Barnes & Noble Decides That Purchased Ebooks Are Only Yours Until Your Credit Card Expires

NOVEMBER 2012


TECHDIRT || NOVEMBER 2012

from the ebooks:-where-‘buying’-means-‘renting-for-an-indefinite-period’ dept

DRM rears its ugly, malformed, malignant, cross-eyed head again. Despite the fact that, as Cory Doctorow so aptly put it, no one has ever purchased anything because it came with DRM, an ever-slimming number of content providers insist on punishing paying customers with idiotic “anti-piracy” schemes.

Combine this “malware” with digital distribution that sticks the end user with an unfavorable license rather than, say, an actual book, and you’ve got another ready-made disaster. The Consumerist has the details on yet another paying customer dealing with DRM stupidity. It starts off with this physical analogy.

[I]f reader Synimatik had bought a paperback book a few months ago and picked it up to read now, the book’s pages wouldn’t magically glue shut just because the credit card she normally uses at the bookstore has expired.

Obviously, no one would expect a physical book to be subject to the whims of the publisher or the store it was purchased from. A sale is a sale, even if many rights holders would rather it wasn’t. But, Barnes & Noble doesn’t see it that way. Sure, you can buyan ebook from them, but you’d better keep everything in your profile up to date if you plan on accessing your purchases at some undetermined point in the future.

Yesterday, I tried to download an ebook I paid for, and previously put on my Nook, a few months ago. When I tried, I got an error message stating I could not download the book because the credit card on file had expired. But, I already paid for it. Who cares if the credit card is expired? It has long since been paid for, so the status of the card on file has nothing to do with my ability to download said book. I didn’t see anything in the terms of service about this either, but it’s possible I missed it.

This is just one more reason to either not buy ebooks, or strip the drm off of the ones you purchase so you can you the book you BUY on all your devices without having to purchase multiple copies for no reason and have access to something you already bought when you want it.

Nice work, B&N. Driving another person away from your offerings with your amnesiac point-of-purchase system. No one’s purchase should be invalidated once the payment has cleared. Barnes & Noble got its money but its customer is out both money and a book. Does B&N really wish for its customers to root their devices and strip the DRM out of their purchases just so they can enjoy them at their own pace? Shouldn’t the company be catering to its customers rather than treating them like thieves who can’t be trusted even though they’ve already paid?

If this was a one-of-a-kind experience, we could chalk it up to “live and learn.” But a whole lot of living has gone on and the only lesson anyone’s learning is the most efficient way to remove pesky DRM idiocy from their purchased “licenses” in order to turn them into actual, useful goods.

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