23 September 2015

Why E-Books May Fail

Dear E-book Advocates and Software Developers:

There have been a couple of news items recently about a levelling-off in e-book sales. This is not at all surprising; anyone who believes that sales growth of anything is a steady onwards and upwards with no spikes, no discontinuities, and nothing unpredictable is probably an MBA who believes that the long-tail theory makes either mathematical or real-world sense. Admittedly, there are too damned many of you.

But I've been fighting with my phone this morning, after being forced to uninstall my formerly favored e-book reader — an entirely passive function that has become untenable due to an "update." It's been an adventure finding a replacement...

  • You do not get to steal my bandwidth and battery life with your bloody advertisements. Period. Not when you've changed your formerly ad-free program with no notice with a mandatory "upgrade." Not when you claim in your sales literature to be fully in-app-purchase supported (which, since I don't purchase on the phone for other security reasons, is a matter of choice). Not when, in the online store, you do not acknowledge that you're ad-supported (that's six install/uninstall cycles for four different programs this morning alone).
  • You do not need my device and application history to passively read an on-storage-card passive file.
  • You do not need to know my wi-fi connection status to passively read an on-storage-card passive file.
  • You do not get to force me to synchonize my library to the cloud — and most especially not to your proprietary cloud where I may never have any idea that you've used my library as pirating source material (among the lesser of the potential problems).
  • You do not get to force me to put all of my files into the hierarchy and organization that you prefer, and refuse to read from offline storage (the SD card) despite stating that you can and do.
  • You do not get to monitor what I'm reading, when, where, how quickly, or anything else when I'm reading from a passive file on offline storage. If I choose to read on the web or in an e-store, that's still annoying; it's not allowed in my own library.
  • You do not own my bloody devices or library or reading habits or anything else.

If you really, really want to become the fashion industry — with its expectation that I'm not just their customer, but their bloody billboard for their bloody brandnames and logos — I suppose I can't stop you. But I don't have to follow you; it looks like I'll be coding a replacement this afternoon...

You've got a lot to atone for today.