Wednesday, August 8, 2012

DRM--A head's up

photo by Maximilian Schönherr
Wikimedia Commons
If you've been buying ebooks for as long as I have, then chances are, you may have a few ebooks in Microsoft Reader's .Lit format. Of if you're like me, more than a few. While the majority of ebooks today are purchased in kindle format, the kindle is relatively new. Microsoft first entered the ebook business way back in 2000. The kindle is a baby, first launched in 2007.

But now, Microsoft Reader is going away (more about that at techcrunch). By the end of the month, it will no longer be supported. So what happens to my several dozen protected .Lit ebook files? The same as all my music audio files that I had when an MP3 store went out of business a few years ago. With DRM (Digital Rights Management), I'm stuck. After changing computers several times and no longer having a shelf at that store, I've lost many music files. What was the music store's solution to their no longer supporting the files I'd purchased? Burn them all to audio CDs. Kinda defeated the purpose of having digital music.

With DRM'd ebooks, it's not even such an option. I can't print them out and store them. Even today, I can no longer activate a new copy of Microsoft Reader, so I can't read the several hundred dollars worth of books I've purchased. This is a cycle that continues in DRM. The difficulty of installing software, keeping it up to date, and managing copies. When support is gone, so is your content.

For the past several days, I've been backing up and archiving my old ebook files. I'm using Calibre (can't recommend it enough. If you're not using it, go here.) And in a hypothetical sense, completely not saying this is true, I might suggest (hypothetically) to backup your ebook library and strip the DRM--because you never know when a protected format might get dumped. If I did recommend it, I'd insist it's for personal archival only, to protect yourself from the craziness that is the DRM world. Because there are no guarantees that the books you purchase today will be in a format still supported in two years. After all, I'd liked the Microsoft Reader format fairly well. Still do. And who'd have thought, back in 2006, that Microsoft wouldn't keep a toe in that market?

So, yeah. If you have ebooks in .Lit format, make sure you back them up. Because if you're like me, you have some classics in your library, some favorites, some many-times-over re-reads. I'm not done with those books. Hopefully I won't be for some time to come.

Ella Drake is a dark paranormal and science fiction romance author. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, & Goodreads.

Her latest releases are Desire the Banshee an erotic paranormal romance from Ellora's Cave & Desert Blade, a near-future post-apocalyptic romance from Carina Press. Coming soon, MetalMark (Lyrical Press). Other work includes The Forbidden Chamber, Silver Bound, Jaq’s Harp, Braided Silk & Firestorm on E’Terra.

1 comment:

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