Saw this on the Huffington Post Books page. DRM Lawsuit Filed by Independent Bookstores Against Amazon, Big 6 Publishers.
Basically the suit alleges that the DRM in place on eBooks grants Amazon a monopoly. I would agree that this DRM effectively shuts out independent book sellers, but, “monopoly,” is a tough word. I do not think I would go that far.
Would not Amazon have the right to profit from the product of their investment in the development of the infrastructure and software that makes selling eBooks through them possible? What would compel them to share that technology? In a way they do share it. The Kindle app can be loaded on pretty much any smartphone or tablet. Kindle books cannot be loaded or traded or sold among friends and that is a product of the DRM software embedded in the files. Taken together these seem less the actions of a company engaging in monopolistic practice and more like a company ensuring they capitalize on the return of their investment.
Still, where does that leave the independent book seller? These sellers, much like libraries, are up the creek if they try to force their way into the eBook market. They will fail and possibly bankrupt themselves. Instead I would suggest that both institutions capitalize on the rise of independent publishing and reach out to local authors. They can bring the community back to their brick and mortar buildings. The trendsetter who likes turning heads by whipping out their Kindle or Nook on the bus is largely already lost to the local guys. There is a reason why throwing pebbles at giants never made it as an Olympic sport. Now is the time to use your resources and think outside the box.
I find it ironic in a period of time when we have transitioned to an experience based culture that small independent and unique bookstores should be in danger. These stores offer something that cannot be had anywhere else; shelves lined with unique titles chosen to match the tastes of the owner, art hanging on the walls to accent these tastes and set the store apart. More than anything I find an expression in the independent book store that chains and online shopping carts can never match.
Independent authors offer stories that are unique and apart in their own way. The heart and soul that goes into these works should not be understated. These are work written to be read. Plus a local author can so easily reach out to an audience of homegrown readers further cultivating the community that thrives in the local book store. The two seem like such a good match. This law suit may be the last gasp of independent book sellers or perhaps their wake-up call. Either way it will be interesting to see how it develops.
Cory Doctorow’s Response is also an interesting read. Knowing what you are suing should be the first question your lawyers answer.