Posted by Lori Ayre on May 8, 2012

I try to steer clear of anything having to do with e-books.  The whole thing just makes me mad at everyone involved:  publishers, customers, libraries, everyone.  The fact of DRM and the people that support DRM by virtue of buying DRM'd stuff is just plain wrong.  I figure if I ignore it long enough it will all just go away and everyone will come to their senses. That's my strategy anyway. Well, here's someone who agrees with me.  Below is an excerpt from the blog, Gyrovague, by Jani Patokallio, entitled "Why e-books will soon be obsolete (and no, it's not just because of DRM)":

Customers today are expected to buy into a format that locks down their content into a silo, limits their purchasing choices based on where their credit card happens to have been registered, is designed to work best on devices that are rapidly becoming obsolete, and support only a tiny subset of the functionality available on any modern website.  Nonetheless, publishers are seeing their e-book sales skyrocket and congratulate themselves on a job well done.  How come?

Because right now, they have no choice.  If I want to read a digital copy of Country Driving today, my options are to either bend over to HarperCollins or to go pound sand.  But once publishers start breaking ranks (as they are already doing) and major authors start to self-publish (as they are already doing), the illusion of e-books being a necessary simulacrum of printed books will start to dissipate.

Patokallio does a nice job of expressing my frustrations with the whole thing which he characterizes as a series of reactionary responses by an industry unwilling to move forward with technology.  Instead, they (publishers) choose to block progress by locking down content with DRM, imposing artificial geographical limits on digital distribution, creating single-purpose, proprietary devices, and creating incompatible "standards." 

Patokallio predicts the Web and HTML5 will kill off this e-book frenzy over the course of the next few years.  I can't wait.  I only wish libraries were working harder to get to THAT place instead of making themselves crazy making deals with the devil and frustrating the hell out of our library users who then blame the libraries for the crappy interfaces they have to use.  

To those few libraries that are taking a stand, kudos!  


P.S.  Thanks to Scott Hackstadt of Bibliotheca for passing along the article!  Very thought-provoking.