Did The Publisher's Own Insistence On DRM Inevitably Lead To The Antitrust Lawsuit Against Them?

from the the-DRM-they-required dept

We've discussed in the past how it was the book publishers' own stupidity that put them in a position of demanding DRM from Amazon when Amazon wanted to launch the Kindle. The end result, of course, went exactly against the publishers' best interests, because it locked everyone in to Amazon as the platform. Because buyers can't easily switch to another platform and take their books with them, they have to keep using the Kindle (or Kindle app) if they want to continue to have access to the books they've bought in the past (because, remember, you don't own what you think you "buy" with ebooks).

Making Amazon such a dominant player in the market was a huge mistake -- and it was totally avoidable. We'd already seen the exact same thing happen with music and iTunes, where the labels originally required DRM, and Apple complied, locking many people into iTunes (a lock-in that was eventually taken away). We couldn't figure out why the publishers were so stupid to give Amazon such power, but it sounds as though it was a combination of technological illiteracy and an irrational fear of "piracy" trumping business sense.

Author Charlie Stross has a great blog post discussing a variety of issues around the history of Amazon and how it became such a dominant player in the market, in which he notes:
However, as subsidiaries of large media conglomerates, the executives who ran the big six had all been given their marching orders about the internet: DRM restrictions would be mandatory on all ebook sales, lest rampant piracy cannibalize their sales of paper books.

(This fear is of course an idiotic shibboleth—we've had studies since 2000 proving that Napster users back in the bad old days spent more money on CDs than their non-pirate peers. The real driver for piracy is the lack of convenient access to desirable content at a competitive price. But if your boss is a 70 year old billionaire who also owns a movie studio and listens to the MPAA, you don't get a vote. Speaking out against DRM was, as more than one editor told me over the past decade, potentially a career-limiting move.)
Once the publishers realized (way too late) that they'd turned Amazon into something of a monopsonistic buying power, they struggled to figure out what to do -- and the end result appears to look something quite like collusion -- which is why they're being sued today by the Justice Department. As the details of the lawsuit make clear, the deal with Apple wasn't just a deal to bring another competitor into the market, but one that was explicitly designed to increase prices for consumers.

As Stross notes, this was plan B. And it has now failed. That means that it's time for Plan C -- and the only reasonable plan C to get out from under Amazon's thumb is to drop DRM:
It doesn't matter whether Macmillan wins the price-fixing lawsuit bought by the Department of Justice. The point is, the big six publishers' Plan B for fighting the emerging Amazon monopsony has failed (insofar as it has been painted as a price-fixing ring, whether or not it was one in fact). This means that they need a Plan C. And the only viable Plan C, for breaking Amazon's death-grip on the consumers, is to break DRM.

If the major publishers switch to selling ebooks without DRM, then they can enable customers to buy books from a variety of outlets and move away from the walled garden of the Kindle store. They see DRM as a defense against piracy, but piracy is a much less immediate threat than a gigantic multinational with revenue of $48 Billion in 2011 (more than the entire global publishing industry) that has expressed its intention to "disrupt" them, and whose chief executive said recently "even well-meaning gatekeepers slow innovation" (where "innovation" is code-speak for "opportunities for me to turn a profit").

And so they will deep-six their existing commitment to DRM and use the terms of the DoJ-imposed settlement to wiggle out of the most-favoured-nation terms imposed by Amazon, in order to sell their wares as widely as possible.
I know there's been some talk about whether or not Apple or Amazon is the more "evil" party in the ebook world -- but it really seems like the publishers dug their own graves here. In their desperation to avoid the dreaded word "piracy," they never bothered to understand the real issues or the obvious results of focusing so strongly on DRM. Handing Amazon so much power was stupid. Colluding with Apple to try to get away from that original stupid decision was potentially even more stupid. The only real path to fixing things is to go back and fix the original stupid decision, and recognize that piracy is a hell of a lot less of a "threat" than handing over the entire market to a single player (or even just two major players).

If only they'd realized this originally -- just as tons of people had warned them.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 9:37am

    "Handing Amazon so much power was stupid. Colluding with Apple to try to get away from that original stupid decision was potentially even more stupid. The only real path to fixing things is to go back and fix the original stupid decision, and recognize that piracy is a hell of a lot less of a "threat" than handing over the entire market to a single player (or even just two major players)."

    Backtrack? NEVER! We must escalate the stupidity even further!

    Plan D: calling everyone a freetard until they decide to buy more ebooks.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 9:39am

    Humans!

    Better the evil you know than to face the unknowns...

    Also, believing propaganda is far easier than thinking for oneself or discovering the truth thru research and reason.

    Seriously, this is a pattern which is easily found across many industries, and even answers questions like "why do people still use Windows?"

     

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      silverscarcat (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 9:46am

      Re: Humans!

      "why do people still use Windows?"

      It's relatively cheap and people know how it works.

       

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        ltlw0lf (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 9:53am

        Re: Re: Humans!

        It's relatively cheap and people know how it works.

        I'd rephrase that to "It's relatively cheap and people are familiar with it." Nobody, not even Microsoft themselves, knows how it works.

        Just ask their Configuration Management (CM) team. There was a time when Microsoft decided to eat their own dogfood and started using their own software for everything, and one of their CM guys told me that this was a pain for them, because after a while it wasn't clear who was running what code because employees would push patches in to their own systems to fix stuff they were seeing and nobody was keeping track of what was being pushed. This was the cause of many of the reversions in the past, where security fixes would come out that fixed one problem and reintroduced another one. Apparently they have gotten better at it, but I suspect there still are too many cooks in the kitchen and they still don't understand everything in there.

         

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          PRMan, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 10:49am

          Re: Re: Re: Humans!

          This was shown to be true when Microsoft hired their former enemy Mark Russinovich because he was the only person on earth that knew how the kernel actually worked because of all his years debugging it to write advanced tools. (Of course, Mark never considered Microsoft the enemy.)

          This was one of the smartest (and most surprising) things that Microsoft has ever done. Now, they have command line servers and the speedup from Vista to 7 was very noticeable by cleaning out all that cruft.

           

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            TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 11:12am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Humans!

            A lot of the cruft is still there, though. If anything troubleshooting networking has gotten worse with 7 than it was with Vista. Not all that much but worse.

            Sadly they can't get rid of all the cruft, which goes back to Windows 3.1, without a full rewrite of the kernel.

             

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              AzureSky (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 3:29pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Humans!

              its not just that, if they removed legacy code to support old apps, they would have some cop orate clients go spare, because they use apps that date back to the windows 3.x days and even dos days that they dont want to replace(would cost money to have a modern replacement made)

              having worked in that kind of job, I can tell you, its not that MS wouldnt LOVE to dump suport for pre NT4(or even pre NT5) apps, the problem is, they CANT without pissing alot of people off....and those people/companies spend alot on MS contracts.

              I know of one large company thats still using a program that requires they run a nt3.51 server(in a virtual machien) because it wont WONT run on anything newer....the user interface app barely runs with hacks on windows above nt4.....yet they wont replace it because it would cost money to do so....idiotic....i feel sorry for ms....lol

               

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            Pitabred (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 12:44pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Humans!

            Most of the speedup from Vista to 7 was moving to a non-locking graphics server. It's all in the perception... CPU intensive benchmarks can actually go slightly faster on Vista than on 7 because the graphics device isn't periodically given back control.

            http://www.pcworld.com/article/164485/speed_test_windows_7_may_not_be_much_faster_than_v ista.html
            http://blogs.msdn.com/b/e7/archive/2009/04/25/engineering-windows-7-for-graphics-performa nce.aspx

            But the changes do make for a more responsive, more interactive system that "feels" a lot faster than Vista.

             

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          TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 10:53am

          Re: Re: Re: Humans!

          The instance of bug fixes resurrecting old ones has declined but it's still on hell of a good idea to back up your data frequently enough to be able to recover it if a bug fix not only brings the dead back to life but introduces new problems.

          Windows is NOT cheap to set up in a large corporate environment, in fact it's very expensive and getting worse. Well, getting worse if you're using the out of the box "wizards" to do the set up. Use them and pray that you never have to troubleshoot anything. It's still easy to see that networking was "plugged into" Windows because no matter how pretty it looks it's still a nightmare to set up or troubleshoot unless you're comfortable on the command line. You know, the DOS that isn't there anymore according to MS and their apologists.

          In most Linux distros, for example, network set up doesn't need a visit to the command line anymore to work and those times where, when you're troubleshooting the tools at the command line give you a ton more useful information than any Windows box does. Mandriva's control centre is a dream come true for that kind of work. Something MS could learn from. Unlike the Windows equivalent that hops and jumps all over the place and when you do find what you want it doesn't seem to do much of anything. More to do with horrible menu/link design than any inherent superiority of Linux tools though in the majority of cases I'd argue that Linux has far better tools for that.

          In a little case study we did at my employer we configured 100 machines across a TCP/IP network and discovered much to our horror that configuring the 50 Windows machines took three times longer to configure properly than the Linux boxes did, on average, and up to 10 times longer on some tasks. So relatively cheap isn't what Windows is.

          People are, however, end users in particular, resistant to change. Show them a Linux desktop running GNOME and they freak out. KDE does better because it resembles Windows in many ways but it LOOKS different. Not that in, most ways, GNOME and KDE operate exactly the same as Windows does on the desktop. So there's the resistance point. It looks different. That's about it.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2012 @ 7:03am

          Re: Re: Re: Humans!

          On the list of companies with CM teams that have their heads planted securely in their own asses Microsoft is accompanied by literally every company that has a CM team.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 10:08am

      Re: Humans!

      Because Microsoft forced manufacturers into using only Windows until it became a monopoly and people could no longer have a real alternative even if they wanted one, because of the huge head start in Windows applications?

       

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        DannyB (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 1:00pm

        Re: Re: Humans!

        It goes back further than that.

        You should have said:

        Because Microsoft forced manufacturers into using only DOS until it became a monopoly . . .

         

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          ltlw0lf (profile), Apr 19th, 2012 @ 6:53am

          Re: Re: Re: Humans!

          Because Microsoft forced manufacturers into using only DOS until it became a monopoly . . .

          It certainly helped when Microsoft did a whole bunch of nasty tricks to prevent DR-DOS from working properly (such as Windows 3.1 complaining when DR-DOS was installed instead of MS-DOS.) DR DOS was a far better version of DOS. Never went anywhere, but unlike Microsoft DOS, DR DOS had the capability of backups and memory management as well as task switching (basic windowing) that you had to buy from third parties when using Microsoft.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 10:09am

      Re: Humans!

      "why do people still use Windows?"

      Simple. Because the computer comes with Windows installed, and people don't know how to (or care to) install another OS.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 3:52pm

        Re: Re: Humans!

        If you buy whitebox computers from guys who build them from parts (or build your own), the whole problem of the Windows preload goes away. There are plenty of those guys in every city. Just look. Installing any of the popular Linux distributions (Ubuntu, Fedora, Suse, etc.) is easier and quicker than installing Windows from the DVD.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 10:36am

      Re: Humans!

      Because you don't need to learn C and machine language to watch a video like Linux.

       

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        Anonamouse, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 10:45am

        Re: Re: Humans!

        What?

        Saying that you need to learn C to use modern linux is like saying that you need to know java to use android phone...

        Or you have to know linux to run a Mac...

        I just told my in-laws that I was upgrading them to "Windows Ubuntu" and they have had less issues than when they used to run windows.

         

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        Richard (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 10:56am

        Re: Re: Humans!

        Because you don't need to learn C and machine language to watch a video like Linux.

        And whose fault is that?

         

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          TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 11:03am

          Re: Re: Re: Humans!

          Because he failed to install VLC Player? Which is always a default install when you install a new distro?

          Anyway, for most things in Linux now, other than the kernel the language of choice is C++ though there's a lot of Perl, Ruby and Python floating around so there's no need to know machine code at all. :-)

          Oh yeah, and he's a troll so he can't RTFM under that dark bridge of his!

           

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        TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 10:57am

        Re: Re: Humans!

        You must troll at lot at places like CNET because I've seen that bit of tripe so often there that I don't even see it anymore there.

        I am surprised to see it on Techdirt though.

        You did know that the most popular video player for Windows other than the built in one, VLC Player, was originally developed for Linux and THEN ported to Windows. Right?

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 11:08am

        Re: Re: Humans!

        You probably never tried a modern Linux. Give Ubuntu or Mint a try. It's free, so you have nothing to lose. Install it in a virtual machine if you have to. You have no excuses not to try it.

        I personally enjoyed Mint, although I use Debian in my production environment. I've tried CentOS too, primarily because people kept bugging me. I rather liked it, but I just couldn't live without apt-get, so I'll be sticking with Debian.

         

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        terry (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 12:10pm

        Re: Re: Humans!

        Let me tell you why your statement "Because you don't need to learn C and machine language to watch a video like Linux." makes me laugh out loud. I was dual-booting and switching back and forth between Windows and Linux. I always ended up falling back to Windows since I have used and supported it since Windows 3. It was my comfort zone. I did some Windows updates and Firefox broke. The culprit a Microsoft plugin. The disable and uninstall were greyed-out. Yes the update was effectively Windows malware. I found the solution for fixing it on Mirosoft's Tech Net.

        Delete hidden files within hidden folders,
        Edit Windows Registry keys, and
        Run commands on the command line.

        I fixed it and then made the same stupid mistake of applying the same update to another machine.

        I need to thank the authors of the update for without their egging me over I would still be using the more problematic operating system of yesteryear. Now I run Linux with fewer issues than Windows and as a bonus I won't have to play catch-up later when Linux is the prevalent OS.

         

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      Benjo (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 11:44am

      Re: Humans!

      Microsoft silverlight doesn't work in linux. And the linux version doesn't have the DRM that netflix requires.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 12:15pm

      Re: Humans!

      Games is the only reason I still use Windows. Microsoft has a nice little racket going on with so many games requiring DirectX

       

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        AzureSky (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 11:18pm

        Re: Re: Humans!

        its not really a racket, the main reasons directX is used is it works on any windows system that supports the proper version of windows.

        Linux/Unix/OSX dont really have an equivlant of what DirectX offers.
        DirectX isnt just D3D, its direct sound, direct draw(2d), direct input, among others, these are designed to work togather and work on pretty much any windows system.

        D3D is also far more advanced now days then OGL, this isnt MS's doing you can blame kronos and car manufacturers/cad software companies for holding OpenGL back for so long(they couldnt stand the thought of loosing ogl 1.x native comparability)

        *nix has its good points, but gaming will likely never be among them for average users, this has many reasons, from the fact that the linux community cant agree on any one set of standard ways to do anything, each distro has its own way of doing things, each developer/group has their own "best" way to do things....its a mess, and its why linux on the desktop is still not common, and wont be for quite some time....

        when a simple kernal update breaks your drivers and software, thats not koo.....and it happens alot on linux, lack of stable driver abi/api really dosnt help.

        lack of unified installer package type across linux distro's makes many software developers who would be interested shirk away.

        lack of unified support for audio/video/input methods/standards also has the same effect....again, I cant blame them, if you think trying to support gaming on windows is a pain, try it on linux with the thousands of different distros out there in various patch states.....the dependency hell linux can be....there is a reason i only use linux in specific situations for people, and not all the time...

        I do not hate linux, I use it on some systems myself, I do think the hate for Windows and MS are misplaced in this day and age, sure the price isnt dirt cheap for windows/office, BUT they are still 2 of the best "it just works" options out there, and they at least work with what your work likely has(not many companies out here use *nix/osx or non-ms solutions)

        windows 7 has its flaws, but, i will take it any day over *nix for the average user, and I will take OSX over windows for the below average user(its amazing at hand holding, even more so then 7)

        and if you want a racket, try apple with osx charging for service packs.....

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2012 @ 7:10am

      Re: Humans!

      Because you can't play games without directx. Honestly I can't think of a reason other than games to keep using windows.

       

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        Anonamouse, Apr 19th, 2012 @ 8:15am

        Re: Re: Humans!

        Actually, just install the latest wine and wine tricks, then play most of the games on linux.

        I currently enjoy StarCraft 2, World Of WarCraft, Fall Out 3, Skyrim, etc on linux...

        P.S. if there is an issue, the online guides for ubuntu are pretty good and require only the abilty to read and copy/paste...

        The online guides for windows (when the inevitable issues arise) are not as good (as in, rarely exist)

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 9:39am

    I hope they all fail in the market soon, maybe then we can have some non-monopolistic people take over it.

    What? One can dream can't it?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 9:44am

    The real issue with E-Books isn't being stuck with using Kindles, it's the fact that you CAN'T be certain that the file formats the books are in will still be readable 10 or 20 years later.

    My older brother is a pastor, and he's heard lots of pastors have had that issue, with losing old sermons in old Microsoft word documents that newer versions of word can no longer read.

    And then, the Kindle isn't a device that there's an easy way to make a backup off of in case something goes wrong and it just dies one day. If it's files were stored on your computer however you could easily make backups in USBs, and other hard drives on your computer.

    Even if Amazon will let you re-download books you already bought onto a new Kindle if the old one dies, what if Amazon goes out of business in 10 years? Then you're screwed if your Kindle dies, you've lost hundreds or even thousands of dollars of books along with it.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 10:12am

      Re:

      That could be possible but a lot of companies are either making formats backwards compatible or a way to upgrade it to a new format. There are also converters such as http://www.zamzar.com/ to convert files to different formats. I do not think that will be a problem in the futures. The only problems that does exist is the DRM.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 3:12pm

        Re: Re:

        Unless you want to convert your files every year to the new format of the moment, people should store things long term in simple standard formats with the simple one being TXT files that are reaching half a century and can be read by any text editor in the world.

        HTML have a long life span too, XML was made exactly for that purpose(it describes the data and how to parse it in a text format).

         

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      TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 10:14am

      Re:

      While you do have a point about old and abandoned file formats like old Word documents there's a host of open source software that will read it and import it into OpenOffice, LibreOffice and, yes, even MS Office.

      One of the biggest reasons I don't buy ebooks is the specific device requirements of the ones sold by Amazon and Apple. It's too much of a pain to get around both that and the DRM to make it worthwhile for me. The last thing I need is another device/gadget!

       

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      Rekrul, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 12:18pm

      Re:

      My older brother is a pastor, and he's heard lots of pastors have had that issue, with losing old sermons in old Microsoft word documents that newer versions of word can no longer read.

      So they saved their sermons in a closed, proprietary format and now they've lost access to them since the latest versions of a program from a company that uses planned obsolescence as a business model, will no longer read them?

      Wow, didn't see that one coming...

       

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        AzureSky (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 11:28pm

        Re: Re:

        its not word thats the issue, its WORKS, and im sorry but some "open" formats really have no support any more(and some never really had any)

        I do agree MS should at least support all their own file formats in all their own software....but....well, there are always workarounds.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 12:56pm

      Re: Old Word?

      How many generations of Word do you have to go back before you find a document format that can't be read by the current version? I'm not sure, but if the sermon had been on paper it would be quite yellow by now.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 4:15pm

      Re:

      Your pastor friends need to know two little hints about old .doc formats:

      1. Copy the troublesome file to a .txt file. Then you can edit it with a text editor. You will find the text in there, preceded and followed by formatting gibberish. Edit out the gibberish. Save. Import the text file into Libre Office. Fix the formatting. Live free with the glorious standardised open document format.

      2. Open your troublesome file with the old version of MS Word, then save it in .rtf format. Ignore the warnings. Open the .rtf file in your later version of MS Word. All will be well. Save in .doc format. Open in Libre Office and live free.

       

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        AzureSky (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 11:31pm

        Re: Re:

        again, no word doc cant be opened these days, the issue is most likely that they used WORKS, and MS WORKS uses a default save format thats a total and utter pain in the arse to deal with(you can do as you suggest but it also throws junk allover the file, real mess)

        My suggestion for most people who just need a simple and good word processor is ABIWord, its free, small and lite(and open source) it also can save to and open from most other formats just fine even old word doc's.(but not WORKS)

         

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      AzureSky (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 11:24pm

      Re:

      this isnt really true for word, its true for WORKS, they are different products, and there are a few software options for converting them to a useable format...

      MS word all the way back to its inception is still operational with my office 2010, or open office, or even using abiword or the like, works files ARE NOT(word perfect can read them i think...)

      as to kindle, backing up isnt really the issue, its restoring and re-activating your books thats likely to be the issue....

      this in part is why I recommend the nook to people asking me about ereaders, its EASY to strip the drm from nook books, (piss easy as my brit friend says), takes seconds.

      also I personally feel the nook lineup is a better value and better quality then the kindle, having used both and having seen more kindles with issues and needing returned(despite the fact that people I know tend to have them in pretty even numbers some even have multi of each)

      Amazon is unlikely to go out of business in the next 10 years, I really think their management are smarter then that(outside the audible exec's who think any audio book they sell needs to be DRM encrusted even ones from authors who dont want drm....)

       

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      Matthew Graybosch, Apr 19th, 2012 @ 12:55pm

      Formats

      AC, your older brother would probably still be able to read his old sermons if he saved them as plain text files, instead of saving them as Word documents and locking himself into a proprietary format. Likewise, ebooks published using the open EPUB standard (which is really just HTML, XML, and CSS wrapped in a ZIP archive) should remain readable as long as programmers writing reader software remember to implement EPUB support. Kindle Format and iBooks might not remain readable, however, since they are proprietary extensions of EPUB.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2012 @ 2:54pm

      Re:

      What are you talking about? It mounts itself as plain mass storage when you plug it into a USB port. You can copy the files off of there any time you want.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Benjo (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 9:58am

    DRM is such a fundamentally stupid idea. The "casual infringement" it's designed to stop is really just sharing between your own platforms and your friends. It doesn't stop the guys torrenting it or sharing non-drm versions on undernet servers via MIRC.

    As a side-effect, it makes your product much less valuable.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 10:03am

    Two major players?

    What about the other ebook sellers? Sony. Barnes & Noble (who have a greater marketshare than Apple). Amazon is still the dominant market, but don't act like Apple is the only other player.

     

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      TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 10:17am

      Re: Two major players?

      Still, the DRM argument still holds true. It's silly and restricts the market for ebooks rather than expands it which is absolutely daft for publishers to do.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
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      sehlat (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 10:56am

      Re: Two major players?

      Sony made an awful lot of enemies by attempting to rootkit people's systems. I've sworn an oath NEVER to buy anything from Sony unless I cannot avoid it. Even then, since most of the movies they bring out are crap, I can pretty much avoid giving them money by watching the netflix DVD, if I'm interested at all. eBooks from Sony? [bwahahahahahahaha]

      B&N isn't doing all that well, either. The website has a crappy search engine. You MUST buy eBooks one at a time (no shopping cart), and the eBooks are DRM-infested, just like Amazon.

      The real irony of B&N is they *bought* Fictionwise, which was pretty much doing everything right. 1. shopping cart 2. good search engine 3. DRM-free where they were allowed to be. 4. Rebated discounts on new books which were store credits and could be used for *gasp* buying more books. 5. The ability to subscribe to notifications of new books by favorite authors, instead of spewing endless crap about the latest best-sellers.

      B&N learned NOTHING from the people they bought, presumably for their expertise and experience.

      B&N is better, but not ENOUGH better to compete. They're still kowtowing to the brick-and-mortar crowd.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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        AzureSky (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 11:35pm

        Re: Re: Two major players?

        at least BN drm is easy to strip if you have the last 4 # from the cc used to buy them(very simple, takes seconds) unlike most other drm......

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 3:03pm

      Re: Two major players?

      Sony?
      If anybody is worst than Apple that is Sony, all their crap is in proprietary format that only works with their wares and nobody else, not to mention the rootkits, that one lost a lot of public confidence and it is still in the minds of many after a decade.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    identicon
    fb39ca4, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 10:35am

    Plan E: Consumers get ebooks from library, remove DRM. Problem?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 10:44am

      Re:

      Nope then there is no problem with library users because now instead of people who access the works of creative people for free in a way that everyone is familiar with and accepts as honest the field of play has been changed and we are just dealing with pirates after that and we already have a plan for that.

      Drumroll

      More DRM

      our new motto is
      "someday it will work"

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Doug D (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 10:48am

    Some publishers already get it.

    I really like buying ebooks from O'Reilly (nonfiction) or Baen (fiction) -- both publishers make ebooks available in multiple formats, without DRM, supporting re-download of your existing library. There are some Baen books that I've paid for that I originally read via the MOBI format on a Handspring Visor that I've now got loaded in EPUB format in both iBooks and a Nook.

    Baen in particular has a free library where you can get for example the first books of a series completely DRM-free and money-free -- they recognize that it's a way to drum up additional business.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 11:04am

    Considering that ebooks should be $4.99, what are the real costs of a book when not printed?

     

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    identicon
    akp, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 11:28am

    Amazon...

    It's easy to make them sound like the bad guy, but the fact is they were pricing ebooks as loss leaders, spearheading the idea that a new release/bestseller shouldn't be more than $9.99

    So yeah, the publishing houses shot themselves in the feet, but Amazon was trying to bring sanity back to ebook pricing. There's no reason to think they wouldn't continue to do so, and still be the biggest ebook store with or without DRM-free competitors.

    I hope the publishing houses do go with Plan C... It's better for everyone!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Digitari, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 11:31am

    Re:

    I like PCLinuxOS, seems to work well "out of the Box" and the older folks (60 to 80) seem to like it at my workplace, I help "fix" windows by setting up a dual boot for linux, when the windows invariably craps out the linux still works, after windows craps out on them a few times they always ask if they can just use the linux, it works for them, (KDE not GNOME, that scares them)

    they just want to see lolcatz or listen to music or send emails, they LOVE linux

     

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    •  
      icon
      AzureSky (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 11:53pm

      Re: Re:

      you must still be installing XP for them, I have yet to see these issues even with up-to-date vista that I use to see ALL THE TIME with XP and 9x.

      and for the kind of use your talking about, Linux is great, as long as they have no need to install their own software its perfect, and as long as they dont have to send/receive files and try and find them again, its great.

      I say this because, most apps and services(web based) dont have instructions for finding where you downloaded something on *nix, and also dont have instructions on how to find a file they want to attach to an email.

      I use Vector Linux for most of the old people situations where I find linux to be a viable option, its light, fast and dosnt break easily, and it comes with enough built in software for them to do whatever they want to do without need of me adding extra software.

      For somebody with 7, and a system that can handle it, I wouldnt dream of replacing it with linux, I would just do a clean install, stick a good AV on the system as well as some anti-malware protection and crank UAC up to max or just below.

      I have a few people I did the above for just after 7 came out, these are people who use to pay me at least every 2 months to reinstall windows for them(XP) because they managed to mess it up, with 7 they have had no problems outside getting use to the changes to the configuration options(screensaver and such)

      I also have old clients who have vista on laptops or decent desktops that have had no issues since a clean install of an updated (sp1 or better as a starting point) vista.

      I cant tell you how upset some of them where with a local shop that pressured them into letting them install linux(kbuntu), it didnt suit their needs from the system(enlarge that was the need for ms office, no libre/open office dont count in this case, but the shop was really pushy, so pushy they begged me to go back into doing support for them despite the fact I had tried to retire from doing computer repair work(because i was sick of doing the same thing for the same people over and over and over.....and over and over and over......and over and over and over.....

      heres my rule, if its a system with XP and it really cant run 7 efficently/isnt worth buying 7 for, then I install vector, if th systems vista or 7 and runs them well, I do a wipe and clean install from a clean windows disk to get rid of the crapware that OEM and even "custom" systems tend to come with, then I setup a good free AV and some basic office software like abiword and a browser or 3(opera, chrome, firefox so they can choose what they like) then i let them have at it.

      I have yet to have a 7 system brought to me that died from malware or user error...

      WinXP was/is a bane on my excistance to this day.....horrible OS.....if only they had waited till it was really ready like they did with server 2003...(server 2003 is xp done right, as is xp x64 honestly....still more fragile then vista or 7 due to lack of uac, but far more robust then xp x86...)

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonamouse, Apr 19th, 2012 @ 8:20am

        Re: Re: Re:

        What are you talking about.. You can download/install most apps for ubuntu thru the software repository... Right in the GUI!!

        Click Applicaitons,Ubuntu Software Center, the click on the type of app you want, and click install (password required)...

        To install these kind of apps on windows... Go the the store, pray you buy the right version, hope it works...(or use the scary internet, where normal users will get virusues)...

        Have you even tried ubuntu?

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonamouse, Apr 19th, 2012 @ 8:25am

          Re: Re: Re: Re:

          Post P.S. Also, the software center also automatically updates the applications...

          Explain how in windows to update Office, Abobe flash, Adobe reader, etc.

          I use these as examples, as they are some of the most exploited applications that you can install.. and rarely get updated...

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Zos (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 11:37am

    I have a kindle, but none of my books came from amazon. anytime i get a book that's in a non .mobi format i can convert it with calibre in a few seconds, or from .mobi into something else.

    Is that the drm, or do actual kindle books have something else keeping them from being treated like any other file?

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 11:45am

    Really? Let's hope

    This means that they need a Plan C. And the only viable Plan C, for breaking Amazon's death-grip on the consumers, is to break DRM.
    The cynic in me says there will be a plan D that goes the other way, but we can hope.... it'd certainly be better for them. I might be interested in buying books again if I can buy one that does what I want and I'm sure I'm not alone.

     

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    identicon
    hegemon13, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 12:14pm

    Let's not forget the really damning part of the Apple agency agreement: that publishers were not allowed to sell their books for a lower price anywhere else. That's the piece that makes this true price-fixing, and it seems few articles mention it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
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      Zos (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 12:25pm

      Re:

      yes, not many stories mention it, because they do mention that the actual complaint is precisely the opposite. Publishers see amazon pricing as far to low, and say they cannot hope to compete with ten dollar ebooks.

      That was the point i started laughing to hard to finish the article. Let them merrily piss off down the rabbit hole.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Zos (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 12:25pm

      Re:

      yes, not many stories mention it, because they do mention that the actual complaint is precisely the opposite. Publishers see amazon pricing as far to low, and say they cannot hope to compete with ten dollar ebooks.

      That was the point i started laughing to hard to finish the article. Let them merrily piss off down the rabbit hole.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 12:20pm

    Making Amazon such a dominant player in the market was a huge mistake -- and it was totally avoidable.

    Of course it was unavoidable. It's not like just any company can set up a web site and sell their ebooks...

     

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    icon
    gorehound (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 12:44pm

    HAHAHAHA !!!
    As I turn my head and look at my huge Library of Real Paper-Bound Books.
    I own 303 Vintage Pulps, 1000+ paperbacks, and around 250 Hardcovers.
    No DRM on these Babies !
    And most are Rare and1ST Editions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
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      AzureSky (profile), Apr 19th, 2012 @ 12:04am

      Re:

      yeah but they also take up a hell of alot of space, those first editions that are worth alot are unlikely to be taken someplace to read for fear or loosing them.

      hard covers are a bitch to carry around and read on the go(try reading one on a moving buss around here.....follow the moving letters....lol)

      a cheap ebook reader could hold thousands of books, take up little space and is alot liter then a hard cover.

      my issue with paperbacks(full price ones) is that they are fragile compared to hard covers, can tell you how many paperbacks I have had to re-spine or re-heat the spine on...real pain in the arse.....stupid brittle glue....(i think its intentional, they want you to buy another copy or 2 because they fall apart so easy)

      no, honestly, I think a good ebook reader is more optimal for on the go, where a nice book shelf is nice at home....

      (note: till my ex-gf I had thousands of books, down to 100 or less now, she destroyed so many before I found she had emptied boxes of books and tossed them into the neighbors pool....shes lucky shes alive...)

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      AzureSky (profile), Apr 19th, 2012 @ 12:04am

      Re:

      yeah but they also take up a hell of alot of space, those first editions that are worth alot are unlikely to be taken someplace to read for fear or loosing them.

      hard covers are a bitch to carry around and read on the go(try reading one on a moving buss around here.....follow the moving letters....lol)

      a cheap ebook reader could hold thousands of books, take up little space and is alot liter then a hard cover.

      my issue with paperbacks(full price ones) is that they are fragile compared to hard covers, can tell you how many paperbacks I have had to re-spine or re-heat the spine on...real pain in the arse.....stupid brittle glue....(i think its intentional, they want you to buy another copy or 2 because they fall apart so easy)

      no, honestly, I think a good ebook reader is more optimal for on the go, where a nice book shelf is nice at home....

      (note: till my ex-gf I had thousands of books, down to 100 or less now, she destroyed so many before I found she had emptied boxes of books and tossed them into the neighbors pool....shes lucky shes alive...)

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      AzureSky (profile), Apr 19th, 2012 @ 12:04am

      Re:

      yeah but they also take up a hell of alot of space, those first editions that are worth alot are unlikely to be taken someplace to read for fear or loosing them.

      hard covers are a bitch to carry around and read on the go(try reading one on a moving buss around here.....follow the moving letters....lol)

      a cheap ebook reader could hold thousands of books, take up little space and is alot liter then a hard cover.

      my issue with paperbacks(full price ones) is that they are fragile compared to hard covers, can tell you how many paperbacks I have had to re-spine or re-heat the spine on...real pain in the arse.....stupid brittle glue....(i think its intentional, they want you to buy another copy or 2 because they fall apart so easy)

      no, honestly, I think a good ebook reader is more optimal for on the go, where a nice book shelf is nice at home....

      (note: till my ex-gf I had thousands of books, down to 100 or less now, she destroyed so many before I found she had emptied boxes of books and tossed them into the neighbors pool....shes lucky shes alive...)

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    CKO, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 2:48pm

    Ultraviolet

    My prediction is that the book publishers will introduce a multi-vendor, multi-platform DRM system like the movie companies have with Ultraviolet before they go DRM-free.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 4:38pm

    Publishers Are Doomed

    They are being disintermediated. They have also made two deadly mistakes. 1. Antagonise their customers with DRM. 2. Hand over their destinies to Amazon, who is going to eat them alive.

    Bye, bye, publishers. They will not be missed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2012 @ 6:40am

    Microsoft ot DRM?

    Is this a discussion of DRM or Windows?
    After 30 yrs of Computing the one thing that I know for sure is that the vast majority of Problems with Windows are the users.
    I have used every version of Windows and Once I figured out a few things I rarely have a problem.
    My XP ,Vista and 7 machines all work great.
    As to DRM,I don't like it and think that it should be done away with,but it's not a problem for me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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