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Old 05-30-2010, 12:44 AM   #16326
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Posts: 62
Karma: 2200
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: South Australia
Device: iPad2

I read about 40 pages of this very entertaining thread, until I finally noticed that it was 1089 pages long... (duh) so might be a lifelong activity.

Hoping it's not against the thread rules, I have a multi-rant.

1. Adobe: I hate them.

I bought several Secure PDF ebooks from them a while back (1992?), which I read in either Adobe Reader or Adobe Digital Editions. At some point, Digital Editions was introduced, so I read my books in that. There were all sorts of technical problems with Digital Editions initially (very unhappy forum) but they were eventually worked out, to the point where you could read your ebooks, anyway.

These past couple of weeks I've been cataloguing my ebooks (due to issue 2), so eventually I reached these titles, and went to open them in Digital Editions to find their metadata. DE crashed immediately. It crashes whenever I try to open one of my Secure PDF books. Standard PDFs open normally. My computer is authorized. I tried deleting the .plist, restarting etc. Often ADE crashes on open, before it even displays the ebooks. (Boy, have I sent some frustrated comments to Apple via Crash Reporter! "What steps did you take to cause this crash?" "Opened the app." I should have added, "This app is obviously not designed to be opened. Oh, and it's also an ebook reader unable to read its own proprietary ebooks.")

I could read these books in Digital Editions before. Why can't I do so now? Is there some magical expiry date on purchased books (perhaps it's called "We can't be bothered supporting that now")?

So I searched on this issue, and couldn't find it. I searched for any Digital Editions issues, then clicked on the result link to go to the Digital Editions forum. Searching the forum didn't find my issue. I logged successfully into the site, but the forums section still said "Login/Register". I checked my password program, and I did have a separate login, presumably from when their forums were at a different address and there wasn't a unified Adobe ID. So I tried logging in. "Your account has been deleted."

(Later on, I also tried my main Adobe ID, which has the same email address, but it had the same result.)

The error message said that if I had problems with this (yep, there's a vague possibility that some people don't want their account deleted arbitrarily) I should contact "the admin". Was there a link to the forum admin, or any other kind of admin? Nope. I searched the site for any kind of contact which would allow me to ask for help with the forum. There's a special forum section where you can ask for help with the forum ... but first, you have to be able to login to the forum.

I searched for ways to contact support. Their humourously-named "Knowledge Base" did not contain anything relevant to my problem, there was no way to use their Customer Service centre to address problems with the forum or website, and they have no written general contact. You have to use the phone.

I am severely disabled, and have great difficulty using the phone. So I read the many pages and blog articles of happy bragging about their accessibility features, which didn't include a way to contact anyone about accessibility issues (unless it's in the forum which, oh yeah, I can't access.) In the end, the only written contact I could use was a "Feedback" form, which they say they probably won't answer.

Adobe charges insane prices for their software, but they have the worst "support services" I've encountered. I get much, much better and more accessible help from free-software developers. Why is that, I wonder?

2. Following on from issue 1, why am I cataloguing all my ebooks? It's a complex and exhausting task for me, taking several weeks. I have to go through this because I have been excluded from mainstream ebook purchasing by the heinous fact that I live in Australia.

After years of buying large numbers of ebooks (like other people here who fulfil the large mathematical probability that they don't live in the U.S.), I was suddenly unable to buy most books I wanted, including series I'd already started and books by Australian authors.

So I had to waste my scarce functional time in searching and shopping around for books I was allowed to buy. This was confusing for me: I have ended up with books from a dozen different outlets, in different formats requiring different apps, even if the books belong to the same series. Gone are the days when virtually all of my ebooks were helpfully arranged on my Fictionwise Bookshelf. I have been finding it very difficult to handle all this mixed information for a single result (a book I can read).

I recently wrote to HarperCollins about this issue. My email was prompted by the fact that they had just released in ebook format three older books from a series I wanted to complete. I saw this news on the author's website. So I dashed to Inkmesh (my friend in these times of multiple null-sources) and found the books were available at Amazon. Yay! I rushed over there, having previously installed Kindle on my Mac and my iPhone, and bought the first book, then the second book, but when I tried to buy the third book, I was told it wasn't available to Australians.

I asked Amazon about this. They handily passed the ball to the publisher. So I wrote to HarperCollins and asked them:
  1. Why are three titles in the same series by the same author, released by the same publisher on the same date, not available to the same country?
  2. Why are you discriminating against disabled readers?
I have not yet received an answer. I think Question 1 is a reasonable representation of the ridiculous inconvenience international ebook-buyers endure under this "geographic limitations" imposition. Question 2 (and the following details in that email) ask the publishers why they are excluding disabled people with this imposition. Their argument for the geolims is that they are protecting the local book market. None of the books I've wanted are available in ebook in Australia. Many are not available in hardcopy, either. However, like many disabled readers, I can't read paper books anyway: I can't hold the book, I can't read off a white background, and my vision varies so I need adjustable font size/type. Without electronic text, I can't read.

I reminded them that while Baen Books offers its ebooks free to disabled readers, HarperCollins and its mates have specifically excluded many disabled people from access to books. I also pointed out that disabled people are a much larger proportion of the customer base online than offline, since computers make it possible for use to access shops and services. Essentially, publishers are discriminating against us, and it's a pretty low thing to do. What does it matter what country we live it, if we're bedridden or housebound? Access to books means we can distract ourselves from our frankly horrible situation we need books to get by.

3. But wait: there's a glimpse of hope on the horizon! While reading a thread at MR yesterday, I found out that Sony Reader was now available for Mac. I had perforce ignored all Sony results (and they had almost everything I wanted to buy) because I thought I couldn't access their books from a Mac. My heart lightened by the new opportunity, I went and read Sony's instructions on participating. Yes, they support Macs now. All I had to do was download the app, install it and register with their shop. Then I could buy the books I wanted: I could see them in the shop!

I downloaded the app, which was rather large. I installed it. Installation required restart, which is quite rare on Mac OSX nowadays, except for core system updates. I have many login items and special setups, to make my system more accessible, so restarting is fairly laborious for me. Finally, the restart was accomplished, so I opened the app. It told me it could read my Adobe Digital Editions ebooks, and did I want to authorize it do so? More hope bloomed suddenly in my heart. I allowed the app to grab the required Adobe info from my keychain, and it then said it had been authorized to read my Digital Editions. So I imported them. I selected one of my Secure PDFs (see issue 1) and opened it ... "Not authorized to view this". Arrgghhhh!

I bought the damned things, I paid for them, I used to be able to read them on OSX: why the @#$% can't I read them now? (Of course, they're all books I'm no longer allowed to buy, mostly Star Trek books, so I can't even replace them.)

However, back to the Sony Reader on my Mac. I swallowed my disappoinment (an uncomfortable act, since it was the size of a bowling ball), and kept following the Sony Reader instructions. "Click 'Register' in the menu." Nowhere in the app was there a "Register" item. I looked for this for quite a while, convinced I must just be missing it. But nope, it's just not there.

In the end, I went to their shop in the app., and loaded the shopfront. Guess what? There's a "Register" link in the loaded webpage! Dazed but determined, I went through the registration process. Oddly enough, they asked me if I lived in the U.S. or Canada. I wondered if that was a bug. I finished registering, and the app. showed me my account.

I thought I'd fill in my payment info while I was there, so I could start buying books. Down the bottom, after inputting my payment info, I found again that they wanted to know whether I lived in the U.S. or Canada.

I had a sudden sinking feeling...

I went through all the instructions again on the website, but there was nothing about geographic limitations on the app. I could download it, install it and register with the shop. Then I went through the site FAQ, and sure enough, the whole Sony ebook shebang is only available to people living in the U.S. or Canada (and by the look of another FAQ item, for most popular titles it's only the U.S.).

So hey! Sony Reader is available for the Mac! This is a huge step in wider accessibility ... but only for people living in the U.S. or Canada. The rest of the world thanks you for this huge breakthrough. :

I could tell you about my adventures with a "negative marketing" online retailer, but I've probably ranted enough for today.

Thanks for the thread. I've enjoyed the discussions, and my family also rescues abandoned/damaged cats (although I myself am a dog person). These cats tend to have odd but endearing personalities. Sadly, you lose some, because they're just too damaged by the time they find you, or you find them.

I read a couple of posts about surviving your kids, including the one about apology cards for new parents. Do you think there are any for parents of teenagers or adult children?
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