Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ebook Updating Capability

Here is something I didn't know: when an ebook is updated or revised or corrected, the seller can, technically, update, revise, or correct each copy of that ebook that sits on Kindles or Ipads everywhere. Read about it in the May 2010 issue of Wired but I can't find a link to the piece. Ironic, huh?

Now, just because a seller can reach out tentacles across the airwaves to manipulate text, doesn't mean that they do. As Wired points out, a year ago Amazon deleted a bunch of copies of 1984 from the reading devices of customers because the copies were bootlegged. (huh? I don't know how that happened but that's what Wired says.) Customers were very angry; Amazon apologized and will not update or change an ebook without a customer's permission.

It brings up possiblities, doesn't it? How many new textbooks are sold because the authors add a new chapter and up the rev. number so that students can't buy a used copy? If the texts can be automatically updated, students don't have to buy new books. But why would authors take the time to update such books if they're not compensated for their efforts?

What about translated works? When a new translation of The Conquest of Gaul becomes available, should everybody who has an older copy have the option of updating? And what about a map book? Now there's something you'd want to have updated, huh? But if there's no profit in such updates, who will bother?

I'm probably spinning my wheels. As I said, just because ebooks can be updated doesn't mean they will be.

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