Borders has closed. This is a shame and a travesty. In an era when there is more being published and more of the population is literate than ever before, why is a bookstore closing? One issue that has risen out of this is something that I alluded to in an earlier article on eBooks. Namely: what happens to your content when the content provider closes up shop? Thankfully, in this case, Borders had been transitioning its eBook clients from their servers to Kobos, so they weren’t left high and dry with no access to their purchases. Will all eBook providers be this kind when they, as with the vast majority of businesses, either close up shop or give up on one technology and move to a new one?
Several events in recent years, some directly related to eBooks, others only tangentially related via technology, have made me wary of relying on a third party to give me ongoing access to material I have paid for. One is, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, the time that Amazon reached into the Kindle accounts of any North American user who had purchased a copy of (ironically) 1984 by George Orwell and plucked it out of their account. They did this because it turned out they did not have permission to be selling this particular edition as an eBook. This draconian measure only serves to highlight the impermanent and transitional state of the eBook, of digital files in generally, really.