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Tamil Ebooks Released Online Under CC; Amazon & Tamil ebooks

Tamil writers N.Chokkan, Payon and Pa.Raghavan have released their ebooks for free on freetamilebooks.com, in ePUB and mobi format, reports The Hindu. Around 5000 ebooks have been downloaded in the three days leading up to the report. According to the website, the project is supported by the Free Software Foundation TamilNadu and Yavarukkum Software Foundation.

A quick take on this initiative:

1. The License: What’s particularly interesting about this initiative is that the ebooks have been released under the creative commons BY-SA licence, which allow sharing, copying and adaptation of the material even for commercial purposes, but need proper attribution to the original creator, indicate changes made, and have to be redistributed. In addition, the work can only be released under the same license, and no technological or legal terms can be applied. This suggests that the work can be copied, but neither the original or an adapted version may be put on sale.

We wonder how the licensing would work for content that is currently out of print, but still under copyright: if the publishers don’t want to publish physical books, can the authors choose to release books online? We’re reminded of Jitender Bhagava planning to release his book on Air India as an eb00k after Bloomsbury books decided to pull the book following a court case by former Aviation Minister Praful Patel.

2. Monetization: The website could have put the books up on sale by integrating payment gateways, even with a pay-what-you-want kind of model, but has chosen to seek support through donations.

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3. Amazon doesn’t allow Tamil Ebooks even if they work : the initiative, as per the website, appears to be trying to tap into a demand for content especially with the growth of Android devices in India.What’s noticeable is that Kindle doesn’t yet support Tamil. Recently, Kasturi Sudhakar wrote about his book, which has apparently been rejected by Kindle, even though they apparently work on devices he had checked. Sudhakar wrote:

“I had thoroughly tested the work in Kindle ( old version with 5 point button), Kindle app on  Ipad with IOS7 was tested by my friends, Kindle App on PC by me many times, before I submitted to Amazon. I even bought a new IPAD Mini to be doubly sure. Many of my friends have bought the book and have given their review as well. Where is the question of bad reading experience – unless they are not happy with the content?”

Apparently, the problem is that Tamil isn’t supported by all Kindle devices. We don’t see why Amazon can’t take a Google Play Store approach, and allow people to purchase ebooks for the devices that can be supported, and not allow for others.

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