Buying eBooks

I'd love to buy some eBooks. Authors write stuff of interest, and I'd like to pay them for their work.

The sellers do two things that make this virtually impossible. It is hard to find out if they charge California sales tax. I only buy from places that do so that I don't have to deal with use taxes on my tax return.

The other is determining if the books are DRM free. By that I mean can I read it on any device I own, now or in the future. (Note how regular books trivially fit that criteria.) Obviously the ones requiring dedicated devices or software can be immediately ruled out (Amazon, Google, Nook). But the rest of the sites really try to avoid telling you that there are very few devices you'll be able to read the book on.

Pirates:
  • Search
  • Download
  • Put on any device
  • Read
Good guys:
  • Search
  • Navigate lots of different sites trying to work out which one to "buy" from
  • Create yet another account with yet another username and password
  • Put book in basket
  • Enter credit card details
  • Some complicated download mechanism
  • Make lots of backups since you probably won't be able to download again
  • Put it on some subset of devices
  • Install some random crappy eBook reader
  • Read.

And if you want to read again in the future, hope you still have devices that work or you'll have to repeat all this. It really is renting for an undetermined time period, not buying but at buying prices.

What I and everyone else wants:
  • Search
  • Pay
  • Download
  • Read (now and in the future)

It is a strange business model to treat your paying customers like crap and to make their experience with your products as tedious and arbitrary as possible. Yet industry after industry keeps trying to do this and they keep getting the same result. (Definition of insanity.) Hopefully Scott Adams will come up with a new word to describe this just like when he coined "confusopoly".

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