DISAPPEARING EBOOKS

I knew as soon as I saw this story that I would have to blog about it. Not only did several people send some version of it to me, but the subject is near and dear to my heart. Reason? I've been warning about the dangers of ebooks for some time. And this story more or less concretizes and to some extent confirms my concerns. Suppose one day you logged into your ebook cloud (or whatever it is), and discovered a notice that your ebook was gone. Not just "temporarily unavailble, please check back in a few minutes," but gone.

If that sounds far-fetched, it has already happened to users of Microsoft's ebooks  (thanks to J.T. and F.S. for first bringing this to my attention, and to all the rest of you who also shared the story):

Microsoft is about to shut off its ebook DRM servers: "The books will stop working"

Microsoft's Ebook Apocalypse Shows the Dark Side of DRM

Now, let's give (begruding) credit where credit is due: Microsoft at least had the integrity to refund its ebook customers for snatching away their ebooks.

But my concerns over the years has boiled down to a fundamental truth, expressed in the opening paragraph of the Wired article by Brian Barrett:

Your iTunes movies, your Kindle books—they’re not really yours. You don’t own them. You’ve just bought a license that allows you to access them, one that can be revoked at any time. And while a handful of incidents have brought that reality into sharp relief over the years, none has quite the punch of Microsoft disappearing every single ebook from every one of its customers.

EBooks are a platform, and subject to all the problems of censorship we've seen attached to other" platforms", Facebook, YouTube, and so on: censorship. I've been maintaining for some time that the digitization of books and other information (think music and music scores and librettos and lyrics, folks) is kind of like the old Soviet Encyclopedia, on steroids: now you see a picture of Yagoda, or Yezhov, or whomever, and later, you don't, because the picture, along with the monster man has been purged. Ebooks make it all too easy for a corporate world run amok to censor anything they wish; don't like the content? Just go in and change the text. Or just get rid of it altogether. Sure, Microsoft has not claimed its actions are the result of censorship, but the good old "bottom line." But its actions highlight the dangers inherent in the digital platform, which is why I've been maintaining that the only canonical form of any of my works is the hard copy book, which readers own.

One may thus easily imagine other ebook "platforms" eventually stating that "this service may be terminated at any time by the owner for any reason, without refund." We're not quite there yet, for such a move would basically signal an almost complete corporate takeover of the information field, which is why it's important to prevent that by buying books, scores, and music CDs. And perish the thought that your books, scores, poems, lyrics, librettos or what-have-you do not show enough "diveristy" or inclusion. Don't believe me? The move is already afoot to "level the playing field" there too  according to this article shared by P.S.J.:

Triggered by Bach: Classical Music as Implicit White Supremacy

One friend who had seen this article told me that this was merely another attempt to keep everyone divided. So far as that goes, I suppose that is true. But for me it's another bit of evidence that the cultural Gramscians really do mean a complete makeover of the culture, to the point of destroying its past and cutting people off from its traditions. One can imagine a day, under their malign "leadership" and nihilist agenda, when the mere performance of Bach's cantatas will be viewed as a subversive or anti-semitic act, simply because of the Christian nature of the lyrics, or when a performance of Beethoven's Ninth symphony will be viewed as a pandering to patriarchy with its ringing chords on the word Bruder (Brothers!). They won't stop there: they will go on to attack all the other signs and symbols of "privilege": the Beatles, Abba, REO, ELO, Elvis, and others from the "classical era" of rock, so on. They will attack Duke Ellington as an "Uncle Tom" for liking Bach, or Fanny Mendelssohn for composing music too much like her more famous family member who was male, Haendel will be attacked for his setting of the Dixit Dominus or Haydn for his Die Schoepfung (The Creation) or Dave Brubeck as "cultural appropriation", and on and on it will go.

Which returns us to the matter at hand: there is no digital platform that is secure, especially in the hands of already morally compromised technocrats. There is no replacement for the hard copy, be it the score, the book, the lyrics, libretto, or CD. They are, and will remain, the only canonical form of artistic creations.

See you on the flip side...

 

28 thoughts on “DISAPPEARING EBOOKS”

  1. There was the case decades ago in Asia of someone was locked out of his ebook library the excuse was copyright I think one of the books deleted was either 1984 or Brave New World. This has been the plan to render the vast majority of us illiterate just updated book burning no torches this time just a press of a button an away goes your library.

  2. Jim Stone said the Lews he knew said that if it is not in print, it is not a book. They oughta know.
    Fahrenheit 451 movie (1966, 2018 remake apparently) firefighting units come to your home to burn your books (not just the pron and Freudian rubbish) now they have a button to press and nobody is the Weiser(sic)
    DTSearch is for Windose .
    I use recoll for linux, and it’s index on a very quick SSD drive.
    Archive.org is excellent for many lovely old books, but I know what they will do to it all.
    Burn to DVDV/Blueray, read off a ROM (read only) unit, take the write laser out physically if possible.
    I would buy DRM but they still insist on not providing a desktop app for linux (I shall not wifi to an ebook reader).
    And I have found FullHD is just as easy on my eyes as the ebook readers (which can hardly handle pdf’s anyway, cannot preserve zoom or cannot preserve xy position on page turn, like a real book in a whirlwind). Wonderful resource this, even Murray doing the first OED (see movie The Professor and the Madman 2019) could not dream of it, or this internet, even though he got the 20 Volume thing done by effectively crowdsourcing the project.
    https://archive.org/search.php?query=Oxford%20Murray%201888
    Shakespeare’s complete works in text only fit onto a 1.44Mb Floppy Disk in 1993(~)
    ahh, here is separate volumes at ~100Mb each.
    https://archive.org/details/NewEnglishDictionaryHistoricalPrinciplesOxfordPressPropPub.phil
    can be joined with pdftk, but 2Gb pdfs can be unruly. ~2000 OED database fit onto a 600Mb Cd
    Wonder how ‘they’ would like it , the not them people, broke into their holy places and changed (for the better) their sacred texts and made them paranoider(sic)?
    And another thing to watch for : terror crisis, stand alone computers too dangerous, free terminals for dumb internet interfaces, too cheap and useful (for them) to meter.

  3. If we are being shown a narrative, it is because the wgoe (weathiest guys on earth) feel that narrative is safely set to work. They (the wgoe) feel not only safe showing it but that it is to their advantage for us to see it. If for no other reason than to narrow down our imaginative alternatives.

    A few other news items put me of a mind lately that the broader plan for the wgoe is that the pharmaceuticals (the mostly likely candidate just in terms of cash flow) openly buy up all the other industries – not just a few companies. From there, they continue to reduce legal and military liabilities for their past, present and future crimes. Consider the vaccine liability exemption act in 1986 as an example. See how it has and is being leveraged today?

    Meanwhile all media will continue to program the easily programmed (a higher percentage of folk in younger demographics) to believe crazier and crazier lies until you get a few thx1138’s who are not so likely to break out to any amount of sunlight. Goshawks, you are probably spot on in comparisons to Frank Herbert. I find that not reassuring. I also think it more evidence that Herbert was on Mockingbird payroll.

    Reminds me. I saw a t-shirt for sale recently. “Let’s make Orwell’s 1984 fiction again!”

    1. Dana, Bluenose, Basta, OC, Augenguy and James Woolsey, thank you for the tips. Short term, they are valuable. Long term, my much too limited imagination takes me to Ray Bradbury, Farhenheit 451.

    2. Basta, as to pushback, there already is plenty of pushback. Pick a topic, especially any that matter to people. Try researching cancer, autism, vaccines, mold, anthelmintics, Jimmy Saville, Jeffrey Epstein and his connection to AI, Brendon O’Connell, Bronfman’s and Nexium, MK Ultra, Paperclip, Gladio or any of a long list of so-called conspiracy theory subjects that we look at daily here and other sites? It gets more difficult daily.

      When I consider bigger picture on any and all of these subjects, there is always a connection higher up – some vague some not so vague. Invariably, the default argument worms around to “Aw come on now, it is not that bad. There is no single group conspiring with that much power. Glyphosate – aspartame – Vioxx – Oxycontin – asbestos – arsenic laced chickens – pick a subject – are not that bad for us and were accidental, not intentional.” What I gathered is as Rumsfeldt et al stated is that our only failure was of a limited imagination. “Who could have imagined that hijackers would fly airliners into skyscrapers?” Who could have imagined that a small group of genocidal families would take over the planet gradually over decades if not centuries?

      So my point? Not sure. I think we require much more than to own our culture as Doc and CAF have advocated lately. That ownership or at least a desire for it is a most fundamental requirement. Considering how fast we are headed to THX1138 land, it feels like it requires a bit more. It feels like our pushback (even ours right here) is already baked into Mr Globaloney’s cake. I think one of our best bets might be that Theil, Norbert, Fermi, Epstein and all might have made a mistake in all their AI scrambles and plots. They might have missed a fundamental. Intelligence may not require wisdom. Wisdom does require intelligence. Most importantly, wisdom is acquired through intelligence. And without wisdom, intelligence fails and shrinks. For intelligence to grow, wisdom must as well.

      Considering how intelligent AI intends to be (and appears to be), can anyone here imagine a benevolent AI?

  4. Nothing beats a physical copy for lazy reading in the EZ Boy. But… I also love digital copies for data mining.
    Run DTSearch and be able to instantly pull up keywords and phrases, seen in context.
    [ http://cista.net/share/dTSearch/ ]
    I buy Kindle books, but ALWAYs rip the DRM with excellent freeware program Calibre. And Always store the DRM free copy on local HDD.

  5. Right! As of today I’m now re-purchasing ALL of my Baroque in hard copy. Time to grow the music library again.

    And time to collect more books and build more shelves!

  6. Given the low cost of mass storage – roughly US$100/terabyte – there is no reason to use or trust cloud services. If the files and the storage media are not under one’s direct possession and control, it can and will disappear at the whim of those who DO own it.

    My digital library (over 3,000 titles) is stored entirely locally and hardly creates a blip on a 2T drive. It never hurts to make a DVD-ROM back-up, while one is at it.

    Unfortunately for some of us, physical books are cost-prohibitive (import costs and taxes) or outright banned in certain parts of the world, and e-books are a viable alternative to keep up with the literary and research cultures.

    Additionally, I regularly haunt gutenberg.org and all but require my students to do the same. I have built an extensive library of ancient and classical books by downloading and storing them locally against the eventuality that even that wonderful service will vanish.

    Books are the key to the past, and the past is the key to the future. Why leave such a valuable resource in the hands of political and commercial interests?

  7. Hmmm: “…an almost complete corporate takeover of the information field.” I would take it deeper. We are looking at those who would have a new feudal system: Nobles and Serfs. Think Dune , and the Harkonnen home planet.

    Part of what makes a serf a Serf is the feeling of powerlessness. Not owning your own ‘stuff’ (land, house, crops, etc.) contributes to that feeling. And to get back to this blog, non-ownership of books , music, etc., proceeds down that line. It is to be expected, in a Nobles and Serfs progression…

    The interesting part in all of this is the lack of Empathy and Compassion necessary to separate oneself from the rest of humanity. This can be biological, where the reptilian brain has more dominance. This can be religious, where there are in-groups (Enlil groupies) and out-groups (labeled Goyim). This can even be intellectual, where leaders of long-ago gangs convince themselves that they are ‘better’ than others in order to justify their holdings and positions. Somehow, in all of the above, their Humanity has been lost. (Or, in the case of certain aliens, it may never have been there…)

    Within the bounds of this blog, I evade serfdom by becoming a mini Library of Alexandria. Hard-copy books everywhere: store-bought new, store-bought used, library book sales, etc. And as one might expect, these are often on fringe or ridiculed subjects (grin)…

    1. “Not owning your own ‘stuff’ (land, house, crops, etc.) contributes to that feeling. ”

      In my state (Nebraska), we have county auctions every year, where one can buy the back taxes on properties. If those debts aren’t settled w/in a certain amount of time (plus interest), the debt holder, becomes the new owner.

      I’m sure this happens in many other states but here’s the kicker, a local land baron brought in some big time lobbyist’s to lobby our state government. In the end, this shark got a law to pass, where the county DOES NOT and WILL NOT notify you of back taxes!

  8. Read your future.
    In this rentier economy; everything will be owned by “them”. You’ll rent; they’ll own. That’s where it’s been heading; only now are you getting the forming-before-your-eyes future-perfect-tense picture.
    Disgusting?
    What isn’t; in this neo-liberal heaven?

    But there is resistance. Sometimes in surprising places.
    I stopped in a McDonalds for a quickie-food-fix, and they were playing classical music! No screaming. cussing, moaning, machine-gun repetitive simplicities of canned 21st century piped Muzak.
    I asked the manger about it. She said it’s relaxing and the customers like it. I replied, Hope it catches on.

    They’ve done this before in the enclosure.
    But, in that case, for many people the absence of “bourn, bound of land, tilth” was not an ideal dream but a recent , and lost, reality, an actual commons.
    That’s technical progre$$ for you.
    They destroyed the commons’ past, present and future. Enclosed it. Open systems are competision for open systems. And open systems/competision are sins[like misspelling].

    I had experience w/Kindle.
    It boils down to one disgusting word:
    CONTROL!

    1. I would strongly prefer open systems solutions to DRM. Let someone collect the money, distribute the license and re-imburse the artist/writer/etc. But, the disappearance itself creates a whole new market for repurchasing a “new” license in place of one that’s “expired”. I’ve been through this with Amazon. Things I purchased DRM only can no longer be recovered–and in most rare cases I realize I lost money. Those CDs were not music I would have wanted now–and the reason for the purchase was permanently settled against the artist in question for private reasons. RB, I think you’re right in your final analysis. With Agenda 21 they will soon restrict individual automobile purchases to collective groups by selling self-driving cars at prices far out of reach for the average consumer. These “control-freaks” are genuine freaks. I know what they look like but I’m still not sure what it is I see. They look human, but they act like something totally different.

      1. Check out Donald Sutherland in The Body Snatchers.
        [The 1978 version]
        It’s an x-soul-rated “They”.
        Same basic story, but the scene with Sutherland’s character being “taken” – is what is.
        He becomes a heartless one of “them”.

      2. With regard to automobiles, I think they will adopt a more insidious approach than you suggest. IMO, particularly for urban/suburban dwellers, aveys will become the path of least resistance. Why buy/lease, insure, maintain, garage, park, clean and polish a vehicle of your own when you can summon on an app at a few minutes’ notice an avey of the right kind for the journey you intend to undertake (long/short, luggage, dogs, canoe, food and beverage, number of pax, etc, etc) for a fraction of the cost of keeping your own vehicle? No restrictions/coercion required. Perhaps the vehicle manufacturers will cut out the middle man by operating global fleets of aveys with a depot in every neighborhood? Or perhaps they won’t. Just my twopenn’orth!

        1. I should have added to the list: why acquire the skill to drive yourself when a machine can do it for you? This poison pill has a yummy sugar coating!

  9. In the past, they just burned the libraries (e.g., the Library of Alexandria). I’m sure after certain collectors absconded with their share.

  10. ‘Morally Compromised Technocrats’ is an excellent sobriquet for these Digital Age liars and vandals. In their pre-digital incarnation they proclaimed the United States Constitution subject to the “Darwinian principle”, by which the content is rationalized as “unacceptable”. Any factual rejoinder to such nonsense in regards to any document in the digital cloud is either ‘creatively’ edited, spiked, and/ or it’s author(s) de-platformed. Pre-digital hard copies are declared “living documents” open to Orwellian reinterpretation. To invoke Orwell went from hyperbole to gross understatement seemingly overnight. Are even original physical manuscripts safe from tampering at this rate? Perhaps bookbinders should use microwave shielding on first editions. I fully concur, there is no substitute for the tactile experience of having the real McCoy in your hands, and prefer bookshelves over bandwidth any day.

  11. OK. I’m guilty. I buy DRM, but responsibly. Anything worth paying for I buy / replace with physical media. (It costs a little more in the end, but in music one often gets both media and DRM. I take full advantage of that.) Anything worth tossing I’ve saved money and space. Anything on the margins I either burn or purchase on the cheap (used.) Sometimes DRM is the only form available. Most of the time, I save money. Sometimes I lose money. But purchasing DRM can be far more responsible than leasing a car–and IMHO that’s just nuts! Yet I know people who lease them all the time–and they have their own economic reasons for continuing the practice.

    1. Having said this, I agree with everything said here. When viewed as preview DRM can be an effective consumer strategy if you know it’s just a one-time rental scheme. I would not trust future corporate behavior for DRM licenses because they will change. Or, go away. In on-line streaming services, we’re seeing some disappearances (or redistribution) of licenses. In time this may incur some intermittent costs.

  12. Bluenose makes a good point that ebooks could also be served as pdfs, though that will never be done commercially by the tech giants because you can easily print pdfs and copying cloud ebooks has a certain annoyance level that keeps that at bay — it would take at least a half-hour of screenshots to copy one.

    As for the constant ongoing Bolshevik/Frankfurt School assault on the underlying symbols and achievements of Western civilization, eventually there will be pushback. Patience is wearing thin out there and there is only so much that can be attacked before these people go too far and the pendulum starts to swing back.

    Washington, Jefferson, the Betsy Ross flag, Bach, science, mathematics and all other so-called symbols of privilege and oppression will not be tossed in the trash bin of history to mollify these cultural and intellectual Luddites. History cuts both ways and there will be those who will start making uncomfortable counter-claims. A culture war is brewing — which is obviously and ultimately and sadly the goal of these people.

  13. Being someone who has never had an “ebook reader”, this news comes as no surprise to me. And for people out there who dabble in reseach, if you find a pdf copy of a very old book to be found in a library and which you would like to cite, and do not feel like printing off all of it, at least print a copy for your records of the frontispiece, the contents/index if any and the pages you find pertinent to your studies. Fortunately lots of platforms in many countries make such books available. And there is also the option of reprints from India of books in many languages and from many periods. Just put the rare title in one of the book search engines (I highly recommend “Abebooks”) and you might well find a copy at a very reasonable price.

    1. I have a Kindle which I stopped using a few years ago for the very reason books, mostly non fiction, were disappearing. Now I look for pdf versions which I print off myself. Thanks for “book search engines” idea. I didn’t know such thing existed.

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