Microsoft to kill their e-books (again), compensate purchasers

Microsoft to kill their e-books (again), compensate purchasers

Sigh.

I always try to see both sides (or how ever many sides there are), and I’ll try to find it in this move of Microsoft’s…but my initial response to Microsoft shutting down their e-book business (and refunding purchases) is dismay.

Not surprise, I should say…after all, Microsoft did the same thing with their .lit books, as I wrote about here:

The next chapter in Microsoft and e-books

Not the same way, exactly.

According to the

Microsoft FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions

from July 1st, 2019, people who purchased e-books from Microsoft will no longer be able to access them.

They will compensate the purchase price…but seriously, is the value of a book the same as the list price? I can’t think of a book which I didn’t value more than the money I paid for it. What happens if the price of the book went up since you purchased it? What if the book has “gone out of print”, become digitally unavailable legally…the money won’t bring the book back.

I have often said that I think it is more that my descendants will have access to my e-books than my p-books (paperbooks)…part of my thinking was that if a company went out of business, either some other company would buy the licenses and keep it going, or the proprietary format would not have a market way to access it, meaning that (perhaps…I’m not an intellectual property lawyer, but I’ve read quite a bit on copyright), it would be legal to convert your files to access them.

This isn’t that situation, and these folks will actually lose access to their books.

It’s a bit like years ago when I was working for a company and it went under. I was the training manager. I had one of my trainers preparing for a medical procedure. They went in after the shutdown, and were told that the insurance had been canceled.

I first thought they could get COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act), which you can usually do when you leave a company…it’s expensive, but you can do it.

However, the company canceled the insurance right before they went under…so we didn’t have insurance, so there was nothing to continue.

They hadn’t needed to do that, and it certainly created problems for some of us.

This feels like that, but that’s probably not a fair comparison. Again, Microsoft is compensating people.

Interestingly, you also, of course, lose your notes. If you made notes in your books prior to the announcement (you can’t jump in and do it now), you get an additional $25.

If I had Microsoft books, I’d be trying very hard right now to copy my notes…I write things that are worth a lot more than $25 to me.

I also think it’s important that this is a major company, not some small company that failed.

I’ll undoubtedly come around to some way to feel okay with what Microsoft is doing, but I’m not there now.

How about you? What do you think? Do you have Microsoft books? Did you have .lit books? Do you worry this could happen with Amazon? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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Bufo’s Alexa Skills

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

5 Responses to “Microsoft to kill their e-books (again), compensate purchasers”

  1. Karin Says:

    Isn’t that something that has also happened from time to time with Sony products (not just ebooks)? I sometimes wonder what would happen if the Barnes and Noble stopped selling the Nook.

    I am hoping to have access to my Kindle books for a very long time. I am not so worried about passing them on to anyone. I just want to be able to have access to the books for as long as I llive.

  2. Harold Delk Says:

    At the very least is for MS to allow the download of the books to a storage device and make it possible to read them on a computer or reading device. I am not Windows literate as am a Mac user only, but it seems an easy fix to me. E books are fairly small files so would not require much storage space. Licensing restrictions and copyright may be a problems though. If I were affected by this decision I would start a movement to be compensated by requiring MS to replace my books with Kindle editions at the current price. BTW: I store my Kindle books on an AWS Glacier server along with my photos, videos, and other important files. Seems redundant? That’s why I do it!

  3. Edward Boyhan Says:

    The Microsoft bookstore never had a lot of titles. They have been deciding to pull back from consumer-facing offerings except in the few places where they have demonstrated some traction (Xbox, Surface, etc.) pretty much across the board. They are much more focused on business-focused offerings where they are having great success. Some pundits are describing Microsoft’s market position in the 21st century as analogous to IBM’s in the latter half of the 20th. Satya Nadella comes out of the Azure/cloud side of Microsoft — he is much more comfortable selling to businesses with one exception: he has a disabled child, and he has put a lot of focus on adding accessibility features to their products.

    Another point: the book reading feature was only available via their Edge browser. It’s a good browser (I’ve been using it since its birth). Unfortunately, it has gained little success against Google’s Chrome. They have recently decided to rearchitect Edge around Google’s Chromium rendering engine (picking up a lot of Chrome features and extensions thereby) — but making the addition of the book reading capabilities an involved technical effort.

  4. Lady Galaxy Says:

    Wow! This is “1984-AnimalFarmGate” times thousands, or more likely millions! I have no idea how many e-books Microsoft “sold” but it can’t be a small number.

    I can understand why a company might decide to stop selling e-books, but I can’t understand why it would deny access to folks who already purchased them, especially when the company is as huge as Microsoft. I’ve never purchased books from Microsoft, but I would be furious to learn that they were taking them all back. I absolutely don’t understand why it is more cost effective for Microsoft to return what must be millions of dollars of purchase price while angering their customers. It must cost them more to lease the rights to keep the books on their servers than it will cost to refund the purchase price, but this will leave a bitter taste among book lovers that no amount of money can buy back. This is as if eminent domain meets the private sector!

    I’m sure somewhere in the terms of service that most of us never read there was a mention that the purchase price gave customers access but not ownership, but I would think that lawyers and perhaps elected officials might be asked to get involved. Of course, Microsoft probably also has, somewhere in those terms of service, a clause about arbitration for resolving disputes rather than the court system.

    I think fear of things like this is why I keep my favorite books archived on my older Kindles and why I burn CD’s of the MP3 files I purchase. It’s also why I back up “My Clippings” to a thumb drive. If I pay for them, I want to be able to retain access to them for as long as possible. If Amazon were to do the same thing, I could still read the books that are archived until the Kindles themselves cease to function. Amazon can only delete them when you access the “Amazon cloud.”

    We know the Prime Music, Prime Videos, and Kindle Unlimited items are on loan. This action by Microsoft reminds us all that technically all the books and music in the cloud that we think we own could be taken away at any time.

  5. skubitwo Says:

    petrifies me. i have been replacing favorite p-books with kindle versions because otherwise the basement would spontaneously combust from double stacked bookshelves of paperbacks from well before my husband and i were married (going on 34 years). had a water leak and had to move all those books. we are both the sort of people who have no memory so we can happily re-read asimov, barbara tuchman, or louis lamour ’til the cows come home. the idea that these treasures would vanish twice – donating the physical copy and losing the digital copies – scares me. i know there are libraries, we go there also, but there’s a comfort in a terrible time (dealing with ill relatives, waiting in the ER, accidentally watching the news, etc) when being able to call up a comfort book is sooooooooooooo valuable.

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