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Industry News: New useful programs, Penguin e-books slowly return to libraries, more Google lawsuit news

June 23, 2012

Free Program Helps You Spot Cliches and Overused Words in Your Work

According to GalleyCat, a program called SmartWrite can help you dig deep and go the extra mile in rooting out and eliminating pesky cliches and overused words in your work. You can use SmartWrite on a dark and stormy night or any other time to identify words you cling to like a life raft, as well as dialog tags, and phrases you select for monitoring. The program is available for Windows users only. It’s intended as an editing tool to help polish your work.

There’s also an app where you can blackmail yourself into hitting your writing goals. Aherk allows you to save a compromising picture of yourself and post it to Facebook if you don’t hit your writing goals. Users should add Chris Hamilton as a Facebook friend, as I would love to see that picture of you wearing a plaid leisure suit with your 70s fake afro (or other saucier embarrassing pictures).

What this means to you: We haven’t checked this program out–yet. If it works, it could eliminate some of the things you turn a blind eye to. (My current work-in-progress is written in first person, so I probably have too many Is.) It’s best used as an editing tool, though. If you tend to get gummed up on your first drafts in a quest for perfection, do not use this tool as part of your writing process. It also means Windows get a sense of inward satisfaction the next time Apple snobs tell us how wonderful their laptops are. As for the blackmail app, it could mean hours of fun and entertainment for your Facebook friends.

Penguin Launches e-Book Lending Program

After pulling its digital titles from libraries earlier this year, Penguin has announced that it’s launching a pilot program that would allow lending in New York and Brooklyn public libraries. In the new program, Penguin is partnering with 3M, using its cloud library (where the books are resident on a server in the Internet for access). Titles will be available to libraries for a year, and new titles will become available six months after initial publication. The pilot program starts in August. If it’s successful, Penguin will roll it out across the country.

What this means to you: After some initial success for libraries, they were stunned when publishers started pulling back. HarperCollins limits the number of times libraries can lend e-books before the license runs out. Simon & Schuster, MacMillan, and Hachette do not currently loan e-books through libraries. If this business model works, it could allow the other publishers to move back into library loaning. Publishers are concerned that e-book loaning will cut down on their revenue. As readers move to e-books, libraries are struggling to determine how to go forward and have obvious reasons to want lending programs for e-books.

Google Appeals Granting of Class Status to Author’s Guild in Lawsuit

Google has appealed Judge Denny Chin’s order that granted class certification to the Author’s Guild in the ongoing lawsuit over the creation of Google’s online lending library. The class-action status allows the suits to be bundled rather than tried individually. The lawsuit really boils down to whether Google can require copyright holders to opt out of its plan to publish and sell their works, or whether it requires Google to get them to opt in.

What this means to you: Unless you are the rights holder to an out-of-print work that Google wants to include in its online library, this has no direct effect on you. But Google has scanned more than 12 million books and had planned to provide snippets of the books under the “fair use” provisions in copyright law. Google had reached a settlement with the Author’s Guild, but Judge Chin rejected the settlement, saying it gave Google too much control over copying copyrighted material without permission. Depending on your viewpoint, Judge Chin’s actions are either useful support of intellectual property in the digital age, or beating a dead horse.

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