Friday, September 24, 2010

because europe is just a small backwater

Pretty much exactly a year ago I started looking at ereaders. Someone on twitter told me of the Txtr - a sexy looking little thing that was to be brought out by a local Berlin company. I was thrilled and waited about three months until I finally gave up on it as vapourware. As the same preregistration shit is still up on their site nine months later, I guess it is.

So I needed something else. For the previous year or so I'd been collecting the free ebooks that publishers and authors were putting out, and I'd reached about 150 of them. A significant amount to read, I figured, and worthy of an ereader purchase. But I'm unhappy with the idea of propriatary formats and I'm fundamentally aganist DRM, so the Kindle wasn't an option and neither was waiting for the then mystical iPad.

So I bought a Pocketbook 360 and must say I'm still really happy with it. It's small, light and robust and has a hard cover which is easy to remove. Readability is great and glare minimal. I use it in the simplest possible way - dragging and dropping ePub and pdf files and that's fine by me.

The biggest problem when I bought it was actually buying books. Open format, DRM free? Not so easy. But I found a few places that would. Then they started hammering in the geographical restrictions. And now it's almost impossible to buy books at all. Tor, a publishing company that put out a whole bunch of freebie ebooks as advertising has almost no ebooks available. Still. A year later. And those that are are only available to the US - with DRM of course.

Now I was very understanding of the whole copyright/different publishers/different countries thing for the last year but this has gotten ridiculous. They're destroying their own customer base. Who'll actually go back and start paying for books again when they've gotten in the habit of pirating them for free?

I've held off on the temptation so far - today I bought a huge number of books from Webscriptions, because now they're pretty much the only ones who will sell DRM free ePubs in Germany. Even thought the covers of most of those books are somewhat, well, cheap and off-putting, their sample novels given out via the Baen free library were convincing enough that I've now bought the entire back catalogue of several of their authors.

Y'know what Tor? I would've done the same for you. Only you don't want me to pay for your books apparently. So good luck with that whole surviving the demise of the publishing industry thing. I really reckon you're onto a winning strategy.

3 comments:

G in Berlin said...

Hey, I love Baen. If you have any coupons to send on, I'd be very grateful and happy to reciprocate. Also, drop me a line if you want more info on where to get non-DRM and free e-books.

Dr. J said...

Hmmm, you may have to explain the coupons to me. So far I haven't used the webscriptions service but have been buying book bundles or individual books. Where do the coupons come into it?

G in Berlin said...

I didn't note your answer- send me an e-mail over at either big apple to big bear at google mail dot com, or any other address and I'll tell you about it. I'm a huge free e-book sammler: I have over 900 now. Some not so interesting, but many very much so. It's making my neglect my piles of dead tree books. Also, check this out:
http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/24-CryoburnCD/CryoburnCD/Novels/Cryoburn/index.htm

I love Baen.