DRM Is Evil, Part 8,492: Nook Pulls Out Of UK, Exploring Options To Let People Retain Access To At Least Some Books

from the drm-sucks dept

Yet another story of how badly DRM screws over legitimate buyers, with no actual benefit for copyright holders. This time, it’s about the total failure of Barnes & Noble’s Nook ebook reader, which is struggling globally, and shutting down entirely in the UK. Nate Hoffelder has a great article explaining why the Nook has been such an abject failure, but a key point highlighted by the Register is that the company is still working to see if there are ways that legitimate buyers can keep access to at least some of the books they purchased.

In one of the most amazing statements this author has read, the company says it’s trying to set up a deal with Sainsbury’s Entertainment on Demand “to ensure that you have continued access to the vast majority of your purchased NOOK Books at no new cost to you” (emphasis added).

Of course, this is hardly a new phenomenon. Remember when Microsoft had a DRM it called “PlaysForSure”? And remember when it shut down those servers, blocking people from ever moving that content to new machines? Or how about when Scholastic shut down its Storia DRM’d book offering, meaning parents who purchased ebooks for their kids had digital pixie dust instead. Or when Rhapsody/RealNetworks killed off an old DRM, killing off access to songs people had legitimately paid to access. Or when digital comics company JManga shut down and with it took down access to purchased content. And remember when Adobe changed its DRM and made old ebooks obsolete?

This kind of thing happens again and again and again. And for what? What benefit does it actually create for copyright holders? At best it only serves to entrench the most dominant retailers, taking power away from the copyright holders (who already took power away from the actual creators). And it tends to do nothing to stop actual copyright infringement, because all of those works are still readily and easily available.

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Companies: barnes and noble, nook

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Comments on “DRM Is Evil, Part 8,492: Nook Pulls Out Of UK, Exploring Options To Let People Retain Access To At Least Some Books”

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51 Comments
bkb (profile) says:

Re: Re: Spin Dept.

I don’t “pirate” it, I just remove the DRM from the file. This also allows me to convert to another format, meaning I can buy the ebooks from whoever I want without being locked into their devices.

But I’ll first see if I can get a non-DRMed version. storybundle.com and humblebundle.com sometimes have nice offers. O’Reilly doesn’t do DRM (although it’s quite the niche market). Also we have a local bookseller who sells tons of books without DRM (although it seems books in English are still DRM’ed)

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Spin Dept.

I don’t “pirate” it, I just remove the DRM from the file.

Now here’s the funny part, legally speaking you’re breaking the law either way. Copyright infringement is illegal, and removing DRM, even from someone you own, is likewise illegal, so as far as the law is concerned Ninja’s act of finding a DRM-stripped version of the file, and your act of removing the DRM yourself is pretty much the same thing.

Isn’t copyright law fun and totally sensible? /s

DannyB (profile) says:

Remember when Microsoft had PlaysForSure ?

The reason Microsoft killed PlaysForSure was to change from an open strategy to a closed tragedy.

Introducing the Zune!

Even though you were screwed by PlaysForSure, you can relax that your investment in Zune DRM purchases will be secure.

And then the Zune DRM servers were shut down.

But you can trust Microsoft’s Windows 10 app store.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Remember when Microsoft had PlaysForSure ?

Microsoft also had an DRM-crippled ebook format. The only reason no-one mourned the eventual demise of Microsoft Reader was that they started with a DRM fiasco.

Back in 2000 a new generation of Pocket PCs were being released by Compaq and others. A big selling point – lots of advertising included with each device – was Microsoft Reader and the partnership with Barnes & Noble.

The big day finally came when the online store opened. Lots of people purchased books…. And discovered that they didn’t work on their Pocket PCs.

It turns out that there were multiple levels of DRM. The “optional” highest level didn’t work with Pocket PCs. And who could’ve predicted it – the publishers all used the highest level.

“Don’t worry,” Microsoft said, “You can still read the book on your desktop. Not that anyone wanted to.

So they posted some public domain books from Project Gutenberg along with some Star Trek fanfic in the store and declared “all fixed!”

That One Guy (profile) says:

Scaling value

I’ll pay $7-8 for a standard paperback. I can sell it, give it to someone, do whatever I want with it after I purchase it, which means it’s got decent value to me.

Ebooks don’t have nearly the same flexibility, what with the absence of re-sell value and(depending on the terms) no legal way to gift or loan, so how much I’m willing to pay takes a notable hit, with $4-5 generally being the upper range I’m willing to pay.

Infect an ebook with DRM though? $.01 is now more money than I’m willing to spend, and even if it’s available for free I’ll probably give it a pass.

Someone infecting their products with DRM is basically telling all their would-be customers, ‘I don’t trust you, and think that you’re all criminals, with the only thing stopping you from robbing me blind being restrictions such that you can’t‘, and I have no interest in knowingly supporting a person or company with that mindset towards their customers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Scaling value

…even if it’s available for free I’ll probably give it a pass…

I’m willing to try free stuff, but it has to pass my archive test: moving the file to a hard disk or DVD that I control. If it doesn’t run after that it fails. I will not attempt to fix or correct, I just won’t patronize the source any more.

Anonymous Coward says:

Bain books must be really stupid...

After all, despite the general “wisdom” that DRM is required to operate in the ebooks market, they still sell ebooks with no DRM. And have done for well over a decade. How are they still in business? Why do their authors put up with this open support for piracy?

Heck, they even give ebooks away for free! (Bean free library) It must be because they are a sci-fi shop – there couldn’t be any other explanation, could there?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Bain books must be really stupid...

I buy their monthly bundle whenever I see at least 1 book that I am interested in. This has resulted in me getting every single month for the past few years as well as more than half of the months in the years before that. I always download a copy of the month after it is fully available and keep the copy locally. If anything ever happens to them, I should still have a backup just a few months out of date. They are my preferred ebook source whenever they have the book I want.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The REAL Problem With Making Piracy Necessary

Annnnnd that’s exactly what I’ve done.

% find books -name “*.pdf” -print | wc -l
15384

(Similar results are returned for epub, mobi, djvu, etc.)

These volumes cover IT, history, science, math, engineering, and many other topics. Except for the handful that are covered by open-source licenses, I pirated every single one of them. (Although I happen to own hardcopies of perhaps 10 percent of them as well. Didn’t mind paying once. Not paying twice, especially if the digital version has DRM.)

I wouldn’t mind paying for most of these: but the price would have to be reasonable, the format open, and of course, no DRM. No publisher is willing to make me such a deal, so no publisher is getting my money.

sehlat (profile) says:

Re: Re: The REAL Problem With Making Piracy Necessary

Baen and Siren-Bookstrand are my two major watering holes these days. I have sworn blood oath to die in my tracks before I’ll pirate a book they offer.

For me to do that, the publisher has to do two things:

1. Don’t price gouge. Any eBook over the average price of a paperback is gouging. (Harlequin meets that standard, as do others.)

2. Don’t use DRM. (Harlequin et al. do NOT meet that standard.)

Violation of the above conditions puts said publishers on my POS list(It’s like a KOS list, but without the paperwork.)

Anonymous Coward says:

This is why Physical Books will never die

This is why I’ll never buy an E-book, and why Physical books will live on forever.

E-Books are too risky, you can always get screwed out of your purchases by things beyond your control with e-books.

With physical books however if I get screwed out of my purchase it’ll likely be my own fault for not taking care of the book properly, or misplacing it and never finding it again.

Hermitian Conjugate says:

DRM, Barnes and Nuisance

Good. I hope that Barnes and Noble is unable to do anything and everyone who was stupid enough to buy DRMed ebooks, loses his or her misguided investment in convenience over principle. This is no different than trying get another (dead tree version) of book from Barnes and Nuisance because one didn’t know paper was flammable and used it to prop open the grill. B&N isn’t responsible for customer stupidity. Everyone from the authors down the line to the customer needs to lose on this one. Maybe monetary loss will work better than principles or common sense.

klaus says:

Re: DRM, Barnes and Nuisance

…customer stupidity…

Not quite sure why you feel a need to blame the victim.

All kinds of factors such as marketing, novelty, efficiency, and green values have been pushing eBooks and electronic readers down peoples throats for at least a decade. When the choice is DRM or nothing what exactly are people supposed to do?

I think it’s unfair to call the lack of understanding around a complex and technical issue such as DRM as “stupid”.

Anonymous Coward says:

I long ago decided that ebooks with DRM aren’t worth paying for. Much less that they should cost the same or more than their sacrificed tree brethren. I believe it was Amazon who in their wisdom decided to pull paid for ebooks from reader’s shelves because some group got a book successfully banned. Those who had already paid for the book just had them disappear. No refund, no warning till after the fact.

Buying anything with DRM in it is akin to buying air. Hard to see any value in it when you can get air for free. You are staring right eye level with one of the reasons why piracy persists.

Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile) says:

Avast me hearties!

THIS is the precise reason why I DO NOT purchase e-format books of any form. 1) the device company can just yank them off your device (Amazon) 2) if the company sinks you lose all your PURCHASED PRODUCT (that’s like buying a hardback & then when the publisher goes bankrupt they come to your door & demand the book back) 3) did anyone notice the price-fixing scandal?

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

You know who got paid despite the complete failure?
Those who sold them the DRM solution.

They were so worried about not getting every possible imaginary cent, they crippled their ability to compete.

DRM is harmful to business, much more than ‘piracy’.
You paid full price for something, and they take away your purchase.
You paid full price for something, and they forget to pay a server bill no use for you.
You paid full price for something, and they can remove it from your devices.

Every single massive failure of DRM makes people look for other ways to get it.
How many claimed losses to piracy are simply people who paid for it and were just preparing for the day the company decides to cut you off?
How many people use a platform other than yours because that platform sucks a tiny bit less?

They are way more focused on imaginary dollars than end customer satisfaction, and that is what is wrong with so many things these days.
When your customer happiness is an afterthought you are failing.

Anonymous Blowhard says:

Old Tech

I will never buy ebooks. In 2009 Amazon snuck into users’ kindles and stole a book off the shelf because of some copyright dispute. Ironically that book was 1984. I decided at that moment I would only buy the old fashioned paper books. I must not be the only one because they still sell paper books. I don’t think I’ve come across any title so far that hasn’t been available as a regular book.

klaus (profile) says:

Re: Old Tech

I quite like eBooks. They’re convenient and let me read several at a time (parallel reading?). Also, I get to carry a huge reference library around with me, which is fantastic when stuck in dull meetings.

But I avoid DRM like the plague. Everything I have is format shifted and managed by Calibre. If you’ve never come across this application, I strongly recommend it.

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