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Old 02-06-2010, 10:20 AM   #1
Barcey
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Zen and the Man in the Mirror

I'm having a zen moment and decided to share.

I've been having an on again off again relationship with ebooks for over 8 years but I've only been in an exclusive committed relationship for the last two years. I love my electronic book reader and I'm never going back to paper.

Like a lot of people I've been angry reading about the Amazon vs big publisher news the last week. My anger was out of proportion to the news and I didn't understand why. I've never bought an ebook from Amazon and it's not like I had respect for Macmillan two weeks ago.

The $18 to $28 ebook pricing the last couple of years was obviously a poorly orchestrated attempt to make me think that $15 is reasonable but it hasn't worked. Still I'm not really angry about the pricing.

I hate the agency model because it has all the disadvantages of competition but none of the benefits, however there are a lot of other uncompetitive business practices out there. If anyone is familiar with cell phone “competition” in Canada they understand that I'm accustomed to it.

I had to sit down and take a personal inventory of where all the negative energy was coming from to understand . I came up with the following (none of it a surprise):

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DRM
As useful as teats on a bull, yet still it remains.

Ownership
I keep being told that I can't own my electronic books. Although I click on a “Buy” button I'm told it actually means “Lease” or “Rent”. Go figure, I guess I can't read. More importantly, try to take them from me.

Book Loaning to Family and Friends

I'm told this is no longer possible although it's an entrenched part of our culture.

Regional Restrictions
It's hard to describe the frustration of trying to buy an ebook and being told that they can't possibly take your money because you're Canadian. My current favourite is trying to buy an ebook by a Canadian author (Jack Whyte) from a Canadian reseller (Kobo) and being told that I can't because I'm Canadian. Of course if I committed fraud and told them I lived in the USA I could.

Lack of Quality
I could spend a lot of time on this but let me just say that a lot I've paid for is crap. Poor OCR generated books. Unreadable maps. Total lack of pride in the work.

Text to Speech
I maintain that this is just another presentation layer. There is no difference between a rendering engine converting the purchased text to be readable on a 6” screen versus a rendering engine converting the purchased text to be listened to as audio. However I'm told this needs to be disabled at the whim of the publisher.

Incomplete Series
Buying the first two books in a series and then finding out the third is only available in paper.

Lack of Content
There are so many popular older books that are always in demand but there's little demonstrated effort to make them available. Apparently it simply costs too much to do, unless someone else tries to do it, then it's a law suit.

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For the last 8+ years I've been telling myself that I just have to live with all this and eventually it will get better but apparently it's been eating at me. I believe the latest has just sent me over the edge.

It's obvious reading through the list that all the negative associations are coming from one group, but what to do? I don't believe in boycotts because I don't think they work. The companies blame the decreasing revenue on other factors rather then their own actions. Boycotts just feel like impotent rage.

I don't believe in letter writing campaigns because I think they just get filed in the circular filing cabinet under the desk. Closed minds don't open letters.

I decided that all I can do is make a personal decision to remove the negative karma and make myself feel better. What I decided to do was funnel all that negative energy into something positive. I took all the money that I had budgeted for books in 2010 and donated it to charity. In my case I gave it to the Haiti Earthquake relief. The Canadian government is matching personal donations so I've doubled the value of my donation. My money might not be significant to the big publishing companies but it means something to the disaster relief in Haiti.

Let me tell you something, this feels great! It was like stepping out of the big publisher sewage and now it can't touch me. My money is no longer going to feed all this idiocy and suddenly my money is going to something really important. Sometimes I just have to step back and remind myself to look at the big picture. Look to where the real pain and suffering is.

What about the future?
Over the last 2+ years I've been buying 2 to 3 books for every book I've read. I have 5 to 6 years of unread books on my reader. I'm going to spend the next years reading them and searching on small publishers sites and indie author sites. I'll look for authors that have left the big publishers and I'll support them. I'll also dig into the classics that I've always wanted to read. In 5 to 6 years hopefully there will be some sanity but more likely I'll have filled up my reader with 15 years of indie author reading. I already have a good start from the indie authors I've found in the last two years. Any recommendations are welcome.

I'm off to read...

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Old 02-06-2010, 12:26 PM   #2
queentess
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Regional Restrictions
It's hard to describe the frustration of trying to buy an ebook and being told that they can't possibly take your money because you're Canadian.
I agree it's frustrating, but the home video game industry has been dealing with this for years. Want that newest greatest game release from Japan, but live in the US? Too bad! DVDs are similarly region-restricted, but they seem to have broader appeal than many games and are more likely to be released here.

I really don't know if this regional restriction is different from the geographical restrictions on ebooks. I know the geo-restrictions are due to where the work is allowed to be sold and by which publisher; no clue why regional restrictions exist.
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Old 02-06-2010, 12:30 PM   #3
HarryT
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Originally Posted by queentess View Post
I really don't know if this regional restriction is different from the geographical restrictions on ebooks. I know the geo-restrictions are due to where the work is allowed to be sold and by which publisher; no clue why regional restrictions exist.
Exactly the same reason. Eg, if publisher A has the exclusive rights to sell a book in the UK, and publisher B has the rights to it in the US, then US bookstores aren't allowed to sell B's book to customers from the UK, and UK bookstore can't sell A's book to customers from the US.
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Old 02-08-2010, 12:51 PM   #4
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Yes I was using regional restrictions in place of geographic restrictions. If other industries are doing it doesn't mean it's reasonable or acceptable. The frustration is felt in other industries as well.

I recall seeing a recent news article where the MPAA was having a campaign against “pirate DVD's” including how to identify them. The first reader response was exactly what I was thinking. You can identify them by the following:
  • if you can play them on any of your DVD players anywhere in the world
  • if you don't have to sit through a 30 second FBI splash screen that you can't skip
  • if you don't have to sit through 2 to 10 minutes of previews that you can't skip
  • if you can easily make backup copies
  • if you can format convert them to play any your other devices (ipod, smart phones, PSP, etc...)
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