Ebooks: Abandoned providers, DRM and fair use

February 21, 2013

It’s been a few weeks now since the Fictionwise and Ereader.com websites have been mothballed by Barnes & Noble, but I’ve been doing some ebook stuff recently and tried to access both of them without thinking. I remember getting warning emails back in November – US and UK customers were apparently offered the chance to roll their bookshelves over to the Barnes & Noble website, but for the rest of us, it was basically “Make sure you’ve downloaded backups of all your books, and have a nice life.”

It’s certainly not a great digital tragedy, but I’m disappointed to see those ebook providers disappear. Ereader.com used to be ‘Peanut press palm reader’, which was my intro into the world of electronic books, and they had a great, smart format that was supported by a wide range of devices. Fictionwise didn’t have a great selection of novels to my taste, but I was able to pick up some great short stories there, (as well as some interesting audio adaptations,) and I loved their ‘multi-format DRM free’ program, where you could download the story you purchased in any of 13 different popular formats, all of them without any copy protection mechanisms.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve downloaded copies in every format that I might have a use for, so the biggest immediate impact is that I can’t use the ereader.com online bookshelf to access my books from my iPhone or android phone. With the iPhone, this is just an annoyance, because I can put up my book files on another website and access them that way. But the Ereader.com app for Android is just about useless now; the ereader.com website was the only way to load books onto it, and I’d only loaded on one book so far.

But I’ve figured out another way to get those books onto my phone.

I don’t really have strong feelings one way or another on DRM; I don’t think of it as an offense against human rights the way a few people seem to, and I don’t hesitate to spend my money on DRM content; depending on my impression of the DRM system and how likely it seems that I’ll lose access to the file entirely, of course. On the other hand, I don’t really scruple about hedging my bets and using software tools to crack DRM protection when it seems to be in my best interests.

Read the rest of this entry »


%d bloggers like this: