Wednesday, February 16, 2011

eBook Publishers: Are eBook Copyright Pages Missing Information?

Well the ebook community is buzzing. Amazon has provided REAL page numbering. The critics have been answered. Now the fun begins. What is the source of my ebook? Is my ebook the same edition as my paper version? Where am I at here?

Of course, there is one thing that we must have in place if we are going to coordinate a paper version with an ebook. We must know the source of the ebook and that information appears to be missing in action.

It sounds like an easy problem to solve. I just purchased an ebook on-line and the hardcover edition was right next to my ebook selection. No problem.

But ask me that question in three years when I still have that same ebook on my e-reader and the hardcover book has a new edition. There is no reference to which hardcover edition my ebook matches. None.


I decided to put my analytical hat on and do a study. I wanted to see whether the source document of my ebook is identified somewhere. My assumption was if we are going to identify where the ebook originated, it should appear on the copyright page.

So I started my study. I picked 30 ebooks and analyzed their copyright pages. Somebody must have missed the memo about what information is required and what format it should be presented in because we had a variety of formats and information, to say the least. Although 30 ebooks is not a very big sample, only one of them came close to what is needed to ID the source.

Amazon has seen the need to add the source information in their on-line product description to help. They have added a line: Page Number Source ISBN. But my ebooks didn’t have a clue to the original source.

Joel Friedlander

Next I used a great post by Joel Friedlander, an expert in this area, called ‘Self-Publishing Basics: The Copyright Page’ as my starting point. (Other blogs on copyright pages are listed at the end of this post.)


I started the study on the premise that the eBook copyright page should not be the same as the source book. It shouldn’t be just a copy. All the eBook copyright pages that I studied had most of the basics. They had the copyright notice, publisher and publishing information, disclaimers, edition data, Library of Congress information and the ISBN.

Although this is not required, some gave credit to the basic book formatting and design people. Things like cover photograph, cover image/art, interior design and edited by information.

The ebooks did have some direct information about the ebook like one had ‘First Kindle Edition’. Another said ‘Epub edition © with a date and eISBN 978- number’. I don’t know if the ‘e’ is official but its meaning is obvious. One even had ‘Mobipocket reader format’ mentioned.

Only one of the ebooks had any information at all about the source. (“Simon & Schuster hardcover edition June 2010”)

Missing Information

But here is where the train leaves the tracks. With the missing source information, there was no indication where the book’s content originated from or how we got to the digital format.

Adding more information to the ebook copyright page goes along with the same concept we use for an accurate bibliography, footnotes and appendix.

The real need is in the Education area. They need to communicate information in the e-textbook to each other in an accurate manner. If they are going to cite information from an ebook, the reader needs to be able to go back to the source and verify the citation.

And Professors and students need to make sure they are both on the same page, so to speak. They need to be able to match the hardcover textbook to the e-textbook.

My wish list

We are missing the boat with the copyright page. It’s like seeing Original Source: Undisclosed on the copyright page. That just doesn’t work. The ebook is a different product than the paper version. We need more information.

1. We need the ISBN number and the hardcover edition on the copyright page like Amazon is providing on their ebook Product Production page. Of course, they are including this to help sync the page numbers with the hard copy but it should have been required in an ebook by publishers before Amazon added the feature.

2. We need different copyright pages for each version of an ebook. We need a unique copyright page for the Kindle, Nook and Sony etc. Smashwords has its own copyright page format which is the same with each version (epub, mobi, txt, etc.) they sell. I don’t know whether that is good enough in the long run.

3. I would like to see a reference on the copyright page about the ebook conversion process used. Is this an ebook only version? Is the source document from the original book’s source file or was it a scanned /OCR version to a digital file. This will give the reader some idea of the accuracy of the conversion.

4. I would like to see who rendered the ebook but I am probably pushing it although Garry Graves gave me credit for rendering his book, “Bloody Omaha”.


Kindle Version
     Original Source: How to Create Copyright Pages Right – by Jim Satire
Hardcover Edition June 2010 (ISBN: 978-9-9999-9999-8)
     Kindle Edition – 1.4.1 – Build 11/7/2010
     Original Process: Direct from Digital Source File
     Created by: Amazon DTP
     Conversion Services by: HBSystems Publications
     Rendered by: James Moushon

Nook Version
     Original Source: How to Create Copyright Pages Right – by Jim Satire
Hardcover Edition June 2010 (ISBN: 978-9-9999-9999-9)
     Nook Edition – 1.5.1 – Build 11/23/2010
     Original Process: Direct from Digital Source File
     Created by: BN Pubit
     Conversion Services by: HBSystems Publications
     Rendered by: James Moushon
Traditional publishers and self-publishers are responsible for this additional information. Sometimes publishers get caught up in trying to get the ebook out the door at the lowest cost rather than doing their own due-diligence.

It can’t be just a copy of the hardcover. It all starts with the definition of the sources of the ebook. Right now it appears that this is missing information.

What do you think about adding this information? Is it important to know?
Do the publishers have the responsibility to provide this information to the reader?

View my website: HBSystems Publications
Or EMAIL at:

A list of some good reference material on copyright pages from Joel Friedlander.

by Joel Friedlander on January 16, 2010
by Joel Friedlander on January 15, 2010
by Joel Friedlander on October 8, 2009

Self-Publisher’s Quick & Easy Guides—Copyright

by Joel Friedlander

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