Ebooks – Sometimes it’s a bit too hard

I recently updated my ereader from a Kindle 2 to a Kindle Touch. I actually like this device quite a lot. The first thing that got me liking it was the crisper screen. The other was obviously the touch capability.

But over the last few weeks I have begun thinking about just how hard Amazon and BN have made it to competitive shop for ebooks. Both companies have deliberately tied the books behind a DRM scheme. I don’t begrudge them that – much. What I do begrudge is the lack of effort by either side to make things interoperable.

Now granted, five of the top six book publishers have pretty much engaged in a price fixing scheme in order to enforce a minimum pricing for the ebooks that is above what the market would dictate but let’s assume for a moment that Amazon has a cheaper price an a particular ebook than BN. If this was a dead tree version I could easily just buy from the cheaper seller – Amazon. But with ebooks I now have a problem. I have to buy in the format of my ereader – in other words, I have to buy my ebooks from Amazon.

Now for part of this I have found a solution. I use Calibre and I can convert some of the books to the best format for my Kindle which is the MOBI format. But again, with Amazon and BN DRM’d books I have a problem. Likewise, What if I choose to get a Nook in the future? I now have to repurchase my personal library.

I know both companies have PC versions of their reader software. The problem there for me is that those versions are Windows. Neither offers a Linux version. In that case I have to hope that Wine will run the software.

It would be great if Amazon and BN would come out with either a conversion application or a plugin for Calibre. Unfortunately, that would involve breaking the very thing both companies are counting on – lock in. I think this is somewhat short-sighted. If I can buy from both locations why wouldn’t I? Competition would be great. At that point they could concentrate on building better ereader platforms.

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