I’m about to step in from a limb, open myself up to almost no criticism and pretty much snub controversy by stating the following: if you buy an ebook, you should own it.
I know, me with my crazy ideas. I’m not the only one who thinks so. In the wake of the news that Amazon wiped a Norwegian woman’s Kindle and denied her access to her paid-for ebooks, plenty of people have complained that we should own our ebooks. After all, Waterstones aren’t busting down your front door and stealing back your paperbacks. But this isn’t a one-off. In a move so beautiful it might collapse under its own irony, Amazon secretly deleted copies of George Orwell’s 1984 from hundreds of Kindles. You couldn’t write this stuff.
But I’m not writing this to complain or demand reform or justice or what-have-you. Amazon are a business. If we don’t like the way they do business, we can only vote with our wallets. The reason I’m writing this is to make a recommendation to you.
Calibre allows you to backup your ebooks to a computer. So if Amazon decide you’ve been naughty and wipes your Kindle, you have backups. You haven’t lost what you’ve legitimately paid for.
Calibre is also useful because you can convert ebooks into different formats. Kindles, for example, won’t let you read .epubs, the format Apple and Kobo and a lot others sell. But Calibre can convert an .epub into a .mobi which the Kindle can read. The conversion might violate some terms of service, however. (The ethics of those terms is for another day.) I’ve also heard that you can download some plugins that let Calibre strip out DRM. But, if they exist, that would definitely violate terms of service and I can’t recommend you do that.
But the backup thing? I can’t recommend that enough.
I’m still interested in hearing your thoughts on Amazon wiping Kindles, though. Are they stealing back paid-for property or are they within their rights?