My eBook policy

I currently own two eBook readers (a Foxit eSlick and a Barnes & Noble nook) and since I've had them I use them to read almost all of the books I read. One of the major differences between eBooks and paper books is how I can lend them to friends or borrow them from friends. This page explains how I handle borrowing and lending eBooks.

My eBooks are DRM-free

If an eBook I buy uses DRM (Digital Rights Management), then, whenever possible, I remove the DRM protection before adding it to my library. I do this because it removes technical barriers that prevent me (or might prevent me) from using the books in legitimate ways. For example:

In addition, removing DRM grants me the control for over how and when I access the content I paid for, protecting me against other risks inherent in DRM.

Removing DRM would enable me to very easily pirate eBooks. I don't pirate or plan to pirate eBooks. I support authors. If you are thinking about pirating an eBook, please consider whether you really want to take such illegal action, especially given how much books actually cost. A novel in eBook format typically costs less than $12 and may give you, say, 10 hours worth of entertainment. What other sort of entertainment or hobby costs $1.20 per hour?

With DRM-protected books, lending, borrowing, and giving away books is usually not feasible at all. There are exceptions but they are rare and awkward. For example, Barnes & Noble allows eBooks to be lent and borrowed, but only for fixed amounts of time, only for a limited number of times per book, and both the lender and borrower have to have B&N readers (which is a huge restriction).

I lend eBooks just like paper books

Rather than following the lending restrictions imposed by DRM-protected eBooks, I lend and borrow books in a manner that emulates as closely as possible the way paper books work. That is, I will lend any given book an unlimited number of times, but only to one person at a time, and I will not read or use the book while it is on loan to somebody. If I give or sell a book then I will delete my copy.

In order for this to work as intended, all persons to whom I lend books must adhere to the same policy. I will lend books to friends whom I can trust to respect this policy.

If I have lent you a book and you really enjoy it, you might also consider supporting the author by buying your own copy. I will consider the same for books I borrow.

Most of my friends do not (yet?) have eBook readers. If you do not have an eBook reader, you are welcome to borrow one of my readers together with a book. That's one of the reasons I have two of them.

Silly copyright notices

Consider the following exerpt of a copyright notice found at the end of one of the eBooks in my library:

By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of [...]

"any forms" ... "any means" ... "hereinafter invented"? Wow. I have to recognize this paragraph as the meaningless nonsense that it is. It basically sys I can't obtain a copy of the book book without the publisher's written permission (since to do that I would have to download it and transmit it) and even if I could get it I couldn't keep it (since I'm not allowed to store it anywhere). The ridiculousnous of the things it claims I am not allowed to do prevents me from taking any part of that paragraph seriously. Anyway, copyright law provides for fair use, which includes things like quoting exerpts (which I've just done!) and keeping a backup copy in case my computer's hard drive fails. Furthermore, I will transfer my right (i.e. give away or sell the book) if I so please: it is fundamental to the nature of commerce that one can sell the things that one buys (in this case, a license to the book).

So I largely ignore paragraphs like the one above and instead accord the author and publisher the intellectual property rights they actually deserve.

Last update: 2010-09-20 vandry