DISAPPEARING EBOOKS

DISAPPEARING EBOOKS by Dr Joseph P Farrell for Giza Death Star

I knew as soon as I saw this story that I would have to blog about it. Not only did several people send some version of it to me, but the subject is near and dear to my heart. Reason? I’ve been warning about the dangers of ebooks for some time. And this story more or less concretizes and to some extent confirms my concerns. Suppose one day you logged into your ebook cloud (or whatever it is), and discovered a notice that your ebook was gone. Not just “temporarily unavailble, please check back in a few minutes,” but gone.

If that sounds far-fetched, it has already happened to users of Microsoft’s ebooks  (thanks to J.T. and F.S. for first bringing this to my attention, and to all the rest of you who also shared the story):

Microsoft’s Ebook Apocalypse Shows the Dark Side of DRM

Now, let’s give (begruding) credit where credit is due: Microsoft at least had the integrity to refund its ebook customers for snatching away their ebooks.

But my concerns over the years has boiled down to a fundamental truth, expressed in the opening paragraph of the Wired article by Brian Barrett:

Your iTunes movies, your Kindle books—they’re not really yours. You don’t own them. You’ve just bought a license that allows you to access them, one that can be revoked at any time. And while a handful of incidents have brought that reality into sharp relief over the years, none has quite the punch of Microsoft disappearing every single ebook from every one of its customers.

EBooks are a platform, and subject to all the problems of censorship we’ve seen attached to other” platforms”, Facebook, YouTube, and so on: censorship. I’ve been maintaining for some time that the digitization of books and other information (think music and music scores and librettos and lyrics, folks) is kind of like the old Soviet Encyclopedia, on steroids: now you see a picture of Yagoda, or Yezhov, or whomever, and later, you don’t, because the picture, along with the monster man has been purged. Ebooks make it all too easy for a corporate world run amok to censor anything they wish; don’t like the content? Just go in and change the text. Or just get rid of it altogether. Sure, Microsoft has not claimed its actions are the result of censorship, but the good old “bottom line.” But its actions highlight the dangers inherent in the digital platform, which is why I’ve been maintaining that the only canonical form of any of my works is the hard copy book, which readers own.

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