A few years ago Microsoft built support for reading eBooks into its Edge web browser, and began selling eBooks through the Microsoft Store.

Today the company stopped selling eBooks. It’s canceled pre-orders. And it’ll start issuing refunds for any books you might have purchased.

While that last bit sounds downright consumer-friendly, this next bit doesn’t: any eBook you’ve purchased from the Microsoft Store will no longer be readable come July, 2019.

Sure, the decision to issue refunds will soften the blow. And it’s nice that Microsoft either has so much money that it can afford to do this… or that few enough people actually bought eBooks from the company that it’s trivial to do this.

But the move also comes as the latest reminder that if you pay for eBooks, music, movies, video games, or any other content from a store that uses DRM, then you aren’t really buying those digital items so much as paying a license fee for the rights to access them… a right that can be revoked if the company decides to remove a title from your device unexpectedly or if a company shuts down a server that would normally handle the digital rights management features.

Microsoft says you’ll be able to read any books you’ve purchased until July, but after that they will no longer be available and you’ll receive a free refund. Any free books you’ve downloaded will just cease to be accessible.

If you’ve made notes in your eBooks using the mark-up and annotation tools Microsoft was so proud of when the company launched the Edge web browser, those will be gone forever. In exchange, Microsoft will give you a $25 credit for purchases made from the Microsoft Store.

You might want to think about using that money to buy hardware rather than software. It may last longer.

In the meantime, you can find DRM-free eBooks at some online stores including Smashwords and Kobo (by browsing the DRM-free selection), or from publisher websites including Angry Robot, and Baen.

It is also technically possible to remove the DRM from eBooks you’ve purchased from Amazon and sites that use Adobe’s DRM (including the Microsoft Store, Kobo, B&N, and others), but that may be illegal depending on where you live — and at the very least I’d probably feel guilty about stripping DRM from books purchased from Microsoft and receiving a full refund for those books.

As for Microsoft, I wonder if the company’s decision to exit the eBook business (again) has anything to do with the fact that Microsoft is killing its EdgeHTML rendering engine and using Google’s Chromium as the foundation for future versions of the Edge web browser.

via /r/Windows10

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10 replies on “Periodic reminder that you DRM means you don’t really own eBooks, movies, or other content (Microsoft’s eBook store is shutting down)”

  1. The issue is really about the price. If it’s just renting air, then you shouldn’t be paying anything near the real physical price. You die? Your kids don’t inherit shit. You can’t pass this shit along to the next person when you bite it. Windows is moving to leases for life and in a perfect world for any corporation, you won’t own anything but will require annual renewals. Most people seemingly don’t care or are just ignorant on this subject.

  2. I don’t feel guilty for removing DRM from my e-books. I feel a victim instead, because I need to use proprietary software to download my e-books before finally being able to strip DRM and read them with my choice of e-book reader software. Those who should feel guilty instead are publishers that still insist on applying DRM on their e-books and treat all their customers as potential criminals. Governments should ban DRM to avoid this kind of situation in the first place.

  3. This isn’t really news other than MS is involved & that seemingly makes it newsworthy when it shouldn’t.

    Google Play is DRM, iOS is DRM, Amazon Kindle is DRM.

    1. A good chunk of Kobo isn’t DRM. And some publishers have their own internal eBook stores that are also DRM free (Baen Books is one). I

      I understand the desire to protect the properties and copyrights of authors. I just wish that could be better balanced with the rights of consumers.

    2. And when Google Play and the iOS App Store, and Amazon Kindle services shut down, that won’t be newsworthy? DRM isn’t a good deal. This article reminds us of at least one reason why this is the case.

    3. Actually Google Play (where I buy most of my ebooks) is both DRM and DRM-free depending upon the publisher and how they want the books distributed. Each book information tells you how it is sold. When I see a good deal on an older book of which I would to get a digital copy, I check the DRM status. When DRM’ed I usually pass.

    1. It was mostly hidden from the main page, but yes. I remember getting free ebooks there once. That is about all I ever did to interact with it.

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