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Pay first and don’t read later vs. read first and pay (or don’t pay) later

Pay first and don’t read later vs. read first and pay (or don’t pay) later

Imagine: you buy a spoon. You like it a lot and use it often. And one day it disappears. The shop who sold it to you tells you that you can buy a fork instead.

Such a thing is happening to Nook users in the UK, who’ve been informed by Barnes & Noble that Nook has ceased operation in the UK. B&N have stated that they’re trying to set up a deal with Sainsbury’s and move users to them, "to ensure that you have continued access to the vast majority of your purchased Nook Books at no new cost to you". Moreover: "you may still find some or all of your eBooks are missing. You will be reimbursed with a voucher to the value of what you paid for any missing titles."

Books are doorways to other worlds. He who has read a thousand books has lived a thousand lives. The loss of a beloved book would be much more painful than the loss of a beloved spoon. We may have paid a couple of pounds for it, but once we read it, the value of it can no longer be reduced to currency.

And now it’s disappeared.

Along with a part of or even a whole library.

Absurd DRM protections - which are meant to protect books from being copied, but in fact mean that whoever sold you the book still controls it - mean that the book isn’t yours, you’re just allowed to use it. And if the bookseller, for any reason, decides to shut down their business, you lose your legally-purchased books. And it’s only due to the good will of the bookseller that they find a solution allowing you keep at least a part of your books. They aren’t obliged to do it in any way.

If any of your books were published exclusively this way, they’ll disappear from cyberspace and the logosphere entirely, just like that. Like in "Fahrenheit 451" but with 100% efficiency!

I publish my books exclusively at OpenBooks, where such a thing is technically, legally and ethically just not possible: once downloaded, the file is the reader's to use and furthermore, he or she may also copy it and send it to anyone they want. Pirated? Not at all, a payment link is still there in the file and whoever receives it may chip in to support my writing. Moreover, payments work even if I decide to remove the book from the service: readers who have the files and read the book even after a long time can still pay for it.

The Nook UK case is one more example that the old paradigm of eBook distribution makes no sense in the contemporary world. It's like trying to turn a river back into a spring with a high dam: a huge cost to build it, instead of building e.g. houses for people, a big effort to hamper the leaks, instead of using up this energy to fix e.g. broken cars, and an even bigger effort to make everybody believe that this is “reality”. In fact, it’s some sort of artificial, rendered Matrix. And the industry tries to bend the reality and humans to match it.

There is no spoon.

It is not the spoon that bends. It is yourself.

There is no spoon.

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