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You can't download your .mobi files from Amazon anymore, even if they're DRM free

I provide you the following chat conversation I had with an Amazon representative:

You are now connected to Katherine from Amazon.com

Me:I bought a DRM-free Kindle book and I'd like to download it and put it on my Nook. However, the "Actions" button doesn't seem to have a "download" option any longer.

Katherine:Hello, thank you for contacting Kindle Technical Support. My name is Katherine. I understand you would like to download a book to your Nook device.

Me:Yes
Well, download to my computer and transfer to my Nook

Katherine:I understand Eric, however you are contacting the Kindle support department, in this case, if you have issues or need to download the book, first you need to contact them for further assistance. First you need to know if the book you have is support it on the Nook and then they can definitely help you to download the book

Me:I'm not sure I understand.
It's a DRM-free Kindle book
I want to download it, change it into an ePub using Calibre and load it onto my Nook
But I can't find a way to get the source .Mobi file
Anymore
I used to go to "Manage My Kindle" click "Actions..." and click "Download"
But that option no longer seems to exist

Katherine: I am very sorry Eric, once again I can help you downloading books to Kindles, not Nook. If you are having issues now with it, it will be better if you can contact them. You can read content you buy from the Kindle Store (such as books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs) on most Kindle devices or Kindle reading apps registered to your Amazon.com account.

Me:This has nothing to do with Nook. The problem would be the same if I wanted to download all my .mobi files to put on a personal hard drive for back-up.

Katherine:You might find more information in this link
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/NOOK-Su...(See full link)
I understand is not related with Nook, I can't just tell you that our books are supported for Kindle. If you were able to download to the Nook in the past, and this time is not working, could be that specific file is not supported, is better for you to ask them if in this case you can convert it or change the file to download it

Fucking Amazon.

RIP Iain M. Banks

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The BBC is reporting that Iain Banks has died from cancer at the age of 59. The world has lost one of its greatest writers.

LORE with "Trials of the Dead King" available now!

My story "Trials of the Dead King" is available now in LORE vol 2. no. 3 along with 11 other stories!

Also, I know I've been quiet lately. I'm going to be mostly quiet for a little longer, but at the end of the month I'll be making some noise about various exciting things. Stay tuned!

Here's a taste of the story:

The Challenger steps into the perfectly round room, closing the door on the bodies left behind him. The Savant sits on a low stone bench, gazing into the globe that floats inches from the floor and bathes the room in soft, warm light. Something slips around within it and sends shadows slithering along the walls and over her pale skin. She looks up and welcomes the Challenger with a nod toward the bench directly across from her.

"Would you like some tea?" she asks as the Challenger sits. She motions to one wall. There is a table the other hadn't noticed before, and on it is a cast iron tea pot and some simple ceramic cups.

The Challenger grunts. "No foreplay, old woman," he says. "Let's get to business. I need to go to the Citadel of Oberon."

The Savant sighs, "They never want tea." She takes a breath. The air crackles with hidden energy. "Very well. We begin with a character. You seem like a hip fellow. He'll have a hip name. He will be Danny Mitochondria."

She takes another breath, and when she resumes her voice has taken on a low, inhuman tone that echoes through the room. "Danny Mitochondria made his living taking tourists through the ruins of the faerie capital."

Read the rest in LORE vol. 2 no. 3

Digital Cerebus

One of the guiding lights of my young adulthood was the unrelentingly bizarre self-published comic book Cerebus, a 6,000 page epic chronicling the rise and fall of an anthropomorphic Aardark barbarian in a human fantasy world, with notable supporting characters Groucho Marx, Oscar Wilde, Mick Jaggar and Keith Richards and many, many others. By the end of the 30-year effort, the comic's creator, Dave Sim, had quite literally lost his mind, alienated most of his friends and holed up in his house in Ontario writing misogynist religious screeds.

I never thought we would get a digital version of Cerebus, because Sim has stated repeatedly that he doesn't like digital comics, or technology in general-- the man's a hard-core luddite who refuses to use email and writes on a type writer. And yet here he is with a kickstarter project. Digitize Cerebus, get it on comiXology and other venues (full discloser: comiXology is my employer), with all the backup features and letters pages, covers and back covers (much of which has never been reprinted) and some kind of audio-component as well with Sim himself reading dialog from the comic.

He set the funding goal at $6,000. A day later it's already raised $12,000 and counting. Even his estranged ex-wife contributed to the thing!

I find this all terribly exciting. Not necessarily because I need to read the Cerebus books again once they're made digital (though I probably will). But because an audience who might never have seen it will have a chance to discover it, and be swept away by its odd charm and the complete unwillingness to compromise that allowed Sim to take his book in a direction that a no mainstream publisher would have understood.

And yes, he's crazy now. But even his misogyny and homophobia and Bible-thumping aren't anything like anyone else's versions of the same. Dave Sim believes that the Bible secretly depicts a war between two gods, one male and one female, for control of the human race, and he spent several issues of the comic doing an exegesis on the Torah to explain his theories (helped by a cartoon Woody Allen). Which is to say that his own descent into madness, depicted in vivid detail in the pages of his comic, is one of the most fascinating things I've ever read.

And if we really get all the back matter, we'll get a digital version of his long diatribe criticizing Scott McCloud for being into digital comics back in the day. And won't that be nicely ironic?

Solaris Finally Translated Directly into English

As is being reported in The Literary Saloon and Mumpsimus, Stanisław Lem's great novel Solaris has been translated from the original Polish into English for (shockingly) the first time. The existing edition is translated from Polish into French into English.

Apparently, because of rights issues, this new version is currently only available as an audiobook, though they plan on releasing an ebook and "hopefully" a print edition. Not sure what the deal is with the rights for this book or why the rights holders haven't bothered with a proper translation in the 50 years since the book came out, but someone should be deeply ashamed.

Small Beer Press launches Weightless Books

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Noted indie publisher Small Beer Press has launched a web-based ebook store, Weightless Books and are currently pursuing many other independent publishers to join them in the venture. The store offers ebooks in blissfully DRM-free PDF format.

Small Beer Press is one of my favorite publishers, focusing mostly on short story collections and anthologies, and run by Kelly Link, who I have called the greatest living short story writer, and her husband Gavin Grant. There's a lot of great books on sale already at Weightless, including Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud's remarkable collection A Life on Paper which I mentioned once before and the latest issue of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, the zine that Link edits and which is on my list of Fiction Magazines Worth Reading.

News and Fun Stuff

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Joss Whedon's TV show Dollhouse has officially been canceled. While I'm sad something I actually watch (and I watch less and less television these days) has been shitcanned, at the same time I'm surprised a show about brainwashed rape victims and their sociopathic handlers lasted as long as it did. And I liked the show.

Michael Moorcock will be writing a Doctor Who novel. Pretty unusual for a writer I like to be working on a licensed property I like, so I'll be looking forward to this one. Though it begs the question, why doesn't Moffat just have Moorcock write an actual episode of the show? If The Wire can bring in great crime novel writers I see no reason why Doctor Who can't bring in great sf writers.

Other fun stuff: new fiction by Matt Cheney online for free, always a reason to celebrate.
And some videos:
Every time travel cliche in one video!

Awesome soviet animation! This is apparently based on a Ray Bradbury short story. (Ray Bradbury seems to have been very popular in Soviet Russia.)

The Nook's Most Important Feature is Epub Compatibility

I've seen a lot of articles on line about the various features of the Nook device, but most of them seem to bury the news that it's Epub-compatible, if they mention it at all. But Epub compatibility--and the fact that BN is converting its entire library to epub--is the single most important bit of news here, and the reason is simple. Sony now also sells its ebooks in the epub format. Which means if I bought a bunch of books for the Sony Reader, and then buy a Nook, those books are still usable. On the other hand, if I had a Kindle, my Kindle books would be unusable on the new device. In other words, the Nook and the Sony Reader allow me to create a library of books independent of whatever reader I have, where as the Kindle locks you into their format. That means that 10 or 20 years from now I might still have usable ebooks, for reference, for rereading, for referring to notes I might have taken. As long as there are still devices compatible with epub, I'm fine. That's huge.

Now if we can just get these ebooks off of DRM, we'd really have something...

FTC vs. Bloggers

So the FTC apparently has come out with new rules (PDF) where they can fine you up to $11,000 if you don't reveal any money or "freebies" you might have gotten in "exchange" for a review. Ed Champion does some pretty stellar reporting in interviewing a person from the FTC about this and explaining the problems with the new rules. Basically, there's a double standard; if a reviewer for a traditional newspaper get a free book as a review copy and then reviews it, that's okay, but if a blogger does the same thing suddenly he's treated as if he's being bribed. The interviewee also talking about having direct links to the product being a problem. But so what if I have direct links to where you can buy a book I've reviewed from IndieBound? And so what if I get a commission from those links? I can link to any book that's in print. No one's paying me to pimp their book, I'm pimping (or smacking down or whatever) any book I want to.

In other words, these new rules represent yet another example of clueless people in government making clueless decisions that favor old media over new because they just don't understand the new media. And it's bullshit.

Are we all going to have to wait until the people in government die off and are replaced by younger people who grew up with the new media before we get anything resembling clued-in legislation? How long are we going to have to deal with the type of folks who think the Internet is a "series of tubes" before we get people who actually know what they're talking about?

Very frustrating.

Holy Fuck Marvel Aquires Marvelman!

I think I've been waiting for this day for at least 15 years: Marvelman has been acquired by Marvel Comics.

A little background: Marvelman was a superhero created in England in the 1950's. In the 1980's Alan Moore revamped the character in one of his most beloved stints in comics. He later passed the book off to Neil Gaiman. Marvel Comics (who'd fought for the name Captain Marvel and won years ago, making the 1940's hero have his comics sold under the name "Shazam") sued and forbid the name "Marvelman" from being used in America, so in America the character was known as "Miracleman". But that's just the beginning of the trouble. After moving to several different publishing companies, and following the dissolution of Eclipse Comics in 1994, the ownership of the character came under dispute between Todd McFarlane, who had bought out Eclipse Comics, Neil Gaiman, who Alan Moore had given his share of the character to, and Mick Anglo, who created the character. The bottom line being that for 15 years all of Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman's Miracleman comics were out of print, and only available in rare, expensive copies sold in places like eBay. These stories had disappeared.

So, if this announcement means what it seems to mean, not only can the character go back to being Marvelman, but these books by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman that no one's been able to read can be brought back into print.

Of course, it's possible that they just acquired the original characters and not the stories from the 80's and 90's. Also in question is whether they'll try to shoehorn the character into the Marvel Universe. Time will tell.