Have you ever considered what is actually happening when you buy an eBook? While reading a recent blog post on Lockergnome.com about EULA (End-User License Agreement — the bit you have to agree to when installing software), I noticed a comment that, even though you think you’re buying eBooks, you’re only actually renting them.
As we live in an age where computers hold the keys to pretty much anything we want to do, too many of us don’t actually consider things like this. I don’t have an Amazon Kindle, but I have downloaded an Amazon Kindle app for my Android. I love it. Along with it being on my Android, it is on my PC just in case I’m engrossed in the eBook I’m reading and my battery dies.
Some services do give you the actual files for an eBook (and not just the means to call in the material from somewhere remotely), in which case you technically have the book, but is the person who made the comment in the aforementioned Lockergnome.com entry correct in saying that we only rent — not own — eBooks? As I am currently not at my PC with the Kindle app, I can’t really answer that question. I know that there is a folder set out that’s labeled “Kindle Content,” so I am guessing that there is a file of the book in that folder.
Unlike a physical book, which can be borrowed, lent, rented, or sold without being tied to something like a special pair of glasses required for reading what’s in the book, the only way to access this Kindle-oriented content is through the proprietary Kindle app.
Knowing that you have to be logged into your Amazon account to read “your” eBooks seems to answer the question. If Amazon ever goes bust or stops supporting Kindle, you’ll no longer have access to the books that you have “bought.”
That being said, I find Amazon Kindle to be really useful for non-reference material that I like to read, but won’t find a crucial need to access again in the future. I guess the same could be said for libraries. (You remember libraries, don’t you?)