In an interesting article about e-book pricing and the licensing constraints imposed on ebooks, Wired makes an interesting point:
We need to stop thinking of and talking about ebooks as books, and more as we would an app or a software package: Ebooks are computer code that display text and pictures instead of instructing our tablets to do some task. Not only can we not legally fiddle with such proprietary software, but we can’t “buy” it, either — we lease it, according to terms and conditions set by the manufacturer.
The same applies to ebooks. We don’t buy them, we lease them. It may be a long-term lease, but a lease just the same. There are limits and restrictions on use for all ebooks, and confusingly, those limits and restrictions vary depending on which company is offering the product.
It’s for this reason that we should stop using terminology like “bestseller lists” — when it really should be “most leased” lists — because that language of physical books reinforces a very dangerous notion of ownership. Buyers of physical books can do whatever they want with them, from loaning to friends as many times as they like to reselling at a used-books store. (Note that when a book owner does this, she gets that money — not the publisher.)