Yegods. Every day now, Amazon is up to something nasty again. It’s hard to keep up. And I’d really rather write about good stuff.
From Pogue’s Posts in the New York Times, “Some E-Books Are More Equal Than Others:”
This morning, hundreds of Amazon Kindle owners awoke to discover that books by a certain famous author had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid for—thought they owned.
This is simply an abomination. What happened was that the publisher changed its mind about making the book available after many people had already bought it in good faith.
It’s ironic, don’t you think, that the book was George Orwell’s 1984?
And ebook cheerleaders try to tell us that buying an ebook will be no different from owning a paper book??
This, my friends, is to put it bluntly a big fat lie.
Not only do you not own a book you’ve paid for — unlike with paper books — the publisher can bloody well take it back any old time they please. But hey, it’s okay. After all, they give you a refund.
As someone on the discussion thread on Amazon says, “I wonder if Amazon will sent representatives to customers’ houses to retrieve dead tree copies? Orwell fans, lock your doors!”
I had a conversation on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, with a couple of people waving the pom poms for ebooks. I asked what would happen if one’s ebook reader crashed and you lost all the books on it. Would you have to repurchase the whole lot? No, they said. The seller would have it on record that you had bought the book, and you could re-download indefinitely.
As it turns out, that’s not true either. There is a limit set by the sellers to how many times you can redownload a book you supposedly own. So yes — you do have to repurchase your whole library several times.
They said, “Well, you’d have to do the same thing if your house burned down.” But it’s funny, you know. My house burns down much less frequently than my electronic equipment crashes. So no — I don’t have to repurchase my whole library very often. Sorry.
And now, if you archive your ebooks, the publishers can now intrude into your archive and take back the books you thought you owned.
As David Pogue says,
we’ve been taught to believe that e-books are, you know, just like books, only better. Already, we’ve learned that they’re not really like books, in that once we’re finished reading them, we can’t resell or even donate them. But now we learn that all sales may not even be final.
As one of my readers noted, it’s like Barnes & Noble sneaking into our homes in the middle of the night, taking some books that we’ve been reading off our nightstands, and leaving us a check on the coffee table.
I think I’ll go have a look at my seven tall bookcases now, and maybe lean into some shelves and kiss my paper books, that actually last and don’t have to be repurchased because of changes in technology or some publisher’s or seller’s whim. I love them more every day. And nobody’s ever gonna take them away from me as easily as they can do with ebooks. Not without losing a lot of blood.