here has been considerable discussion lately about authors and publishers selling their ebooks directly to readers, much of it fueled by J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore announcement. The approach is technically feasible as well as financially lucrative. Why give stores like Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble (etc.) a cut if you don’t have to?
As an avid reader of ebooks I’ve been thinking a lot about what this means for me. The key reader benefit touted so far is that the ebooks (Harry Potter ebooks at least) will be free of copy protection. I’ll agree that is attractive to some people but in my case I own a Kindle so I’m not as concerned about Amazon abandoning me.
Notwithstanding the benefit of owning an ebook that doesn’t lock me into a specific standard, are there downsides? I think there are two big ones and they cut to the very promise of ebooks.
Backups. When I buy a Kindle edition a copy of it is stored in my online (cloud) account. I can move and replace it on difference devices as needs arise. But imagine a world where you must remember to back up your ebook titles, worse yet, just certain ones. I suppose Pottermore could have a backup of my ebook but how practical is it to expect readers to keep track of each store they buy from if selling direct becomes widespread? This is why people buy Apple products—things “just work”. They “just won’t” if some publishers sell direct and others don’t.
Social sharing. One of my favorite things to do is discover what other people like about the book I’m reading. Called Popular Highlights on the Kindle, I no longer have access to this fascinating look into the collective mind of fellow readers. While I wouldn’t be surprised to see this issue addressed by a sell-direct publisher, or a third party service, I doubt it would be as convenient and useful as it is now.
Those are my two cons to buying direct. Am I missing others? Are there other pros besides the lack of copy protection?
Originally published by David on his Sell Box site.