The horrors of renting vs. owning ebooks

How one Amazon customer became an outlaw and doesn't know why

Here’s a story that ought to raise your blood pressure. It brings to life the worst fears of anyone who’s amassed a large collection of ebooks.

Linn, an Amazon Kindle customer, suddenly discovered her entire collection has been wiped clean. When she inquires about the situation Amazon gives her vague answers like:

We have found your account is directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies.

That’s the extent of it though. No information is provided about this other account and why Amazon has connected Linn’s account with it.

Martin Bekkelund provided Linn’s story and he cites the incident as “DRM at its worst.” I’m not sure it’s really a DRM problem as much as it is an ownership problem.

We know when we buy ebooks from Amazon, B&N, etc., we don’t really own those products; we’re simply licensing them. As a result, the door is left wide open for the retailer to come back and wipe them out as Amazon did with Linn.

This is why I believe we need to shift our industry thinking from ebook licensing to ebook ownership. We may never know all the details surrounding Linn’s case but it’s yet another example of why some people are skittish about ebooks and only willing to buy them when prices are extremely low.

At the very least Amazon owes Linn a much better explanation of why they wiped her content and not refunding all the money she spent on her ebooks.

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