E-Books Borrowed (Rented?) Not Bought: Last week Norwegian Kindle owner Linn Nygaard discovered a crucial fact about buying e-books for your Kindle – that you’re not really buying the e-books at all. You are in fact buying a license to access the e-books. Or you could say you were renting the e-books or borrowing them but you are not in fact buying them. And that translates into the experience that Lin Nygaard had – that the seller or publisher of the electronics books can simply block your access to any e-books you’ve “purchased.” It seems that Linn Nygaard travels quite a bit and has owned two Kindles in recent years one that she bought in the UK and gave to her mother and one that she purchased online. And somehow, in some mysterious way Amazon decided that she had violated their usage terms. So Amazon cut off her access to her account and to her “purchased” e-book library and then sent her an a very vague email informing her she’d no longer be able to do business with Amazon and wishing her well in finding another e-vendor to do business with.
Amazon subsequently restored Nygaard’s access to her account and her e-book library without any explanation of why her account was blocked to begin with nor why they suddenly restored her access to her account and her e-book library.
And if you’ve glanced at this library tech blog periodically you’ll have noticed that I keep bringing the subject of the lack of e-book ownership up…
And I do that because I think the subject of “owning” e-books is of paramount concern. Because we, meaning those of us that buy e-books, don’t at the current time own the e-books we “buy”– despite the fact that all the e-book vendors I’ve ever bought e-books from – Amazon, Barnes & Noble & Apple via their iBooks Store have a “Buy” or “But it Now” button you click on to purchase the access to the e-books. And if those vendors and/or publishers decided to block our access to those e-books they can do so and we’d be up the creek without a paddle just like Linn Nygaard.
I see it this way — buying e-books, and for that matter digital videos and music should be just like buying print books (and DVDs & CDS) – you buy the book and it is yours to do with as you wish. And the print vendor and/or publisher police don’t come to your house at some point in the future, in the middle of the night no doubt, force their way into your house, stomping all over the flower bed in your front yard along the way for good measure, and take all the print books you’ve purchased back for some unknown and unexplained reason. However, that is just want can happen with e-books that you’ve “bought.” Under the current buying-a-license-to-access the e-books system you’re access to the e-books you’ve “purchased” can be revoked at any time without explanation.
And I think the lack of ownership – that is the inability of the individual consumer to actually purchase and own e-books is a huge threat to intellectual freedom because in the future, when e-books are the dominant form of reading material – we could find our access to the e-books we’ve “bought” barred by a vendor or publisher without cause and without even being offered the common courtesy of the vendor or publisher telling us why they believe we’ve violated terms of service as was the case with Linn Nygaard.
And to read more on the subject here’s a link to a Forbers article titled Amazon Ebooks Are Borrowed, Not Bought:
Penguin & Random House Merge: Now you may be thinking “What on Earth does the merging of two large publishing houses, Penguin & Random House, have to do with technology? And my answer to that questions is that these two large publishers are merging as a way to both improve their footing in the printing world, which is undergoing a tremendous upheaval due to the growing popularity of e-books and the corresponding declining popularity of print books, and thus the fact that two of the largest English publishers in the world merging makes sense as they will be better able to prop up their print business and, hopefully, catch on and adapt to the digital age and produce more e-books without major league restrictions like either not selling e-books to public libraries, selling e-books to public libraries at 3 or 4 times the hardcover price and insisting on the restrictive DRM software when you “buy” and e-book so you’re stuck only being able to read that e-book via one platform.
Here’s a link to a paidContent article titled Penguin Random House aims to attack digital, emerging ebooks markets that offers more information on the subject:
New App Controlled Phillips LED Lighting System: Phillips has introduced a new LED lighting system that allows you to customize not only the brightness that lights give off but also allow you to change the color of the lighting. So you can offer orange light for your Halloween party and red a green light for your holiday party! The lighting system can be controlled via an Apple app – so in essence you can turn up the brightness level or dim the lights or change the color of the lights or even turn the lights on or off while you’re away from home all from your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. The system isn’t cheap – it costs $200 for the initial kit that includes three light bulbs. The light bulbs should fit any lamp you own and should last 15 years so perhaps $200 isn’t too much if you’re a tech buff!
The Sacramento Bee has a concise article on this new lighting system. The article is titled Philips Reveals hue: World’s Smartest LED Light Bulb, Ushering in New Era of Connected Lighting for the Home and can be accessed via the following link:
Library Closing Note: The library will be closing today (Monday, October 30, 2012) at 4 PM and will be closed all day tomorrow, Tuesday, October 30, in anticipation of the Hurricane/Storm Sandy moving through our area. The library should re-open on Wednesday morning at 10 AM.
And as usual you can check the library’s homepage for weather closing information. The library’s homepage can be found at: http://ssclibrary.org/
Have a great day & stay safe!