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Why Amazon's Kindle Should Use Open Standards

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the yay-open-book-puns dept.

Books 315

Tim O'Reilly wrote in Forbes a while back that he thinks the Kindle only has another two or three years of life left, unless Amazon wises up and embraces open standards. He came to this conclusion, in part, because of his experience deciding how to publish documents on the web back in the mid-1990s. "You see, I'd recently been approached by the folks at the Microsoft Network. They'd identified O'Reilly as an interesting specialty publisher, just the kind of target that they hoped would embrace the Microsoft Network (or MSN, as it came to be called). The offer was simple: Pay Microsoft a $50,000 fee plus a share of any revenue, and in return it would provide this great platform for publishing, with proprietary publishing tools and file formats that would restrict our content to users of the Microsoft platform. The only problem was we'd already embraced the alternative: We had downloaded free Web server software and published documents using an open standards format. That meant anyone could read them using a free browser. While MSN had better tools and interfaces than the primitive World Wide Web, it was clear to us that the Web's low barriers to entry would help it to evolve more quickly, would bring in more competition and innovation, and would eventually win the day."

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I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (5, Interesting)

drmemnoch (142036) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589391)

No way on Earth I would work hard writing or creating something to have it passed around the Internet for free. I create for my own profit, not your entertainment. Once the Internet community stops (I know it isn't everyone but it is enough to be a major problem) stealing content created by artists for profit, we will finally be able to embrace the open standards we all truly want. Until then DRM will live one in some for or other.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589415)

Heh, ya actually think the DRM on the kindle works?

But you make a good point. Amazon has to at least pretend they are making an effort to "protect" the content.. it doesn't really matter that its trivial to defeat, the publishers don't know the difference and the authors obviously don't either.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (5, Interesting)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589583)

They also 'helpfully' keep 70+% of the price end-users pay.

Maybe if authors made a bigger stink about getting the shaft from Amazon, they just might get more sales.
Maybe if authors didn't bitch and moan about how they should get paid extra because a machine converted text to speech, they just might get more sales.

The world has changed, maybe consider doing something new instead of trying to stuff the genie back in the bottle.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589791)

They also 'helpfully' keep 70+% of the price end-users pay.

Try self-publishing through other channels and see how much you net.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (1)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589911)

But you make a good point. Amazon has to at least pretend they are making an effort to "protect" the content.. it doesn't really matter that its trivial to defeat, the publishers don't know the difference and the authors obviously don't either.

I'm sure they're all fully aware of the capabilities of the Kindle's DRM. Since the United States has the DMCA on the books, they can just lock up anyone who breaks it for "stealing".

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589981)

Great, can you name a single person who has? No? Then why would you bet millions of dollars on it as a deterrent?

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (5, Funny)

dattaway (3088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589447)

If you keep your work as the internet's best kept secret, that's great by me!

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589467)

...Then chances are you aren't a decent enough writer and you will just add to the pile of crap which are most books. Seriously, unless you are writing a technical manual of some sort (then usually you have a company paying you and give up all rights to the book in the first place) and won't write for any other reason other than to make a profit, your book will be crap. I don't know of a single really good author who writes primarily for profit. Sure, there are some really good authors who write and make a profit, but most have some other drive to write, especially for fiction writers. If you won't publish it, fine. I'm sure the world will be better off.

Mod parent up (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589569)

The Parent poster is right, Art is not something which really works under the model that the GP suggests. There is an element of truth in that being paid to create art provides one with the ability to do so without having to work all day and improves the energy and time available to create the work.

But it comes at a cost that can be quite high. As soon as you start having to worry about being paid, one has to worry about whether or not the piece is going to be marketable and that is a terribly damaging environment under which to create innovative work. It's not really much of a surprise that most of the masters were doing portraits, working for patrons or downright broke when they were turning out works that would later sell for millions. It's rare to say the least to be able to be a professional artist without putting a muzzle on ones own creativity.

DRM isn't going to help that situation out much, in fact it's probably going to hurt by eliminating people that are likely to get work that's somewhat out of the ordinary or in other ways unconventional.

Artists deserve to get paid. (5, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589681)

Last time I checked, taking advantage of someone's enjoyment of their work by not paying them is called exploitation. How about, if because you like to program, your employer decided not to pay you.

Artists work. They deserve to be paid for what they do. If you don't want to have art on your computer, you can choose to not pay for it. But if it is valuable enough that you might be motivated to go out of your way to get some DRM breaking device, chances are, that means it is valuable, even to you. That means, don't steal it.

The question isn't whether, for example, Paul McCartney made a billion dollars off of his music, or Steven Spielberg made a billion dollars off of his movies. The question is, is a Paul McCartney song worth a $1 to you. If so, then pony up. Otherwise, don't listen to it.

It's pretty simple, really.

Re:Artists deserve to get paid. (3, Insightful)

daath93 (1356187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589731)

it seems to me though that most "Artists" have an inflated idea of what their "Art" is "worth". If a person enjoys looking at a painting by da Vinci, it doesn't necessarily mean they enjoy paying $10m for the privilege of looking at it. This is why museums were created, and...lets face it, most painters are no da Vinci.

The same is true on a much smaller scale. Someone may enjoy reading Anne Rice, but will go to a library and read The Mummy for free. This doesnt mean she doesnt like the book, or appreciate the artist, or the art.

Not everyone is going to PAY for you to not have to work. Sorry.

Some things... (2, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589771)

This is why museums were created, and...lets face it, most painters are no da Vinci.

Actually, most painters today in good art schools are better painters than Da Vinci could ever have hoped to become. We don't study old masters because they were somehow better than the people that came after, but, because they broke new ground and showed the way to do things. Seriously, go walk into a good art school, and you'll find 19 year olds kids painting things that DaVinci could never have even dreamed up, but then they get bored and go onto looking for something new.

it doesn't necessarily mean they enjoy paying $10m for the privilege of looking at it.

But to see a DaVinci painting or a painting by any major master is probably not free. In the very least, the musuem has an active and ongoing fundraising drive in addition to charging for major exhibits.

The same is true on a much smaller scale. Someone may enjoy reading Anne Rice, but will go to a library and read The Mummy for free

Yeah, but those people are stupid. They would pay an easy $10 in gasoline, public transportation and possibly a library membership to go to the library and read the Anne Rice book, when could have just gone to Amazon.com and bought the thing and had it delivered to your doorstep.

Re:Some things... (3, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589831)

One of my parents neighbors walks to the library and reads the paper. I think he even enjoys the exercise.

Re:Some things... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28589879)

Yeah, I was going to point out too that you could walk. The GP is probably a fat American though.

Re:Some things... (-1, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589959)

Yeah, I was going to point out too that you could walk. The GP is probably a fat American though.

I'm not fat and I can bench nearly 300lbs. So you can shove your fat american stereotypes up your starving little third world ass.

If you people actually paid for stuff, you might have an economy.

Re:Some things... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28589873)

Quoth the OP: "Yeah, but those people are stupid. They would pay an easy $10 in gasoline, public transportation and possibly a library membership to go to the library and read the Anne Rice book, when could have just gone to Amazon.com and bought the thing and had it delivered to your doorstep."

Or just walk there from work, which takes all of 3 minutes each way, and get a stack of books on subjects with many currently out-of-print and unavailable in the commercial market. Plus I get the book immediately and don't have to wait for Amazon to deliver it - or the postal service to decide to keep it at their depot while I have to go and collect it. I can even check online if it's available which is cool and saves wasted journeys.

If I really want a book to keep, I'll pay for it. No problems there. But quite often, I just want to use one for reference for a few things so the library is a God-send to me. I must have taken out over 20 books in the last month or so which would have cost hundreds of dollars as many of these were heavy-weight text books, and yes some were out of print and over-priced (ie, collectable) on the second-hand market. Total cost to me of all this lending: zero outside of a few pennies in taxes and the knowledge that culture is being preserved for anyone to access.

So what's stupid about me doing this? More books, better choice, lower cost? I fail to see what I'm doing that's so dumb. Please enlighten me.

Re:Some things... (4, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589895)

In my case, I have a free (tax paid, no memberships) public library 15 *walking* minutes from my house that lets me take the book home for one week.
Amazon takes at least 3 days to get the books to my doorstep, and as I'm never home in the morning when the mailman comes, I have to pick up the books from the post office.

Libraries clearly win in this case.

Re:Some things... (4, Funny)

nausea_malvarma (1544887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28590063)

You pay 10$ in gas to drive to the library? What do you drive? A Hummer h2?

Re:Artists deserve to get paid. (5, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589907)

Paulo Coelho is not the literary world's most active Web aficionado, but he's certainly its most prominent. The Brazilian author has sold more than 100 million books, which include 14 short story collections and the novel "The Alchemist." He has been a fan of the Internet since the early 1990s. He spends at least three hours a day online, writing e-mails back and forth with his readers and posting photos on Flickr, MySpace and a blog.

Coelho's online activities also include a somewhat nefarious one: he likes to promote pirated copies of his own books. At the recent Digital, Life, Design Conference in Munich, Coelho told a gathering of tech company CEOs, artists and designers that since 2005 he's been directing his readers to an online site where they can download his books, in languages from German to Japanese, for free. "I always thought that when, at the beginning of your career, you strive to be read, you can't change your mind later and become greedy about it," he said.

Tell that to his publisher, HarperCollins. When reached by NEWSWEEK, a HarperCollins spokeswoman, Patricia Rose, said the publisher knew nothing about Coelho's online activities.

With his announcement Coelho is turning up the heat on an issue that's been simmering in the book publishing industry for years. In supplementing traditional promotional strategies, such as book signings and reviews, with free downloads, Coelho is championing a model that's gaining momentum among his fellow, albeit lesser-known, authors. Writers of technical manuals, academic books and fiction authors, like science fiction writer Cory Doctorow, have been putting their entire books online for free, with the consent of their publishers. Some authors claim that online publishing increases book sales by stimulating word of mouth. Publishers, for the most part, have been reluctant to endorse the practice for fear that it will undermine their sales and contracts for foreign rights and distribution. The trouble is, nobody really knows what effect free online publishing has on book sales, because there's almost no data to go on. "I think the Internet, for [publishers], is a very strange world, still," says Coelho's agent, Monica Antunes, from her office in Barcelona. "They can't make up their minds whether it's good or not good."

Whereas most authors who have embraced online publishing have done so openly, Coelho had been deftly hiding behind the anonymity provided in the digital world. His site, Piratecoelho, culls pirated versions of his books on sites like BitTorrent and eMule. He pays 10 fans scattered across France, Spain, Brazil, Russia and Turkey to find new pipelines for him to gather versions of his books onto the site. Visitors to his blog can click on an image of Coelho, resplendent in a neatly trimmed white beard, scarf and eye patch (he resembles an affable buccaneer in real life as well), and continue on to the site.

Coelho believes his online activities have only increased his already healthy sales. When he first came across a pirated edition of one of his books, in Russian, on the Internet in 1999, he put the link on his site, and the impact was immediate. Bookstore sales in Russia, a market in which Coelho was having distribution problems and where he had sold only 1,000 books, rocketed to 10,000 in 2001. He has since sold 10 million copies of his books, his agent says. His fans have downloaded complete editions of his books, in languages ranging from Spanish to Swedish, more than 20 million times in the past seven years. By publishing online, he says, "you give the reader the possibility of reading books and choosing whether to buy it or not."

Re:Artists deserve to get paid. (4, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589997)

. By publishing online, he says, "you give the reader the possibility of reading books and choosing whether to buy it or not."

That's good for Coehlo, but the issue here is that the work is his. Like it or not, the US and the rest of the world has adopted the French model of copyright and in that model the artist reigns absolutely supreme first. If Coehlo wants to give his work away to promote himself, that's fine. But, that is his choice to make and not something that should be imposed on him - unless you want to change the law.

Re:Artists deserve to get paid. (1)

coldmist (154493) | more than 5 years ago | (#28590033)

Last time I checked, taking advantage of someone's enjoyment of their work by not paying them is called exploitation. How about, if because you like to program, your employer decided not to pay you.

Talk to Linus about that, will ya? With all the people in the world using Linux, he should be a millionaire. Oh ya, he voluntarily gave it away!

Artists work. They deserve to be paid for what they do.

You really believe that statement? They deserve to be paid? Wow. Please, read your statement over again. So, what if an artist puts their content up on a website for free, for anyone to download? Do they still deserve to be paid? If so, how much?

As soon as you say they "deserve to be paid" and the "how much" question comes into the equation, you know it's based on an incorrect principles.

Re:Mod parent up (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28589719)

Problem is, the art that people do for themselves tends to be rather self obsessed.

Which is fine, it's just that it probably won't be that attractive to you. It might all seem rather boring and meaningless, as there is no need for the artist to make their ideas accessible.

Most people not involved in the creative world have a rather naive view of popular art. You see the final result, which is often intentionally made, through great effort, to seem natural and effortless. It's an illusion and a clever and attractive one, but people are taken in by it.

I always find it funny that people think the music industry is full of megastars who spend their lives with expensive cars and fine clothes. In fact that was mostly just an image sold to people, back when people found success attractive. You can hire that stuff for a few days for the video, then it all goes back.

Nowadays, the image is often toned down to seem more 'gritty', 'real' or 'authentic'. It's just as much an illusion, and the artist may be making exactly the same profit, but it sells better right now.

"It's not really much of a surprise that most of the masters were doing portraits, working for patrons or downright broke when they were turning out works that would later sell for millions."
That was how many hundred years ago? And do you actually like any of it?

Re:Mod parent up (1)

sgrizzard (1184327) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589805)

I agree. I want to be paid for my work, but it is not the most important motivation for me to write. Good writing is done for the writer first, and everyone else second. I think DRM is crap, and it hurts customers (whoever they are). The fact is, DRM doesn't stop the people that won't pay for your work, and it hurts the people that want to pay for your work, so why bother? Sure, there are people at the margin who will decide to steal rather than to purchase, but if that group is really large enough to make a significant difference, then the price of your work is too high and your publisher is censoring information with high pricing. If that's the case, you deserve to be ripped-off you jerk. Paying for books is the same as paying for any other good - there is a price that is somewhere between the highest price a customer is willing to pay and the lowest price you are willing to sell it for. If you aren't being a greedy jerk, that price should be somewhere in the middle. Be willing to split the surplus with your reader, and the DRM issue becomes a non-issue. Be like the RIAA, trying to make people pay $20 for one good song (and nine crappy ones), and you deserve to get ripped-off (and you will be).

Re:Mod parent up (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589933)

Good art is good art, period. Your idealistic imposition of morals on the motivation of the creation have no bearing on anyone's opinion but your own. It surely doesn't work as a general justification for the entitlement culture that has sprung up around creative works consumption.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589755)

"I don't know of a single really good author who writes primarily for profit."

Heinlein did.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (1)

Fizzol (598030) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589759)

"Only a fool ever wrote for anything but money." -- Dr. Samuel Johnson

Money = success (2)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589909)

The one true measure of success in writing is money. Not some babbling reviewer from Publisher Weakly. But cold hard cash. It's a measure of how popular and respected your work is.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28589889)

Yeah, bro! I too find Shakespeare a worthless hack, now RMS's fiction about licensed books - that's the shit, man!

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (0)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589947)

And Shakespeare didn't sell a single book in his lifetime. Shakespeare's main work was simply writing plays, and really, the vast majority of them were simply adaptations of older or popular works into play form. And really, Shakespeare wasn't anything special, the only reason why we have his works is because the Queen really liked his works. Really Shakespeare was nothing more than Stephanie Meyer (author of the Twilight series) of the late 1500s, early 1600s.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28589471)

We don't want your non-skilled non-ambitious average run of the mill shit anyhow..

I can tell all this by your complete lack of passion of wanting people to read what you write!

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (5, Interesting)

selven (1556643) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589489)

I create for my own profit, not your entertainment

Good luck profiting or entertaining with that mindset.

Once the Internet community stops (I know it isn't everyone but it is enough to be a major problem) stealing content created by artists for profit

This statement, especially with the word "once" in it (implying that it's inevitable) is the epitome of the "goodluckwiththat" tag.

we will finally be able to embrace the open standards we all truly want

We will be able to embrace open standards only when the entire internet agrees to do things your way. Nice.

Until then DRM will live one in some for or other.

Given that file sharing is not going to vountarily go away, this statement becomes "information will continue to be locked down until the entire internet is locked down", which is probably true. We can't stop DRM any more than you can stop piracy.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589597)

Given that file sharing is not going to vountarily go away, this statement becomes "information will continue to be locked down until the entire internet is locked down", which is probably true. We can't stop DRM any more than you can stop piracy.

That's not quite true, pirates are much more likely to win than that. It's a matter of will, and if you get enough people cracking the protection schemes quickly enough at launch, DRM will eventually go away. DRM is about control and profit, if the schemes are broken fast enough there's definitely a question of why spend many thousands of dollars locking something down that'll be cracked within a few weeks. Sure it does help with sales initially, but you're typically having to sell a hell of a lot of copies in order to break even and it does put one at a competitive disadvantage to those that don't need to sell those extra copies.

Not to mention the fact that there's a surprising number of people that don't pirate software that doesn't have DRM incorporated into it.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589833)

DRM is about control and profit, if the schemes are broken fast enough there's definitely a question of why spend many thousands of dollars locking something down that'll be cracked within a few weeks. Sure it does help with sales initially

Umm.. you just hit the nail on the head. The argument is that the most money is made in the first few weeks of release. If your copy protection is any good (say, online activation using strong cryptography and hard to reverse engineer code obfuscation) you can price gouge for months before a crack is released. Then you can lower your price to capture the "its easier to buy than to crack" crowd.

Of course, if your copy protection sucks as, 99% of them do, you're just gunna piss off your customers, who will bad mouth you on their blog, and that'll get picked up by the media, killing whatever buzz you might have generated for the product.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28589913)

I buy sw and really like buying sw w/the remnants of a tree in the box printed in ink that becomes toxic when sent to be recycled. I would d/l it if I got the dead tree to read rather than read it from the file and require production of my own dead tree.

The digital format is OK except if you just want to read it, write your notes in it, get it wet while reading, dry it out and later understand your thoughts while re-reading for expansion. Devices li Kindle are nice to have large numbers of books available ... but ... I still prefer the dead tree to reference.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589517)

as you post content for free? /sarcasm
Basically enough people realize when you create value, and realize they want to contribute $ to it's creation, that as long as you appeal to those people their will be a way to make money with or without copy protection. Their are a bunch of people who will do anything to avoid paying anything, if they can avoid it, sorry they will get your work for free, or some (lower quality?) similar content. Then again freeloaders co mingle with non-free loaders, so avoiding them may not even be helpful to your cause.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (4, Insightful)

Lachlan Hunt (1021263) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589527)

DRM, and other artificial restrictions (e.g. regional restrictions on sales) are some of the major reasons why "piracy" persists. Drop the DRM and offer products and services for a fair price using innovative business models and you'll find that the issue of piracy will be of little concern.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (4, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589551)

No it isn't, and I wish people would stop suggesting that piracy is killing services off. Because it's not. Show me a platform that was killed by piracy and I'll show you a platform that was horribly managed. More often than not the DRM just limits the number of sales and raises the number of copies necessary to break even.

The problem is that customer service stinks and there's a belief in the entitlement to profit. Trust me there isn't one, and as soon as people start to acknowledge that the cost of an item is going to approach the marginal cost of another one, there's going to be no effort that effectively stops the piracy.

Worse still is the fact that piracy goes way up when one has to pirate in order to use the content as one wishes. You have the right to control the distribution of the copies of your work, not what people do with those copies, and as such DRM is a pretty egregious violation of ones rights. I have the right to sell any copies I've bought provided that I don't create any additional copies to sell.

I'm also sorry that you're so terribly misinformed about copyright law, copyright isn't there so that you can profit. It's there to maximize the amount of work being created, any profits you make are purely as a side effect of that goal. Fighting consumers to prevent them from using it on the platform of their choosing in whatever way they wish to is an egregious abuse of that right.

Customer service at Amazon is (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589931)

Amazing actually. I ordered some gifts for a friend then found out they'd moved while the order was in route to their old address.
I informed Amazon of this and they refunded my money before the packages arrived at the wrong address. I've now reordered them and they are on their way to the new address. I was pretty shocked they'd do this.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (5, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589555)

No way on Earth I would work hard writing or creating something to have it passed around the Internet for free. I create for my own profit, not your entertainment. Once the Internet community stops (I know it isn't everyone but it is enough to be a major problem) stealing content created by artists for profit, we will finally be able to embrace the open standards we all truly want. Until then DRM will live one in some for or other.

You're free to make that choice. But:

(1) There are other strategies that may be more to your economic benefit. I write science textbooks and science fiction. In the areas that I'm familiar with, one good example of a highly successful alternative strategy is the Baen Free Library [baen.com] of science fiction books. A couple of other very talented professional SF writers who make their work available for free online are Cory Doctorow [craphound.com] and Benjamin Rosenbaum [benjaminrosenbaum.com] . For a few hundred other (mostly nonfiction) examples, see my sig. (I'm not a particularly well known SF author, but here [lightandmatter.com] is where I've done the same thing with my fiction. My nonfiction is free online here [lightandmatter.com] .)

(2) History has shown that DRM doesn't work. Back in the 1980s we went through the whole DRM fiasco before. Back then it was called "copy protection." You would buy software on a 5-inch floppy disk, and it would have various formatting trickery that made it hard to copy. Users hated it. For one thing, they couldn't back up their software properly, so as soon as the disk wore out, they had lost their investment. Users voted with their feet, refusing to buy copy-protected software. The result was that copy protection disappeared. Since then, various people have kept insisting on relearning the same lessons over and over. The outcome is always the same. DRM doesn't work, users hate it, and because users hate it, it ends up being a failure in economic terms.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (2, Interesting)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589621)

(Somewhat) Obligatory Don't Copy That Floppy [wikipedia.org] , and the Video [youtube.com]

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28589751)

Do you make a living out of writing science textbooks? Or are you doing it as a hobby? How many colleges are using your book as their primary text? My guess is that you are doing it as a hobby, haven't ever been paid for it and if any students are using your text they are probably your own because you run a course and set the textbook to your own.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (5, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589763)

How many colleges are using your book as their primary text? My guess is that you are doing it as a hobby, haven't ever been paid for it and if any students are using your text they are probably your own because you run a course and set the textbook to your own.

57. Here [lightandmatter.com] is the list.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (5, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589793)

How many colleges are using your book as their primary text? My guess is that you are doing it as a hobby, haven't ever been paid for it and if any students are using your text they are probably your own because you run a course and set the textbook to your own.

57. Here [lightandmatter.com] is the list.

Apparently he guessed wrong.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589991)

Woah. Your internets is in the mail. O.o

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (2, Insightful)

labiator (193328) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589855)

Personally,
I think the key here is what the "artist" thinks his "art" is worth, and what the consuming public thinks it is worth are two totally different things. Make a DVD of a decent movie and sell it to me at twice the cost of a rental, and I am more than happy to buy it, Sell garbage that is entertaining only once, if at all, and I will stick to Redbox. The same goes for music. There is a reason Apple is making money at the price of iTunes, They have the right price point. In the end, the "artist" will get sick of being screwed by the media giant who only pimp them out at their convenience, and realize that self promotion is the only realistic promotion.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (2, Insightful)

stms (1132653) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589557)

You must have missed the whole argument against DRM (if not allow me to remind you). It doesn't decrease piracy it only stops end-users from storing in the desired format.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (2, Interesting)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589563)

I have the gut feeling that you are doing it wrong. See I have a bunch of O'Reilly books in my bookshelf and I will probably increase that number. I really doubt I will ever get one of your books in my hand, or for that matter books written by folks of your mentality. The simple truth is, that the O'Reilly people give me a good reason to by, because they produce good books and they have a moral philosophy that I feel comfortable with. I'm actually totally happy when I buy something from them. Also DRM and proprietary standards are ineffective and very annoying which is why I neither consider buying a Kindle nor any books that are crippled by this abomination.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28589567)

And so you will die out with the rest of the dinosaurs.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589577)

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589589)

No way on Earth I would work hard writing or creating something to have it passed around the Internet for free.

That is fair and I'm certain you are voicing a very popular opinion among editors, artists, writers, etc. As O'Reilly mentions, though, Apple seems to have balanced this both with music (MP3s are pretty "open" to play on anything). I think what the article means by "open" is that it would be nice to be able to read this through multiple devices and not just the kindle. Your username starts with DRM and, although insanely flawed, there are ways to implement it so that numerous devices and programs can use it. Yes, I realize that a skilled developer could write a simple application with the sole intent of converting DRM files to plain text but I'm pretty sure those who want to are doing that already.

Once the Internet community stops ...

Let's just step back and look at the facts. Don't make any assumptions about what I'm trying to convince you.

  1. The internet is a thriving marketplace for the dissemination of digital media and is undeniably what the consumer wants.
  2. People take things without paying all the time. It might be a hardcover of your book, it might be the right to read your book. It's always been part of capitalism (I think the industry calls it "shrink" and places like Best Buy or Barnes and Noble just expect it).
  3. If you fail to put your books online you stand to not only reduce your market but also your exposure.

I don't want to steal your book. But if I want your book, I sure the hell would prefer paying 2/3 the cost of the hardcover and having it instantly in front of me. And, I would be making far more purchases. I may not be the general populace but I think that's a pretty safe rule. The music industry is enjoying iTunes, you would enjoy it more since no one wants only Chapter 23 of your novel.

With or without DRM/closed standards, people are stealing your work. Do you really think that making the standard in which they are saved/read/transmitted an "open standard" is going to increase your losses that much?

I don't know what your numbers look like but I would speculate that the increased sales from people walking around with iPhones and Palm Pres and mobile devices would outweigh that. I agree there will be people trading these files online. But you can't stop that now. Do you not agree that you, as a writer, would benefit from this move? O'Reilly seems to think so and he seems to think it's great for Amazon too ... being one of the largest tech book publishers and author himself, I'm going to side with him. Especially since everyone at work talks about how awesome the Safari book service is (two coworkers are toying around with full subscriptions).

I wish I could tell you that you have full control over this but the facts indicate that you really just have the power to delay the inevitable.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (4, Interesting)

fooslacker (961470) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589651)

That's an interesting viewpoint. Let me share another with you. I own a Kindle2 and loved it from day one. I'm totally willing to buy books for it. In fact I don't really have an issue with the prices Amazon charges given the current market but I would expect them to fall as the user base grows.

All of that said, I have decided to stop buying books from one publisher and a specific author due to unreasonable (IMO) DRM restrictions placed on the book when I bought it. Specifically it was a Doubleday book called House of Cards that opened my eyes to how restrictive the Amazon DRM can be. As a result of that experience and the fact that there was no way to know what the restrictions were prior to purchasing, I have started looking for free books and converting various third party books.

I will still occasionally buy books from a known author that I "must" read but I do this with the full realization that Amazon could rip the content away from me at a moments notice. I don't buy unknown authors or books I may want to keep or reread any more on my Kindle. Instead I go to the library or borrow the books from a friend until I'm sure I want to follow that author. I used to just buy everything and anything I was interested in but now I'm much more careful and have started finding ways to read the books for free if I'm not interested in keeping them or they're not a favorite author. So if you're a favorite author of mine your viewpoint works but you certainly won't break into the market at least for me while your works are DRM crippled.

Perhaps piracy is a greater problem that growing your audience for you and if so then good luck with your battle against it but for most authors I suspect growing your audience is the greater problem and at least for me DRM is a non-starter when trying to get me to buy an unknown author or a book I want to keep for multiple reads which leaves me only purchasing stuff that I know I like but don't want to keep and reread over and over again. It has really limited what I buy on my Kindle to just escapist writing that I read for recreation.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (3, Informative)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 5 years ago | (#28590059)

You can rip the protection from any .azw book on your Kindle. Google mobidedrm.py for more. Sadly, no crack is available for Topaz (.tpz) files - at least, not that I can find. Some online booksellers sell DRMed Mobipocket books that can be stripped of protection in the same way.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28589669)

And nothing of value was lost. I doubt you have done anything anyone would bother wanting to share.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (2, Interesting)

registrar (1220876) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589707)

drmemnoch... a creator of something I actually want, and therefore someone whose opinion I care about? Or are you just some self-important writer of doggerel who wants to restrict my rights, without benefiting either you or me?

I'm a content creator too. I do it because I enjoy it and it makes me good money. My content is paid for by government and commercial contract (mostly commercial). I have absolutely no pretension to creating content for your entertainment.

The key difference between you and me is this: you want to restrict my rights, I don't want to restrict yours. I can enjoy my own life without asking you to do or refraining from doing anything. Unless I ask you to create something for me, in which case I will be expecting to pay you for it.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589765)

No way on Earth I would work hard writing or creating something to have it passed around the Internet for free. I create for my own profit, not your entertainment.

A 100% share of nothing is still nothing. And that's about what DRM will get you. If you manage to succeed in selling despite the DRM... you'll be pirated anyway.

A question of balance (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589779)

Anyone who chooses the solution that fails to balance the need for open and the need to make money has got it wrong. A device like the kindle should support both free and paid-for content. The real issue at stake is that of format. The book is a universal format and all you need is a press to make one, and a bit of effort to copy. An electronic device works on using specific data formats, and if you aren't careful risks locking you in to one solution.

The Kindle might be the first true electronic book reader, but there needs to be an approach that allows anyone to make a book reader, while taking into account the publisher's and author's investment into the work.

I appreciate open source as much as the next person, but I also understand that if we don't reward the authors of our favourite works we run the risk of discouraging them from writing the next book.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (1, Troll)

bonch (38532) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589785)

This is Slashdot, where content creators have ZERO rights, and copyright law is evil...except, of course, when it comes to the GPL. When it comes to the GPL, content creator rights suddenly matter, and copyrights are something to be enforced. The FSF says right on its page that the GPL "assures the copyright of the software," so Slashdot invents a double-standard where they're anti-copyrights and pro-piracy in one case and pro-copyright and anti-piracy in another.

Basically, people choose the self-serving position every time and don't want to lose any free ride. It's kind of sad.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589797)

I don't know if you saw the article a while back that was posted on Slashdot that claimed piracy was good, but basically, the story claimed that people should forget about making money off their product and instead supplement their incoming with "concerts and speaking tours."

Seriously, that's the excuse Slashdotters use to justify piracy. Concerts and speaking tours.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28589807)

Boy, good thing you posted here, so I can warn you about other publishing formats that let people steal your work and re-distribute it on the internet.

For the category of "books" the following publishing methods are vulnerable to copying:
- Any digital format
- Any non-digital format

Yea, that's right. If I can read your work, I can make digital copies of them and distribute them for free. If I can't read your work... then you're not publishing it.

Now look at it from a customer's perspective instead of a publisher's perspective. The DRM-encumbered format limits the number of devices that can be used to read it. When the person making the DRM stops supporting it, the book stops working. Also, it'll take one person an hour's work to convert to a non-DRM format and to be distributed for free on the internet, after which time your pirates will have a more convenient experience then the legal customers. Seriously, DRM hinders the first person to upload your work for several hours and people who legally buy your book just a little. But it hinders pirates NOT AT ALL.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28589817)

If you create solely for profit, than your products are shit anyway. You have forced yourself into a narrow minded view and now will refuse to update your strategy to the evolving times. Good luck with that, moron.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (3, Insightful)

bursch-X (458146) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589841)

This from the not so new news: Apple offering DRM-free Music in the iTunes Music Store. Have they positioned themselves avgainst the poor artitsts, or does it simply make business sense to give users what they want and not treat your customers like criminals?

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589887)

http://www.geocities.jp/takascience/lego/fabs_en.html [geocities.jp]
http://www.boingboing.net/2009/04/20/howo-make-a-300-high.html [boingboing.net]

You will have to be good enough that fans will send you money or buy something physical such as a book from you.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28589937)

No way on Earth I would work hard writing or creating something to have it passed around the Internet for free. I create for my own profit, not your entertainment. Once the Internet community stops (I know it isn't everyone but it is enough to be a major problem) stealing content created by artists for profit, we will finally be able to embrace the open standards we all truly want. Until then DRM will live one in some for or other.

No way I'm going to purchase something that suddenly collapses into a pile of unreadable bits just because new hardware has come along or the "magic key" becomes unavailable because the publisher is either defunct or lost interest in the product.

I've got paperback books older than I am. Some are showing the "acid" paper syndrome and slowly disintegrating. Periodically I put them back together and reread them - although admittedly some of my newer books have such cheap bindings they're falling apart even faster.

As far as I'm concerned, durable works demand durable media. Even binary ones. DRM isn't durable media.

Sorry if this doesn't protect your income, but my job just got sent to Bangalore. Again.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (3, Insightful)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589951)

No way on Earth I would work hard writing or creating something to have it passed around the Internet for free. I create for my own profit, not your entertainment.

And that's why I've heard of David Wong and Cory Doctrow, and would buy books by either of them in hardcopy if I spotted one in a book shop, but I still have no idea who you are.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589953)

No way on Earth I would work hard writing or creating something to have it passed around the Internet for free. I create for my own profit, not your entertainment. Once the Internet community stops (I know it isn't everyone but it is enough to be a major problem) stealing content created by artists for profit, we will finally be able to embrace the open standards we all truly want. Until then DRM will live one in some for or other.

Why do you think having your content do less will earn you more money?

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (2, Insightful)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 5 years ago | (#28590027)

"I create for my own profit, not your entertainment."

Seems obvious to me that you can't achieve the former until *after* you've achieved the latter.

Re:I wouldn't publish on Kindle if it was Open (1)

nausea_malvarma (1544887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28590031)

Once the Internet community stops (I know it isn't everyone but it is enough to be a major problem) stealing content created by artists

Hahahahahaha! Never gonna happen! :-)

When information is this easy to copy, we'll never see the end to piracy. All you can do is accept it, and adapt to the new digital world, where information wants to be worthless.

No way on Earth I would work hard writing or creating something to have it passed around the Internet for free. I create for my own profit, not your entertainment.

Good to know you have artistic integrity /sarcasm

Seriously... make art because you enjoy it. Many great artists never saw a cent from their work.

first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28589399)

HAH

Re:first.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28589559)

fail

Use ODF (2, Insightful)

Elitist_Phoenix (808424) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589401)

They should make it support ODF. But I guess its all about profit to them.

Re:Use ODF (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589483)

I'm all for open standards; but it isn't at all obvious that ODF is anything like the right one. ODF has a great deal of complexity, not a virtue in embedded devices, because it is designed to cope with the (fairly intricate and evolved) needs of office suites. Something like EPUB, which is designed for ebook purposes, or even a subset of HTML seems like it would be a great deal more suitable.

It's all about me! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28589421)

They should use open standards so I will buy one.

iPod and iTunes (5, Insightful)

DaRat (678130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589431)

The Kindle does support the Mobipocket format. Docs in that format can be distributed freely and without copy protection. The tools are available for free.

A better analogue is the iPod and the iTunes Store. The iPod became the dominant mp3 player not because it supported proprietary and non proprietary formats. It became successful because it made the process of acquiring and transferring content (ripped and purchased) seamless and easy. The Kindle has something very similar in its ease with which you can purchase books and put them onto your Kindle.

Re:iPod and iTunes (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589485)

The Kindle has something very similar in its ease with which you can purchase books and put them onto your Kindle.

True. So does my netbook.

Re:iPod and iTunes (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589491)

...No, the iPod became dominant because it was A) affordable B) had a decent enough UI once you got used to it C) had enough features and D) the competition was crap. Sure, today you can find better MP3 players than the iPod if all you want to do is listen to music, but back when the first iPod came out, it was the smallest player with the highest capacity and attractive design. And now the iPod continues its dominance via the applications on the iPod touch/iPhone plus all the DRM'd music others have bought and don't want to spend $100 reconverting it and prefer to instead pay $75 more to upgrade their player to the latest iPod.

Re:iPod and iTunes (2, Insightful)

revlayle (964221) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589587)

iPod = affordable?

I would call the iPod a lot of positive words/descriptors. "Affordable" would not be one of those. I love my current iPod, but you pay a premium for quality/capabilities of such a device.

Re:iPod and iTunes (0, Flamebait)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589619)

That's not true. A) It costs a couple of hundred dollars more than the competition. B) It ripped off the UI from the competition with the exception of the buttons on the case. C) The iPod never had as many features as the competition did, you're probably thinking of attachments. D) The competition wasn't crap, I've used the competition for years, and I've never had to send it back for a costly battery replacement.

Re:iPod and iTunes (4, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589919)

A) It costs a couple of hundred dollars more than the competition.

Back in 2001? I don't think so. There were no commonly available 5 GB devices in the iPods form factor back in 2001. Today, yes, 2001? No.

B) It ripped off the UI from the competition with the exception of the buttons on the case

Not really, the entire UI was basically based off the click wheel which wasn't really used on anything else back in 2001. If you have evidence feel free to show me, but I can't remember (and a quick Google search turned up no results) of any other player having a similar UI back in 2001.

C) The iPod never had as many features as the competition did, you're probably thinking of attachments. D) The competition wasn't crap, I've used the competition for years, and I've never had to send it back for a costly battery replacement.

About the only other digital audio player that came close back in 2001 to the iPod would be the Personal Jukebox and even then it used a larger HD making the entire device itself larger.

Re:iPod and iTunes (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589985)

A) It costs a couple of hundred dollars more than the competition.

Back in 2001? I don't think so. There were no commonly available 5 GB devices in the iPods form factor back in 2001. Today, yes, 2001? No.

Small nitpick: I think the 6GB Nomad was out when the iPod was announced. However, it's important to point out that the iPod was significantly smaller and it didn't require a seperate AC adapter to charge.

Re:iPod and iTunes (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589631)

Ironically, the latest iPod models, namely the iPod Touch's, have the worst UI for actually playing music, as you need to completely focus your attention on the device to do the simplest operation, like play/pause/change volume.

With all the previous versions, there was an actual physical control that you could operate by touch without needing to even glance at it.

Hell, Apple even screwed up the placement of the controls when you aren't "within" the music playing app (the controls you get when you double click the front button), by putting up the controls in two different locations, depending on whether the screen is locked or unlocked.

I really wish Apple would throw on the classic iPod touch-wheel onto the back of the iPod Touch (and maybe even the iPhone...).

Re:iPod and iTunes (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589697)

The ipod touch is meant to be more of a pda than an ipod, even if it's called that. What you want is the classic, which they still make.

http://www.apple.com/ipodclassic/ [apple.com]

Re:iPod and iTunes (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589861)

Or maybe some chincy $50 8GB off brand flash model that works until it doesn't work anymore. By the time it breaks, $50 should by 20 GB. And so on.

Re:iPod and iTunes (1)

am 2k (217885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589917)

I'm using an iPhone for listening to music sometimes, and except for starting the music, I can use the remote control button (once for play/pause, twice for skip) and the volume control hardware buttons on the side of the device for everything I need. The new iPod Touch even has a better remote control that has more than a single button.

Lame (3, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589915)

when the first iPod came out, it was the smallest player with the highest capacity

Not true at all. It had less space than a Nomad!

And no wireless!!

Re:Lame (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589975)

In case you didn't know, the Nomad was huge. About the size of a portable CD player, a far cry from the (at the time) tiny iPod.

Re:iPod and iTunes (2, Insightful)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589595)

The article did recognize that, and also explained why that didn't work for O'reily (lack of features.) Really it didn't seam the article cared as much about the hardware, as about the publisher side. I also think this open format discussion was also more about letting it be developed and improved by some community, than leaving it locked to being developed by a single group of developers.
It seams the only way to meet this definition of open is to make the kindle platform open to developers, it was unclear how amazon was supposed to match that on the publisher side though.

Re:iPod and iTunes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28589935)

> The Kindle does support the Mobipocket format.

This is not strictly true. The Kindle format is a variation on the mobi format with DRM - the content is encrypted with the device's serial number. Unencrypted works are available and can be read just fine. A decryption strategy has also been reported.

Commercialism (5, Insightful)

Techmeology (1426095) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589439)

The trouble with today's society is commercialism driven technology. Just as art is hollow when the artist cares only about money, truly creative science and technology cannot take place when its primary purpose is to line the pockets of some corporation. It's this care and passion for creation that makes open standards superior. Yes. We all know Microsoft can pump marketable features out, but ultimately, Microsoft technology exists to serve Microsoft, not us. As an added side effect, most DRM schemes rely on security through obfuscation. Hence a piece of technology based on open standards ought to be free of DRM. Even if open source DRM could be constructed, most people passionate enough about a scientific community would be very anti-DRM. Conclusion: unless you like being Microsoft's pawn, open standards FTW!

That's all just backwards. (-1, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589737)

It's this care and passion for creation that makes open standards superior

No, the fact of the matter is that open standards and this anti-commercialism that you speak of is really just a geeks way of saying that they are self indulgent and want to create for themselves. It's the guys at Microsoft and Apple that have to sweat deadlines, do focus groups, sift through the complaints of millions of users, the genuinely work for everyone else. They get paid for it.

Windows is for the people that use it. Mac is for the people that use it. But, Linux is for the people that write it. You can rip me all you want, but just look at all the project managers of various Linux things, and their postings, and the things that strike you is that they are all about "me" first. Stallman, Torvalds, etc, are all pretty self-centered people. Me. Me. Me. This solution is evil, that technology is terrible. Everything to them is black and white. Of course society has a need for such people and we shouldn't throw away open source any more than we should adopt it to the exclusion of all else.

I almost got a Kindle.. (4, Interesting)

Lysol (11150) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589487)

But instead... I got a Sony PRS-700. And I love it. Sure the screen could be bigger, but it supports PDF natively and a lot of the tech books I get (probably not going to be the case with most other books - yet) are in epub format, which is at least an open format. I know the Kindle DX supports native PDF, but I actually like the epub format now as it seems to render better on my PRS-700. The PRS-700 also has touch screen and a SD slot; so I can just download the epub's, copy them over to the sd, and then they show up on my 'bookshelf' on the reader. Exactly the amount of control I wanted.

I can see what Amazon is doing here - they're trying to mimic the success of the iTunes music store. I suspect this will work for a while, but at some point, others will come along and force Amazon to open up. Once they do, I might buy a bigger Kindle.

All in all, I think ebooks have finally arrived and I'm ditching all my paper text manuals and never buying another one again..

Kindle Coverage (4, Interesting)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589575)

Boy, Kindle is sure getting a lot of coverage on Slashdot lately. You're left to think that somehow the world matters because of it - which it doesn't.

Google getting into book selling is a much bigger deal. Fictionwise's current meltdown where they apparently can't even report and pay royalties on time or properly is a big deal given their size in the eBook market and number of publishers involved. The fact that you don't even need a Kindle reader to buy and read Kindle books seems seldom mentioned. (A free Kindle reader app is available for iPhone/iPod Touch and there are millions more of those out there than Kindle hardware.)

Now another pundit tells us that Kindle must change, or die, in 3 years. Kindle is excellent for its intended uses. It's purpose built to provide eBook reading in a thin format with a very readable screen in bright light, weeks' long battery life, limited browsing, multiple formats, bookmarking, annotation, and sharing the book across multiple devices, and no-worries wireless connection. Also, lots of books available for it from the biggest bookseller on the planet. It's hard to see who is going to beat out that combination easily in the near future. I'd just as quickly predict the iPod demise as the end of Kindle.

Where do I see Kindle in 3 years? Cheaper, if production catches up to sales. Better browsing and better integration of its features into other formats (e.g. annotations on PDFs). Content (e.g. Newspapers) delivered to it by subscription replacing dead tree physical delivery. Or possibly limited to a hardware niche market while their reader software is running on every significant portable device with a screen large enough to read on.

One way or another "Kindle" survives as a brand as long as Amazon doesn't abandon it themselves and keeps developing the product.

My personal opinion? That the people predicting Kindle's demise are the ones who hate it in the first place and are trying to talk it away.

Re:Kindle Coverage (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589743)

Fictionwise's current meltdown where they apparently can't even report and pay royalties on time or properly is a big deal given their size in the eBook market and number of publishers involved.

More info? Links?

I don't yet have the 10 professionally published short stories that Fictionwise wants you to have before they'll deal with you, so this is basically moot for me, but I'd still like to hear the gory details. The other thing that scares me off is that they want exclusive electronic distribution rights.

Kindle will be bigger than iPod. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589749)

Kindle will be bigger than iPod because Amazon is so huge in the publishing industry and they appear to be writer friendly. What are you going to do? Write a book for free on the internet? Or write it and sell it on Kindle? A book is a lot of fricking work, but Kindle opens doors to a lot of authors.

Any cheap(er) e-ink e-book readers in works? (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589623)

Serious question as I have tried everything else. I have a desktop, a netbook and a iphone. Each are worthless when reading books. I simply cannot stand having a back-lit screen.

I can't see myself spending $200+.

Re:Any cheap(er) e-ink e-book readers in works? (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589995)

Google "sony PRS". Cheaper and reads PDF better, the tradeoff is that the Sony bookstore is atrocious and requires software on your computer -- the Kindle store is pretty well stocked with contemporary books and downloads them over the air in a relatively painless process. FWIW I'm a Sony employee and get a break on buying Sony gear and I bought the Kindle, mainly because of the bookstore/subscription selection. No regrets.

Apple tablet (2, Interesting)

ciaohound (118419) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589653)

I was at a neighborhood party this weekend, which provided something like a random sample of the population. You know, morons. Anyway, someone had a Kindle and they were passing it around a bit, showing it off. At the same time, there were many more people showing each other things on their iPhones. The Kindle didn't hang around for long. Maybe it's just not good at parties. Anyway, it made me think that if and when Apple makes a tablet that does everything an iPhone does AND everything the Kindle does, and costs just a tad more than an iPod Touch, that will hit the ebook reader sweet spot.

Re:Apple tablet (2, Informative)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589927)

In a way, they kinda did that [wikipedia.org] already.

ALL virtual effort is a commodity (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589683)

I submitted the following to the firehose the other day but it has relevance in this context as well:

Encoding Effort by headkase
Within 15 years or so 3D Engines will have reached a point where they are indistinguishable from actual reality. At this time several business models are at risk. Hollywood will see the commoditization of entertainment blockbusters and the infrastructure itself, a 3D engine, will also see standardization. I agree with Richard Stallman in that I do fundementally believe that software should be free. But what is software? Traditionally it is seen as source-code. But its name is evident. It is an encoding of effort into a machine-specific ability. Programmers encode 3D engines, artists encode models, authors encode content. What has seen the first advance into Free is code but other forms of encoding effort will begin to appear as the ecosystem matures. Machinima with a completely realistic output paired with free graphics and sounds and other community developed content will be within reach of any individual with a personal computer. Where I disagree with Mr. Stallman is that I believe that while it is inevitable that Free will eventually win and individuals can use a "stone-soup" analogy to further develop common goals it is not immoral to receive compensation for effort expended in a specific case. This could mean that an artist accepts a bounty and creates a specific piece of content for an entity. The summation of this paragraph is that Free is inevitable but at the same time I'd like to buy some beer.

What Open Source represents is giving your little bit to get a lot in return or the "Stone Soup" analogy. What will enable Open to flourish is creating a finer granularity of effort. In the above example Hollywood studios organize vast pools of talent to create a singular work under wraps until completion. Consider when content creation tools have reached reality. The Open future is many artists creating code, character models, voice profiles, scripts, props and everything in between. The Bazaar will allow us all to remix these building blocks into something greater than we could achieve individually. And your entertainment will be rendered in real-time according to your rig's abilities. All effort that ends up as bits will become a commodity when Open Methods are applied. It is simply a matter of time, different for each niche, until this reality occurs. This does not rule out wealth (potential) however as to get non-virtual things done you will still need that.

Mid 1990s? (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589989)

What was true for a business in the mid 1990s is not necessarily good for a different business in 2009.

News and open standard (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#28590029)

Newspaper content would be great for open (no DRM) format. If download/subscription cost is nominal, who would copy last week's news to save a buck? Neat for public transit commuters.

But this is too obvious. They must have thought of it.

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