Friday 13 May 2011

Bestselling author and ex-SAS soldier Andy McNab co-founded Mobcast Services Ltd in 2007. An early player in the eBook market, Mobcast is an award-winning digital book service, enabling software & platform solutions for major publishing houses, telcos, retailers & device manufacturers around the world. Andy has written an open letter to address the contentious issue of ebook piracy.

We founded Mobcast three years ago, in the firm belief that if people read emails on their mobile phones, then reading books via mobiles would not be far behind, and since then have been recognised as one of the leading digital book players. As the ebook market has flourished, we have brought in the best possible Chief Technical Officer to work with us: Francois Plancke from Musiwave, the guy who pioneered the creation of digital music stores for mobile operators with great success.

Piracy has always been a serious issue for music and it is increasingly becoming a big issue in the publishing world. Having spent time talking to Francois about what he has learnt from music piracy, I believe there are some key steps that need to be taken in order to minimise the impact of piracy on digital books and, as an author, protect my work – whilst making it as simple and easy as possible for customers to get the books they want.

Certainly, book piracy is nothing new. In a lot of cases, piracy stems from the digital theft of a physical book. For example, early proof copies of books that are sent out in advance for review or for sales purposes, have been scanned to PDF and then posted on File Share sites. Another more sophisticated theft, is to intercept the compositor of the digital copy when typesetting and create a PDF from that. At least for now, a lot of the pirated books are of poor quality. They are often only available in Acrobat format which offers a poor experience in terms of the ability to browse, sample and read on this basis. There is also the practical issue of what devices can be used for reading these low quality versions.

Taking down illegal books from file sharing sites is only a short term fix and both a time-consuming and expensive business as we have already seen from the music industry. Maybe it is better for us to invest these resources in other ways, to stop consumers from migrating to pirate sites that are always going to exist anyway.

Holding back on releasing a digital version of a book won’t stop it from being pirated. With so many of the illegal copies out there originating from printed proof copies that are then put up on sites, if consumers are going to read a digital copy, it’s better that they purchase them legitimately. Likewise, if you surround a digital book with too many security obstacles which makes it difficult to find, purchase and read, it will only force consumers to look elsewhere to get their book.

It is also important to realise that digital books have a quality of content that can not be pirated. These include: immediacy, personalisation, accessibility, discoverability and authenticity. As an industry, we need to understand and use these distinct properties in the fight against piracy.

In order to be successful, legal ebooks need to bring more value to the consumer than pirated ones and we can already see great progress in making this happen. The majority of legitimate ebooks are good quality because they are published by passionate people, who spend a lot of time and resource in making sure they publish worthwhile content. There are also opportunities to profit from additional content (merchandising, games etc) for blockbuster books, and we are seeing more and more examples of this being done very well.

Although not all books can be big blockbusters with additional merchandising sales, there is much to be done that applies to all ebook sales. Mobcast is continually developing and improving the all-round user experience; making it simple and quick for customers to purchase the books they want. We can offer more value for money by experimenting with new business models such as subscription, ad-funded and serialised books.

Subscription services for music (although arguably slightly late to market) have been very successful if they are combined with a good user experience. Spotify combines both subscription and ad funded models together with a great user experience and now boasts 1m paying subscribers. Vodafone are one of the largest music subscription services in the UK with over 450,000 users (January 2010) costing from as little as £3 per month when bundled with data tariffs.

At Mobcast we are committed to continually investing in these areas and ensuring our customers can access their content from any device and be assured a good reading experience. The steps we are taking won’t eliminate eBook pirates, but we hope will minimise the number of people of who get their books from illegal sources.

Andy McNab
Source: Booktrade


Childline Rocks presents England Rocks – Hands Across The Water

May 14, 2011

Entitled England Rocks- Hands Across the Water, this summer’s ChildLine Rocks event will raise money for ChildLine by hosting a six day charity motorbike ride beginning in Cranbrook, BC in Canada and finishing in Ketchum, Idaho in the USA. Profits from the minimum pledged by each UK, US & Canadian rider (up to 50) embarking on this adventure are guaranteed to go straight to the charity.

In return for this generous contribution, enthusiasts will have the opportunity to ride iconic Harley Davidson motorbikes across some of the most breathtaking scenery, in the company of some extraordinary people. For instance, they will have Andy McNab DCM MM (a ChildLine Rocks ambassador, Patron of The Force Select Foundation & Help the Heroes, former SAS servicemen and bestselling author), the founder of March for Honour, Royal Marine Ram Patten, and rock band Thunder for company; joined by colleagues, they will be riding to raise money for the ForceSelect Foundation. This truly will be the trip of a lifetime….

The trip will be made all the more memorable by a fundraising sing-a-long each night. Locals will be cordially invited to join in the fun and raise some extra cash!

The full trip itinerary and fundraising targets are available on www.childlinerocks.co.uk. Each rider will be expected to cover their flight, hotel, motorcycle and other costs + raise a minimum of £1000 for ChildLine. England Rocks-Hands across the Water! hopes to raise a minimum of £50000 for ChildLine.

The whole event will culminate in a memorable rock concert on July 16 2011 at the Sun Valley Pavilion, Ketchum, Idaho. A major name headliner is to be announced but the concert will feature British acts, including The Union, winners of Classic Rock Awards’ Best New Breakthrough Band 2010 – a wonderful way to mark the end of a truly unique and worthwhile road trip.

Source: AltSounds and visit the Childline Rocks website

SAS Legend and Best Selling Author joins the cause!

We are delighted to announce that Andy McNab DCM MM has joined the cause as a Childline Rocks Ambassador. Andy commanded the famous Bravo Two Zero patrol in the Gulf war, the most decorated patrol since the Boer war whose exploits have been documented and recognised the world over. Awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal, Andy was the British Army’s most decorated soldier at time of leaving the SAS in February 1993.He has written about his experiences in the SAS in three bestselling books, has written many other books and gone on to sell over 30 million books worldwide. Additionally, he is a director of a Hereford based security company and has been involved in training videos for the Ministry of Defence. Andy also lectures for the FBI and gives motivational talks for large corporations on both sides of the Atlantic. He is a Patron of Help the Heroes and the Force Select Foundation, and we are honoured to have him on board!


On Saturday the Babcock Trophy game between the Army and the Navy rugby teams will be raising money for the BFBS Big Salute.

Since it was launched in 2008, the Big Salute has raised more than £230,000 for Forces’ charities.

This year, a new cause has been added to the beneficiaries: Families Activity Breaks, which enables bereaved military children and spouses to get away from it all with people who’re in exactly the same boat.

BLESMA, which supports current or ex servicemen who’ve lost the use of limbs by encouraging amputees to help fellow amputees, continues to receive help from the BFBS campaign – as does Combat Stress, which, with each passing year receives record numbers of mental health referrals from the military community.

For almost a century, St Dunstan’s has been helping troops who’ve had their vision impaired in action. Not just initially, but with through-life support. The charity admits six hundred people every year.

The final good cause the Big Salute sends funds to is Veteran’s Aid which helps rehome those who find themselves homeless.

Author Andy McNab and Christina Schmid, the widow of bomb disposal expert SSgt Olaf Schmid have become patrons of the Big Salute, and the endeavour is heavily celebrity endorsed, with all sorts of desirable auction prizes which can be bid for online.

A new feature for people in the UK is a text-donation facility. And all across the forces world you’ll find ways to give – the biggest being the rattling of buckets at Twickenham. It’s hoped this level of exposure will bring in more cash for these forces charities than ever before.

To find out more please see: http://www.bfbs.com/bigsalute/

There’s a small word from Andy McNab on the BFBS Patrons page and see the video below of the event:

Andy McNab at 3 min:


Men’s Hour is to return to BBC Radio 5 Live this weekend, with the “cheeky younger brother” to Radio 4’s Women’s Hour promising to “lift the lid on the male inner soul”.

The Tim Samuels-presented show, which debuted last July, will start a brand new series on May 8 at 9pm. This follows a one-off Men’s Hour special at Christmas, featuring superstar chef Jamie Oliver discussing his life and career in a greasy spoon café.

In the new series, Men’s Hour will again cover critical issues affecting the modern man, including health and relationships, along with more unusual topics such as “spiritual gurus and sperm stealers”.

Samuels will be joined in the studio each week by comedian John Holmes, along with a range of special guests, including ex-SAS officer Andy McNab discussing the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

The 5 Live Blokey Book Club will feature famous personalities such as David Baddiel discussing their favourite books, while Dr Mark Hamilton will answer embarrassing health questions in the 60 Second Hypochondria feature.

Men’s Hour is produced by Tonic Productions, which recently created the Porn Again documentary for Radio 5 Live fronted by former home secretary Jacqui Smith.

Source: DigitalSpy

You can listen to last Sunday’s show with Andy if you go here The talk with Andy starts at 14min


The Sun
Data find will trap fanatics
By Virginia Wheeler, Defence Editor and Nick Parker
Published: 04 May 2011

A TREASURE trove of computers, hard drives and discs snatched by US Navy Seals from Osama Bin Laden’s HQ could nail THOUSANDS of other terrorists.

US officials last night called it “the mother lode of intelligence”.

The data could prove even more significant in crippling al-Qaeda than Sunday’s execution of their warlord.

Go here to read the full article in The Sun

Photo from The Sun

By Andy McNab
Sun Security Adviser

FORMER SAS soldier Andy McNab analyses the scene in the White House Situation Room as Barack Obama watched live video footage of the raid:

“Although President Obama is sitting to the side, he is without doubt the most important person present.

Once the operation has been set in motion he is the only one with the power to call it off.

The people pictured will be from several departments, including intelligence and the military.

They will each have presented the President with information on a specific part of the mission.

His job is to take in the information and then give the go-ahead – or call the mission off. The reason the picture is so tense is that the job is out of their hands. Responsibility has passed to the Navy Seals to complete the task.

The soldiers would have been kitted out with cameras, most likely on their helmets. With so many feeds coming in, you can flick to the relevant one.

No single person would have been selected to take on Bin Laden, because in the course of an operation you can never guarantee things will go according to plan.

I’ve conducted many swoops for the SAS with a helmet camera and always supported the idea. If anything goes wrong you can go back to military or political bosses with the footage.”


The Sun
By Simon Hughes, Virginia Wheeler, Dan Sales and Neil Millard
Published: 03 May 2011

Obama ‘watched him die’

The world’s most evil man was consigned to the dustbin of history yesterday – shot in the head, tied up in a weighted bag and dropped in the ocean.
Osama Bin Laden finally paid the price for atrocities such as 9/11 when he was found by US Special Forces at his luxury lair in Pakistan.

He was killed as he cowered behind his wife – and President Barack Obama watched live via cameras worn by the troops. The 54-year-old warlord was buried in the north Arabian sea, his terror reign over at last.

President Obama’s eyes were glued to a screen showing the dramatic moments leading to the death of Bin Laden.

Go here to read the full article in The Sun

Textbook op by naval elite

By Andy McNab
Ex SAS soldier

“As a military operation, the Navy Seals’ swoop was fantastic – textbook stuff.

It’s not surprising for a group made up of America’s military elite.

They undergo some of the toughest training in the world and have played an important role in the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and also in Vietnam.

Clearly there has been a slow covert operation to make sure the information they were acting on was 100 per cent accurate.

In a situation like this intelligence is the biggest weapon of all. They probably used satellites and local informants to confirm Bin Laden was hiding out in the Abbottabad compound.”