B&N and Kobo stomping on user ability to download books

I’ve been noticing lately that Kobo has been stomping on the ability to download certain books from user libraries–and at first I thought this was simply a passing glitch. But then I started noticing it happen on books where it was particularly puzzling, i.e., releases from Tor.com. Which are DRM-free and which should not have any restrictions whatsoever upon them.

I saw this happen when I tried to pre-order John Scalzi’s Lock In, and when I sent Kobo’s CS people cranky mail about this, they told me something that made no damn sense whatsoever: that because the book was in epub3 format, that meant I couldn’t download it. I’d also noticed it happen on a free book from Tor–Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Lady Astronaut of Mars”.

Reasons why this made no damn sense:

1) A book’s format does not dictate whether you can download it. All downloading is is copying data from point A to point B. If there’s something that’s getting in the way of the data moving, that’s DRM or some other form of restriction.

2) I was able to go over to my B&N account, go find Kowal’s novelette, and download the exact same thing in the exact same format with no problems whatsoever.

So I sent Kobo additional cranky mail about this, and was told that if I wanted the book in another format, then I should complain to the publisher. And that pissed me off because the CS person didn’t understand that I wasn’t complaining about the format–I was complaining about the inability to download the thing onto my computer so that I could keep a backup copy of it around. Which I should have been able to bloody well do as I wished, because it had no DRM on it.

Meanwhile, though, B&N has trumped Kobo completely on this, because according to this post on The Digital Reader, now B&N has removed download links for ALL books in user accounts. Apparently, they’re stopping support for sideloading, according to what the poster was told in tweets.

And this just makes me crankier. Dammit, B&N, I started buying ebooks from you because Amazon was pissing me off. And Kobo, I started buying books from YOU because B&N was pissing me off, and additionally, because I wanted to support moves to partner up with independent bookstores.

But if BOTH of you are going to start denying users ability to download their damn books, all this is going to do is drive me off to find out whether Google Play will let me do this. And it’ll make me way more interested in buying books directly from publishers and from authors as often as possible.

Dammit, all I want to do is buy books, keep master copies on my computer, and put them on devices to read when I want to. This should not be difficult.

And yet.

Posted by

Author of the Free Court of Seattle series as Angela Korra'ti, and of the Rebels of Adalonia series as Angela Highland. Geek, fangirl, musician, and raving admirer of Newfoundland and Quebecois traditional music. Also a.k.a. Anna the Piper!

19 thoughts on “B&N and Kobo stomping on user ability to download books

    1. I actually have an account with ebooks.com, yeah–opened ages ago in the dawn of ebooks. I’ve bought exactly one book from them, one that I couldn’t find anywhere else. I may have to up the priority of using them as a book source too.

      I’m hearing reports that Kobo’s swearing now that they’re working on fixing a “bug” in their system and that they’re committed to allowing users to back up their libraries. We’ll have to see if they go through with that.

      Source: this thread on Dear Author.

      Like

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