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Making eBooks Safe For Democracy

Digital publishing technologies have made it easier than ever for people to make their ideas available to the public. Thoughts can be recorded and posted for the world to see with just a few keystrokes and clicks, and electronic documents can be created and copied and circulated for any who are or may be interested.

The challenge for authors who are creating works for which they wish to be paid is that protecting valuable copy from unauthorized sharing and distribution has been problematic. Sell and distribute one copy of your magnum opus and who knows how many times it may be shared with others who now no longer need to pay you for the privilege. Ebook publishing and distribution through companies like Amazon solved the problem of copy protection and distribution, but at a cost—as much as two-thirds of the sale price.

In recent years, innovations have begun to shift the balance of power to the author. Companies like Smashwords make it easier than ever to self-publish and sell ebooks through many of the major distributors, formatted for the popular reading devices. Smashwords founder Mark Coker has referred to this as “democratized distribution,” and the success of his company stands as evidence that both authors and readers have eagerly embraced the idea. More than 70,000 authors use Smashwords, which has published more than 250,000 books.

Indeed, self-publishing no longer carries with it the stigma of literary failure. In fact, according to Digital Book World’s Jeremy Greenfield, “self” ranked as 2013’s third most successful ebook publisher.

Yet in the age of social media, an author who has built a strong platform and has established a more direct relationship with his or her audience may wish to take the concept of democratized distribution a step further. Authors can build a web presence utilizing available tools, integrate resources like Facebook and Twitter to draw and engage potential readers.

And we’re finding that they are turning to HoGo to copy-protect, control, and distribute their works. With HoGo direct-to-reader sales can be supported by manually emailing each ebook sold, or creating a link to their copy-protected files, then sharing that link with anyone who has made a purchase. As an author becomes more successful and begins selling more books, HoGo can be integrated with their site’s ecommerce platform by using a HoGo API.

Either way the author-publisher, and not a channel like Amazon, controls how the ebook is brought to the public.

It makes sense. The Portable Document Format—more commonly known as PDF—was created as a standard to achieve typographical and design integrity for desktop publishing—what you saw on the screen was what emerged from the printer. HoGo provides users with an easy way to copy-protect, share, and manage PDF documents.

As a result, ebook authors (and other content owners) who are already publishing their manuscripts as PDF files now have a new option for democratizing the distribution of their works through HoGo.

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