When you buy an ebook, do you purchase it, or only rent it?
Then after this consideration, what restrictions come with either choice?
The issue of ebook ownership has been discussed at length in both the news and on publishing blogs.
The most popular ebook retail platforms, although very convenient, often impose limitations on your ebook purchases.
DRM is the problem
Digital Rights Management (DRM) is used by ebook retailers such as Amazon Kindle Books, Google Play Books, and Apple iBooks.
It limits your ability to back up, copy, lend, or update with restrictions that are placed on an ebook file.
Proprietary file types lock your purchase into a walled garden.
The use of DRM is the most common form of controlling you after you think you purchase an ebook.
The much-publicized stories of a user’s Kindle being wiped of all previous purchases by Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s limit on updating an ebook after a credit card expires are just two examples of how ebook control can work.
Do you own ebooks with DRM? No, you are only renting them, and you are restricted by licensing agreements.
What can you do to ensure that when you buy an ebook, you actually buy it with no or next to no limitations?
How can you really buy an ebook?
The easiest answer is to buy ebooks in the .epub format that are DRM free.
Most popular e-reading devices use epub files, except for Kindle.
For Kindle users, the most suitable is the mobi file type, which is also DRM free.
Some retailers are now offering ebooks that are both DRM free and in the popular file types to suit almost all e-reading devices.
Smashwords and Kobo are at the forefront of DRM free ebook sales.
Another very useful tool to use in ensuring you own your ebooks is Calibre.
If you can’t locate a DRM-free version of an ebook for your device on your retailer, see if you can buy or download a DRM free epub version of the ebook elsewhere.
Then use Calibre to convert the ebook file to the type used by your device.
Convenience vs. ownership
While one-click purchasing and instant delivery to your device may seem appealing, the drawbacks often outweigh this convenience.
Perhaps when you would like to lend your purchased ebook to your spouse and then discover you can’t, for instance.
So just an extra few seconds spent at the time of purchase may bring you many more advantages.
One of the simplest ways to load DRM free ebooks onto most devices is old-fashioned email.
Almost all e-reading devices are equipped with an email facility.
It is just a matter of downloading or buying the correct file type or converting using Calibre, and then email the file to your e-reader.
Open and start reading.
Then know that you have really purchased an ebook that, like physical books, you can share, lend, copy, back up and keep forever.