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Sarah UKFast | Account Manager

The Digital Handcuffs of eBooks

21 October 2011 by Guest

This is a guest post from Kevin Duffy, Publisher at BLUEMOOSE BOOKS.


This is a truism. When you buy a digital book it isn’t the same as buying its paper equivalent. You are buying the right to read the book and that is it. You have no right to sell or share your book because you DON’T own a book, just a protected file.

REMEMBER you do not own the book you have just bought. The company you bought the book from owns it. This is a fundamental difference in the customer experience. You cannot read a great book from your KINDLE, IPad Sony EReader or whatever digital platform you have and then file share with a friend afterward.

In a bizarre incident a few years ago, a Kindle owner in Germany was reading 1984 by George Orwell and suddenly the book disappeared. It disappeared because there was a copyright dispute in that territory and Amazon deleted the file. It went. Gone. Vamoose. In traditional paper book terms, if somebody walked up to you in the street and took your copy of 1984, that would be deemed theft, but as Amazon owned the book and you didn’t, it wasn’t.

There is also the huge issue of privacy. This hasn’t really been discussed as everyone seems to think accessibility and portability far outweigh these disadvantages. After September 11th 2001, the American Administration passed The Patriot Act. Under this act, if the E-book provider deems your reading to be subversive, indeed anti – American, then they have to, by law, inform the authorities and you could be arrested and detained indefinitely. If you decide, for whatever reason, to read ‘the Anarchists Cookbook,’ you may find yourself in Guantanamo Bay. This isn’t conspiracy theory, this is reality. This is a direct assault on freedoms of expression and the inalienable right to choose to read in the privacy of your own home, what you want.

Never, ever forget that Amazon, Google, Apple are multi – billion dollar shopkeepers. They want to sell you goods. If they can get their goods in front of you, then they are three quarters the way into doing what they are born to do. SELL. Making a dollar.


Remember, whatever EReader you have in your hand is a digital shop window and the shopkeeper will use this to sell their wares.

You will be reading a recent acquisition and it is a cracking story when there’s a PING, the page of text disappears and RONALD MCDONALD appears and asks you if you’re hungry why not pop round the corner; directions will be given by a burger sponsored GPS system, to the nearest Maccie D’s.

It may not be burgers but once every household has a digital platform in everyone’s hands, the high street will be dead, your reading experience ADVERTISED to distraction and the SHOPKEEPERS will have at their disposal all your buying information and access to personal and banking details they can tell government about. Or the insurance man down the road.

Digitisation is a great advance but please be aware of the important implications!