Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Burned by an E-Book

Here's one more reason that e-books will never equal the real thing.

We've discussed before why libraries carry such a limited selection of e-books (certain publishers refuse to sell to them) and why they have so few copies of the titles they do carry (publishers will only sell them a certain number of copies and they try to limit the number of times an e-book can be "checked out" before it has to be repurchased by the library).  All of that means that library patrons will almost always have to queue up for an e-book, placing it on hold for a few weeks before it becomes available for download to their e-reader.    Then, when the book finally becomes available, it will only be available for checkout for a few days (usually five) and can only be read for fourteen days after it has been downloaded.

Well, that combination of silliness caught up with me today.  After waiting six weeks to get a copy of Tony Blair's memoir, A Journey, I will not be able to finish it before the file becomes unreadable on my iPad.  Remember, we're dealing with an e-book here.  Since I didn't have a physical copy of the book to carry around, I failed to realize that the book is 720 pages long.  For that reason, I didn't start reading it soon enough to get it done before the file becomes unreadable  - something that happens tomorrow.

My choices, you ask?  Only one comes to mind: queue up again for the book and resume reading it in another month or so.  The book cannot be renewed for another two weeks because the "corrupt by" date is built into the file on my iPad.  I realize this is only likely to happen with exceptionally long books, and that it is partially my fault for not checking the length of the book early on, but this is just more evidence that e-book publishers don't get it.  (The OverDrive software does not show page numbers by default - a conscious effort to change the display is required for that to happen.)

One thing for certain is that I will not be rewarding Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, publisher of A Journey: My Political Life, by purchasing a copy of the book for my shelves or for my iPad, nor am I likely to line up again and wait my turn for a library copy.  Two can play at this game.  Unfortunately, even though it is not by choice, the book officially becomes my second abandoned book of 2011.


  1. The same thing happened to me with Hero by Michael Korda. I did not realize how long it was...sigh..now I need to find a hard copy and read the ending

  2. "Luckily," Joemmama, I was only 200 pages into the book so I don't feel like I need to make any special effort to finish it. It is a very dry read anyway and made for some sluggish reading.

  3. They really need to get this model figured out. It is really dumb the way they have it set up right now with the books "timing out" on your device. It should be like any other library book that the library purchases ONCE and then you can borrow and renew multiple times if needed before you return.