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Old 04-18-2012, 09:32 AM   #1
PaulAuster
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E-book long term prospects. Format?

Hi.
I am new to the fórum and I don’t have a reader yet. Very tough decision among going for Kindle (great access to Amazon but proprietary format) and Nook/Sony (open format).

A very good question that reviewers and people don’t seem to address clearly is about the prospects of long term availability of the e-books you purchase. I find the idea of e-books great, but we all have books in our shelfs bought 10 or even 20 years ago and you know are always available when needed. Typical examples are textbooks from college, dictionaries and "serious" literature.

But what happens with ebook? I’ll buy a e-book at Amazon or in B&N and what’s the guarantee that I will be able to read them in 10 years? This is not an issue maybe for a sport magazine or this summer bestseller, but for a “serious” book clearly it is.

I am not speaking, of course, about .pdf or .txt based e-books, but those with copyright protection management.

Also, what happens if I want to transfer an e-book to another reader or read it in my computer? Could you also backup your files in case the reader dies?

Of course, you have this issue in other areas, like photography. You store all you precious pictures in .jpeg or .dng (from Adobe), but despite you cannot know 100% for sure, it is clear that you have a reasonably good universal format.

As conclusion, I wonder whether EPUB is widely accepted enough for this purpuse (like a jpeg in photography). Trust a propietary format like Amazon's does not seem a good idea (.dng is from Adobe but licensed-free).
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Old 04-18-2012, 10:37 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulAuster View Post
I am not speaking, of course, about .pdf or .txt based e-books, but those with copyright protection management.

Also, what happens if I want to transfer an e-book to another reader or read it in my computer? Could you also backup your files in case the reader dies?
Get acquainted with Apprentice Alf
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Old 04-18-2012, 11:40 AM   #3
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After the nuclear war, the EMPs will make all digital data unreadable, including txt and PDF, so don't sweat format in the long term.

In the short term, don't sweat format either. Yeah, Amazon's format is 'proprietary' but it's fully workable by open tools nonetheless. If the books are free of DRM, you can convert between formats at your whim. If they have DRM, it's the DRM that will limit you, not the format.

Epub is a somewhat richer format than mobi in terms of formatting options, but that's only relevant if the content you want uses those options, and new Kindles also support KF8 format, which is just as rich.

Don't buy based on format unless everything else is truly equal for your needs and you are down to a coin toss.
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Old 04-18-2012, 11:43 AM   #4
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There are always ways to convert your purchases to newer formats if needed. If you are concerned with longevity, pick a store that you think will be around a long time. For me that would be Amazon.
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Old 04-18-2012, 11:50 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulAuster View Post
I am not speaking, of course, about .pdf or .txt based e-books, but those with copyright protection management.

Also, what happens if I want to transfer an e-book to another reader or read it in my computer? Could you also backup your files in case the reader dies?

As conclusion, I wonder whether EPUB is widely accepted enough for this purpuse (like a jpeg in photography). Trust a propietary format like Amazon's does not seem a good idea (.dng is from Adobe but licensed-free).
EPUB without DRM or with social DRM such as the one used by Pottermore is a good format to archive. It's based on standards (HTML, XML, ZIP, etc) and it's easy enough to disassemble in the event of EPUB readers ceasing to exist (highly unlikely).

However, anything with obtrusive DRM (e.g. B&N, Adobe), I wouldn't trust for long term archival. That's why every ebook purchase I make immediately get disinfected.
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Old 04-18-2012, 11:56 AM   #6
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I have mobipocket format books that I've had for 10 years already. They still work just fine. Of course, they've had the DRM removed.
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Old 04-18-2012, 12:13 PM   #7
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These folks are right, PaulAuster. DRM removal is the only way to guarantee you'll still be able to read books bought today in 10 years. It's against our rules to directly link to DRM removal tools or give detailed instructions, but if you are perplexed and looking for someone to guide you in that direction, you need to do a search for Apprentice Alf.
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Old 04-19-2012, 09:58 PM   #8
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Just for a second let's not think of drm removal. In the long term amazon I think will continue to be the giant. Your books will always be there. I'm not so sure about B&N within the next few years.
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:34 PM   #9
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I would, and do, go with EPUB stripped of DRM for long-term purposes. It's the industry standard and the industry will outlive any individual corporation.
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:41 PM   #10
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Just for a second let's not think of drm removal. In the long term amazon I think will continue to be the giant. Your books will always be there. I'm not so sure about B&N within the next few years.
Agree with this. The best option after DRM removal. There's no such thing as an 'industry standard'.
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Old 04-19-2012, 11:29 PM   #11
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Paul, as you can see on many threads here at MR, choice of formats, companies, and devices can rise to the level of religious devotion for some.

Two of the most important topics you may want to consider are your preferences for an open or proprietary file format, and how comfortable you are with leaving your e library with a single corporation or entity for use on only their hardware.

Food for thought: In the early days of the web, Netscape was a major player and a multi-billion dollar company. Beginning to end, as an independent entity, Netscape lasted four years.
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Old 04-20-2012, 01:23 AM   #12
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If you remove DRM as soon as you purchase, you're safe with either ePub or Mobi; they can trivially be converted from one to the other.
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Old 04-20-2012, 08:38 AM   #13
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Very great answers, thanks. Didn´t know it was rather easy to remove DRM. I'll make my research!

Personally, I am not confortable with software and devices that only work with a particular vendor. That's why I do believe, for eg, that the Ipod is a great product with great user experience but never purchased one , don't like the idea of syncronize with only one computer. That's why also I am not convinced with Kindle.

Probably the one exception is Windows.
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Old 04-20-2012, 09:33 AM   #14
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NON-DRM stuff is equally available in mobi or epub.

It's true that mainstream DRMed Kindle files are only available from Amazon, but keep in mind that the alternative, ADEPT, is an Adobe proprietary system that is used by what is in reality a small handful of other book sellers. Among them B&N had (still has?) it's own proprietary DRM as well as ADE, and Kobo had (has?) kepub which was (is?) an annoyingly proprietary variant format.

In other words, if "more than one" makes you feel better than "one" even if that "one" is the biggest and most competitive market leader, and those "more that one" are really about 5, who are each really no more open, that's up to you, but IMNSHO, it's a non issue and the choice would best be driven by the features of the reader device and the shopping experience you prefer.
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Old 04-20-2012, 10:25 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Two of the most important topics you may want to consider are your preferences for an open or proprietary file format, and how comfortable you are with leaving your e library with a single corporation or entity for use on only their hardware.
Given the triviality of converting Mobi books to ePub, if they are DRM-free, that's rather a specious argument. And if they are not DRM-free, ePub DRM is every bit as proprietary as Mobi DRM is.
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