“One reason you should not use web applications to do your computing is that you lose control,” he said. “It’s just as bad as using a proprietary program. Do your own computing on your own computer with your copy of a freedom-respecting program. If you use a proprietary program or somebody else’s web server, you’re defenceless. You’re putty in the hands of whoever developed that software.” Cloud Computing is a Trap.
This obsession with self-sufficiency and self-reliance, veers in the direction of paranoia. You don’t necessarily lose control if you outsource a service, especially if there is competition between various service providers. I am sure that there are dangers with a model of cloud computing in which only one company provides a platform for published books (that company would at the moment look like being Google) but there is really no reason why only one company should host and serve print in the cloud. Exact Editions is using a similar approach to the Google Book Search platform and other platforms are emerging (recently launched is Gale’s syndication offering, Acquire Content, but there are many more publishers with that potential and several startups trying to become the YouTube for PDF files). There are lots of reasons why we may expect there to be lots of cloud-based book-type services. Amazon itself may migrate from its Kindle-delivered download system to an access-based, lending bookshop in the sky. The desired outcome here is that there should be choice, and continuing innovation. That way we are all safer and we will get better services more quickly.
Stallman shoud be worrying about competition and barriers to entry, not about the inherent collaboration and interdependence that comes from cloud computing, and indeed from the web and the internet infrastructure which is the foundation. At all these levels interdependence is a source of diversity and of strength. So it should be with books in the cloud.