Cisco Press ebook shenanigans

By stretch | Friday, April 4, 2008 at 10:16 p.m. UTC

I like reading. Not so much fiction, but I'm always reading a number of books on networking or security or whatever. Unfortunately, being positioned in Iraq limits the amount of printed material I can collect. That's why, when I discovered Inside Cisco IOS Software Architecture, I decided to order an ebook from Cisco Press. Silly me.

Now, I own the dead-tree edition of the Cisco Press CCNP set, and each book includes a wonderful, industry standard PDF version of the printed book. Very handy for quickly switching between books in the course of research. These PDFs are without any sort of DRM protection. Dare I hope the ebooks ordered directly from Cisco Press provide the same convenience?

I ordered the ebook for $35.20 and proceeded to the provided download location. What's this? An .etd file? Must be some mistake. I was told I was purchasing a PDF:

ebook1.jpg

After some research, it was discovered that ETD is a DRM-crippled, Windows-only PDF wrapper. Except I use Linux. In fact, the stats show roughly 25% of this site's readers use a non-Windows OS. I'll admit I'm just a simple backwoods network engineer, but is alienating a quarter of your target audience a good business strategy?

Honestly, I thought the industry had outgrown this childish behavior. DRM does not work. This has been proven over and over and over. The only thing DRM accomplishes is pissing off honest people who were misled into purchasing a crippled product.

Irritated, I contacted Cisco Press and requested either a standard PDF version of the book, or a refund. They opted to refund my purchase, which was unsurprising. However, I also asked that they disclose the DRM limitations in the future, and today I see they now have a link on the product page which reads "Read our Non-DRM PDF FAQ." At the time of this writing, the FAQ is empty, but hopefully it will soon disclose their ebooks' limitations.

About the Author

Jeremy Stretch is a network engineer living in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina area. He is known for his blog and cheat sheets here at Packet Life. You can reach him by email or follow him on Twitter.

Posted in Opinion, Rants

Comments


Klaus Engelmann (guest)
September 12, 2008 at 1:29 a.m. UTC

It's frustrating to see that Cisco Press still continues to keep empty that FAQ. I also use a Fedora Box as my desktop and know I'll never buy a Cisco Press ebook.

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