Ebook Anger: Not Just for Librarians Anymore

From Teleread:

I am sick of the price fixing. I am sick of the head-in-sand burying. I am sick of publishers or agents or authors or whomever the actual decision-makers-without-clues are who are mucking up what should be a simple money-for-product transaction by continuing to operate on what my father calls the finest business model ever set up by 17th century Big Business. Enough! I am no longer dialoguing with you on this. My decision? I figure it will take you maybe two to three years to come to your senses, and while I am waiting, I am opting out of this whole thing.

Go over and read the whole thing. It’s an interesting perspective from the vantage point of a heavy reader and their device. To my eyes, it seems like the Amazon price point of $10 has become some people’s bar of measurement in terms of purchasing ebooks. This is not new since Kindle readers from the early days of the device have railed against any books over $10.  But, going forward, it presents an obstacle for publishers as they seek a better price point for different bodies of work in which larger expenditures of money have been invested.

One of the other things I noticed is the lack of complaint regarding ebook lending and DRM. While it may not be an issue for this person the same way that it is for some librarians, the fact that it is not on the laundry list of issue is worthy of note. It could be that it is not something people consider to be an issue since they have come to other understandings about what they can do with a physical book versus what they can do with an ebook. I’d actually like to ask this person about that, so I might leave a comment over there.

What are your thoughts on this open letter?

7 thoughts on “Ebook Anger: Not Just for Librarians Anymore

  1. I’ve seen many e-books on Amazon receive negative reviews because they cost, say, 13 dollars instead of 10. I guess that adds up to a lot if you’re a true book junkie, but it’s somewhat humorous to see so many flock around a marketing tactic from Amazon as a personal crusade.

    I too am surprised that so few of the heavy e book readers are concerned about DRM. When I buy a book from a publisher, it is with the understand that is mine forever (or until I forget it on the bus.) No one is going to sneak inside during the middle of the night and take it. However, that’s essentially what happened with the “unauthorized” Kindle edition of 1984.

    • I think the DRM argument doesn’t work with the mainstream. It’s the same thing that happened with Apple, iTunes, and the iPod – for most people the technology was easy to use with intuitive connection between the software and the device. The DRM was invisible for most of these people, they only want to hear the music they purchased through iTunes on their iPods or on their computers (also using iTunes). The problems only rose when people tried to do other things with the music (like copying them to another device, or even recovering lost libraries…).

      Amazon has almost created the same sort of “invisible DRM” that vanishes even more when you consider the range of devices you can access your Kindle books on (granted it’s all through the Kindle software). Therefore most readers are not aware of the DRM, so it doesn’t raise their ire as it does to the technologically savvy.

      As librarians, we’re all about access though, and DRM is a direct obstacle to that. So librarians (and people that want to do more than just read a book on their eReader or smartphone) are the ones that are vocal about the limitations of DRM.

      • I don’t think it is a matter of not knowing about DRM; I think it is a matter of caring. If as you say they don’t really mind so long as they get their book, music, movie, etc, then it is less of a matter of knowing and more of a matter of giving a damn.

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  3. I’m not surprised that lending & DRM aren’t on the list. I mean, who buys ereaders? I would expect people with a fair amount of disposable income. And many of those people, in my experience, don’t go to the library for books anyway — when they want books, they buy them. And lending & DRM are no more important for that crowd than they are for music buyers — which is to say, some people will care a lot, but they’re mostly going to be fringe techies. (I mean, how many people made a point of listening only to .ogg instead of .mp3? Exactly.)

    I agree with the commenters above — as long as it’s transparent and there aren’t too many 1984-style issues, there is no reason for most people to notice that there are objections to be had.

    • Yes, the disposable income aspect does play into it; these are people who can lay out a couple hundred dollars for an ebook reader on the premise that buying ebooks will save them money in the long run. Lending may not be an option because it happens infrequently. Even then, with a friend with an ereader, the books are ‘cheap’ enough that they can gift them without feeling too put out.

      There should be a study on this sort of thing. Maybe some Library Science PhD type can take a look at lending habits.

      • Sounds like you’ve found your next major project, Andy. Let us know the results of the “lending habits” experiment!

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