A manifesto from people who love (or want to love) ebooks


There is a wake-up call pending for ebook vendors and it goes something like this:

We, the people who buy your products, are tired of being treated like pork-flavored playing chips on the big money poker tables of corporate wolves for whom books are just commodities. We don’t want devices that only talk to your book store, we don’t want devices that can only display books in the formats you own and control, and we don’t want devices whose features assume that the book-reading experience has ended the moment our credit card has cleared your payment center.

Since it seems so difficult for you to understand how us book people think, here’s the rather simple list of freedoms and abilities we want:

  • the freedom to read all ebook formats
  • the freedom to buy books from any e-tailer
  • the freedom to sync our entire collection between our reading devices and computers
  • the ability to annotate our books
  • the ability to rate and review the books we read, on the device
  • the ability to create collections/albums of the books we own
  • the ability to tag books with arbitrary keywords of our own choosing
  • the ability to share our reviews, ratings, tags, etc with other readers and potential readers of those books, on any arbitrary device or web system

And lastly (and this is a big one, so pay attention):

  • freedom from the threat that you or anyone else might at any time delete or alter the contents of our book collections, ever, for any reason, period, full stop

We realize that some of these features scare you. You believe that robbed of your ability to maintain a strangle-hold over every bit of book data that leaves your server, you might actually have to compete for our business. Well guess what? Sooner or later somebody is going to give us the ebook experience we want. And when they do, your days become sharply numbered. This isn’t a threat, it’s a simple fact of market economics. Get it right, or get out of our way.

And I’ll leave you with this one final warning: the Aldiko ereader app is already way ahead of you on this.


Your Customers
(Who also happen to be really eager to switch allegiance in a heartbeat if somebody is able to deliver these goods.)

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About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is underqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.