Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Ebooks are great! Or are they?

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Here I am sitting at my desk at my computer. Bookshelves full of books are to my left, as well as upstairs and in boxes in the basement.  But not all the books I have bought are even in the house. Some are not even owned by me anymore.

Over the years ( lots of them since graduating from grad school in the 70's) I have dispensed many books in many ways, from library donations, deposits in a school's "drop box", garage sales, yard sales (are they really different?), and so on. Some have been given directly to friends and acquaintances who ask about a book I am reading after having seen its cover. Others were loaned to friends in that ubiquitous eternal one-way form of lending.

I still read lots of books. But now a number of them are present on my Kindle, or should I say "Kindles", as I have two Kindle devices and can also read them on laptop, tablet, and phone.  Upstairs I have a Kindle Paperwhite so I can read at night without turning the light on.

These ebook readers are very very friendly to the reader.

But not so friendly to the book owner.

I no longer can drop my book off at the library as a donation. I have yet to find any means to donate an ebook to a library.  I cannot drop a book I have read at the local school.  I could sell my Kindle at a garage sale, but not any ebooks!  Nobody has asked to borrow a book I am reading after seeing the Kindle's cover.

Do I really even own the ebooks?

This issue has been around for a while, but the frustration with being unable to share a book that I thought I owned is increasing. This "licencing" of books rather than just selling them is slowly going to push me back to paper books. For any "Shark Tank" watchers out there, I am beginning to dislike Mr. Wonderful.

During this Common Core crisis that is happening as we speak, I must add to my concerns the fact that major companies, such as Pearson, could easily be handed the opportunity to licence texts to the schools, which might seem nice. But what does that mean when compared to multi-year use of standard textbooks? I cannot but sense that whatever direction these companies push will have their bottom lines in mind.

This also brings to mind another thing that gets me: search through Amazon's help section and you will not find Amazon answering questions: only customers trying to explain Amazon's process as they see it. Why is that? 

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