Please opt in to keep getting new release emails before we purge the lists on June 18

If you are a Leanpub reader and you have not opted in to receiving emails from Leanpub when a book is published, you won’t be getting these emails anymore unless we can prove to ourselves you’re not in the EU.

Until June 18, 2018, we have turned off the feature that lets authors email readers of a book when they publish a new version.

We did this because in the past, these emails were opt-out, not opt-in. We chose an opt-out process because we were trying to do the right thing for readers: most of them will want to get notified that there are updates to books they have purchased, when significant new content is added.

By default, when an author publishes a new version of their book, the “email your readers” checkbox is off. It’s only if an author chooses to check that checkbox and (hopefully) write release notes. We will email readers to notify them when a new version is published, and include these release notes if there are any.

Again, readers can opt out of these emails with one click, and these new release emails were a genuine service which has benefitted Leanpub readers for years.

However, because of GDPR, we need everyone in the EU to opt in.

Worse, with free purchases, we don’t conclusively know whether you are from the EU or not. (With paid purchases, we do know: paid EU purchases have VAT charged or a VAT number applied, so any paid purchase with no VAT charged and no VAT number applied is a non-EU purchase and is not subject to GDPR.

So, before GDPR took effect, we sent an email to all Leanpub readers giving them a chance to opt in to continue getting the new release emails that they currently received.

We also check whether you have opted in when you sign in to Leanpub. If you have not signed in, we send you to a to a page which gives you the chance to opt in to these new release notifications you currently get.

Now, we’re not Facebook, so Leanpub readers and authors definitely do not sign in every day. So, we’re going to give everyone a couple of weeks to see the email and opt in.

But until we do, we need to have the emailing of new version notifications turned off. Otherwise, we’d be violating GDPR for the EU readers who had not opted in.

So, on June 18 we’re going to purge our lists and then re-enable the feature that lets authors email their readers.

Specifically, on June 18, we’re going to run a script which essentially does the following:

For all readers...
eu = "yes" if they have any paid purchases with VAT charged or a VAT number applied
eu = "maybe" if they only have free purchases
eu = "no" if they have paid purchases and none of them have VAT charged or VAT numbers applied

Then, for all readers...
if ((eu == "yes" or eu == "maybe") and (they have not seen our GDPR message and opted in to receiving emails))
remove them from all author new release notifications and unsubscribe them from everything but transactional email
else
leave their email settings alone (keep them receiving the new book release notification emails they currently get)

By the way, we got some flack on Twitter about people asking us why we were negative about GDPR, especially since our business is a simple marketplace, and since we do not sell or rent user data and since we are huge supporters of reader privacy. (For example, for years, authors have requested that we just provide all reader email addresses, and we’ve always said no: we’ve always made the sharing of reader email addresses opt-in, not opt-out.)

Well, this is one of those reasons: this change will directly hurt our authors and our readers.

We’re sorry about the complexity and the hassle here. It is one of the ironic consequences of this mostly well-intentioned legislation.

If you have questions, please email hello@leanpub.com.

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