The eBook market is starting to look like what the music industry wished the digital music market looked like in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. Back then, Microsoft and Apple wanted lock-in to their own proprietary players, so they created their own music file standards and proprietary DRM. And record labels wanted the ability to sell everyone a new copy of music they already owned at a higher price, so they experimented with tactics like releasing albums exclusive to Apple or Microsoft formats.
The existence of a digital music dystopia was thwarted by an open standard (MP3), the existence of high-quality digital copies (CDs) that could easily be converted to MP3, and music sharing services like Napster. This made consumers demand players that could play their existing MP3s, and it gave them an alternative when labels were screwing with them by releasing content on a format they couldn’t play.
Unfortunately, there’s no eBook equivalent of CDs and MP3s, so, for example, if you want to buy the book associated with the popular movie The King’s Speech, you can’t get it on your Kindle, but you can get it on your Nook. Even though the book is out in paperback, you’ll still pay the hardback price on the Nook ($9.99) which is 7 cents less than the price for a paper copy that can be resold or given to a friend who has a Kindle, which can’t read Nook ebooks (and vice-versa).
The concept of eBooks, like the concept of reading newspapers and magazines on an iPad, is a good one. The implementation, as usual, is a consumer fuck-a-thon that will drive a flourishing piracy market.