    But if you charge $2-5 (which earns as much as 70% royalties), there really isn't all that much room for resalers to make any money, so why would they bother?

  7. I don't understand the problem. Self-publish a Kindle book on Amazon. Am I missing something? Amazon sells more eBooks than real books, enough said.

  8. I googled and found
    so maybe an e-book which is sold, is better than a pdf.

  9. thank you for your suggestions - the problem is if you use google you can find hundreds of sites where explicit directions are given for breaking the security protection on ebooks

    I agree if you charge $1 a book it is not worth breaking the copy protection. But then it isn't worth spending $35 buying a printed version of the book either.

    Simple question at this time is whether it is worth investing the time and effort to produce an ebook. ebooks generally make sense with a small book but Daas Torah Vol 1 is over 800 pages.

  10. the problem is if you use google you can find hundreds of sites where explicit directions are given for breaking the security protection on ebooks

    It is certainly true that cracking copy protection on an ebook is dead simple. There is even free mainstream, legal software available that does it as a matter of course. But, as I wrote above, being able to crack the DRM is one thing. Having a viable file sharing network interested in Torah books so you can actually share it with other people is whole different matter.

    Simple question at this time is whether it is worth investing the time and effort to produce an ebook. ebooks generally make sense with a small book but Daas Torah Vol 1 is over 800 pages.

    An easy compromise solution you could use (that wouldn't involve removing all your Hebrew text and a complicated re-format) would be to sell a simple PDF of your book through at any price you like. There won't be any copy protection, but I really don't believe that that should be a concern for us.

  11. I suppose the real question is whether publishing in E-format (even with its risks of people sharing free copies)will, in the long run, realistically cause you to have less revenue than what you now project.

  12. Here's a site with an interesting model:

    This permits access to a professional reference book which is also available for sale in hard copy and as a component of a fairly high priced software package. At the above website basic searching is enabled at no charge, with value added services available by subscription.

    Password protected subscription access is a pretty common model these days.


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