Tag Archives: Electronic publishing

News: The End of Ebooks?

 Could this be the beginning of the end of eBooks (books in software form)? Barnes & Noble no longer sell them, according to a notice on their website: “B&N.com no longer sells eBooks. If you are a Microsoft Reader customer, you will be able to download your eBooks until December 9, 2003, through your Microsoft Library. If you are an Adobe Reader customer, you have 90 days from your date of purchase to complete the download via the email link you received.”
 
 
B&N’s rather shoddy press corner doesn’t refer to the decision. My tuppennies’ worth: I’ve never been a big user of eBooks, but you would think they would be a natural fit for someone like B&N. The only assumption I can make is that until the biggies feel the issue of copying and piracy is resolved, it just doesn’t look profitable. Others disagree: an interesting look at the state of eBooks post B&N can be found at the teleread blog.

Update: Cracking the code

Microsoft Reader: a clarification
 
 
 Further to my note about successful efforts to crack the new code protecting the copyright of Microsoft Reader ebooks, here’s a clarification from Dan Jackson, who keeps a copy of the software which can circumvent the code on his website:
 
I noticed you have an article concerning the new version of Convert LIT 1.4. Just thought I’d straighten a few things out. Due to a miscommunication between myself and the author, a few copies were indeed sent out anonymously, but the program and its source code are now freely available from the Dan Jackson Software website at http://members.lycos.co.uk/hostintheshell/ – this is the official site for Convert LIT and all binaries residing on there have been fully tested and virus scanned.
Like yourself, I do not condone the use of this tool for copyright violation, and the technical limits of the program help to curb that to some extent (owner-exclusive DRM5 eBooks can still only be converted on the machine on which the activated copy of Reader which was used to purchase them is installed). The primary intention of the program is to allow other platforms or devices to be able to access Microsoft Reader format files. Hope this information is of use, Dan Jackson.
 
Thanks, Dan. Of course none of this detracts from the fact that the code has been broken, and quickly too. Microsoft, your move.
 
 
 

News: Protecting the Unprotectable

 However much they spend, Microsoft don’t seem to be able to fend off the hackers. A new version of its Reader — designed to allow users of the handheld device to read copyright protected versions of ebooks, while ensuring they don’t copy the ebooks or do thing with them they’re not supposed to — has been hacked within days of its release, according to my friend Jerry Justianto, who runs a blog on the subject.
 
 
He says the digital rights management scheme (DRM for short) was a major upgrade, but has gone the way of its predecessors, courtesy of an updated version of Convert Lit, a very small program (32K), which was sent to him anonymously. The program, he says, will either remove the DRM encryption or it will explode the ebook into an unprotected version or an HTML file that can be read in a normal browser, complete with pictures.
 
Jerry is scathing about the update. He points out that Microsoft are effectively forcing users to get the upgrade even though it includes no major new features — except the security ones — and will require many users to re-register their hardware in order to keep using it. Check out what Microsoft itself says of the upgrade. Neither Jerry or I condone breaking the law, but this tug of war between producer and hacker has got to stop. It’s a waste of time for everybody, and the money could be better spent not trying to limit what we users do with our possessions. Your views, as ever, are welcome.
 

Link: Harry Potter e-book pirates

  Harry Potter’s latest oeuvre is circulating on the Internet — as an e-book. Jerry Justianto, who runs a blog on e-publishing, has been tracking it and says it raises interesting commercial and ethical questions.
 
 
“It was available two  days after the official release.  That’s why it does not make sense for publishers not release a legal version.  People just can scan the printed ebook. The moral question is like this:  If I bought the book already can I read the pirated ebook for convenience?”