May the farce of eBooks be with you

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Its May the 4th. Star Wars day and more importantly its the International Day Against DRM.

Buying eBooks currently is a farce. Here’s my experience.

I love the Big Issue that’s sold in the UK, its fantastic in the service it provides, the magazine it produces and the cracks in the society that it fills.

So I started following the Big Issue twitter feed. From that came a tweet by a Big Issue seller Stonejenson, whose now written his own book, The Unwritten Timetable. So I set about buying his eBook.

The direct offering is through Amazon. For the first time in ages they have a reasonably priced eBook (unlike all the other eBooks which are priced the same as their paperback equivalent)  However its their ‘Kindle’ edition – so you’ve gotta install their Kindle reader.

But I don’t want to install the Kindle reader.  These two things mean that I’ll currently never buy an eBook through Amazon:

  1. Massively over priced eBooks at the same price as paperbacks
  2. Kindle only crap

You’re next option is Barnes and Noble copy – they convert into dollars whack a good margin on top ($8.99 does not equate to £3.25 – it doesn’t cost you anything to produce a copy) and is only available on their stupid Nook readers.

So I search for the publisher Lulu and find their version of the book that they sell directly. They seem quite cool, help independent writers get published. So I buy it through them. Interestingly they do have a large price difference between the eBook (£3.50) and the paperback (£14.50) – Amazon take note.

So I buy it, and download it.

The only version you can buy is ‘ePub for Adobe Digital Editions Format’. Now I know and understand epub formats, they the standard format for eReaders everywhere. Well  ‘ePub for Adobe Digital Editions Format’  sure as shit ‘aint the same as ePub. It has feck all to ePub as far as I can tell. Its DRM infected. That you can read on a sum total of 83 devices. Probably about 0.1% of all eReaders.

Adobe claim it can be read on the Aldiko eBook reader. My Aldiko eBook reader on my Android phone will import .epub files but  not DRM .acsm.

So the only place to read my book is on my PC and I have to bow to the Adobe “install our crap” wishes.

DRM sucks, its defective by design.

Update: it turns out the Aldiko eBook reader on the Google Play market will open Adobe DRM books, just not my crappy pre-installed version. You only have to be a programmer for 10 years to figure that out.

Many thanks to Stonejenson for replying – you can get DRM free versions of his book at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/167456

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4 thoughts on “May the farce of eBooks be with you

  1. Hi there, Stonejenson (no gap – and I’m an ex BI seller of some 12 years ago) here.
    I was just doing a bit of Google trawling to see where my name came up (after having had trouble with some dodgy links hitching a ride through my web space) anyway, I found your comment – unfortunately linked to the word SCAM! Figured I’d better check it out in case I was being accused of something.
    I’m sorry if you’ve had a problem with the DRM stuff, (to be honest, I don’t really understand it, as a first time self publisher, I just ticked the box for that option as it seemed that it would be covering my arse from being ripped off) – I hope you still managed to get a copy to read (and even more hopefully are enjoying it?).
    I can’t remember when, but the lulu.com link now also has a link for the iBook version, and I went to Amazon as that was the only option for getting it out to Kindle.
    A couple of days ago I also put it on Smashwords as that will offer versions for Kobo and some other stuff, and, don’t quote me on this, but I think they’re versions are DRM free https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/167456

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    • Hi @Stonejenson, wow! thanks for your comment. I did eventually get the book working with the DRM (I haven’t read it yet because I’m a really slow reader, but I’ll get to it eventually :)). Turns out, eventually it was the fault of the pre-installed version of Aldiko eBook reader on my Android phone. When I installed the Aldiko eBook reader from the Google app market, that now handles Adobe DRM. I completely understand the reasons for wanting to licence your book, the problems all lie with the companies that make the DRM like Amazon, B&N and Adobe. I hope you make enough money from this book for it to be worth writing another.

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      • Stonejenson says:

        No worries, and thanks again. Whether it’ll make it worth writing another book is beside the point, ive got a corker of an idea for my next one, could be a year or two before its done though! Too busy keeping the bills paid to get properly stuck in. 😦 It would be great if The Unwritten Timetable went well enough to supplement my income, but that’s another dream away…

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