Microsoft's ebooks are all going to play a disappearing act this month. The tech company's book section hasn't been meeting sales targets, so they've decided to pull the plug on the whole thing.
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For those using Microsoft's ebooks, that's a pretty harsh hand to be dealt. For onlookers, it's a clear sign that in our technology-based day and age, we truly don't have much control over what we buy anymore.
How did this happen, and what should we expect?
As of April 2, Microsoft stopped selling, renting out, or accepting pre-orders for any ebooks. The company declared that come July all ebooks from its Book store section will disappear. Evaporate. Or as Harry Potter and his wizarding crew would do, magically conjure up the Vanishing Spell (Evanesco).
Microsoft ebooks owners won't even be able to read about Vanishing Spells any longer.
The company is shutting down its digital rights management (DRM) server required for licensing all ebooks sold from its store.
The good news? All ebook holders will receive full refunds.
More good news? Anyone who made electronic notes or annotations to their books will receive $25 credit on top of that.
"If you have any mark-ups or annotations in any of your acquired books prior to April 2, 2019, you'll receive an additional $25 credit to your Microsoft account at the same time the refunds are processed," said Microsoft in a statement.
However, that's little consolation for academics whose notes are considered more valuable than monetary compensation.
We can't control modern-era technology
This is the latest proof that we don't truly own what we purchase and use online.
We all purchase movies, books, and games through companies using DRM. Can we expect the same to happen to other companies?
Most of us have bought something off the Apple Store, for example, but what happens when a competitor appears in a decade's time?
Will Apple have to pull the plug on certain applications because they can't keep up sales?
Reminded that the Microsoft ebook store closes next week. The DRM'd books will stop working.
I cannot believe that sentence.
"The books will stop working."
I keep saying it and it sounds worse each time.— Rob Donoghue (@rdonoghue) June 26, 2019
It's a possibility, now more so than before, with up and coming tech companies popping up every year.
When we buy DVDs, CDs or books, they don't magically disappear or are snatched back up by the retailer. Once we buy these tangible products, they're ours to keep. Nowadays, its clearly very easy to simply flick a switch, a DRM switch at that, and what we thought was ours is taken away from us.
Read quickly, as there was no exact date given in July for when the ebooks will be deleted.