Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

eBook Morality

There's a loverly discussion going on about eBook price points over at Jim's blog right now (that includes a mention of yours truly). The info there - while not always agreeing with me - is worth taking a look at, and the comments are definitely worth reading. Really, go read it.

There's one thing I found very interesting in the comments. Most of the complaints that people mentioned about eBooks were:

* "They don't belong to me" / "The store can take them back"
* "What if I lose them through drive failure?"
* "I can resell or hand a physical book to my friend, why not an eBook?"

All of these things were cited as reasons that eBooks were worth less than a paper book. (Not "should cost less", but worth less.)

They're also all limitations placed by DRM. A DRM-free eBook can be:

* converted to another format for your SO who has a Kindle instead of a nook (insert your own devices here).
* backed up properly through whatever backup process you use for your data
* Use your own reading/library software, which means the store can't "take it back".

So, um, why are we still using DRM again? And why is anyone who buys eBooks still letting the DRM exist on their computer? (I'm talking about stripping DRM from your legitimately bought eBooks here, by the way.)

Please don't scream "pirates" at me before you go read my post on pirates. Seriously.

Is there a non-greedy reason that I should have to buy an electronic version for each person in my family? (I've bought the print version too, because it's pretty...) With the first book in the series, I simply bought the print version and we passed it around. I know there's a legal difference - but is there really a moral difference?

I'm having a hard time seeing one.

Your thoughts and comments are appreciated.


flaggerx said...

I agree. I should have to purchase a piece of art only once and be done. Of course with an electronic file, I can "pass it around" to everyone simultaneously, as opposed to a book you have to wait for, and so can every single person i pass it too.

I think it's the capabilities which gets them.

Steve Saus said...

You're almost certainly right. Thing is, the things they fear are already happening. Heck, they're happening when the book is only in a dead-tree edition.