I just bought an eBook.
This is probably no surprise. I’ve been reading eBooks for a while now, and still fondly have old eBook readers. I’ll sometimes load different books onto different readers (“work” versus “play” books).
I was about to buy it from B&N (I tend to prefer ePub), but just discovered that the download option was gone; I’d literally last bought books from their store less than a week before that happened. So, nope.
Google Play? No obvious download there like there was with B&N, so I skipped it. (I later learned that I could do the Adobe Digital Editions dance with them as well – see here for instructions.)
But I remembered that Kobo had made a big deal about reading freely back in 2012. I even mentioned it here. So I just found the book I wanted it and bought it right away.
And found out I could only download an .acsm file. Which means DRM. Which means Adobe Digital Editions… which is a frakking Windows/Mac program. I don’t run Windows.
Yeah, yeah. Buy a new computer. Buy a new version of Windows. Buy a new smartphone and read it on that.
That’s not a solution.
There’s two reasons:
First, I was able to make the eBook work in a virtual machine, which still loads my
(legal, actually) copy of XP from back in the day. But that will only
still work while Adobe doesn’t obsolete that version out of existence.
It happens; I also found out that Kobo has stopped supporting XP, and the Nook PC app is on the way out as well.
This reinforced the reality: DRM means you don’t own it. Which leads us to – and keeps us from solving – the second problem.
I remember very clearly having a discussion with Seanan McGuire about eBooks, and her very passionate rationale for hating them. They’re hard to get if you’re not already affluent.
It’s an excellent point, and my original counter-point was that the standards for ePub (and even Kindle files, to some extent) aren’t tech-dependent. My old Sony eReader still works just fine. ePub doesn’t give a damn what operating system you’re running. There is a commandline ePub reader written in Python, for crying out loud.
But that means you have to be able to get to the eBook. You have to own the book. And the big retailers seem more and more anxious to figure out any way possible to keep you from doing that.
And before anyone says it, earlier today I found a torrent including my own writing. TODAY. (And that’s after The Pirate Bay went down earlier this week.) My views on pirating eBooks is pretty clear (here), and my big piracy post is still one of the most-heavily trafficked posts on here. So don’t wave “piracy” at me as that old excuse, thanks.
I couldn’t read the book I bought from Kobo on any of my eInk devices without jumping through some significant hoops. It was a pain in the rear.
I am not going to put other readers through that experience.
You love books. You should be rewarded for that, not punished.
I am not going to punish the people who pay money to buy our books who support the authors and artists who work with me.