A couple of days ago Wired ran an article about the implosion in Microsofts ebook marketplace. Basically, they launched the store within the edge browser and then when it failed to take off the closed up the digital store. As part of this service they essentially retracted all the books from users digital libraries on the service causing users books to simply disappear. Now Microsoft attempted to make users whole thru providing a refund for all books purchased and also adding in an extra $25 for anyone who used their mark-up/note feature within the books.
Then today I have been consolidating some of my read it later services (Pinboard, Pocket etc.) and I found a service where the some the links dated back to 2009. As I am going thru and manually adding each link between services I’ve seen several error messages: 404 errors, server errors, websites now hosting an SEO affiliate scheme, site now set-up in another language than the original link, and the link getting redirected to a spam post, and a page note found error.
Given my experience transferring the links and the article on ebooks vanishing it has been thinking again about how ephemeral the internet can be in contrast to a traditional library or archive. Books can’t be removed from your collection once purchased nor shift and change once cataloged and placed on a shelf. Ebooks and other materials certainly come with a convenience though that convenience also has drawbacks.
*From among the links I transferred here is an article from the digital shift on Ebooks Choices and the Soul of Librarianship from 2012, which I thought prescient given the Wired article.