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Old 08-03-2006, 08:48 PM   #1
mdb139
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Amazon Drops Lit/Pdf eBooks

I sent an email to Amazon customer support earlier this week. See their response, below.

--- Begin My Email ---

Has Amazon made a decision to move exclusively to the Mobipocket format for eBooks? I noticed that several books that I bought a few weeks ago, in Microsoft eReader format, are now listed as "Not Available". I also noticed that the eBooks section of Amazon.com is essentially shut down.

If this decision has been made, can anyone comment as to why it was made? I'd really like to continue to purchase my eBooks from Amazon, but I find this decision to be a major disappointment.

The MobiPocket.com site does not offer any where near the shopping experience that Amazon does, and frankly, until it does, I simply won't shop there just because they happen to be an affiliate of Amazon. I will instead take my business to competitors that continue to offer eBooks in my preferred format.

Since I suspect this is a strategic decision on Amazon's part, a few other comments.

My opinion is that MobiPocket is a decent eBook platform, but I personally don't like or want all of the additional "features" their Reader would install on my system (such as RSS integration) -- why not make these optional components that end-users can opt-out of?

I'm also troubled by MobiPocket's seemingly continual releases of software updates (which in itself isn't necessarily bad) without any way of finding out what was changed in the release, as best-practices would dictate. I have no desire to potentially destabalize my workstations to get undesired "features" of their product.

I'm also concerned about the poor documentation of the Mobipocket format itself (on their developer site). The state of the documentation suggests a lack of maturity from Mobipocket.

Finally, I've heard several bad things about the customer support at Mobipocket, and I find it disconcerting that Amazon would abandon its long-time customers in such a way by redirecting them, as you appear to have done, to a third-party.

--- End My Email ---

--- Begin Response from Amazon ---

Hello from Amazon.com.

I am sorry for the inconvenience that this has caused to you.
However, I will be sure to pass your message on to the appropriate department in our company for consideration. Customer feedback like yours is very important in helping us continue to improve the selection and service we provide.

It is always important for us to hear how customers react to all aspects of shopping at Amazon.com. Strong customer feedback like yours helps us continue to improve the selection and service we provide, and we appreciate the time you took to write to us.

We are working on removing Microsoft and Adobe format e-books from Amazon.com, and soon they will no longer available for purchase. If you previously purchased an e-book on Amazon.com or purchase an available item before the availability changes, you will still have access to it through Your Media Library in Your Account up to 30 days after the purchase date. [emphasis added]

As part of our commitment to provide the best customer experience possible, we are now supporting the Mobipocket format. We remain committed to e-books and encourage you to visit www.mobipocket.com where you can purchase and download tens of thousands of the most popular titles.

[Information on Amazon Upgrade Service deleted]

--- End of Email from Amazon ---

I'm particularly concerned that the books I've already purchased will no longer be available from Amazon (as the emphasized text, above, suggests). That was one of my primary reasons for purchasing from Amazon -- I thought at the time that Amazon would be around for the long haul, and that my content would therefore be available as well.

As an aside, I am a Mobipocket user (it's currently my primary reader, but that may change), but I find some of their practices a little disconcerting. For one, I just found out that their desktop Reader doesn't read the Author, Description, etc., from the downloaded eBook (the file, that is), but actually connects back to their servers to pull that information. I wonder what else they are sending, and whether or not they are also sending information about "eDocs" that I generate....?

To give Mobipocket some credit, which certainly didn't come across in my email to Amazon, Mobipocket does appear to be making some progress in terms of opening up their format and providing better documentation, but I also think they have a long way to go.

While I'm on the topic of Mobipocket, the reason that I switched is that I really like the way they handle dictionary lookups (in a popup, without leaving the book I'm in) -- in contrast to eReader's handling, which opened a second book and caused me to accidently close eReader altogether as a result (clumsy navigation implementation, IMHO). Also, eReader constantly dropped my bookmarks and annotations, whereas I've yet to have that happen with Mobipocket.

Finally, the Desktop/Mobile synching in Mobipocket is nice; it makes editing eDocs much, much easier than any other software I've tried.

Sorry for the long posting, and for diverging from the original point of my post..

Thoughts?
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Old 08-04-2006, 05:11 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdb139
I'm particularly concerned that the books I've already purchased will no longer be available from Amazon (as the emphasized text, above, suggests). That was one of my primary reasons for purchasing from Amazon -- I thought at the time that Amazon would be around for the long haul, and that my content would therefore be available as well.
Welcome to the Wonderful World of DRM (i.e. Digital Restriction Management).

When I purchase a paper book, it's readable by me today, tomorrow and even after I'm dead, by anyone.

That's not the case of DRMed eBooks. They may be read by me today, but beyond that, there is no guarantee that they will be able to be read.

That's why I place the value of any DRMed eBook at $1. That's the "disposable" price of such an item. I read it once and throw it away.
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