Ebooks: convenience vs privacy (chart)

Many readers turn to ebooks mainly because digital books are extremely convenient to read. The ability to sync the content between user’s all devices is one of the most convincing features.

On the other hand, if you end up reading a book on a tablet in a certain location, and open on your e-reader exactly in the same location, it means that a piece of data was accessed by the digital content provider. To be precise: not only accessed, but also stored.

We’re concerned about privacy on Facebook, but we should also be concerned about privacy when it comes to ebooks.

Social networks are meant to share info. Books are different. Books are meant to be a personal pleasure. It’s not exactly what’s happening when we switch to digital reading.

Since 2009 Electronic Frontier Foundation tracks privacy policies of major ebookstores, including Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Ebooks, Sony, Overdrive, Indiebound, Internet Archive, and Adobe Content Server.

While syncing the latest-read location seems to be justified, some other areas raise the question: why do they need this information? Some data won’t be directly used to improve the user’s experience. For instance, why do ebookstores monitor what you read and how you’re reading?

The chart below answers the following questions:

  • Can they keep track of searches for books?
  • Can they monitor what you’re reading and how you’re reading it after purchase and link that information back to you? Can they do that when the e-book is obtained elsewhere?
  • What compatibility does the device have with books not purchased from an associated eBook store?
  • Do they keep a record of book purchases? Can they track book purchases or acquisitions made from other sources?
  • With whom can they share the information collected in non-aggregated form?
  • Do they have mechanisms for customers to access, correct, or delete the information?
  • Can they share information outside the company without the customer’s consent?

Please make sure to visit the EFF blog post for more details. The chart was prepared by Cindy Cohn and Parker Higgins, with the help from Hannah Bloch-Wehba.

Electronic Frontier Foundation: E-reader privacy chart

E Reader Privacy Chart - 2012 Edition - Electronic Frontier Foundation

Tips and tricks

Grab image text in Google Keep

Use Google Keep to collect and digitize quotes from print books

In this short post you’ll learn how to grab text from print books and make it editable using a free Google Keep app.

Nook Store - a guide to links, deals, sections, features

Nook Store – a guide to deals, special sections, and features

Browse Barnes & Noble’s ebookstore easily. This list includes most important links to Nook Store: deals, bestsellers, special features, help pages, and more.

Gift ideas

Best gift ideas for Kindle owners

9 gift ideas for the Kindle addict in your life

Going to buy the gift for somebody who already owns the Kindle? Ebook subscription, book-scented candles, functional accessories, book jewelry and clothing, and more.

The best Amazon Fire HD 8 2016 case covers

10 protective cases for your Amazon Fire HD 8 (2016)

Check out the selection of Amazon Fire HD 8 (2016) case covers that are meant to fully protect your tablet from dust, scratches, and bumps.

Best book gifts from Amazon Handmade

12 best book gift ideas from Amazon Handmade

Amazon Handmade is an Etsy-like store with unique handcrafted goods. In this list you’ll see the best gifts for book lovers.

Best Harry Potter gifts and accessories - full size

27 magical Harry Potter gifts and accessories

Check out the list of the most magical Harry Potter gifts – from jewelry to personal items, to posters and wall art, to scented candles, to clothing.

Let's connect

Share a comment

If you want to discuss the topic or ask a question, please share this post on social media. Make sure to mention us!

You can also contact us directly. Find more details here.

Get free updates via email

Powered by MailChimp
You'll receive email digests on Fridays at 2pm GMT / 10am EST.