EDIT: I've been told I'm a dope, and that this "reading aloud" I complain about is the computer reading an eBook aloud. This makes much more sense than my paranoid rambling here, where I think pdfs are hoping to prevent readers from reading aloud the contents of a pdf. Oh well. I'll let the reaction stand. If authors and publishers can try to stop the sale of used books, who will say my paranoia won't play out later. ;^) Now back to the ramblings.

I've been reading a few books by an author from my hometown, and recently grabbed the newest from that evil box of goods, Wal-Mart, for $2 under the list price. That's about 50% more than it'll cost me used if I can find it. What the heck, I figure.

I'd heard there was a short-story published in the back of the book that wasn't in the hardcover, so I decided to check. Before I find it, I run into a black-bordered advert...

Need something new to read? Download it now!

Cute. I mean, I'm not a fan of eBooks, and I don't just mean Amazon's ill-fated "platform." I like my eReader fairly much, but overall I'm a big fan of marginalia and having something, well, worth less than $50 that I can take to the beach and the like. I'm also a huge fan of having something used I can sell -- and buy or use -- when I or another reader is through. There's nothing much better than a great used book store (and might I recommend Rainy Day Pal in Lexington, SC?).

But this appeal might just have me. When I finish a book of a series, I'm usually itching to go on the next. Or, in this case, I'll likely be itching to find some more from earlier on I haven't read, and much more willing to give in to instant gratification. So HarperCollins e-books it is. Imagine my proverbial surprise when I find out that the pdf version has the following restrictions...

Copy: allowed, but limited to 43 selections every 7 days
Print: allowed, but limited to 43 pages every 7 days
Reading aloud: allowed
Expiration: no expiration date
(emph mine)

The first two and fourth make sense, but seriously, there are DRM'd pdfs I can't read aloud? "Ftw?!" he exclaimed in the parlance of our times. Bizarre. I'd like to make some asinine comment about how this ruins my freedom of speech, connecting it to the way bands can play covers at pay-to-attend concerts that they haven't paid any rights to play, but I'll try to avoid the temptation.

Seriously, the idea that you could have rights over my reading a book aloud, a practice that was the way pretty much everyone read anything printed in the 18th century and earlier, is absolutely insane. I mean, what does Adobe Reader do? Hook up to my laptop's mike and do some voice recognition? Neither policeable nor police-worthy. It's a traveshamockery.