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If you buy eBooks from Barnes & Noble, you should know that they have discontinued their reader programs for Mac and PC. I can’t speak to the PC version, but the Mac version was basically a terrible bugfest that was usually non-functional. Their reader on iOS is better, but still annoying – I have two lousy books and I am constantly having to re-download them (and it never works for me on the first try). And who knows when an OS update will break it – can we count on B&N to fix it?

B&N suggests as an alternative to their native programs on your computer that you use their web-based reader. I’d love to, but one of my two books isn’t available for the web viewer. Why the heck is that? I can only suppose it’s a license restriction, because I can’t believe that it’s in some special format that only works in the stand-alone readers – that wouldn’t make any sense.

So like the article in the link says, it’s hard to see that B&N is very committed to eBooks. If you have a sizable B&N eBook collection, I’d advise picking up a Nook ASAP – because that may be the only way you’ll be able to read your content in the near future. If you already have one, I’d consider investing in another, especially if you see them on sale. Fire it up long enough to get it set up then store it away.

In my case, it’s kind of funny, because the one book I actually care about (the other was a free public domain book I can get elsewhere) I found in hard copy in my basement recently – apparently I had won a copy a few years back. So I’m covered.

That brings up another way to protect yourself – buy the books in paper form. Yes, I know, the whole point was to have them in convenient electronic form (and to save some money as well in most cases). But it won’t be convenient – just frustrating – if you have a whole library you can’t read.

If you don’t have many eBooks from B&N, you should probably not buy any more. Get them elsewhere. With the coming of Mavericks, iBooks will (finally!) be available on the Mac, and the Kindle reader experience is good on just about any device.

Still, this does bring up a valid worry about all eBooks that have DRM (just like other DRMed media)- what do you do when the authorized DRM programs go away? How do you consume the content? Hopefully, if that happens, either the DRM provider gives away the “keys” or some third party figures it out…


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One Response to Unfinished Words

  1. Phyllis Evans says:

    I’ve stopped buying from B&N, downloaded books that I may read again, stripped the DRM and run them through Calibre and transferred them to my Kindle. B&N does one very nasty thing by requiring a current credit card on file to download books already purchased. If I bought and paid for it more than a year ago, why do they need me to update my CC info?