Here are a pair of articles about eBooks, both from people who are knowledgable users of them who are discussing the limitations of them. The first, from a link sent in by Mike Cane, is about how a guy that uses Microsoft Reader as his viewer got screwed because he buys so many devices (PCs, pocket PCs, etc) that he used up his 6 activations and is now SOL. This is not unlike the Cory Doctrow piece a few months back where because he bought lots of iTunes music and buys lots of new Macintosh laptops he got into a position where he had no more activations either. In both, there is a salient detail in common – the people who get the most severly boned by the DRM restrictions are really really good customers! People who buy lots of books and music or other DRM-locked content and also buy lots of machines and handhelds will be the people who run into these restrictions. My contention is simple – any system that is set up to guard against an unproven and unquantifiable threat and does so by setting up roadblocks that impede your most committed customers from spending more money is Bad Fricking Business.
In the other article, superdude Charlie Stross discusses why more of his books aren’t available in electronic form which also ends up ranging into some general discussion of the medium.
I don’t much write about ebooks here any more, because what I say from time to time is so damned similar. Bad business decisions are keeping people from spending money. Fear of piracy is costing publishers far more money is sales that can’t happen than the pirates could have ever caused them to lose. If they priced their ebooks reasonably (ie, not the same as the hardcover) they could have a nice revenue stream that scales beautifully, in that it doesn’t involve expensive presses running expensive paper through, and expensive teamsters moving books into expensive racks in grocery stores and bookstores. It’s a damn shame that the only major publisher that gets these points is Baen books, a publisher of which I care to read maybe one book in 100 that they publish. It should be noted that Baen is making much more money than they did a few years ago, and their electronic strategy is a very significant portion of that.