Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Throttling Sales

So William Gibson has a new book out, Zero History (official site here), the third in the sequence that also has Pattern Recognition and Spook Country in it. I picked up the hardcover the other day and started reading it last night.

Alas, it does not appear that I'll be buying the eBook, as I have with any other book by Gibson that I've been able to buy over the past few years. Fictionwise does not have any Gibson title listed (despite the fact that this is where I bought them in the past), the result, I guess, of their urinating contests with various publishers over prices. How about Mobipocket? Nope, nothing there. Mobipocket is owned by Amazon, I guess Amazon is trying to channel people towards the Kindle. Barnes and Nobles? They have it, but in a format that is DRM-locked and unable to be read on anything other than a desktop, some mobile devices, and their gadget. Perhaps that is why Fictionwise does not have it, seeing that B&N bought Fictionwise and ever since then choices have been getting smaller and smaller. Hey, what about Amazon? They have it, but for the Kindle. Same program that my eBook gadget uses, Mobipocket, but Amazon bought Mobipocket and imposed restrictions on files that previously did not exist. It is a different "flavor" of Mobipocket and won't work on my gadget.

So I won't be buying the book in electronic format, which means, ultimately, lost sales to the publisher and the author. When I first started reading electronic books on my Newton and my Palm Pilot I could read eBooks in multiple formats (using programs that are now owned by Barnes & Noble and Amazon) without conflict. More than one DRM file format could live on the gadget. But since publishers have gotten more interested in the market and the big distributors bought up the smaller players, things have gotten more and more restrictive. Choices have shrunk. Books vanish from my virtual "bookshelf" or are yanked from the stores all together. Prices rise thanks to the "agency model", no discounts or price competition allowed.

So...Congress...FTC...and others: how did all that DRM legislation help me and expand trade? How did all these mergers and acquisitions help me and expand trade? Publishers, instead of looking out for yourselves and trying to control an increasingly shrinking market (a lot of things are calling for our attention), why do you act to squash every innovation?

Sorry, Mr. Gibson. I guess only one copy of the book for me.


Michael said...

You might want to take a look at the ebook software called Calibre. It has the ability to read multiple formats and several search features.

Fred Kiesche said...

I've got Calibre. It will not, however, allow me to install a DRM-locked Mobipocket format book of one "flavor" (Kindle) onto my current gadget unless I use a "crowbar" (which would cause me to wear an eyepatch, according to the strict interpretation of existing laws...).