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Microsoft eBooks and the Problem with DRM

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

You may have heard that Microsoft is shuttering its eBook store.

If you're like most people, you didn't even know Microsoft SOLD eBooks. This was a venture started in 2017 that pretty much failed out of the gate, since you could only access it from the MS Edge web browser.

If you by some strange chance purchased an eBook from the Microsoft store, you will be refunded the complete price you paid for the books, because Microsoft will be removing those books from the libraries of the purchasers.

What? How can they do that?

They can do it because with digital content you are generally just a licensee.

If you have purchased even one eBook, you've probably seen something about DRM or Digital Rights Management. This is the digital lock that allows content owners to keep you from sharing your digital content with everyone on the internet. Unfortunately, it also can restrict what you, the purchaser, can do with your digital content.

Yes, that is, in fact, really crappy.

Luckily, there is something you can do about it. Namely, install the eBook manager Calibre (https://calibre-ebook.com/) on your computer.

What is this Calibre thing and why do I want it?

Calibre is an open source eBook manager that allows you to download and store and organize any and all eBooks you have purchased.

Why, you may ask, is this important?

Because if the zombie apocalypse comes and the Internet collapses, you'll need to have those books on survival living already available on your eReader, which you will keep usable with your solar charger.

OK, perhaps that's only me.

Still, Calibre is an amazing tool that anyone with an eReader should have.

Ever buy an entire series as a single eBook and want to divide it into individual books? There's a plug-in for that.

Want to remove duplicate copies of books from your library? There's a plug-in for that too.

Want to be able to read your books anywhere? On any device? There's a plug in for that too, and that's where Calibre is really awesome.

Calibre has a plug that allows you to strip DRM (Digital Rights Management) from eBooks you own.

So if you use an eReader, you'll want install Callibre for organizing all the eBooks you have purchased.

NOTE: If there is enough interest in this, I could be convinced to write up detailed instructions or even teach a class about Calibre. Let me know!

~Michelle