While many of us were in Las Vegas at the CES this past week ebook retailer Fictionwise announced they have purchased the eReader retail unit from Motricity. Fictionwise says this purchase will push them into the forefront of online ebook retailers by making them one of the largest ebook sellers. I have repeatedly mentioned how I have been using eReader from the early days when they started out as Peanut Press, followed them when they were purchased by Palm and kept on dealing with them when Motricity acquired them a couple of years ago. This announcement has left me with a cold feeling of foreboding.
One of the greatest functions that eReader has used to keep me a long-time happy customer is the simple yet effective DRM method used to protect the copyrighted ebook material. They have always used the purchaser’s credit card number as the DRM key to unlock the material which serves two functions- it means that customers can put the ebook on any device or as many devices as they want and it also means that customers won’t share the ebook with others. Who would share an ebook that requires their credit card number to unlock it? Simple yet serves the company’s purpose, what could be better?
I have purchased some titles from Fictionwise in the past and was never impressed with the online store and did not find the ebooks as easy to deal with as I do with eReader. Add to the mix that the new eReader version that lets me shop from my Windows Mobile device directly has greatly enhanced my usage of the eReader store and I have a great concern that Fictionwise will absorb eReader and make it go away. If that happens I am offering this warning to Fictionwise, I will probably go away. Let’s hope they keep eReader going for those of us who are very happy with it. I also have about 300 ebooks I have purchased from eReader, now I have to worry what might happen to my library with Fictionwise taking over.