Books,  Culture and Society

Public Library Ebooks and Overdrive

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Michael Cohen, over at Tidbits, has written a piece about downloading a DRM protected ebook via his local public library. His library like mine uses technology and books provided by Overdrive, Inc. The books in question are DRM epub books, using Adobe Digital Editions technology for DRM. Cohen writes:

So, when I discovered that my local public library had dipped its toes into the ebook waters and had begun to offer ebooks on loan, I was more than intrigued. After all, I’d read books on a Kindle (loved it), read books using iBooks on my iPad (loved it, too), and was looking forward to making even more use of my local library than I already did.

It’s a good piece, and thanks to Cohen, I discovered Bluefire Reader.

Cohen’s experience was, on the whole better than mine; I’ve been using Adobe’s digital DRM protected books since about 2000. I’m on my fourth computer now though, and when I attempted to get Adobe’s authorization to use the book I downloaded from my public library, not having accessed any of my Adobe DRM protected books on this new computer, Adobe borked my books, and told me I had to call for permission to authorize a fourth computer.

I did. Adobe told me I was SOL, because you know, they only authorize three computers. Mind, I don’t even have two of the computers; they’re dead, defunct, and long past pining for the fjords. But I did pay for about fifteen ebooks using Adobe’s tech, and now, I can’t read any of them, at all.

Moreover, they told me that one of the books–a scholarly edition of a medieval ms. that was a few hundred dollars–won’t work at all on any Adobe reading platform. (Fortunately, I have an old computer with an old OS, which I’ll be sure to keep for reading this one book).

I am not a happy camper.

The lesson here, boys and girls, is that DRM doesn’t stop piracy (pirates’ve already figured out how to crack Adobe’s Digital Editions DRM) but it does stop paying, legal, law-abiding readers.

Am I going to buy more Adobe using ebooks? No. Not ever. Nor will I crack them or pirate them, but I will let authors and publishers know why I’m not buying their books.