E-Books, DRM & Libraries
Posted by: Misha Stone
Neil wrote a lovely post recently about how it’s hard to be bookish in these days where the demise of the printed book gets bandied about with faddish regularity.
People are often spouting or simply repeating some death-knell proclamation they heard on the radio or somewhere about how books are going to die and libraries made obsolete by Google. No, I didn’t get the memo, and no, thinking that printed books and libraries are going to be around for a long time is not an outmoded or uncool thought process. Plus, what’s with the either/or/versus prattle that parades itself as dialogue?
Hmmm..I am sounding defensive and maybe a little miffed. Okay, well, I am.
But there is no doubt that our world is changing. The publishing world is also changing and libraries are trying to keep up and catch up by providing more digital content. But it is also becoming difficult for us to find vendors and publishers that want libraries to disseminate this e-content as freely as we would like to. One enemy of free access right now is DRM.
This week, outspoken author Cory Doctorow wrote a response piece, “The real cost of free,” in the Guardian about how artists and corporations should stop trying to stop copying. DRM is ostensibly about protecting the work of authors, or rather the work of authors that the publishers own and want to reap a profit from. That’s understandable, but the real danger here is that libraries could get shut out of the market if this doesn’t get figured out in a sane way. How do we help them and ourselves navigate this tricky negotiation between companies who want to control content and readers who just want to get a hold of their favorite book or author?
As Neil pointed out a year ago, e-books have landed in book groups. How are you dealing with it? How is it working and how is it not?