Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Handcuffed by the iPad?

Publishers Weekly had an interesting article, written by Cory Doctorow, yesterday about the iPad. It’s a bit long, so click over to read the full thing.

Basically, Doctorow talks about Apple’s “absolute dominion” over the iPad. Of course, a first reaction would be, duh, Apple makes the iPad, but Doctorow’s complaint is that Apple prevents competition. Again, your reaction might be, duh, Apple wants you to buy their eReader, not someone else’s. Before anymore “duhs,” let’s look at what Doctorow says is Apple’s attempt to shackle its readers to the iPad.
The iPad uses a DRM system called “code-signing” to limit which apps it can run. If the code that you load on your device isn't “signed,” that is, approved by Apple, the iPad will not run it. … DRM enjoys an extraordinary legal privilege previously unseen in copyright law: the simple act of breaking DRM is illegal, even if you're not violating anyone's copyright. In other words, if you jailbreak your iPad for the purpose of running a perfectly legal app from someone other than Apple, you're still breaking the law. … That means that no one can truly compete with Apple to offer better iStores, or apps, with better terms that are more publisher- and reader-friendly.
Isn’t this pretty much what the Kindle does?

Doctorow says he’s taking a stand against Apple’s practices by not selling his “e-books in any store that locks my users into a vendor's platform.” He’s including the iPad and the Kindle in his stand against “lockdown shenanigans.”

I’ve said here before that I wish there was one platform for e-books that would work on any eReader. That would make it easier for readers to purchase e-books and, I would think, easier for publishers to make the books available to all eReaders. Seems to me, it would be more effective to start a movement to demand this, rather than demonizing any one reading appliance.
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21 comments:

  1. I totally agree - I think getting one format would make a lot of sense!

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  2. One format is the sensible way and it would seem the most economical way to publish. So, do you really think anyone will willingly work toward that end? Look at Microsoft.


    Giggles and Guns

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  3. You...me...we have the beginnings of a movement, Jemi.

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  4. Yeah, Maribeth, you're right. Everyone wants to protect their property. It's hard to blame them. I would want to protect what I've created. Each is hoping they'll rise as the winner. While they duke it out, the consumer gets knocked around.

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  5. I think if a person has purchased the content, they should be able to access that content in a variety of different ways. This goes for music, too!

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  6. I'm wondering how Smashwords is working with Apple. Smashwords is DRM-free and yet they now have a distribution contract with Apple.

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  7. The nice thing about the iPad is there are apps available for the Nook and Kindle, so it's about as universal as one can get.

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  8. I don't own an e-reader, but I do have a program on my PC that works with the Nook form B&N. Now Kindle has a program for PC. You would think that one program on a PC would work with all of them, but not.

    Mason
    Thoughts in Progress

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  9. It appears the iPad is allowing software that lets you download from B&N and Amazon. I still hope for the day when you only need one piece of software taking up space on your eReader. I haven't been an Apple user since the days of the Apple IIGS, but it does seem like Apple is more apt to reach across the platforms.

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  10. One eBook format is a different thing to one eBook application - and it's applications that Cory is talking about. To demand a single eBook app would, essentially, be to demand that people stop developing and improving such applications and that's not to our benefit. This is the way Apple has always worked and it's a case in point - you can see the lack of competition in the low standard of Apple hardware, and the software available for it, this is why they must (and do, very successfully) market Apple products as lifestyle products rather than quality tech - unfortunately when this works, such as with the iPod, it means the really high class tech either goes out of business or becomes hugely expensive.
    Personally, I'd like to have a wide choice of quality eBook applications working to get my business based on excellent functionality - it's why I don't buy Apple products.

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  11. I'm with you and Jemi. One piece of software that works for everything.
    Karen

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  12. I agree with you, Helen. It seems like the companies do everything they can to complicate the simplest things.

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  13. Reminds me of the railroads in the 1800s. Every company wanted to use their owm tracks which may not have been compatiable with other companies. Eventually, there was one standard. Hope to see one format soon with e-readers too.

    Stephen Tremp

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  14. I agree. One size should fit all. I'm still waiting for the perfect ereader for me. The iPad is close, but not quite it yet.

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  15. I need to go see the iPad. I want to see how big it is and how user friendly it is.

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  16. The content versus media issue will never go away. We all want access to all content in any way we want it, but it won't happen.

    How is this different from the issue of broadcast TV versus basic cable versus premium versus satellite? Your choice of media determines, in part, what content you can enjoy. I wish The Wire had been available on basic cable, which is what I have. Because it was available only on HBO, I missed that content.

    I don't have a problem switching from the iBook on my iPad to the Kindle on my iPad. The iBook has features I like, which are not available in Kindle. If the book I want is available in both stores, I'll probably buy the iBook version, but if it's only available in Kindle, I'll buy the Kindle version.

    Two of my first ebook purchases were titles that I couldn't find in any local bookstores--one was a Kindle version and one an iBook version. Just this morning I bought a book in (gasp) hardcover because I couldn't find it in any of the ebook stores or in paperback.

    I think the iPad opens up choices for reading, rather than restricts them, but, no choices are free.

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  17. But, if I could get cable, which I can't, I could still watch it on my TV, just like I do the local channels. And I could have any brand of TV.

    I'd be happy to buy books at B&N, Amazon, and other stores, if I could do it all on one eReader.

    That would be my preference, but it may not be realistic.

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  18. On the one hand I can see wanting to protect the product "brand" as it were - buy Apple and then buy Apple Stuff. Hoever, being able to choose is not something I take lightly, just like many consumers. I think eventually something will give, at least as far as the non-Apple readers are concerned.

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  19. Helen, I almost laughed at the end of this post. I wondered if I had traveled back in time. I know several of us have been advocating for one format for some time now. But since the industry cares less about pleasing customers than making money, that won't happen anytime soon.

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  20. Has it ever been otherwise, Maryann? I don't think it will happen soon either.

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  21. Seems like they can settle on DVD formats; they ought to settle for books too.

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