We keep very close tabs on discussions among ebook reading folks in various international forums and websites, large and small, to stay abreast of ever-developing reading trends, hardware and software technology, etc, and to be aware of problems encountered ... especially problems we can help fix for readers. (I highly recommend www.mobileread.com, by the way.)
Two of the most common complaints are geographical restrictions placed on titles by the huge new online ebook stores (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Apple, Kobo et al) that put some books out of reach to readers in some countries, and Digital Rights Management (DRM) padlocks that tremendously and, we believe unfairly, restrict a buyer's rights of personal use.
Although BeWrite Books holds international rights to all its titles, whereas some publishers' deals with authors and agents are country-specific, the major stores lump BB in with the rest for their own admin convenience and sometimes there arises the ridiculous situation where someone in the very same town as a BB author can't buy his neighbour's book from a big online ebookshop. This is especially critical in Europe and Down Under.
We have no control over this and can only encourage browsers to buy from our own store where there are ZERO geographical restrictions.
And, although we utterly deplore and fight tooth and nail against DRM, the big stores slap on their own software locks regardless and, we believe, for nefarious reasons. Again we are powerless, although we guarantee that ebooks from our own store are DRM-free.
But where there's a will there's a way, and Tony and I have dreamed up a solution, with a little help from an anti-DRM-campaigning indie author. You will now see the following prominent notice at the top of our bookstore's front page ...
A PROMISE TO OUR EBOOK BUYERS
Should you buy a BeWrite Books ebook from a third party-retailer rather than from our own site, you might find (through no fault or desire on our part) that it is locked by store-imposed Digital Rights Management (DRM) software. We feel this restricts your legitimate owner's rights. So if you ever encounter this problem, simply let us know and we will freely send you the DRM-free version of that title in the format of your choice. (Evidence of original purchase would help us identify the errant store, but isn't strictly necessary for this offer to be fulfilled.) BeWrite Books and its authors want you to be able to share their ebooks with friends and family as you might share their paperbacks. We want you to be able to easily convert ebooks to any format you like, to read them on whichever device you like, wherever you like, whenever you like. We trust you not to make a business of it, but to fairly use a BB ebook as you would a BB treebook. BB reckons you own the ebook you bought – you've not merely licensed it with strings attached. DRM is not only an inconvenience to you but a downright insult. We'll put it right. That's a promise. And those who know us will attest to the fact that BB never breaks its promises.
And if our third-party retailers don't like that, they can take Kurt Vonnegut's famous flying you-know-what at the mooooon!
Cheers folks. Neil