eBooks: With Courage and Patience, We Are Getting There

Just how do we make the "e" in e-books stand for "easier"? Well, how about this? Let's scrap the existing digital rights management. Instead everybody in charge of administering DRM would be re-trained overnight as digital priests. They would certify "trustworthiness" to those seeking to download e-books.

Before downloads, customers would be visited by digital priests of their respective religious persuasions. With great pomp and circumstance, they would "pledge" not to forward their books to everybody in the world without compensating the authors and publishers. Break the pledge, and you'd find yourself in purgatory, hand-copying old encyclopedias.

Or maybe a totalitarian law would work instead. First-offenders guilty of unlawful content reproduction would have to wear a scratchy wool eye patch for one year. For a second crime, the patch would be now a mask. We could set up toll-free hot-lines and reward people for spying on their neighbors.

The Real Point

See my real point here? No easy way exists to loosen the DRM grip--this complicated issue can't be addressed with good old-fashioned guilt and fear. But e-book standards for DRM and formats would help. I am counting on the laws of capitalism, which always prevail. A demand will eventually be met with supply, and I'm hoping that the right set of standard will break from the pack and simplify the digital content landscape. That will be a blessed day. Microsoft, Adobe and Palm and the others now have their own special technology fee tacked on to the price of e-books. And that complicates merchandising. We e-book merchants would rather not have multiple cost structures for the same e-book.

Nor do we like consumers to be limited to books published in their chosen format or suffer multiple technologies just to enjoy a story. Nothing is more frustrating than having three different libraries on your handheld and forgetting where your recent fiction resides. I don't just hear customers complaints--I myself own a handheld.

Villains not

Who's to blame? I'm thinking nobody. Many authors and publishers break out in a cold sweat at just the mention of the word "Napster" and can you blame them? Their livelihood is at stake. They should, however, strive to better satisfy consumers desire for more content in digital form.

If a publisher has faith in their work, it's now accepted that expanding to e-book will deliver extra profit and drive hardback sales. Not all understand this. I still hear some authors express misguided fear that e-books will cannibalize their hardback sales. Publishing is not a zero-sum game, however--and that actually can be good. E-books add incremental value to the equation. Granted, companies tasked with encrypting content for them are an easy target, for they create the hoops through which we must jump. But the DRM heavyweights like Microsoft, Adobe and eReader are simply business people satisfying a need with existing technology.

No glass chin

Let there be no mistake, the future is bright for e-books--sales are on a steady rise. The industry took a couple of jabs during the Internet correction, but you'll find no glass chin here. More students are beginning to see e-books as an alternative for those pricey hardback textbooks. The computer savvy are learning the ease in pasting code directly from their favorite Java e-book manual, and there's even speculation that men are reading more romance as they no longer fear being seen with a floral book cover. Moreover, the Tablet PC is maturing, and the publishers are slowly but surely putting even more content in digital form. It takes courage, but we're getting there. Though it is a word often used in excuses, "patience" is needed by digital downloaders, me included.

Article by L. Scott Redford - scott@diesel-ebooks.com Scott is the President of Diesel eBooks with over 35,000 popular and professional eBooks organized by 50 categories. Visit the free download section at http://www.diesel-ebooks.com

In The News:


The Independent

Bloomsbury suffers as e-books lose their magic
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In answer to the headline's question, “Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time?,” the answer is obvious. It is screen time. If the tablet has Clifford the dog barking, then your child doesn't have to imagine the sound of Clifford ...


Publishers limiting e-book access, librarians say
Columbus Dispatch
To offer e-books to library patrons, public libraries must purchase leases from publishers, which last a limited time and can cost up to 10 times more than a physical book, said Zach Space, a former congressman working on behalf of the Ohio Library ...


USA TODAY

Wolff: Real books can defeat Amazon and e-books
USA TODAY
The book business believes that Amazon is unfair in the way it sells books. It believes, in fact, that Amazon in its sales practices — pressuring the book publishers to lower their prices and profits — is the enemy. Amazon's ultimate design ...
Amazon strikes new e-book deal with Simon & SchusterCNET
Amazon and Simon & Schuster Reach Deal Over E-Book PricesTIME
Amazon and Simon & Schuster agree e-book pricing dealBBC News
WHTC -Channel News Asia
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KPLU News for Seattle and the Northwest

Simon & Schuster e-book deal with Amazon closes a chapter
New York Post
The Simon & Schuster agreement with Amazon brought a sigh of relief to some authors, who will not have to worry about it deteriorating into an ugly, protracted battle such as the one that still pits Amazon against Hachette on e-book pricing. “I love ...
Are Amazon's Bullying Days Over? We're About to Find OutFlavorwire
Amazon is doing the world a favor by crushing book publishersVox
Book News: Amazon Inks A Deal With A Publisher Not Named HachetteKPLU News for Seattle and the Northwest
Business Insider -KRVS
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SFGate

'The Face,' by Chris Abani, and other e-books
SFGate
A year ago, Restless Books began publishing essays that answered the question “What stories does a face tell?” Chris Abani's contribution is a fascinating meditation on identity that explores the novelist's own mixed heritage and mixed feelings. A true ...


Non-friction: Blloon brings a novel approach to e-book subscriptions
The Next Web
Ultimately, such services are striving to remove the friction from reading, delivering e-books on tap similar to what Netflix does with TV shows and movies. Now, a German startup is introducing its own take on this burgeoning subscription trend with ...


Re/code

OverDrive Review: A Free E-Book Lending Service That Requires Some Patience
Re/code
According to the American Library Association, more than 90 percent of U.S. libraries now lend e-books, and this week I've been testing a service that allows readers to check out digital books from their local library, right on their device of choice ...


New York Times

Steal This E-Book
New York Times
I've recently been buying physical copies of books and then illegally downloading electronic versions of the same books, so I can read them on my Kindle when it's more convenient. Is this stealing? NAME WITHHELD, CHICAGO. If you were just asking a ...

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