Barnes & Noble: Drop Your Damn Mutant DRM!

As I said earlier, I stopped in Barnes & Noble again today and gave the NookColor a deep fondle. Really went through it.

I’m more impressed by it. And it’s exactly what Barnes & Noble said it is: a reading tablet. It’s a new category. And before you laugh, what do you think the upcoming KindlePad will be? An open Android tablet with Kindle as just an app? I don’t think so. So, Barnes & Noble got there first.

And let me update one post from earlier: NookColor Type Crime. The horrible type crime there had to have been the fault of that particular ePub. Because I didn’t see any evidence of that in any other books I looked at on the NookColor today. Type is really gorgeous on it.

If the damn kittens would let me, I’d buy one. And, of course, I’d root it too.

However, I love the integrated Barnes & Noble shopping experience. It was just so damned neat to be able to instantly download a sample of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and look at it. I know Kindles have had this capability for a long time. But that’s an eInk device. This is the first time I’ve experienced this on a sharp, gorgeous LCD with books (OK, aside from the iPad and iBooks; but they’re not a “real” bookstore).

I should be rooting for Barnes & Noble, for god’s sake. They’re my home team. I spent years shopping at their local New York City stores before they ever became a monster chain. Most of my print library originated from their still-missed Sales Annex. And they’ve always been a class act as a store.

But I can’t root for them. Because they were greedy in splitting the eBook world with another damned DRM scheme.

And it doesn’t matter that I could easily strip the damned DRM. The point is that I shouldn’t have to worry about that. I should be able to buy from Barnes & Noble and put the damned eBook on a Sony Reader too if I want, without jumping through hoops.

I want Barnes & Noble to wake up. They’d be in a much stronger position if they’d drop their damned DRM and went with “classic” Adobe DRM. They wouldn’t have people like me biting them in the neck over this, for one. And they’d get a hell of a lot more customers from all those people who use the Sony Reader and, yes, even the Kobo Reader.

Wake up, Barnes & Noble! Wake up!

You don’t have to lock people in like Amazon to win.

Giving people choice wins.

Drop the mutant DRM so everybody can buy from you.


Apparently people are not understanding the full dimension of this issue.

1) Barnes & Noble’s mutant DRM is based on a credit card number.

2) Therefore, you cannot have an account at all without a credit card.

3) No, you cannot open an account with a Gift Card. Look at their instructions.

4) “Classic” Adobe DRM does not have this limitation. I have accounts at Sony’s Reader Store, the Kobo Books store, and Borders all without a credit card.

5) And I even have an account at the Kindle Store without a credit card.

6) I can buy from any of those stores with Gift Cards. No plastic required.

7) Barnes & Noble’s mutant DRM basically says: No plastic? Then get lost, we don’t want your kind as a customer.

You would think with Barnes & Noble losing business every month in its real-life stores, it would do whatever is needed to gain more customers for its eBook business.

Books were never about catering to an exclusive crowd. The goal of books is to spread literacy and education. Barnes & Noble discriminates against those who, for whatever reason — especially in this perilous economy — lack a credit card. This is a disgrace for a store that is in the book business.


Filed under Barnes & Noble Nook

7 responses to “Barnes & Noble: Drop Your Damn Mutant DRM!

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Barnes & Noble: Drop Your Damn Mutant DRM! « Mike Cane's xBlog --

  2. Love that final paragraph. Oh so right on the money.

  3. Logan Kennelly

    My opinion is the exact opposite. Sony, Koby, etc,: Drop Your Damn Consumer-Hostile DRM!

    The new Adobe DRM which B&N uses does not require you to phone home to the mothership in order to read a book. If I break my reader when I’m travelling and don’t have Internet access, I can simply buy a new one and copy the books over.

    If B&N goes out of business and shuts down their server, then I don’t lose access to my library. Books were never about consuming and disposing. The goal of books is to collect your favorites and share them with future generations.

    Yes, a credit or debit card-like account is required, but it has just as much to do with the geographical restrictions imposed by the publishers as it does with providing a financial disincentive to giving copies of your books to people you don’t trust.

    There is nothing stopping you from buying a pre-paid debit card (and registering your address) to open your B&N account and then using gift cards. (Well, nothing other than the $4 convenience fee, but they are started to waive even that when converting your paycheck into a debit card.)

    I was also under the impression that almost every bank provided a free debit card, and, due to recent government restrictions, no longer have any credit card functionality attached to them without your consent.

    I agree that it is nice that we have Amazon and New Egg (and, more recently, Pay Pal) catering to the cash crowd, but the reality of electronic purchasing is that credit processing agencies provide a convenient method of payment and therefore are often the only option.

    Of course, it goes without saying that companies that don’t treat me like a criminal (such as O’Reilly or Baen) are even more likely to win my purchase.

    • mikecane

      Well, as far as Kobo/Borders goes, when you generally use them with their apps or the Kobo Reader, you’re not going through the same hassle as ADE because the books are also on their servers ala Amazon with Kindle.

      But you’ve missed the point still: Amazon will give me a Kindle account without plastic. So should Barnes & Noble. They can find some other damned thing to embed in the book to serialize it. Like my name and address! I’m not about to pass around books I’ve paid for!

  4. Barnes & Noble’s mutant DRM basically says: No plastic? Then get lost, we don’t want your kind as a customer.

    Well, that’s why Blockbuster lost me years and years ago.

    • mikecane

      Oh yes. I’d forgotten Blockbuster did that. I tried to rent from them and was pissed off when I was told that! Where is Blockbuster now, eh?

  5. Max

    I have a really simple policy regarding these matters: NO DRM of any kind, in books, music or video, EVER. Content I agree to pay for WILL NOT require me to hang from the cloud, or use any one single software or engine open or not, or want to phone home for any reason at all, or get revoked, or prevent me from accessing it from any device I have or can think of, including but not limited to my pocket calculator if MacGyver would happen to pay me a visit and hack one up. To any seller who can’t live with that I wish a nice life, preferably in some other universe for all I care. And yes, I do prefer electronic media…

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