FTRW 2012 – The E-Book as A Form of Censorship

I’ve already mentioned that I’ve got a longer post on e-books and libraries percolating.

This post isn’t it.

But, as I’ve ended up doing “big picture” censorship topics for Freedom to Read Week this year compared to my usual stories about books that have <gasp> swears in them and movies that have <double gasp> boobies, I thought I’d explore a bit about how the enormous growth of e-books is becoming a weird form of de facto censorship.

I’m not even talking about the well-documented instances where big players like Apple and/or Amazon have removed books were already in their store or even that customers have bought and paid for.

And I’m not talking about how the increasing movement towards e-books threatens to squeeze out those who can’t afford laptops and e-readers and iPads and all the other “extras” of this brave new world.

Those things are both bad enough but even worse is how many books simply aren’t available in e-book format at all – either because they’re out of print or they’re from a small publisher who hasn’t moved to e-publishing yet or their copyrights aren’t clear so they can’t be made available.

On top of that, there’s a number of large publishers who have simply refused to make their titles available for library lending and that, to me, is a form of censorship as well.

I’m starting to get into what I want to cover in my longer e-book post but I think publishers are completely missing the boat here, targeting libraries by not making their books available instead of dealing with other larger access/distribution/pricing issues around e-books.

Sound familiar?  It’s the same problem that the music industry made initially and perhaps has not recovered from, even with the growth of the iTunes store. The movie industry is even worse – those guys have cried wolf for EVERY MAJOR TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT OF THE PAST 100 YEARS!

Ultimately, whether it’s music or movies or books, the reality is that this is isn’t a problem of price, it’s a problem of access.  And any time publishers or corporations decide to restrict access and prevent readers from accessing content they want to access, they’re not protecting their bottom line.  Instead, they’re putting another nail in their own coffin.

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