Dear Publishers: E-Book DRM is Ruining My Life

14 Jan

Earlier this week, galley distribution site Net Galley announced they were temporarily disabling kindle access to their e-arcs. Last week, Simon & Schuster announced their Galley Grab program, letting reviewers request and access upcoming releases. Unfortunately for most kindle users, neither service is available to you. Instead, you get to read books on your laptop!

Last night, I attempted my first e-arc read on my mac book:

Two chapters in to a book I was very much looking forward to reading, I found myself in trouble.

Reading books on my laptop is going to make me go blind. I’m not exaggerating. When I first moved to NYC and spent my days slaving away as a magazine intern, spending 8+ hours a day online caused me to develop vision problems. After months of chronic dry eye, and a few days where I couldn’t even put my contacts in with out screaming in pain, I was finally told by a kind eye doctor my problems were caused by computers. I now can’t be on mine for more than a few hours unless I have incredibly bright lighting shining down on the screen. Even then, I have a short window free of eye strain. Many people who spend long days on computers or using back lit screens, develop similar problems.

I’m now finding it a bit impossible to read an e-arc (one with an expiration date 10 days away from now) on my computer. Just today I spent over 8 hours editing photos (my “day job”). I barely made it through. I’d love to relax, and read one of the new titles I received, but my eyes already feel like they’re about to explode out of my head.

Another, more universal problem: Many of these ARC’s can only be read in Adobe Digital Editions, on your computer. Which makes them non-portable. I can’t take my laptop on the subway, to the Doctor’s office, or in the bath tub with me. Well, I could, but it would either be stolen, damaged, or an extreme burden to do so. Sadly, once dependent on laptop use, my reading time is cut down to nearly 3/4 of what it normally would be. I’m usually a “finish a good book in one day” kind of girl.

I feel incredibly lucky that I’ve been given the opportunity to read advance copies of upcoming book releases—Especially after blogging for just over a month. But I should not have to harm myself in order to read them. To a lot of e-reader users, DRM seems pointless. Most hackers know how to remove it from files. If scientists can figure out how to create robots with artificial intelligence, someone, somewhere can create a universal e-book format that can still protect the content, yet be read anywhere.

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