Tag Archives: Technology in Publishing

Amazon makes me a sad panda

I’ve had my Sony Reader since June (actually two of them, since the pocket reader, then the touch edition popped up on Woot.com within a couple weeks of each other), and have been loving it. Ebooks are so awesomely convenient that I’m even making plans to cull my physical book collection down to my favorites and the few loaners I like to keep on hand for sharing. The rest would all be hauled to any used bookstore that’d buy them so I could convert whatever proceeds I get to e-versions of the ones I’d just sold. Yeah, seriously.

But then buying shiny new ebooks is where I become frustrated.

Amazon.com is undoubtedly the largest online purveyor of books, and they began an enthusiastic ebook campaign when they put out the Kindle. Unfortunately, it seems to be more about the Kindle, and less about the actual books. You have to have one of their ereaders, or a supplemental app on your phone or computer to buy their ebooks. The fact that I would have to take extra steps between buying ebooks from Amazon and actually reading them means that they are no longer an impulse buy for me. Which means I will instead go somewhere I can get my literary instant gratification. Plus, as mentioned, I already have and very much enjoy an ereader, and don’t see the point in spending another $100-300 on another.

What this also means — and this is one of the more frustrating problems — is that my Amazon wishlist is mostly useless for gift-giving because, other than rare exceptions, I no longer want to own the physical books. Sure, I could add the Kindle versions of the books I want instead of the hard copies, but that would be like the digital-gift giving equivalent of a gift put in a box, inside another box, inside a larger box, and wrapped up with pretty paper and all the seams taped down. (If you’ve ever gotten a gift from me, you’ll know what I’m talking about. >.>) And as stated above, I like my instant gratification

Then there’s that whole DRM thing in general. Someone recently pointed out that at least in the case of independent publishing on Amazon, it’s up to the author whether or not their books have DRM. I think that’s awesome, but it still doesn’t mean an author I want to read won’t choose to use it. Now, as far as traditionally published stuff, I’m not sure exactly what the percentage is of Amazon ebooks that have DRM because I’ve never bought any of them because, well, see all of the above. But DRM and me? We’re not friends. If I’ve paid for a digital somethingorother, I would like to be able to easily access and organize it in any way I choose, on whatever device/s which might be in my posession that I choose to use, please and thank you. I can and will rip any existing DRM out of an ebook I have purchased (if I actually chose to purchase it in the first place, which is unlikely unless I can’t find it un-DRM’d through other legit sources). Not so I can do nefarious and piratey things with it, but so I can, yanno, enjoy the content I have purchased in a manner of my own choosing.

tl;dr, I think proprietary file types are dumb (in this case, and in general). They’re one of the main reasons I waited so long to get an ereader in the first place, because they make it harder to use awesome technology or take advantage of great systems that are already in place (to wit, Amazon). They only limit the reach the ebook market can have, paring it down into lesser markets based on device, and as long as I can help it, I will have little-to-nothing to do with those shenanigans.