I wrote recently about a cheery email I received about Nook. The service is closing in the UK, and the company has reached a deal of sorts with a nothing operator in the space (run by a supermarket!), which will allow you to retain some of your purchases. I received another email today, which had a rather more urgent ‘last chance’ feel to it. Again, it outlined the process customers must take:
To help meet your digital reading needs going forward, NOOK has partnered with award‑winning Sainsbury’s Entertainment on Demand to ensure that you have continued access to as many of your purchased NOOK Books as possible at no additional cost to you.
If I have purchased something, my assumption would be ongoing and permanent ownership. What would be more honest is the following:
To help meet your digital reading needs going forward, NOOK has partnered with award‑winning Sainsbury’s Entertainment on Demand to ensure that you have continued access to as many of the NOOK Books you thought you had purchased — but had in fact only sort-of rented (SURPRISE!) — as possible at no additional cost to you.
This kind of thing is why I almost never buy DRM-encased content. Music already solved this problem, after plenty of turmoil, and it’s now actually quite difficult to find downloadable music (outside of streaming, where ownership isn’t presumed) with DRM. Books, magazines and comics rather oddly often cling to DRM, though, to lock you into services or specific stores; on that basis, I have reverted to paper or will only purchase content in formats that lack DRM (such as freely usable PDF or CBR).
When it comes to movies and telly, I fear things won’t change for a very long time, due to studios being blinkered and paranoid. Right now, I could download almost any show or movie entirely for free, and would be able to watch wherever and whenever I like. By contrast, I can pay over the odds for a digital file that only works on specific hardware and/or using specific software, and that might vanish from a cloud library without notice. Subsequently, I almost never buy digital TV shows or movies now, preferring streaming; and on those very few occasions I do succumb, it’s either a rare DRM-free download (for example, from a Kickstarter), or for something that’s inherently disposable that I only really want to watch once.
Frankly, the approach taken by many executives — whether they’re behind Hollywood blockbusters or systems for selling and reading books — needs to die. They are consumer-hostile, and Nook’s misfortune showcases what happens when things go badly wrong. If a publisher folds, you don’t expect someone to silently remove their paper books from your shelves and then say you can have some of them back, for free, because a deal has been struck with a supermarket. The same should be true for digital.