Thursday, August 30, 2012

DRM failure again ? (Prix FNAC 2012)

It's been a long time since my last English post, so this one is long overdue. Luckily, yesterday has been great for my inspiration.

Before going into the events, you need some background :
"la FNAC" is a chain selling books, CDs, game consoles and electronic products. After a disastrous beginning with ebooks on it's own (the infamous FNACbook e-reader and lack of content being major culprits), la FNAC found in Kobo at the end of 2011 a good partner to compete against Amazon's arrival. This partnership gives a solid offering, more or less equivalent to the Kobo one in Canada. Each year, during the "rentrée littéraire" period, the FNAC organizes its own reward for a litterary novel, the "Fnac prize". It is customary that a copy of the recipient book is gifted to all the attendants of the ceremony. This year, however, there was a subtle twist to the event : the copy was not given as a paper book, but as an ebook coupon. One of the guests was Nicolas Gary, chief editor of ActuaLitté, an independent web-zine dedicated to books (and ebooks) related news. The rest is history ...

On receiving the ebook, his first test was to install the Kobo application on his Mac. However, due to a bad "digital signing" of the application, the installation failed, and Nicolas, lacking the technical knowledge to disable the check,  reverted to install (and configure) successfully ADE.

This time it worked correctly, and he was able to read the book. Similarly, he also was able to install and the Kobo/Fnac application on his iPhone, with the same success.

However, the story doesn't finish here... Used to the Apple environment, what he wanted was to read the ebook on the software he is used to read on : iBooks. I guess you know where it leads ? iBooks not being able to read Adobe DRMized ebooks, dear Nicolas is of course unable to read the ebook the way he wants. Instead of being happy with the book, he feels trapped in an ecosystem that he doesn't want to stay in !

After so many technical hurdles, and instead of having an happy audience taking pleasure in reading the prize winner, you have a bunch (Nicolas was not the only one having troubles with it) of guests frustrated by the whole experience... I take that as a win against DRMs and closed ecosystems, but as a loss for ebooks generally and also for the Prize winner, clearly not the Fnac's goal for the evening.

Prix du Roman Fnac : Patrick Deville, ou la bataille numérique
Verdict : le prix du Roman Fnac, écueil numérique bien verrouillé

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