Do we own the ebooks we "buy"?

Thought provoking article over on MainStreet today:

In summary,  just like software, CDs, DVDs or pretty much anything in the entertainment world these days, we actually are purchasing a license to this content and do not actually own anything.  However unlikely, the distributor of this content could decide to delete it from your account or device.  It will be interesting to see how this new format and market develop in the coming months and years.


  1. eBook Readers and Student Text Books – What role will eBooks play in the future for college textbooks. While advancements in readers like the Kindle have come along way in moving eBook readers out of the dark age, they still have a long way to go. One frontier to be challenged is college text books.
    I wrote about this in my blog at

  2. TheGarmites says:

    They are cool devices! I'd love one just for when I travel so I can carry my entire library with me. The down side to the ebook readers is that they don't give you a ebook copy when you buy the hard copy. If the Barns And Nobel Nook or Amazon Kindle offered their ebook version with a purchase of the hard copy.

  3. you make some very good points there, but, although I love multifunctional devices, sometimes you want the thing to do what it’s supposed to do. Like an ebook reader: it has to read ebooks and I don't want anything else on it. That is part of the true experience. That – the experience – is what we usually pay for. Take Starbucks: you go there for coffee because it gives you the experience. I for one have the absolute reading experience with the jetBook. It is the cheapest and it does what is supposed to do. Tablets are great, but not as ebook readers.

  4. Hi Goon,
    The NCSU Libraries is loaning out both Amazon Kindles and Sony Readers. We have been working with Amazon to set up our procedures without problems.
    Sparta Library in New Jersey has been loaning Kindles since December 2007.
    Take a look at the Facebook group EBook Readers in Libraries where I am trying to track various library experiences related to ebook readers. I just posted a link to this blog entry on the group's wall.
    I hope you will consider joining the group and the discussion on this technology as it applies to libraries.

  5. Dave-Brendon de Burgh says:

    Yep, I do that, too (when Mobipocket give's me problems with uploading to the phone). 🙂 I'm just getting irritated with the fact that everybody is making eBook readers that South Africans can't afford. The publishing industry really has become a let's-see-how-much-money-we-can-make industry instead of a let's-get-more-people-reading industry. 🙁

  6. yes. nothing beats the experience of reading on paper. But given the drive to save the paper and that ebook readers come close to paper like reading experience, it's a win-win situation for some. Imagine kids not needing to carry 100 pound backpacks filled with text books and books, using one ebook reader and a tablet for other activities. That reduces burden on them and also saves millions of trees.

  7. derp de derp says:

    The advantage things like the Kindle and the Nook have over the iPad is that they use e-ink while the iPad has an LCD screen. The iPad would be pretty difficult to actually try to read with when you are outside, whereas e-ink pwns in this regard. That is also the reason ebook readers are bad with multimedia. As e-ink (or similar non-glare-y screen technology) develops (e.g. colour), this will get better, and there will probably be a large degree of convergence between ebook readers and tablets.

  8. PDFS do not display well on e-readers with less then a 6 inch screen, common 6 inch e-readers are the kindle 2, barnes and noble nook, astak, most sonys. etc.

    I would go with a 9 inch e-reader if you want to read PDFS well, you can look at the Kindle DX, Sony Daily, or others.

    They are more expensive then 6 inch, but if you like to read, thats what I would do.

    Also, you can download software that converts PDFS to different e-book formats, that way a pdf converted to whatever format your 6 inch e-reader reads the best, then you can do that. Its a few extra steps, but worth it in the long run if initial cost of the e-reader is an issue.

    If you want to check out what e-readers support what formats, I would look at this forum

    If you want to do more competitive research on e-readers, and which ones are the best to invest in, for the long term, i would check out their blog too at

    Hope this helps you a little bit

  9. Whether you like or use Borders or don’t it still has a terrible impact on the community. Last year in Laredo, TX, a city of about a quarter of million lost it’s only Big Box book store. On my last check they can still buy books at any of its 3 Wal-Marts, a Costco, 2 Spiritual Book & Gift stores, 2 Adult Book stores and 2 used book stores. About 30% of families live at or below the poverty line (2006 estimate). The chance of a growing number of Ebook readers seems slim. Wal-Mart and Costco have a limited amount of books and stick with what’s trendy. I have never seen genre books or anything close to science and math at either Wal-Mart or Costco. The Laredo Center of the Arts organized a book store where people can buy inexpensive books. They take donations of new and used books which is wonderful because readers can find books of any genre and have a choice to read something good.

  10. You can’t “rent” ebooks, because any movement of an ebook to your machine is “copying” the book, not borrowing it.

    However, there are many sites with free ebooks (, and lots of publishers are now offering free versions of their books as a way to inspire sales of the paper books, and some authors prefer to release their ebooks with a Creative Commons license (generally meaning, anyone can copy it as long as nobody charges money for it).

    Which is the best ebook reader depends on your tastes. E-Ink is a wonderful display format; it looks almost exactly like paper and isn’t hard on the eyes the way computer screens are. But it also doesn’t have color, and is expensive technology. And e-Ink readers have different options as well, and read different formats of books.

    has comparisons of different kinds of readers and their availability.

    (For myself–I have a Sony PRS-505, and I love it. But I knew exactly what I was looking for in a reader; it’s best for you to look at what’s out there so you aren’t disappointed if the one you buy doesn’t have the one feature that you really care about, but the competition does have that.)

  11. Both my mom and I got ebook readers for Christmas; I’m a die-hard library user (libraries are still struggling to get ebooks), and my mom’s a technophobe. If we’ve got them, the tipping point is definitely here! I’m actually surprised by how much I enjoy reading on my iPad; something about it is just relaxing.

  12. great introduction and history of e-book readers, Robert! Based on the comments about your current collection, I’m assuming the upcoming iPad’s lack of portability makes its release not that exciting for you? Is there any upcoming reader that you’re excited about?