taxing times

Ebooks. Love them much. If only publishers wouldn’t make them so hard to come by. Some may recall my problematic attempts to get the e of the last Matthew Reilly. In December last year, it cost Oz$26 and it’s now down to about Oz$15 (marked down from $41.75!!! now that’s an expensive ebook). Ultimately I paid Oz$23 for the hardcover from Kmart.

I’ve been thinking further on ebook pain. A chunk of the pain, better known as DRM, strikes me as being somewhat ereader specific. The presence of DRM causes pain for many folk, though I think also enables library lending models ie the ability to have an ebook loan “expire”.

As an aside, I think ebook lending is an interim solution to allow folk to get used to ebooks in a familiar setting – I reckon the reality is that “lending” is about to disappear.

But DRM doesn’t really cause pain to a lot of folk, particularly those with a computer or a tablet or a smart phone. It’s mostly possible now, with such devices, to download an app for each of the main platforms ie owners can download apps for kindle and sony and kobo and so forth and buy the book they want, where they want. The hard bit being remembering which book you bought with which app…though no doubt there are apps to handle that.

The people worst affected by DRM are those folk who bought dedicated ereaders ie people who wanted a device specifically for reading books (there are dedicated readers on many devices)…I say this as someone who has a kindle and a sony. Legally, if I want to buy an ebook, I can only buy what my device supports eg from Angus & Robertson or Borders locally for sony, or Amazon for kindle. If I want to buy from Amazon for my Sony, legally I can’t. If I had a tablet (android or windows or apple or…) I could use the kindle app and buy from Amazon, or use the kobo app and buy from kobo or A&R…and so on.

Buying print books is mostly a matter of shopping around for a cheap price or for a bookshop that has the books you want. For me, I occasionally buy from independent shops, from chains, from amazon, from bookdepository (oh wait, that is amazon these days – but the prices are still better), and of course I also check via booko.

I don’t have that freedom with e.

With e, I’m at the mercy of which vendors support the device I prefer to read on…right now, my sony is my ereader of choice, though previously it was an older kindle. Using a sony means technically, I can’t buy from Amazon. At All! With that said, there are tools to get around this problem. It’s possible, without much effort to strip off the DRM ie you can do it without knowing code. The advantage of stripping off DRM is that you can then convert your legally purchased ebook, to the format that suits the device you have.

I suspect stripping off DRM via such methods is illegal, at least in Oz. Though the only people who really need to do so, are folk with ereaders. As I say, if you have a tablet, you can buy from anywhere so long as you have the relevant app. DRM means that folk with dedicated ereaders are effectively cut off from the flexibility of the rest of the book buying public.

2 thoughts on “taxing times

  1. I will be really interested to see the level of uptake vs the level of complaints when the WA consortia starts in a few months. It really surprises me that public demand hasn’t swayed publishers at all…

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