I’ve learnt a salutary lesson today, one which I should have learnt some time ago, and that is to read and understand the Terms & Conditions attached to anything one signs up for.
Dave Lee, in a post today as part of technology news on the BBC news website, discusses the fact that Microsoft are closing their eBook store. More importantly, he discloses that when this happens any books that I have “bought” from that store will no longer be available to me on any of my devices. Eh, you what?!
As Mr Lee tells us:
…just think about that for a moment. Isn’t it strange? If you’re a Microsoft customer, you paid for those books. They’re yours.
Except, I’m afraid, they’re not, and they never were - when you hand over money for your “book”, what you’re really paying for is access to the book. That access, per the terms and conditions of every major eBook store, can be taken away at any moment.
So, those of us who have started to create our own virtual library of literary classics, page-turners, bodice-rippers and whatever else, will lose all capability to read them unless they have the print version in a real bookcase. I suppose that the possibility of disappearing books may induce many to stick to buying a physical version, and keep bookshops going for a while yet, but it’s still a shock to find that was I thought was mine isn’t, and never was.
In fairness to Microsoft, they are offering refunds to customers which will be rolled out when the eBook store shuts in July 2019, and they can always argue that the fact that one was simply ‘renting’ books was explained in Microsoft’s T & C’s.
I can only hope that my digital music collection is safe or indeed, that Apple don't suddenly want my laptop back as I'd only "borrowed" it…