As we were warned about in April, Microsoft closed its e-bookshop this week. Customers should receive full refunds and an additional $25 if they made annotations, but the damage has already been done.
Readers who purchased books with the confidence of any kind of customer now find themselves without those books. The purchase and 'assumed contract of sale' is being reversed in what amounts to an e-book retcon.
As Professor Perzanowski explains in a recent Wired article on the issue, people believed they were trading money for goods to keep:
“On the one hand, at least people aren’t out the money that they paid for these books. But consumers exchange money for goods because they preferred the goods to the money. That’s what happens when you buy something,” says Aaron Perzanowski, professor at the Case Western University School of Law and coauthor of The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy. “I don’t think it’s sufficient to cover the harm that’s been done to consumers.”
Any bookshop that uses DRM technology to encrypt media has the potential to effectively 'recall' that media. To take it back and, in some cases, not even bother refunding you.
As the large technology companies, who predominantly make their revenue from advertising, decide to slim down and streamline their offer, we'll likely see even more cases of purchases being reversed. These companies see e-books, and films, music and games, as additional revenue streams that enhance their ad business. They were never bookshops, film rental shops, or music stores. They're not really interested in them in the same way as dedicated bookshops, staffed by book lovers and readers. To find those we must look further afield.
Libreture currently lists over 200 DRM-free book, comic and magazine shop. We could always start there. Find a shop that speaks to you, stocks what you love, and when you spend money there, gives you the actual book - to keep!
And when your library of fantastic e-books needs a home that helps you collate them all together, organise them by reading status and display your library to others to help them find great DRM-free books, give Libreture's FREE account a spin, with its 500MB storage.
Happy (DRM-free) Reading!