mobipocketlogosmall Thanks to Michael Harris for suggesting this poll in a DRM context. One of the biggest challenges of DRM is the that e-books are often licensed for use on just a limited number of devices—a real issue for me as a Mobipocket user. Mobipocket.com lets me register a mere four devices. Look, I use two desktops, four PDAs and two tablets, all of which can run Mobi—plus one incompatible OLPC laptop and an equally incompatible Sony Reader. Yes, other issues arise, such as operating system-related incompatibilities. See why it’s time to think about dumping DRM in favor of no "protection," digital watermarking if possible, or social DRM?

Important: Don’t cheat. Even if it weakens the anti-DRM argument, tell the truth about the number of devices in use! And if you want, feel free to mention in the comments column your on thoughts on device counts and OSes in terms of DRM.

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  1. The poll is misleading since devices come and go, while I have print books in my library that have been published before 1940 for example…

    It should have been something like: how many devices have you ever used to read e-books…

    Now I have about 6 I use (770, Sony, iTouch, Tablet, 2-PC’s), but I had an Ebookwise and another pc I read e-books on, so the true answer would be 8

  2. Liviu is mostly correct, except the he/she phrases the question in the past tense and the poll question phrases it in the present tense. To my mind, the question is less about past or present but more about future. If I buy the DRM version of a book for my Sony today, what do I do next year when I buy the newly released color Juxtaposition Reader with built-in WiFi and text-to-speech capabilities? A p-book goes everywhere essentially forever — from library to library — without dispensations from the book equivalent of the RIAA. In contrast, my e-books require dispensations.

    The current e-book system seems an awful lot like the current cell phone system in the U.S.

  3. Liviu and Richard: Thanks to both of you for your interest in precision. I’d side more with Richard. If you’ve bought an old device, you may still want to read—present tense!—books on it! Yes, there’s the future factor, too. Of course as the guy behind the poll, I’m hardly unbiased.

    On a different topic, while the poll sample is tiny, I’m surprised to see such a small percentage of people using 5+ devices. I suspect this will change as prices drop. If nothing else, however, we’re showing that multidevice use is the norm. Hello, Amazon? Care to make DRMed Kindle books readable at least on desktops?

    Anyway I hope a bunch of people participate so the sample will be meaningful. Maybe we’ll yet see a bunch of 5+ folks.


  4. I think that if you let the poll somewhere visible for a week or so, lots of people will answer. Friday before Memorial Day is kind of slow – good for releasing all kinds of stuff you do not want discussed too much as we keep learning from our rulers and rulers to be :)

    Coming back to drm, devices – I still see no reason to regard any drm book that you cannot unlock as anything other than disposable – say a year is reasonable to expect to be able to keep reading it, 2-3 years maybe, beyond that only if you are lucky. So it’s all up to how you regard your books. Read and throw, then drm should not bother you. Want to pass them to your children, well better think again :)

  5. The question is not how many devices but how many programs on that one device do you use. I have many readers on my Palm TX, Plucker, Mobipocket, ereader, two pdf readers, doc and txt.

  6. I have 3 devices. One I never got to work, so don’t use that one. The others are a Palm T|X and a Kindle. I voted 2 devices. Since getting my Kindle I have used it exclusively to read e-books. The great majority of my books are non-DRM. Baen, Feedbooks and SteveJordanBooks are my major sources of books. I also have articles, my own writing, txt lists and other stuff not under the control of publishers on my Kindle.

  7. I’m one of the people who only reads on one device, my tiny z22. This is primarily because I’m a student and can’t really afford one of those ridiculously overpriced e-ink toys (though I’m excited about the cheapie astak ones coming out soon). But after I voted, I realized that I also read ebooks on my PC, though not the typical ‘ebooks’ as talked about on all the ebook sites. I read RPG books (in *gasp* pdf format) and comics (in .cbz or .cbr format) on my compy. But do these count as ebooks? Nobody here or at mobileread talks about RPGNow‘s gaming books and their use of social or no DRM (and not to mention some of the most progressive licenses I’ve seen–ones that encourage sharing with gaming friends). And in all the discussions of supported ebook formats for devices, I have yet to see anyone ever mention .cbz or .cbr. So if these count, I guess I would be two devices. I’m curious as to what other people think about where these two black sheep fit in.

  8. Macbook (my ‘desktop’ pc) but not very often and usually only if it’s a protected format or a horrible PDF

    Alphasmart Dana (not very often, and I am thinking of selling this device anyway)

    eBookwise ereader (use tis very often on days I am out and about a lot, or babysitting, or to read on the subway)

    Asus EEE pc (used in lieu of eBookwise but only on days when I need its computer features i.e. if I have to take it to work anyway, I won’t bring the eBookwise and will read on this if I feel like reading)

    Used to use but no longer own/use:

    Sony Clie (once it started resetting every time I changed the batteries, I gave this away as I did not want to buy a proprietary Sony memory card to back things up on since I own no other Sony devices—a victim of ‘proprietary add-on e-Babl if you will :) )

    Palm m125 (I liked this device a lot and bought a second one when my first one broke, but I now have better devices which duplicate its features and have better battery life, so although I still own one, I don’t use it)

  9. This is badly worded. I thought it meant types of devices. So, I lumped my PDAs into one category, my phones into another, and computers into a third yielding three. However, I have multiple devices in each of these categories, and the count is more like 6 or 8 if individual devices are counted.

  10. Just use my laptop for pdfs and my pocket pc phone for leisure reading, but I’ve had 6 diferent PDAs/ phones in as many years not including a couple of warranty/insurance replacements.

    Afraid to say any books I purchase are in Microsoft reader format because they are easy to unlock to html which I read using ubook on my phone. Thats a problem though because the only pc I have managed to login to my book store account to buy books has just died and I have never managed to activate reader on any other device.

  11. I used to read ebooks on my laptop, desktop and a Palm Tungsten (with the pull-out screen). I was never very happy with any of those, and since I’ve gotten the Kindle, I only read books in on the Kindle and in paper format.

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