Since I’ve been snowed in the last few days, I decided to take some time to do a little book shopping over at Fictionwise.com. I love reading ebooks on my netbook. It’s ideal for me in just about every setting (except the tub, because I’m afraid I’ll drop my netbook in the water!). There were a few ebooks I really wanted to get and I was so happy once I’d paid for my ebooks, knowing that I could download them instantly and be able to read them right away.
Except that I couldn’t. Fictionwise prefers to use the Barnes & Noble eReader software, which has been fine with me. But when I went to download my books and open them in in the B&N ereader, I got a message telling me to upgrade to the latest version of the software.
What followed was 45 minutes of downloading, installing and lots of swearing as I struggled to open my ebooks, any of my ebooks, on the latest version of the B&N ereader. For some reason, all the books I had previously opened had become locked again. I had to dig out my credit card to unlock some of these books as well as the new ones before they all suddenly became open again. I have no idea why I had to re-unlock these books, and why only some of them, but I couldn’t get a damn thing to open until I did.
It’s the DRM, of course, that’s causing this problem. Barnes & Nobles is trying so hard to make sure I’m not stealing the ebook, they demand I enter the number of the credit card I used to buy said ebook before I can open it and read it. I understand the concerns about piracy. Really I do. I’m a writer. I’d prefer people pay for my work. But as a writer, I’d also prefer that people not have to struggle, fight and swear to open the book once they bought it! It’s no wonder so many people are still resistant to the idea of ebooks. You can’t just pick up and ebook and read it; you have to jump through some hoops first.
It’s ridiculous. Put even one obstacle between a customer and the thing they want to buy and chances are you’ve lost a sale. Make it difficult to open ebooks and you will not convert people to the cause of ebooks and ereaders. I say get rid of DRM, even if it does put my books at greater risk of being pirated, because quite frankly pirates are going to do what pirates are going to do regardless of whether the books have DRM on them or not. Other folks will buy the ebooks if they’re for sale. Don’t believe me? Consider that the music and movie industry have also been through this, and there are plenty of songs and movies online that people can easily — illegally — download for free. Yet many of us still pay for the music and movies we want to enjoy.
How many folks do you think will pay for a book they can’t open?