What do you do when you want an ebook, but it’s not available? New York Times columnist David Pogue has written a post in which he says he tried to find a copy of The Bourne Identity, failed, torrented a copy instead, and then sent the publisher a check for $9.99. The post has inevitably started yet another debate over the availability of ebooks and the rights of consumers to seek out copies wherever they can be found.
Pogue’s post is fairly brief, but makes for interesting reading. He recounts his search for a copy of the ebook via all the usual channels (Amazon, B&N, Kobo etc) and says he turned to torrenting only when he found that there was no site via which the publisher seemed to want to take his money. The gist seems to be that here’s an honest consumer who wants a product and even pays for it when he resorts to an ‘illegitimate’ copy.
On the other hand, doesn’t the owner of a book has every right to decide how and where that book is sold? To use a crude analogy, if a car manufacturer made a nice new car and then put it in a garage, refusing to sell, would it be morally acceptable to break in, take the car and mail a check to cover the cost? And why did he send the check to the publisher? Surely it’s the estate of the author who would be due the money, assuming they haven’t sold the ebook rights yet?