Thoughts about Digital Books

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Having already learned some painful lessons from the dawning of digital music, I have firm requirements that must be met before I will ever buy a digital book.

Any digital book I acquire has to come in a format that is an open standard, readable on multiple platforms. As an opening bid, it seems like PDF would be acceptable. And there are several open formats that would fill the bill nicely. But I’m a man of simple tastes; I’d probably be fine with raw text, rtf or html. If you’re interested, here’s a wikipedia page that offers a comparison of e-book formats.

Further, I absolutely will not put up with any digital book that has DRM. I fell for that trick once already with music. Whatever new digital media I purchase, I want to be damn sure I can read it on my laptop, my phone, my tablet, and my combination espresso maker/ear-wax remover. And if I ever move from an iPhone to an Android (or whatever), you better believe those books are coming with me. I refuse to deal with any vendor that attempts to nail me down to their own hardware or restrictions on copying the media I’ve purchased.

Those two requirements are nob-negotiable. It’s not even worth having the conversation until those two are handled. But if those are met…

I’m more than a little grumpy about the pricing I’ve seen on electronic books thus far. Can you explain to me why any digital book should cost more than a paperback? Given that publishers are spared any expense of paper, printing, binding and distribution costs and never have to worry about second/third/etc printings, it seems like any book in digital format should come at a pretty great price savings. Amazon’s $9.99 for an eBook seems ridiculous.

And lastly, “eBooks”? Eww. Someone couldn’t come up with a better name than that? I don’t go around talking about eMusic! Next thing you know, Apple will start talking about “iBooks”. *snort* Oh, wait…

One thought on “Thoughts about Digital Books

  1. Lance Bledsoe

    Agreed, agreed, and agreed. I’m also ready for open-source digital textbooks. There’s no longer any reason for college students and public school systems to keep spending ridiculous amounts of money for hardcopy books that become immediately outdated.


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