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Kindle Remorse: Will consumers ever regret ebook platform lock-in?

Every ebook purchased today makes it harder to switch platforms tomorrow

If Barnes & Noble doesn’t already have a sense of urgency, especially after last week’s developments, this quote from a thoughtful piece by Joe Arico should help fire them up:

In the age of the e-reader and tablet, every person that purchases an Amazon Kindle, Nexus tablet or iPad should be viewed as a customer Barnes & Noble will likely never get the chance to serve again.

That makes me wonder what goes through a consumer’s mind when they’re deciding which device to buy. I figure they’re mostly focused on brand, price, feature set, and perhaps what their friends and family recommend. But as Arico goes on to say:

Today, when a person decides which e-reader or tablet they’re going to buy, they’re also committing to the online retailer to supply books and other content.

You could argue that Amazon and B&N are making the decision less painful by offering reader apps on all popular platforms (e.g., Mac, Windows, Android, iOS). So the Kindle ebook you buy from Amazon can be read just about any modern device.

But what if Apple decides they’re tired of Amazon customers buying ebooks outside iOS and reading them on an iOS-powered device? Maybe Apple removes the Kindle app from their platform. (It could happen.) Or what if Amazon has a falling out with Google and the Kindle app disappears from all Android devices? You could replace “Amazon” with “B&N” in either of those examples and have the same problem.

Let’s look at this a bit differently: What if B&N comes out with a killer tablet that has all sorts of terrific features not found on any other device? And what if you’ve spent the past 5 years building your Kindle ebook library but the B&N device doesn’t support the Kindle app? Unless you’re prepared to abandon your library you probably won’t purchase and enjoy that new B&N tablet.

This doesn’t seem to be on many people’s radar right now but every ebook purchased today makes it harder for that customer to switch platforms tomorrow. Or, as Arico says later:

A customer who purchases an e-reader is paying for admission into a store they may never leave.

I can’t decide whether that reminds me more of Hotel California or the Roach Motel. Neither option sounds very appealing though.

What do you think? Consumers may not have buyer’s remorse today but is this platform lock-in something they’ll eventually regret?

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Comments: 32

  1. A few years ago, I had to make a “should I stay or should I go” decision with regard to the kindle platform. What made me stay was the knowledge that I’d have to crack the drm and convert my not inconsiderable library. That library is much larger now, and the drm problem still exists. At this point, I’ve made my peace with my retailer lock-in.

    • Really? Even though you now apparently know that cracking the DRM is simple? In fact, I would have bet someone with your skills would have a macro all set up to automatically de-DRM every ebook you buy! ūüôā

      Let’s face it though… If you decided to switch platforms tomorrow I’ll bet you wouldn’t let the DRM situation hold you back. You’d probably just unlock the books you want to take with you.

      • ¬†Late…my apologies. I am not sure what my answer will be the next time I find my reader has died (I should note, Kindle 1 died due to human butter fingers, not hardware failure). Yes, cracking DRM is relatively simple, which is one reason I find it to be an unnecessary expense passed on to readers, but I find I am not one who de-DRMS every book. Because, and this is my deepest darkest secret, I am lazy. The effort that would go into managing that aspect of my library — with, as I perceive it right now, no real benefit to me beyond untethering me from Amazon (note the words “as I perceive it right now” because this could change in the next hour!) — simply isn’t worth it.

        I think this is because no other retailer/publisher/whatever has given me confidence that my experience will be better with them. Of course I buy from Kobo and Barnes & Noble (thank heavens for reading apps!). iBooks, as an experience, leaves me cold. I purchase regularly from DRM-free publishers and retailers, and, oh, once every quarter or so, load those books onto my Kindle. Which leads me to the ultimate question I, as a reader, have to face: what’s in it for me?

        Right now, I have flexibility. I have selection. I have freedom to sideload (is that in the Constitution?). I have an evolving platform that continues to meet my particular reading needs (as one who reads almost exclusively long-form prose, I remain a huge fan of eink). I have access to my extensive library with the comfort of knowing it’s backed up somewhere (though I should trust *that* less, as experience has taught me). I even have a retail giant fighting on my behalf, even if I cannot convince myself their motives are all that pure and noble (I have been thinking far too much this week about the diverging needs of readers and publishers).

        These are the things I weigh as I think about retailer and/or platform lock-in. From the perspective of a reader, I have it pretty good. Do I wish it were better? Of course. But the options I see right now — for me — aren’t noticeably better, and some seem worse. The more I think about this, the more I wonder why would I change? This is a serious question in my mind.

        • Would you change your ways if someone ends up offering a one-click de-DRM-ing tool?

          Also, I think you raise one of the most important questions of all: Why change providers? If Amazon currently offers you everything you need the content lock-in is just one more reason to stay with them, but not the only one. Amazon is doing a terrific job of offering customers everything they could ever want, so it’s very difficult to leave them. I know…I did that earlier this year. The rest of my family all still own/use Kindle devices (and I see the books they buy on *my* credit card!) but I switched to a Nook w/ GlowLight and an Android tablet from Asus. Apple might just win me back with an iPad Mini though, assuming such a thing ever comes out. ūüôā

  2. There is no lock-in, other than convenience. Your scenarios are nonsensical. You have a whole lot of implicit assumptions about ebooks that just don’t match reality. First, ebooks are just data, compressed html files. Writing an application to display an ebook in either epub or Amazon’s format is trivial. I know this because I’m doing it. For me, it is just a small piece of my real effort, but I will happily donate the code to the public domain when I’m done. Were it not for DRM, that would end all the worries about lock-in.

    For the vast majority of people, this issue is simply a non-issue because they consume books, i.e. they read them and never think of them again. Those folks aren’t worried about this. For the people who do care about their library of ebooks, the only real issue is DRM. The fact that it is not easy to tell which books have DRM and which don’t is a real problem. If we could establish once and for all that it is perfectly legal to remove DRM from books you own to make back up copies, this whole problem could go away. The DRM removal software could go legit and you folks could move on to worrying about a real issue.

    • DRM is, of course, one of the keys here. I didn’t come right out and say that because I figured it’s assumed. Once DRM goes away someone can even buy a mobi file from Amazon and quickly convert is using a free tool like Calibre. But how many will bother? I’d argue it’s just as easy to crack DRM as it is to convert from mobi to EPUB but the vast majority of consumers aren’t doing either.

      • You are missing the point. DRM locks the reader to an account, not a platform. You may think that is the same thing, but it isn’t. Think about who controls DRM. It’s the publisher. Why are publishers locking their customers into an Amazon or B&N or Kobo account? Because they are short-sighted. (Not O’Reilly of course, they are the smart ones). I have to assume that eventually the publishers who are still using DRM will wise up or go out of business because they are giving the customer relationship to the ebook vendor.

        Take away DRM and anybody can build an app for any device that reads any ebook. But there is no market for that because, by and large, people are happy with their ebook vendor. Every time this discussion comes up, people talk about Calibre, but that isn’t a tool for Susan, the retired elementary school teacher down the street, who asked me last month if she would¬†have to buy¬†“50 Shades of Grey” again because she broke her Kindle (True story, btw). Real people just want to read their books. And Amazon makes it really easy to read books.

        You know what is really easy for a normal person to do? Go to Amazon and buy a cheap Android tablet. That’ll cost you $80. With that device and three free downloads, you can read ebooks from all the vendors, except Apple (and you can’t even read iBooks on a Mac). That is the current price of getting around vendor lock-in. $80. And that price will come down.

        There is nothing stopping anyone from building an app that would read all your ebooks. There is nothing stopping other publishers from doing what O’Reilly already does. It’s not happening because there is no demand (except from geeks like me who buy O’Reilly books). This is a trivially easy technical problem.

        If I¬†built you an app that reads any non-DRM’ed Kindle or epub format ebook, would that convince you that there is no lock-in? I could¬†even include a plug-in architecture for the DRM-removal folks to use. The problem is there no demand for this. Are people locked in if they don’t want to get out? Your argument is that it is too hard to get out, but these are computers. If one person can do it, everybody can do it with zero effort.

        • I agree. The prices are getting lower – my first ereader cost $299. I can now buy a Kindle and a Kobo for that price. My epub books are stored on my PC hard drive and accessed through Adobe Digital Editions, so there’s no DRM issue.

          Or I could just read books from every ebook store on the planet on my PC using their free downloadable app. They all have one.

          • But the model you’re describing relies on you reading all that content on your computer, not an ereader or tablet. Do you really want to do al your reading on your PC?

        • I think there already is an app that reads any non-DRM’d Kindle or EPUB file. It’s called Calibre and I use it from time to time. That’s not my point though. DRM *does* exist today and it’s a real issue. I disagree with your point about being locked into an account but not a platform. If that were true you could take a Kindle mobi file and open it with no conversion or intervention on a Nook, Sony or other EPUB-based reader. You *can* do that, but only if you convert the file. Add DRM to the mix and you have to add another step of breaking the DRM before you can convert it.

          Given your knowledge I’m willing to bet your not the typical ebook customer. That person probably doesn’t even know what DRM is let alone understand how to break it.

          I agree that DRM is a huge part of the problem today. Even though I’m seeing some progress toward its elimination I figure it will be with us for at least a few more years.

  3. I’ve used more than one eReader over the last 18 months or so. I have also collected quite a large number fo DRM-free eBooks.¬†

    One of my criteria has been that whatever reader I use MUST allow me to read my DRM-free content. 

    Another make/break point was that I MUST be able to “port” any book I buy (DRM or not) into my eReader.

    To date I can match both these key points by using a Kindle and some software that let’s me manage my eBook library independent of the device. In fact, I’ve moved items between devices more than once.

    Now, is it possible to keep myself out of any “hotel/motel” scenario? yes. Is it easy to do? no.

    Vendor lock-in is alive and well and only the persistent can defend themselves at this time. 

    that stinks.

    • Hi Mike. I’m betting you’ve found that every device out there lets you read DRM-free content, right? Your third paragraph though (starting with “Another make/break…”) would indicate you’re breaking the DRM. I know of no other way to move DRM’d books from one reader platform to another. Are you referring to a DRM unlocking tool when you mention “some software” in the fourth paragraph? If so, would you mind mentioning what tool you’re using?

  4. Let’s not forget the browser as reading software (in fact Ibis Reader was one of the first to¬†demonstrate¬†this, and was bought by O’Reilly). Amazon, Google, and B&N all have that option, and Safari Books Online is another example, using a subscription model. They aren’t always optimized well for mobile devices, or offer offline storage, but I expect they will continue to get better, approaching the capabilities of native apps, as browsers get better and HTML5 matures, and as vendors and their customers appreciate the opportunities. Some pundits even suggest this is the future of ebooks, not ebook ‘files’. As long as your account lives, you’ll be able to read your books on just about any device, and you could have hyperlinks that reach into any web content, including other webbooks. There could still be an option to export a webbook to the file format of your choosing, but this would in general be ‘lossy’.

    Print books are self-contained. The publisher, distributor, and bookseller that brought it to your hands can all go away and your reading experience will be unchanged. 

    The same cannot be said of digital reading. So much of what is becoming important to digital reading is embedded in the reading ecosystems: syncing reading position, annotations, sharing, application features, etc., and we’re just getting started. Digital reading is increasingly ‘enhanced’ in many ways that have nothing to do with an author or publisher’s efforts, but represent real value to readers. Content can indeed be ‘liberated’ from the ecosystem, but only by stripping off much of the value that ecosystem has added. Amazon adds far more value than most vendors at this point, and that’s what makes it ‘sticky’. Not DRM or ‘proprietary’ formats. They could switch to ePub3 and drop DRM tomorrow, and I doubt many customers would wander off as long as pricing, features, and service remain competitive.

  5. Hi, Joe:

    Just some further thoughts. It seems to me the overarching issue is what “lock-in” means in its various forms and degrees. Convenience is a form of lock-in, though weak, as are App features and functionality, DRM and so forth. The lock-in that’s maybe more subtle and powerful is the pathway from discovery to purchase.¬†To my mind, the relative effectiveness of eBook retailers to induce customers through that pathway is the true “lock-in” from my point of view. “Effectiveness” here has many elements: simple seamless pathways connected to the potential consumer in ways that are highly relevant and appealing. This is where digital media marketing and UX meet.¬†Amazon’s One-Click and Look Inside functions were huge in building their customer base for print books. They are now moving up the marketing/sales funnel (so to speak). Amazon Search functionality will be critical here as well as a investment (yet made) in a much more sophisticated approach to using eMail marketing to broaden their customer base. (I also wonder if or when Amazon will move into social media. It’s perplexing that the title landing pages are not shareable; something must be in the works.) I don’t see how B&N survives in this landscape. I expect Microsoft’s money is burning a hole in their pocket.


    • Really interesting point about social media for Amazon, Peter. I wonder if Amazon could ever get that comfortable with a truly social platform though. They’re *very* protective about keeping visitors on their site and keeping outbound links to other sites to a minimum. That seems to fly in the face of any good social media platform. You’re right though…they’re in the unique position of being able to create a killer social media platform for books.

      • It might be a DNA-thing, but it’s an odd absence. Curious what you think about the lock-in question as it relates to marketing and UX. I’m sure it’s at least partly ’cause of my bias but that does seem like where the rubber always meets the road.

        • Can you be more specific, particularly as it ties into that point you made earlier about “effectiveness”? I think you’re heading in a direction I hadn’t considered and I’d like to hear more of what you have in mind.

          • Does the above to Mr. Ockham help. Basically, if you create a marketing outreach that delivers quality discovery results for the potential consumer and a killer user experience, then that becomes a lock-in. It’s fundamental to marketing of all sorts, of course, and no real revelation but I do think it’s relevant here especially given Amazon’s investment in customer data and search.

          • Yes, I can see where that becomes some type of lock-in. You’re basically saying if someone makes a better mousetrap they’ll attract the customers and likely keep them. That’s fair. I think you could argue Amazon did that with print products and has a nice, healthy lead with ebooks too. As I’ve said before, each time they iterate it makes it harder for a customer to buy from anyone else.

  6. Are you really committing to an online retailer when you buy a tablet or ereader? No, you are not. The things we call “tablets” can read ebooks from all the major vendors (excepting Apple). The things we call ereaders are cheap computers that are delivered with software¬†from a particular ebook retailer. But the books you buy for those ereaders can be read on a whole host of other devices (and almost everyone with an ereader already has at least one other device that can read those ebooks and the ebooks from every other vendor, except Apple).

    All of your “what if” scenarios are about as likely as an asteroid strike in your lifetime. Apple doesn’t sell enough ebooks to want to remove other ebook apps (and the DoJ isn’t going to let them get away with that, anyway). There’s one vendor who really has a stake in making sure that every ebook vendor’s apps run on their devices and that is Microsoft. So, the chances of anyone losing access to their ebooks is effectively zero.

    Every line of your article is wrong. The only vendor with any lock-in is Apple. If you buy from the iBookstore, you are currently stuck reading on an iOS device. You can buy ebooks from all of the other vendors without buying hardware from them. That is a fact. All of your ebooks can be read on essentially every electronic device that has a screen*. You can buy devices that only read ebooks from a single vendor, but nobody has to. The thing that confuses people is that essentially all eInk screen devices are “locked” to a single ebook vendor. But that is just an “accident” of the market. If anyone thought there was a market for an eInk device that could read ebooks from multiple vendors, they would be selling it. That is a demand problem, not a supply problem.

    How much more flexibility could there be in the ebook market? Amazon will sell me a device built by Apple that I can use to read ebooks I bought from Kobo or B & N. What things can you not do with ebooks that you have purchased? This is where DRM matters. But the only thing DRM does is lock your purchase to your account with the vendor. Anyone can find books that they will enjoy without DRM. Every genre and every retailer offers lots of choices of books without DRM. But books without DRM don’t do better in sales than books with DRM. People mostly don’t care about DRM because they read books once and they are done. Ultimately, this is the key reason why your article is bogus. The vast majority of books don’t get re-read. That is a fact. The lady I mentioned in my previous comment who broke her Kindle was only worried about the book she was reading and the books she hadn’t read yet. That’s your average consumer.

    ¬†The differences between formats is so trivial that it isn’t worth mentioning. In your responses to my comments you make a big deal about¬†how few consumers¬†convert their files or remove DRM. You point out that only atypical¬†ebook consumers¬†do that. I agree that few people do it, but you seem to think that means that people can’t do it. You are wrong about that as well. People don’t do it because they don’t want to. You imagine that there is lock-in¬†when all that you are pointing to is the lack of demand. There are literally millions of ebook customers in the U.S. If even a tiny fraction of them wanted to read their¬†Amazon ebooks on their¬†Nook device, there would be software read those files directly on those devices. But there’s not. There’s no demand.

    Furthermove, there is no reason that software can’t read both formats without any conversion. I don’t know why you don’t believe that, but it is a fact. Calibre converts between the formats because that’s what it does. It’s not a tool designed primarily to allow people to read both formats. It’s a tool for managing your ebook library. If, say, Kobo, decided that it would help them if their devices and apps could read .mobi files, they could build that functionality in a week. But it isn’t in their interest to do that.

    *The exception seems to be people who own the old non-Intel Macs, they are out of luck unless their vendor has a web-based reading app.

    • William, with all due respect, I don’t have my Kindle Fire anymore (gave it to my daughter) but I’m pretty sure it too is another exception here. When I first got it I immediately checked to see if I could load B&N’s nook app on it. I couldn’t…unless I rooted it.

      You’ll also note that the headline for this article is “Will consumers ever regret” as opposed to “Do consumers regret”. That was deliberate on my part because I still believe this is a problem that most consumers don’t realize they’re creating for themselves.

      And while I hope you’re right that my scenarios are “about as likely as an asteroid strike” I think we’re already seeing some jockeying amongst the big players by removing different services and apps, albeit not book-related ones.

    • It seems to me “lock-in” is a very smooshy phenomena. For some eBook consumers, even seemingly trivial procedures like side loading or using third party tools can be effectively experienced as a “lock-in” or “lock out.” Even inconvenience is an inhibitor to access. To my mind, linking “lock in” of any kind to platform or hardware is likely not all that relevant and will be less so. But, when an eBook vender has your customer data, really knows what you like and why, that is a lock-in because it will be a preferred user experience. If one had to bet who would make advances in this area first, I think we all know where to put our chips.

    • Let’s also not forget that Amazon and B&N are starting to do more exclusive content deals. So it’s not just about being locked into the device or the platform; as this trend continues customers are more likely to discover their vendor simply doesn’t have access to content they want. That’s another form of lock-in and it looks like that’s Amazon’s intention with their new Kindle Serials program:¬†http://oreil.ly/PnJKDg

  7. This is a great discussion, and an important one. The key word mentioned that struck me is “stickiness.” HTML5, Cloud technology, new alternatives to DRM as well as consumer demand will all push the marketplace toward more open access for purchased content. But one can’t ignore the fact that today’s devices are virtual mini malls, complete with a movie theater, book store, and music shop. All the entertainment one could desire. And you can chat with your friends during your shopping experience. And the constraints of time and space are completely removed. And retailers can tell where you are physically and unlock all kinds of interesting information while you shop. And…ok…you get the point. The retailer/device maker that capitalizes on the extraordinary and unique opportunities that these multimedia, social ecosystems offer, the one that transforms the online browsing and shopping experience for books and learns to delight the consumer…that is the retailer that will ultimately win the reader’s time and money. That is the retailer that will win the battle for “stickiness,” and everything that means in a world where content will increasingly be monetized through several channels to make up for the downward pressure on price. In my opinion, this is Amazon’s weakness. But lucky for them…it’s no ones strength yet either. ¬† ¬†

    • Great to get the broader perspective of eCommerce into the picture. To my mind, the qualities that will increasingly support “stickiness” are trust and quality–something that Amazon and most eCommerce sites are having a hard time delivering.

  8. It is too bad that BN has chosen to treat its authors badly instead of with respect. The competition between the two giants has spilled over into listing books with erroneous information because of who the publishing service happens to be. I found that my listings were treated quite shabbily. So it matters less to me which device seller has more clout if none of my books are selling. I am working on getting myself onto a neutral publisher.

    Open access carries its share of dangers but it is no more different than having your bookstore burned down because someone disagreed with one book. The devices ARE designed to lock in customers. It is the only way for the retailers to retain market share. So BN is going to have to find another way to attract me as a paying customer. I don’t own any device, I prefer to use my computer to read things, and I offer my ebooks without DRM. But I can’t sell anything as long as the giants gobble up customers like popcorn.

    Here’s another thing to consider. If the rivalry continues like this there are authors like me who are considering not publishing anything for a while until the furor over updated devices die down and the demand for free books goes with it. Every free book takes food out of our mouths and we would rather buy a loaf of bread than pay for another book to get flushed down the drain in order to keep the giants¬†and their markets¬†happy.

  9. I think consumers will regret it. In fact, at Digital Book World in 2011, I asked a panel of publishers what they were going to do when consumers realized that they were locked into a retailer and those same consumers started blaming the publisher for selling them a hobbled ebook. Their only reply was that they, as publishers, needed to do a better job of handling this issue. Fortunately, it looks like many are starting to abandon the DRM that is one of the roots of this issue.

    Personally, I am looking for openness and control of my content in ebooks. I don’t allow publishers into my home to re-arrange my bookshelf for me or to tell me how to read and make notes in a book I buy from them. Why should I let them do this to me just because the book is digital?

    When I am looking for a dedicated ereader device (not a tablet), I am looking for one I have control over. That means I am looking for one I can root. When I buy hardware, its mine! I want to have the freedom to use the software on it that I want and not be restricted by the company I purchased it from. I own the original Nook Simple Touch. I have rooted it. I only use the built in reader to read my subscription to the Christian Science Monitor. For all of my ebook reading I use a program called Mantano Reader (I have no affiliation with the company; I am simply a happy customer). It offers me the ability to synch my reading location and highlights and notes across all my Android devices. And it costs as little as $10 a year for this syncing service (the app is free). The reader is far better than Nook software and syncs all of my sideloaded ebooks rather than just what I purchase from B&N.

    I feel locked in when I cannot move my ebooks where I want. That means, with ebooks, I can be locked in by a proprietary format (Amazon), or a proprietary or customized DRM scheme (Apple and B&N), or simply by the fact that the books I buy come with DRM at all (with the pleasant exception of publishers like Baen, Tor, and O’Reilly). To get around this, when I buy ebooks, I NEVER buy them from Amazon as that locks me into their proprietary ebook format. I purchase EPUBs (an open standard) or PDFs (I prefer the open and reflowable EPUB). I try to buy from non-DRM publishers. When I can’t, I simply crack the DRM despite the DMCA and its violation of fair use. This way I know that no matter what device I might be using in the future, if it reads EPUB and PDF files, my ebooks are future-proof.
    Ultimately, I do want to just read my ebooks. But I want to read them with the same freedom I have with my print books. In my mind, this is the duty of the publisher. Publishers need to stop letting the retailers run them around and get control of the distribution of their ebooks. For heaven’s sake, when publishers sell through online retailers like B&N and Amazon, they don’t even have access to their own customers! Publishers are missing out on the tremendous opportunity that digital books provide to get closer to their customers. And they just might need to work together to create an online retail model in the same way the have gotten together to develop the EPUB format. Now that’s the type of pro-consumer “collusion” we need!

  10. Customers will regret e-books, period. I can take a book off the shelf that I bought 35 years ago, or that was printed 100 years ago, and not have to worry about whether someone else’s software will allow me to read it. That’s the most offensive thing about ebooks – you are beholden to a THIRD PARTY’S PERMISSION to read. That is obscene is every possible definition of the term. I’ve already made the decision to never allow an e-book reader into my house. There are plenty of print books to buy and read, and if someone isn’t going to make their work available in permanent print then their work is worthless, in my opinion. Ebooks were supposed to be a compliment, not a replacement.

    • But what happens if your book is lost, you have a fire and lose your collection or a flood ruins all your books? At least with ebooks I know I’ll never encounter that kind of loss. Your comment makes me wonder when we’ll be able to solve both problems though. Some publishers (e.g., O’Reilly) offer bundle deals on print+e. The combined price is typically higher than print alone but at some point we might need to revisit that and offer both at the price of print in order to attract customers who share your concerns.

      • I have always had large personal libraries of physical books.(mostly never less than several hundred) since my early 20s, I have lost my entire library twice due to water damage in the past 40 years (I’m 60), I also lost floppies, zip drives and hard drives. I hope the future will allow me to keep my ebook rights. It doesn’t work for replacing scratched sony music cds, why should I think book publishers would be any better? Tell me I am wrong. Please!

  11. As a consumer I don’t care. I don’t buy ebooks, I borrow them from the library, just like I borrow print books.¬†Most of the books I read on Kindle or the iPad are fun popular literature that I could care less if I keep it after I have read it.¬†In fact I have too many already read print books hanging around my house because my husband is a book buyer.¬† I rarely if ever re-read a pop lit book, to me it is like watching a sports game repeatedly on video.¬†So I could care less about holding on to the book.¬† If there were an option to “rent” the book via Amazon I might do that, if it was cheaper than buying and the library didn’t have the title.¬†(Kind of like the Amazon on Demand video model but for books).
    As librarian who works in a medical library I deeply care about preservation, accesssiblity and usability.  The books I deal with at work are vastly different than the ones I read for pleasure.  They are medical texts that are used to educate doctors and help treat patients.  Not only do you need something that is up to date and cross platform reliable and easy to use, but there needs to be a method of perserving older editions.  This is needed not only because there is value in historical medical knowledge BUT you also need it for legal proceedings.  In court if a plaintiff is questioning their medical care you need to show that the treatment you provided was considered the established standard of care at that time.  Often times journal articles AND medical texts are used to determine that.  However you need the medical texts and journal articles written during the time of the treatment/procedure not necissarliy ones written during the time of the legal proceedings. Updated medical ebooks can make getting the older editions/versions very tricky.

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