Do we or do we not own the ebooks we buy from companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble? This is a topic which almost all of us who follow the world of ebooks concern ourselves with, as the whole area of ownership of ebooks is such a mess of contradictory information.
When we pay our $15 for an ebook version of a book that would cost us perhaps $14 if we bought the paper version, we not unreasonably feel that we own the ebook, as we would the paper one, but this is absolutely not the case as has been shown over and over again by unfriendly acts on the part of the ebook sellers.
Mike Evans, owner of the wonderfully named blog Macfilos (link below), which logically enough is mostly dedicated to Apple topics, but he does wander to other areas too, has written a piece on this topic which is a model of clarity and gives a very clear picture of the situation. so, with his permission I am reprinting it here to share with you guys.
So the word is now with Mike.
A month after Amazon was taken to task for trashing a Kindle user’s entire library we find Barnes & Noble refusing access to a library because the original credit card used to buy (or should we start to use “rent”) the books had expired. Online booksellers will argue that these instances are anomalies and will rush to put things right, but I am left with a bad taste.
If you contract to “buy” a book or a piece of music, that medium should be yours for keeps. In the old days, we downloaded the stuff we’d bought and, as long as we didn’t lose our data, it was safe for ever. Now, with cloud storage becoming the norm, it is easy for Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple to cut the cord.
In the old days, books were books. We could put them on a library shelf and admire them, we could even lend them to friends, give them away or sell them. Now, our ebooks are supplied to us in golden fetters. Woe betide anyone who attempts to copy a book, even to give it to a friend.
The time has come for international regulation of on-line booksellers. We should know exactly where we stand. Either we buy a book and have access to it for life, without quibbles, or it is made absolutely clear that we are renting for a specific period.
I have no preference either way because, call me a philistine, I seldom read a book twice unless by my beloved Dickens. But if it is clear I am renting instead of buying, I am entitled to a very substantial discount on the store price of a printed book. Unfortunately, at the moment, we often pay more for less.
by Mike Evans, 29 November 2012
Thus his take on this troubled topic. I agree with him wholeheartedly when he states that either we can actually own our ebooks, and thus pay a reasonable price for them, comparable to the price of a paper book, or if they insist on keeping the current situation, then we pay a damn sight less for our licences to read those ebooks we hire….
Link to Macfilos: http://macfilos.com/
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So, if you hadn’t realised before now that you are not actually the owner of any of your ebooks – with the pleasant exception of any that you have purchased without DRM protection that is; what do you feel about the whole subject? Do you agree that there should be an ebook rental price, as with DVD rentals? Or should they scrap the whole stupid thing and simply sell the ebook to us 100%?