Why I Don't Buy Books From Apple

After two weeks of an iPad, the honeymoon of sorts is starting to wear off, but I can still say that the device is very much worth it.  One of the biggest uses I get out of it, reading, has not been largely delivered by Apple.  It's not that I don't read on my iPad, because I do, but iBooks has  largely left me unfulfilled when it comes to purchasing books.

For me, books are forever.  You buy one, read it, and then stick it on your shelf.  It stays there until the moment strikes your fancy to read it again.  Or use it as a reference.  Or lend it to a friend.  These paradigms have no (legal) equivalent in this digital world, all because of DRM.

I understand the rights owners point of view, just because nobody wants to see their industry go the way of digital music or movies, but I also do not believe in purchasing content over and over again because of a format change or higher grade in quality.  The written word is something that can stand for near eternity, even more so with the advent of digital technology.  But as the means by which the media is consumed is changed, DRM does not allow content to go with it.  For this reason, I did not buy into BluRay until there was a mechanism to circumvent the locks and draconian means of 'safeguarding' its contents from illegal distribution.

For this same reason I refuse to purchase books from the iBooks store.  If a book is forever, then DRM is the method of depriving it of its immortality.  I did the same with iTunes' Fairplay technology on music, refusing to make purchases until it was circumventable.  To this day I have not purchased any video from iTunes for the same reasons.

Where do I get satisfaction in reading content?  Two places, first, Amazon.  While Amazon's Kindle platform is similarly chained by DRM, there exists a Python script to remove.  I won't link to it here, but it is easily obtainable through a Google search.  I am totally willing to pay for the content I consume, and Amazon's breakable DRM satisfies their need to lock it down as well as my need to set it free.  

I do not turn around and make these available to anyone on the web.  They stay within the confines of my home and are considered by me to be within the bounds of fair use. I am not a lawyer, but lets leave them out of this.  I pay for content, I get to use these things any way I see fit for personal use.  I realize that as the consumer I don't legally get to set those kinds of terms, but let's consider the alternatives.

When the music and movie industries tried to hold on to old business models, we know how that turned out.  The more tightly they tried to control distribution and the longer they refused to listen to the model that their consumers wanted, the more they lost out on consumers willing to fork over cash for creative works.

Another problem that media industries have to contend with is competing interests.  There is a lot of good content out there available for free.  Given the convenience that the Internet brings for consuming that free, legally obtained content, whether it be blogs, news, or what have you, if they make a product difficult or inconvenient to consume, which will consumers choose?

So given those outcomes, I am sure that my terms are quite amicable.  Can they come up with anything more agreeable to both parties?  The ball is in their hands.  There is still time to work out the model.

Posted on May 17
Written by Wayne Hartman