Barnes and Noble announces digital bookstore and Plastic Logic partnership.My opinion, for what it’s worth:
Big fat whoop.
The store isn’t all that, there’s still YET ANOTHER form of book and DRM to deal with, there’s no transparency as to whether ebook readers are buying a license of limited download (aka a “book rental”) or if they own the title themselves.
I can’t say that I’m excited about the BN digital bookstore, either, since it comes with 500,000 public domain titles. I could link to it from Smart Bitches and proclaim myself a giant digital bookstore using that logic. I’m not the only one whose response to the BN digital bookstore is, “Meh:” analysts weren’t that excited either. (Thanks to The Real Sarah W for the link).
While I’m ranting, let me offer my Chinese fortune cookie assessment of the following sentence from the AP article: “The company also says that as part of its digital effort, it will be the exclusive content provider for the new Plastic Logic eReader device.”
Crack your cookie and listen up: NOTHING GOOD comes of the words “exclusive content provider.” Not in an economy that is all about predatory bargain shopping.
As for the device, I saw the Plastic Logic demo at Digital Book 2009 in February. It was, in a word, HUGE. BIG. And Flat. And I could fit it in exactly 2 of the 5 bags I rotate through during the year. 8.5 x 11 as a size doesn’t work for me, and with the slimness factor, it’s begging to be cracked in my handbag.
Seriously, I have to ask digital book reader manufacturers: HAVE YOU EVER LOOKED IN A WOMAN’S HANDBAG? ANY SIZE? We’re packed for Siberian emergency, most of us, and a thin plastic reading device with a scratchable screen and a chippy thin case is not going to do it. I returned the Kindle II: Matzoh Edition for that reason. And more than a few other people had similar fragility problems with their devices.
AND SPEAKING OF the Kindle: Anyone miss the Orwellian slurp of Orwell books from Le Kindle? As Farhad Manjoo says:
Most of the e-books, videos, video games, and mobile apps that we buy these days day aren’t really ours. They come to us with digital strings that stretch back to a single decider—Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, or whomever else….
Now we know what the future of book banning looks like, too.
I don’t actually have a problem with Amazon removing content that was published without the permission of the rights holder. But I do have a huge stonking problem with (a) removing the material from the devices without informing people first and (b) doing so without addressing the problem of how the unauthorized copies were published in the first place. Amazon needs to clean house and shouldn’t start by cleaning other people’s Kindles.
It’s embarrassing, frankly, to be so devoted to digital reading when I am in fact advocating that people pay retail prices for books that aren’t actually theirs, unless they break the law by cracking the DRM. And Amazon’s completely un-stellar handling of the situation underscores the key point that ebook readers need to know:
Fred Von Lohmann, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, [said] the incident … highlighted the gap in understanding about rights in the digital world and the real world. “There’s an enormous difference between buying a book and buying a tethered media device. And this incident really underscores that fact. Consumers carry with them analog expectations.”
See above, for Sarah’s fortune cookie phrase of the day: NOTHING GOOD comes of the words “exclusive content provider.”
In the coming weeks, I’ll be featuring the reviews from the Sony Test Drivers and some of their questions from the email loop I created from them. I’ve learned so much watching inexperienced ebook readers of different technological comfort levels teaching each other to navigate the setup and initial use of the Sony Reader, and remain convinced that there is no reader group more suited to digital reading than the avid reader of romance fiction.
Fortune cookie for digital reading device and book manufacturers: We are the readers you are looking for. Quit creating additional obstacles for us, and get out of our way. (Please.)