E-Book Takedown

The best quote from David Pogue’s Scientific American TechnoFiles column:

The biggest problem of all, though, is the e-books themselves. The publishers insist that e-books must be copy-protected. Predictably, each company uses a different protection scheme. You can’t read a Kindle book on a Barnes & Noble Nook or a Sony Reader book on an iPad.

You can still read a 200-year-old printed book. But the odds of being able to read one of today’s e-books in 200 years, or even 20, is practically zero.

This article is a nice and tidy takedown of ebooks. It won’t give anything new to the people who have been following the debate, but it is a good simple introduction to the issues of ebooks for people who are just tuning in. 

Personally, I think the article is at its best when it is articulating the DRM issue (as illustrated in the quote above). For the newcomer, that’s going to be “wait, what is that?” moment when it comes to ebooks and ereaders. While it is relatively seamless on the front side, the issues that DRM (and what it means to own something digital) can present are not readily apparent. As digital purchases go up in numbers, I believe that such ownership will become more of a pressing matter, eventually giving way to similar ownership rights as with physical property.

Unfortunately, while the article is long on bringing the issues forward in simple terms, it does not provide any solutions. The questions that Mr. Pogue brings up are left hanging in the text for the reader. Still, it’s a good solid non-librarian view on ebooks in a popular journal. It’s nice to heard some of the same sentiments outside of libraryland.

(h/t: Resource Shelf)

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