How to getting the Ebook Publisher to Give up Copyright Protection.

One wonders why everyone laments how the reading habit is quite lost in today’s iPod-gazing world. The new e-book reader market has never been hotter – Amazon looks like it cannot lose with its number one product the Kindle, the Sony Reader is a scrappy contender, and Barnes & Noble just came out with its Nook e-book reader.

And the Apple iPad and HP’s competing iSlate look set to demolish the competition with their versatile slate-type touchscreen tablet computers that can just do everything that a computer, a mobile phone, an e-book reader and God knows what else can do, all at once.

So there it’s settled, America can’t get enough books to read, so red-hot is the market for e-books. There’s just one little problem here – publishers are not so sure how they are going to protect their copyrighted intellectual material from a free-for-all once everything is released in electronic form.

Consider what happened when ten years ago; iTunes let the world have its first taste of copyright protection. iTunes said that if you bought a song for your iPod, it could only be played on that iPod, and could not be transferred anywhere else. It was not yours to own, and you could not share it with anyone. And then there were years of struggles between copyright holders and music lovers until finally, the industry gave in, and ended copyright protection. So now here come the Kindle and all its other look-alikes; you buy a Kindle with Amazon, you load it was a few dozen books and you are happy.

Until you see a nice shiny iPad. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could take all your ebooks from the Kindle and transfer them to read on the iPad? Well, that does sound like a very nice idea. It’s too bad no ebook publisher will hear of it.

That is not even the biggest problem. When people couldn’t use their music any way they wished, there was an outcry. People began to write articles and put out blog posts that seemed to get satan and the music labels all mixed up.

For something that people seem to consume just as much as musicĀ  – e-books, where is the outrage. How can any e-book publisher expect you to pay $20 for a book, and lose it the moment that reader dies or you switch readers? There are voices of protest, but not as many as there should be to get the ebook publisher community to change its ways.

How many times do we have to go around the same path to understand that when morbidly fearful publishers install badly-designed copy protection, all it does is make it difficult for paying customer to read a book that’s paid for? The customer has to jump through so many hoops every time, that he’s just refuses to do it anymore, and the copyright holder has to just abandon the whole thing. Wasn’t it wonderful when the music companies just dropped their hated copy protection and DRM?

What happens really when an e-book publisher or a famous band like Radiohead put their music or book out for free, but also sell it in the bookstores for a price? It has been tried, and it certainly doesn’t bankrupt anyone. People do download them for free if they can get them without paying for them.

Usually these are people who wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for it anyway, so you aren’t really losing anything; you only gain wider exposure. And paying customers pay too. For now, every ebook publisher is trying to at least make copy protection somewhat sensible.

They’re making sure that if you buy an e-book for the Kindle, you can play it on any device. Going without copy protection does work. It doesn’t look like the music labels are filing for bankruptcy now does it?