Readersforum's Blog

March 14, 2013

Do you truly own your e-books?

Amazon and publisher restrictions control your access, but a bookstore lawsuit could change that

locked_kindle-620x412By Laura Miller

To the casual observer, the e-book revolution has produced two bumper crops: smutty trilogies à la “Fifty Shades of Grey” and lawsuits. First there were the authors (as represented by the Authors Guild), who sued Google Books for digitizing their work without permission. Then the Department of Justice sued five publishers and Apple for adopting a policy known as the agency model. Finally, a trio of independent booksellers filed a class-action suit last week against the six largest book publishers and Amazon, accusing them of collaborating to create a monopoly on e-book sales and shutting small retailers out of the market.

The booksellers — Fiction Addiction of Greenville, S.C., Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany, N.Y., and Posman Books of New York City — are demanding the right to sell what they term “open-source and DRM-free” e-books, files that can be read on a Kindle or any other e-reading device. The publishers are accused of entering into “confidential agreements” with Amazon making this impossible.

The dispute and the situation that fostered it are confusing, and it can be difficult to suss out how either one affects readers. To put it simply: The Big Six publishers require that all their copyrighted e-books be sold with DRM (digital rights management) protection. DRM is coding designed to prevent the people who buy an e-book from making copies of it. A Kindle will only support DRM-protected books that are in a format that Amazon owns and that only Amazon can sell.


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March 10, 2013

US indies launch DRM lawsuit

posmanThree US independent bookshops have launched a lawsuit against the big six publishers and Amazon in America claiming that by signing a contract to sell e-books with DRM through Amazon, they are combining to restrict the sale of e-books through indie stores.

Fiction Addiction in South Carolina, Posman Books in New York [pictured] and Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza are taking the action against Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, Random House, Macmillan and Amazon claiming that the publishers signed contracts with Amazon to sell e-books with DRM that was “specifically designed to limit the use of digital content” to Kindle devices, according to Publishers Lunch.

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October 24, 2012

Amazon wipes customer’s Kindle and deletes account with no explanation

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:50 am

Unlike paper copies of books, Kindle users don’t own their content they rent it.

A Kindle user had her account deleted because it had ties to ‘previous abuses of company policy’, but the online retailer blanked all follow-up enquiries.

By Mark King

An Amazon Kindle user has had her account wiped and all her paid-for books deleted by Amazon without warning or explanation.

The Norwegian woman, identified only as Linn on media commentator Martin Bekkelund’s blog, approached Amazon when she realised her Kindle had been wiped.

She was informed by a customer relations executive that her account had been closed, all open orders had been cancelled and all her content had been removed, but has been unable to find out why.

The move, which will shock ebook fans, highlights the power digital rights management(DRM) offers blue-chip companies. DRM is used by hardware manufacturers and publishers to limit the use of digital content once it has been purchased by consumers; in Amazon’s case, it means the company can prevent you from reading content you have bought at the Kindle store on a rival device.

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May 6, 2012

Why the death of DRM would be good news for readers, writers and publishers

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:58 am

A Kindle 3G electronic book reader. Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty Images

The decision by Tor Books to ditch digital rights management signals the beginning of the end of the ebook format wars.

By Cory Doctorow

At the end of April, Tor Books, the world’s largest science fiction publisher, and its UK sister company, Tor UK, announced that they would be eliminating digital rights management (DRM) from all of their ebooks by the summer. It was a seismic event in the history of the publishing industry. It’s the beginning of the end for DRM, which are used by hardware manufacturers and publishers to limit the use of digital content after sale. That’s good news, whether you’re a publisher, a writer, a dedicated reader, or someone who picks up a book every year or two.

The first thing you need to know about ebook DRM is that it can’t work.

Like all DRM systems, ebook DRM presumes that you can distribute a program that only opens up ebooks under approved circumstances, and that none of the people you send this program to will figure out how to fix it so that it opens ebooks no matter what the circumstances. Once one user manages that, the game is up, because that clever person can either distribute ebooks that have had their DRM removed, or programs to remove DRM (or both). And since there’s no legitimate market for DRM – no readers are actively shopping for books that only open under special approved circumstances – and since the pirated ebooks are more convenient and flexible than the ones that people pay for, the DRM-free pirate editions drive out the DRM-locked commercial editions.

What’s more, books are eminently re-digitisable. That is, it’s very easy to retype a DRM-locked ebook, or scan a physical book, or take screenshots of a DRM-locked ebook, and convert the resulting image files to text. Google has scanned some 16 million books in the last few years.

It’s a solved problem.

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April 17, 2012

How Small E-Booksellers Could Help Break the Amazon-Apple Duopoly

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 6:12 am

Ruth Curry and Emily Gould of Emily Books

By Keith Wagstaff

It’s a scary time for publishers. Last Wednesday, the Department of Justice filed a major antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five big publishers for allegedly price-fixing e-books. The goal was apparently to prevent Amazon, which dominates the market, from deflating prices of hardcover books by pricing those books’ electronic versions as low as $9.99 in order to persuade people to buy its line of Kindle e-readers and its Kindle Fire tablet.

Ironically, the antitrust lawsuit could end up creating a monopoly where Amazon dictates all the rules of the game. The question is: Why don’t publishers look elsewhere?

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March 25, 2011

Are eBooks Being Straight-Jacketed by pBook Thinking?

By Martyn Daniels

Today many see digital as an evolutionary and perhaps it’s the assumption that are being made in this thinking that is causing the issues, conflicts and challenges we face today. Some would suggest that some of the very basic assumptions being made and used to determine digital strategy may be fundamentally ungrounded and not safe.

First, many assume that the ebook is a replacement for the physical book (pbook). Many may accept that both will coexists for some time, but many also believe that eventually, pbooks as we know them today, will be displaced by ebooks. Secondly, we assume that because today we buy pbooks that this model will naturally apply to ebooks. This assumes that all transactions of ebooks will be outright purchase sales. Finally, we all tend to assume all books are for life and once bought are ours to own, build into our library and even pass on to the generations to come.

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