Wednesday, October 6, 2010

E-books and Obstacles

Since acquiring my e-reader, I have been buying e-books. And I have encountered two intensely annoying problems that are preventing me from buying all the e-books I would like.

First of all, each e-reader uses different software, and not all e-books are available in all formats. If an e-book I want to buy is only available on the Kindle, I won't be able to read it on my Sony e-reader. This I find rather irritating. It's like buying a film on DVD and discovering that this DVD won't run on your Toshiba DVD player - you have to have a Sony.

The other problem is the whole DRM issue (otherwise known as digital rights management). I've heard several arguments for DRM now, but I am yet to be convinced it's a good idea. In practice, what it means is that if I am at my computer in the UK, and I find an e-book I want to buy that's only available on a US e-book site, I can't buy it.

This seems, to me, to be completely daft. As I have family in Canada, hubby and I frequently visit there. We love browsing in Toronto's wonderful book stores, and we will invariably find books that we want to buy when we browse - generally things that aren't in print or available yet in the UK, or sometimes just because this is the sequel to the book one of us finished reading on the plane on the way over. So we'll buy the books, we'll put them in our suitcase and we'll bring them back to the UK. We're not doing anything illegal. We are legitimately buying the books; we are contributing to the Canadian economy; and we are putting money in the pockets of the writers. And we will enjoy the books. Even if I buy a print book from the US Amazon site it's not a problem - Amazon will happily ship the book to me in the UK - I just pay a bit more for postage.

Yet, if I try to buy an e-book from the US, I can't. I have discovered there are a number of e-books I can't buy, either because they are only available on US e-book sites or they are only available on Kindle. And it's really starting to bug me. Here I am ready to embrace this new electronic technology, and I find obstacles in my way. Have publishers not yet figured out that if the books people want to read are freely available to all as e-books, there's less of chance they will be pirated?

I will take a moment to praise my publisher, Lyrical Press, here because neither of these problems exist with their e-books. There are no digital rights restrictions on e-books purchased direct from Lyrical's site, so you can buy them from anywhere in the world (and I've had people in Canada, US and the UK buying my e-book), and each e-book is available in six different formats, so you can load it onto whichever e-reader you wish.

Yay for Lyrical. Now we just have to get the rest of the publishing world to follow in their trailblazing footsteps.

1 comment:

Nerine Dorman said...

Heh! I'm terribly old-fashioned. I read ebooks on my laptop. That's when I do actually have time to read for fun, that is!