David Pouge, New Entry in E-Books a Paper Tiger, Aug. 6, 2009 on page B1.
Barnes & Noble’s new e-book initiative has iPhone and Windows applications that are mostly excellent, the concept of free access to public-domain books is sound and being able to read your e-books on your laptop is a no-brainer. However, the stripped-down Mac version of the Reader can be confusing; it doesn’t even list your books. Before you can start reading a book you’ve bought, you have to navigate away from the buying page to your online library, download the book, switch to the reader program, find and open the book on your hard drive, and type in your name and credit card number a second time. You can never lend, resell or pass on an Amazon or Barnes & Nobles e-book. You’re buying into proprietary, copy-protected formats — which can have its downsides. Last month, for example, Amazon erased “1984” and “Animal Farm” from its customers’ Kindles by remote control, having discovered a problem with the rights. Amazon refunded the price, but the sense of violation many customers felt was a disturbing wake-up call. Furthermore, a huge number of important books are still missing from both catalogs. A recent New Yorker review of the Kindle identified a huge list of them.