The book, terms of service

One of the things that’s so vexing about the ebook back and forth is the people who think that issues with ebooks are all about people being fussy about reading off of screens and the like. In fact, for me, it’s much more the availablility, DRM, licensing and other issues that make me feel that ebooks are not ready for prime time. To drive a point home, here’s Matthew Battles [of Unquiet History fame] with his notion of a Book: Terms of Service.

5 Responses to “The book, terms of service”

  1. A Contract for Book-Readers? « Atlanta Booklover’s Blog Says:

    [...] Found at librarian.net [...]

  2. thorn Says:

    I know what ‘not ready for prime-time’ means; and I agree. DRM is not only evil; it’s ridiculous.

    What’s next? Pay-per-read? Like a rollercoaster ride? Maybe eventually each word will sense that my eyes have looked at it, and I’ll be charged a micropayment? If authors’ and publishers’ thinking lies *anywhere* along the continuum from unit- or device-bound DRM to pay-per-view-per-word… who do they think they ARE? In a world in which reading is declining? Oh please. I could stop buying books in *any* format this minute, and still have enough print editions sitting on my bookshelves at home, that I’d be able to read for the rest of my life without buying another text. And on top of that, I have, and use, a library card.

    So what now? Is declaring e-books ‘not ready for prime time’ useful? Do you mean that there *is* hope? Or that there is *no* hope, and e-books should be dropped? Can you imagine a way for real pressure to be exerted on ‘the industry’ to sit their butts down and work out something SENSIBLE? Because if they all keep fighting over their piece of the pie, it’s going to end up on the floor and the dog will come and lick it up.

    I’ve been waiting for electronic texts to become a viable, ergonomic technology for over 20 years. I love print, but I do not love *printouts*; and even among those who are quite emotional about ‘the printed book’, I know that I am not alone. I just wonder what it’s really going to take to get the whole thing worked out.

  3. Jim Biggs Says:

    “I’ve been waiting for electronic texts to become a viable, ergonomic technology for over 20 years. I love print, but I do not love *printouts*; and even among those who are quite emotional about ‘the printed book’, I know that I am not alone. I just wonder what it’s really going to take to get the whole thing worked out.”

    I really think its about time that we’re moving to digital copies. Its a waste of paper otherwise and the costs and waste in production can be saved with a digital copy.

    –JB
    Cigars

  4. Merriwyn Says:

    I too have been thinking about ebooks in this way for a while. To me there has been a real mismatch between consumer expectations of what what they are purchasing and what use is reasonable, and that of the publishers etc. My personal concern is that publishers across industries (music, movies etc as well as books) have become so afraid of what people *could* do with an electronic copy if they don’t make it impossible that they are not acknowledging what people could do with these things in their old formats, and thus what people except from the consumer/producer relationship. If I buy a physical book I can turn it into an abstract work of art, wallpaper a room, give it to a friend, read it anywhere I like, re-read it over and over forever, bookcross it, give it to charity, use it as a doorstop, and so on and so forth. When a publisher tries to tell me that I can’t use what I have bought in the (reasonable and legitimate) ways that I want, I decide that they are jerks and i’ll buy the dead tree version thanks very much.
    The same issues arise for libraries. If ebooks are vastly more expensive and restrictive than the dead tree versions then it just isn’t a viable possibility for libraries.

  5. Merriwyn Says:

    oops, typo :( that was ‘expect’ not ‘except’