If your digital library came from the Microsoft Store, you’re out of luck.
Customers who downloaded ebooks from Microsoft will lose access to their books this month as the company begins shutting down its ebook servers, according to BBC. Any books downloaded by users, paid or free, will be deleted.
Readers who saved their credit card information to their Microsoft accounts will be automatically refunded, but readers who did not save their payment information, or readers who took extensive notes on their books, are eligible for $25 in store credit. Personal notes on ebooks will be irretrievable unless customers take the initiative to back up their notes externally.
What does this mean for the future of ebooks?
Microsoft’s digital reading platform was never very popular to begin with — certainly not as popular as Amazon’s Kindle, for example — but the company’s latest fold is an upsetting wake-up call to digital readers about the limits of book ownership.
When you buy a physical book from a brick-and-mortar store, the object itself belongs entirely to you. Chances are, the owners of the bookstore from which you purchased your book will not be showing up at your door to seize your books indefinitely, and there are laws in place which prevent them from doing so.
When you download a book from the Internet, however, what you are really downloading is a license to read a digital copy of the book, according to BBC, and that license can “expire” at any time.
Microsoft’s digital reading service relied on a web browser to function, according to BBC, rather than an app meant to suit the needs of readers on the go.
This has digital readers wondering: “What makes a book really mine?”
According to Gizmodo, nothing is really yours under DRM, or digital rights management, the copyright restrictions that prevent illegal sharing of copyrighted content. This also means that your access to digital content could be altered or removed without warning.
The best way to secure your library? Don’t keep it online.
Featured Image Via NBC.