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Sony Breathes New Life Into Library Books

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the about-bloody-time dept.

Sony 374

Barence writes "Sony has launched a new range of touchscreen eBook readers — and is breathing new life into the concept of public library books. The readers offer support for free eBook loans from local authority libraries. If you're lucky enough to be a member of a local library supporting the service (50 have signed up so far in the UK) you'll be able to visit its website, tap your library card number in and borrow any book in the eBook catalog, for free, for a period of 14 or 21 days. The odd thing about this is it works in a very similar way to the good old bricks-and-mortar library. While a title is out on loan, it's unavailable to others to borrow (unless the library has purchased multiple copies); it only becomes available again once the loan period expires and the book removes itself from your reader."

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The Nook already does this in the US. (4, Informative)

wiredog (43288) | about 4 years ago | (#33533824)

IIRC, most libraries that loan e-books use the EPUB format, so any non-Kindle reader should be capable of borrowing library books.

Re:The Nook already does this in the US. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33534006)

Yes. I've been loaning ebooks for my nook since nook came out. not only that I can buy books from b&n, kobo and sony ebook store and copy them into nook. I can also go into B&N store and read any ebook for free for 1 hour. If you're going into library to loan a book and read it in library for 1 hour or less, b&n made exactly that possible with their ebook reader.

  So how is this news post any news? to show how behind sony is?

Re:The Nook already does this in the US. (1)

cdrguru (88047) | about 4 years ago | (#33534056)

What this article is talking about is the Adobe format that most of the libraries in Arizona seem to be using. It has an expiration date built into the format.

Kindle didn't include the Adobe software and can't deal with this format. Unfortunate in some ways but not others. EPUB would be a good addition to Kindle and is likely to show up at some point, but I don't think we will ever see Adobe's mobile software there.

Re:The Nook already does this in the US. (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | about 4 years ago | (#33534406)

You also need compatibility with the particular DRM scheme attached to those library EPUBs, but it is fairly widely supported (and one of the main things that swayed me to the nook rather than the kindle). Loaned books, especially free ones, strike me as one of the few valid uses of DRM I've seen. I haven't actually found an online library that lends them out yet, so the scheme might be limited (rather anachronistically) to bricks-and-mortar libraries that one is a member of (if so, does anyone have a convenient list of participants?).

In any case, more competition (and continued support for some kind of standards, DRM notwithstanding) is always a good thing. The Sony devices seem a bit overpriced to me, but then the full touchscreen might be a killer feature for some.

I hope this dies on the vine. (3, Insightful)

grub (11606) | about 4 years ago | (#33533828)


I'm against this with every fiber of my being and hope it dies.

The odd thing about this is it works in a very similar way to the good old bricks-and-mortar library. While a title is out on loan, it's unavailable to others to borrow (unless the library has purchased multiple copies)

Sony has devised a system of artificially restricting access to books, effectively a short-term, no end-user-cost license. This is different than libraries buying X copies of a book for loan, it's DRM for books.

.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33533878)

It's the same thing as a library except you can't steal the book. So go ahead and shut down every library out there.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (5, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 4 years ago | (#33534144)

The main difference is that for physical books, the book can't be lent out to more than one person at a time. With e-books, this is an artificial barrier that makes absolutely no sense except as life support for a dying publishing industry.

Another difference is that if I don't return a library book at the due date, the library doesn't send out stealth ninjas in the middle of the night to replace the book with a brick. While I may have to pay a nominal fine if I return it late, I'm still in control of the book until I give up that control.

In this case, Sony wants what's best for the publisher and worst for the reader from each of the two technologies (paper books and e-books), which I think is neither fair nor is going to cause a lot of sales.

Barnes & Noble Nook also has a crippled lending scheme, the difference being that it's not library based, but allows people to lend books to others. Except that they too have crippled it into uselessness. First of all, it's restricted to some books (generally those that don't sell). And they have to be bought through B&N, and not any third party (like ereader.com, Fictionwise or others that also use the peanutpress format). And both the lender and borrower have to have active accounts with B&N, as well as a nook. And finally, there's also the same artificial imitate-dead-trees limitation of one reader at a time because that's more restrictive, not because it makes sense from a digital perspective.

I think it's time that the e-book producers stop pissing in the well, and realise that while getting more for more is sellable, getting less for more isn't.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33534316)

The main difference is that for physical books, the book can't be lent out to more than one person at a time.

I know that. It doesn't really matter, they shouldn't be able to rent out books to multiple people at once without paying more. So the logical thing to do is to prevent them to lend multiple books out unless they buy more than 1 copy.

Another difference is that if I don't return a library book at the due date, the library doesn't send out stealth ninjas in the middle of the night to replace the book with a brick. While I may have to pay a nominal fine if I return it late, I'm still in control of the book until I give up that control.

So basically you want to be allowed to steal the book. I think that's being an asshole to other people who also want to rent it, not something logical that should be allowed. You don't deserve that control at all.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33534318)

And with zero scarcity driving the cost down to zero for all books, publishing will will go from dying to dead. This is not the RIAA here, authors need book sales to get paid. Rant all you want about free information, but unless you have a real solution for the business model, the only authors you'll see dedicating themselves to the art are cranks writing manifestos and dilettantes who are already well-off enough to do it as a hobby.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33534372)

First of all, it's restricted to some books (generally those that don't sell).

Given what does sell a B&N I think that this is a feature not a bug.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (4, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33534410)

Honestly, what would you want?

There has to be some sort of return on producing books, are we going to rely on people doing it as a hobby, or go back to the old days where you need a patron? (Hope there is some rich guy who likes your genre and hires an author?)

This isn't like the music problem where mandatory license fees prop up the RIAA and related companies who have a vested interest in keeping the market limited.

There is NOTHING preventing free books from being released by authors now. There is effectively ZERO barriers to entry. You don't even need your own internet connection.

1. Write book at home on an old 286
2. Borrow someone's connection and upload it to the web.
3. DONE.

Your book is infinitely published.

And unlike the music industry there are currently no major laws with regard to publishing which force authors to support one company that has been granted a monopoly. This system is evolving exactly as it should and probably in the best way it can.

If you were attacking the length of copyright terms, I could understand, but this IS the work produced by someone of their own free will and can be released in a manner of their choosing. I see nothing wrong with this.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (2, Interesting)

Bigbutt (65939) | about 4 years ago | (#33534474)

You don't have to have a Nook to lend or read an ebook. Just the nook reader app. A friend loaded me Daemon from his iPhone to my iPad.

[John]

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (4, Insightful)

Jhon (241832) | about 4 years ago | (#33534500)

In this case, Sony wants what's best for the publisher and worst for the reader from each of the two technologies (paper books and e-books), which I think is neither fair nor is going to cause a lot of sales.

So, what would you suggest? The publisher sells one ebook to a library that can then GIVE away the book? And if one library has it, why should any other library buy it? Just copy the first sold copy and give THAT away.

There NEEDS to be a financial incentive for a publisher to publish books. And there NEEDS to be a financial incentive for an author to write a book. If you take away their ability to make money on their works, you will effectively kill the majority of new materials. No new novels, no new poems, no new articles, etc.

How can this not be seen by the "information wants to be free" crowd?

I have ZERO problem with loaning an ebook I have to someone and not having it available to me until it is "returned". I have ZERO problem with a library only being able to "loan" an ebook out in volumes that match their license until the book is 'returned'.

I *DO* believe we should be able to re-sell ebook copies just like paper copies, though.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33533902)

Yes, it is DRM for book. But, you're only borrowing the book, for free, as you would if you visited your local library. You would end libraries? Get a grip. This is useful DRM.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33534232)

"Useful DRM"?

Get a hold of yourself, man.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (5, Insightful)

TheCRAIGGERS (909877) | about 4 years ago | (#33533920)

I know what you're saying, but seems like a decent compromise. Besides the obvious "give ebooks away for free" what do you think would work better?

Frankly, I'm surprised Sony is working with libraries at all given their previous stances on sharing copyrighted material.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (0, Flamebait)

radtea (464814) | about 4 years ago | (#33534182)

I know what you're saying, but seems like a decent compromise. Besides the obvious "give ebooks away for free" what do you think would work better?

Almost anything that acknowledge this fact: bits can be copied an arbitrarily large number of times at almost arbitrarily small cost.

In the meantime, I have a GREAT idea: all these "horseless carriages" are really interfering with some technologically outmoded businesses, so why don't we put on an artificial requirement that every one of them should have a horse that runs along in front of it?

See, by just pretending that new technology has exactly the same limitations on it as old technology I'm sure we'll be able to save corporations from having to adapt or die! That's what capitalism is all about, isn't it? Using the power of the nanny state to protect some forms of social organization from ever having to face the real world?

[Note for the historically impaired: there was a brief period where automobiles in Britain had to be preceded by a person carrying in a red flag, effectively restricting them to speeds comparable to horse-drawn transport. That worked out about as well as you might expect, and the whole insane "lets pretend bits can't be copied la la la I'm not listening to you" gang will eventually go the same way, hopefully sooner rather than later.]

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (4, Insightful)

TheCRAIGGERS (909877) | about 4 years ago | (#33534416)

I'm not going to argue that the outmoded business that was based solely on a physical product need to reinvent themselves, but I still don't see a better idea in your reply.

Forget all the CEOs and semi-useless middle management that populate most of the publishing industry. If you freely allow bits to be copied, how are the authors going to get paid?

Yes, hopefully authors will someday realize that ebooks allow them to cut out the middle man. Humorously, Sony is kind of cutting their own throat here. The only thing holding back authors from selling their own goods at their own rates to everybody are the limited popularity of ebooks. Once most people have an ebook reader and the dead-tree book becomes a thing of the past, publishers will be screwed. All the benefits and services they have provided over the years will become moot- printing, shipping, getting stores to put them on the shelves, etc. The authors only have to realize that the tables have turned.

We're already seeing this happen in the music biz- all because of the ipod. The Kindle is ebook's ipod, and the change is coming.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (4, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 years ago | (#33534184)

The department of Sony that runs their eBook stuff is apparently run quite a bit different from the rest of the company. They support open standards, don't heavily push DRM, and don't try to sue their customers into oblivion. It's a big company with a lot of diversity, I'd bet that 95% of the people that work in the eBook department have no significant contact with people in the games, movies, or music department. For all intents and purposes they may as well be their own company.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (4, Interesting)

delinear (991444) | about 4 years ago | (#33534230)

Sony is made up of many different wings under one umbrella. The hardware department responsible for pushing the e-reader obviously think this is a good move, since it's likely to shift a few units (actually if I'm paying money for a book I like the physical copy, I can put it on my bookshelf, it's easier to read and hold, I don't care if I forget it on a train, etc - being able to get a free copy from the library makes these e-readers marginally more attractive to me), and they're probably allowed to do this right now because it doesn't step on any other department's toes. I can imagine if it was the walkman department suggesting libraries allow free music loans, they'd be shot down in short order by the music wing of the company. Still, I think it's positive and while I'd wish they didn't impose the artificial restriction, I can see the reason why they'd want to (if they didn't you could effectively keep the book forever, the library wouldn't mind renewing it every two weeks or whatever because they'd have unlimited copies).

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (1)

Animaether (411575) | about 4 years ago | (#33534244)

Frankly, I'm surprised Sony is working with libraries at all given their previous stances on sharing copyrighted material.

I don't think they've ever had issues with sharing copyrighted material (okay, maybe somewhere in a board room they do) beyond the typical*. But neither a library nor filesharing are 'sharing' of the copyrighted material. A library lets you borrow the material. Once you borrow it, the library no longer has it. Filesharing on the other hand involves making a copy, and then distributing that copy. If they had issues with 'sharing' then you'd be looking at them having issues with e.g. a whole family watching a movie.. and not just the single person that bought the DVD/BluRay. * Of course when you extrapolate from there and start showing that DVD to a room of 50 total strangers, they may take issue with that.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33534250)

What's wrong with giving them away? Giving them away results in greater book sales, odd as that sounds. Cory Doctorow credits his free downloads of his books to his status as a best selling author. One publishing company, trying to find out how badly piracy hurt book sales, was surprised to find that when the books were scanned and hit the internet a few weeks after initial publication, there was a second sales spike -- the piracy HELPED his business.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (3, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33534550)

Giving them away results in greater book sales, odd as that sounds.

Book sales increase now because the book IS a better product when compared to ebooks. If ebooks became the better product (let's say an ereader was invented that out-performed physical books), the current situation would not exist.

The only reason it works now is because most people still prefer physical books. You would probably have seen a similar result for music if when MP3 players were still crap, you released a digital copy of every CD available for free. People would get a taste of the product, but still prefer the physical media.

When the physical media is inferior, those sales will dry up.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (1, Informative)

lxs (131946) | about 4 years ago | (#33533932)

I couldn't agree more. They may give some slack but you're still on a leash. However after stripping off the DRM (which is still legal in the civilized world) I find that I really enjoy reading ebooks.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33534088)

It's the EXACT SAME "leash" you have with physical books. I hate DRM as much as the next slashdotter, but this is an attempt to have ebooks work identically to physical books. Sure it would be nice if they were better; but don't complain because it's the same.

This. Is. A. Good. Thing.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (1)

delinear (991444) | about 4 years ago | (#33534324)

In some ways it probably is a little better even than the current system. If I forget to take my book back or renew it, and they can remotely disable it without imposing a late fee, that's a net bonus to me (as someone who used to to this not infrequently when I was at university and couldn't always make it back to my local library). Additionally it opens up the possibility (and admittedly I don't know if they have any plans for this) of loaning library books over the air or via download on the internet, so I don't even need to go into my library - they could just fire me an email when the book's available, I click a link and get a file I can put on my device. Another bonus for the library user (it means I can get library books even when my working hours make physical access difficult). And finally, no more hunting for hours for a book which the system tells me is on a shelf but which is actually nowhere to be seen when I have no idea if it's just been moved or stolen, etc (although I guess things like RFID will help with this with physical books, but with digital books it's a complete non-issue).

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (1)

TheCRAIGGERS (909877) | about 4 years ago | (#33534092)

I wonder, do you consider it a leash when you normally rent a book from the library? I mean, there are well-known rules and such around borrowing them, foremost being that you will return it within so many days.

Or is it only because this is an obvious restriction they invented?

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (0, Flamebait)

lxs (131946) | about 4 years ago | (#33534456)

The keyword is "invented." The well-known rules and even the existence of libraries are a direct result of the shortcomings of physical media. Both have become obsolete, but society needs time to adapt to that. And yes, this means that famous authors need to find an honest job, just like all the authors today that don't make the bestseller lists.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (2, Insightful)

jimboindeutchland (1125659) | about 4 years ago | (#33533948)

For Christ's sake, why do you have to be so negative? How is this any different to normal library books? I think this is a great idea and could save a lot of people money especially when it comes to school/technical/reference books. It would probably kill the O'Reilly bookshelf.

I wish they'd start doing something like this but with music and movies. I know, it'll never happen.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33534308)

I wish they'd start doing something like this but with music and movies.

Huh? You can check CDs and DVDs out at the public library here in Springfield. But I've never seen school/technical/reference books they'd let you check out at any library, and I've been going to libraries for over half a century.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (4, Insightful)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | about 4 years ago | (#33533968)

But you get free access to these books, and you can download them from the comfort of your house. I don't like DRM either, but renting something for free doesn't strike me as a problem.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (2, Insightful)

dave420 (699308) | about 4 years ago | (#33534020)

Without Sony's technique, no one would be getting free electronic books from these libraries at all. DRM often gives content providers the ability to get their content out into people's hands, albeit with restrictions, which is obviously better than them not having DRM and simply refusing to offer up their content in a digital fashion. Yes, the world would be a much better place without the need for DRM, but that's not the world we live in. Content providers need to do everything they can to protect their content, otherwise they will put it in a safe and never let anyone see it, as without their content, they are nothing. DRM, in this case, is the same as the glass cases around museum exhibits. Sure, they stop you from touching the contents, but if the museum didn't have glass cases they would not put anything on display at all, as the exhibit could be stolen or damaged. So the choice is glass cases & the ability to view the exhibits, or no glass cases and no chance of seeing the exhibits at all. Shit analogy, I know. I'll shut up now.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (1)

EggyToast (858951) | about 4 years ago | (#33534378)

Agreed; it's hard to be upset about DRM on free products. It's not like anyone's paying for anything, so the idea of "ownership" is rather moot.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (1)

michael_cain (66650) | about 4 years ago | (#33534380)

Without Sony's technique, no one would be getting free electronic books from these libraries at all.

Where have you been for the last few years? Libraries have been making free electronic book loans using systems based on Adobe Digital Editions for a considerable time. OverDrive is the predominant service, with something over 9,000 libraries participating. Granted, ADE requires a PC of some sort (Windows, Mac, Linux) to handle the main interface and then transfers a copy to your ebook reader. That doesn't bother me because I manage my ebooks on my Mac anyway, regardless of where I got them. And the ADE-based services support a large number of different readers, not just Sony's.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (3, Insightful)

delinear (991444) | about 4 years ago | (#33534420)

Yes - DRM on things I have paid for and should own is always a bad thing. DRM on something someone else has paid for and owns and is loaning to me free of charge is not even in the same league. It'd be nice not to have it, but if having it means we get a free service with lots of benefits and no disadvantages over the current system, I'd struggle to say that's a bad thing (albeit any kind of DRM raises a feeling of unease).

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (3, Interesting)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | about 4 years ago | (#33534044)

Is there any exception made if the book is in the public domain?

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (1)

z4ns4stu (1607909) | about 4 years ago | (#33534252)

If it's public domain, it's probably already available for free on-line somewhere so you don't need to get it from the library.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (2, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33534424)

If it's in the public domain you can download it free from many internet sources. No need to visit a library at all, unlesss you want the dead tree version.

Internet Archive [archive.org]
Gutengerg Project [gutenberg.org]
lots of universities [virginia.edu] post PD books on the internet, as well as a lot of books that are still under copyright. I was assigned Only Yesterday in a history class I took in the late 1970s at SIU (I still have the book), and now It's on the internet as well [virginia.edu] . It's a good read, I reccomend it.

Plus, there are Creative Commons books out there as well.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (1)

delinear (991444) | about 4 years ago | (#33534476)

I suppose that depends if the digital copy counts as a sufficiently different work that it attaches its own copyright, and if it did, whether the person who transcribed it did it free of charge and offered their work up under a creative commons license or something. There's no reason a library couldn't digitise its own public domain works and give them out without restriction (although whether they'd do that is another matter - it's in their interest that you have short term loans that keep you coming back - if everyone who visited could download and walk away with several hundred books for free, they might lose a fair chunk of their losers and hence their funding).

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (4, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 years ago | (#33534152)

Your knee jerk reaction is everything that is wrong with blind idealism. Yes, this is DRM, it's DRM that opens up functionality that would not otherwise be economically feasible or even legally defensible. Do authors deserve to get paid for their work? Because unless they don't, you can't have libraries giving out unlimited, copyable, no-return-required copies of books. This is the only realistic way that libraries will continue to exist in any form if we move towards a 100% digital distribution, an idea that I personally believe isn't as far fetched as a lot of people seem to think it is.

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33534154)

I disagree.

This makes libraries more accessable. Libraries are a special case in our society, but they work within a set of rules. You can't demand that they break all those rules because you don't want artificial restrictions.

Libraries buy books. That means that someone payed for each ebook, and not just once, but for each "copy" of that ebook. To abide the rules, they have to treat these ebooks like paper books, meaning that they need to "get it back" within the time limit set for you. The system works for them, the system works for me (I hold a library card, and while my library doesn't participate in this program yet they do have an ebook program) and the system works for publishers/authors. I think saying that you want the project to fail is very stubborn and selfish. Perhaps you think I'm being short-sighted, but I would say I'm looking long term and seeing this as a first step that all can enjoy rather than holding out and resting on your principles (however guided or misguided) for a system that is only marginally better for one group, most likely more expensive for another, and probably detramental to the 3rd.

By the way, I like this new reader. I had a PRS-505 until I cracked the screen, I didn't like the 600 because the touch screen felt like cheap plastic. Now I'm torn between a new Nook and one of these new readers. Wifi+price vs touch-screen page turns...

Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33534264)

"I'm against this with every fiber of my being and hope it dies."

and what are u gonna do about it? Some hacker will circumvent this over night. It's like music, once it's unleashed it can be converted into non DRM

Sony? (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33533842)

Ever since I was a victim of XCP there's no way I'll touch ANYTHING Sony makes. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

Honestly, guys, stop buying computer gear from a company who would root paying customers' computers and destroy legally installed software.

Re:Sony? (1)

Amouth (879122) | about 4 years ago | (#33534054)

I too refuse to buy from Sony - not only because of the root kit issue but then how they handled it and then what they ended up getting away with.

the ONLY time i buy something made by sony is if there is no other choice (ex, they have the only product that meets the need). I don't care if i have to pay 2x as much if there is another supplier that will meet the need i will buy theirs.

Re:Sony? (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | about 4 years ago | (#33534074)

Sony has annual revenues of around 80 billion dollars, over 150,000 employees and an order of magnitude more contractors and manufacturing partners. XCP sucked, but - Sony is the size of a nation. Do you boycott China because of the melamine-laced products?

For pure entertainment value, the internecine feuds of the various heads of the Sony hydra are pretty hard to beat.

Re:Sony? (2, Insightful)

localman57 (1340533) | about 4 years ago | (#33534102)

I'll buy gear from any company that finds religion, and starts adhering to standards. Sony is now using SD cards in their video cameras, (and also memoryStick) using the MP4 format (better than .mov, at least I feel), is doing much better about using standard connectors for things, and is offers eBook readers with no wireless component, so you'll always be able to load them with eBooks without worring about big brother.

Yeah, they did the XCP thing. And ripped Linux off of the PS3. But if you want to send a message, you buy the products they make that conform to standards (assuming they're worth buying), and don't buy the ones that don't. That's the stuff that influences what they make. Just crossing a company off the list for something they did years ago isn't a way to affect change.

Re:Sony? (1)

delinear (991444) | about 4 years ago | (#33534528)

While I largely agree with the Sony sentiments - so long as there's no insistence that you use their device or their standards, I can still say they're doing something good here. It wouldn't convince me to buy their technology, but if I can buy someone else's e-reader and enjoy the benefits of Sony pushing for this then they might win back a couple of points of goodwill (they'd still have a hell of a long way to go to get me back as a customer, not that I'm on some kind of personal crusade, I just don't want to get stung by them so this works for me).

Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33533848)

Our Library has had this for at least a year

A limited # of digital copies? (4, Insightful)

iONiUM (530420) | about 4 years ago | (#33533850)

I think there's some problem going on in the world of business while we transition from physical things to digital copies. I mean, I think it's great this library is offering digital copies to read for free, don't get me wrong, but why is there an artificial limitation on the number? Is this because if it was infinite nobody would need to buy a book anymore?

I just find it really strange that we goto such lengths to treat something that is, basically, a free resource (copying digital bits) as something that is finite (an actual book).

Re:A limited # of digital copies? (4, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#33533914)

The cost of the book goes to cover paying author royalties, the editors, the type setters, etc. Just because you don't have a "press" anymore doesn't mean you don't still have pre-press. This seems "good enough" for now. Digital copies of books, movies and music are already cheaper than the physical ones, and most commercially-produced content isn't going to be free-as-in-beer, because they can't operate like that. What's good for software doesn't necessarily work for other things.

Re:A limited # of digital copies? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33534040)

Well, actually... it takes a lot of resources to make a physical book. Which is why I understand paying say $7.99 for a physical copy. That appears (all those paperbacks all over) to pay the author, the publisher, the printer, ink-maker, paper-maker, cover-artist, etc., everyone---everyone makes a profit or they wouldn't be doing it.

In the digital world, you pretty much only need to compensate the author---the rest of the costs become jokingly low (and if they're not, you're doing something wrong). So how come electronic books don't sell for 1/1000th's of the physical book price?

Now, imagine if a digital copy of *any* book cost $0.25. It would be more hassle to plug-in your device than to just buy a new copy per device. It would mean *way* more sales---there are plenty of books I'd like to look though, but don't wanna pay a few dollars for---that's why I still go to physical book stores. You don't think the authors can make a living of 0.25/book download?

Re:A limited # of digital copies? (2, Insightful)

TheCRAIGGERS (909877) | about 4 years ago | (#33534248)

I'm guessing the authors already make a living off less than that.

But to answer your question, they sell it for the same cost out of plain greed. Consumers have already been conditioned to shelling out $8 US for a paperback book (nevermind the insane cost of a hardcover) so why shouldn't they expect consumers will keep right on doing it when in electronic form?

My great worry is that all the extra profit is going straight to the top, instead of the authors for which I feel it rightfully belongs. Hopefully when ebooks become more popular, authors will realize they no longer need publishers for all the things they used to handle for them- the intricate printing process, shipping it and negotiating space on store shelves, marketing, etc. When this happens (and I feel it's already begun) I believe we will see cheaper books by authors who are paid more in line with what they deserve.

Re:A limited # of digital copies? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | about 4 years ago | (#33534552)

I think the physical book costs less than you think it does, and represents a far lower portion of the cost than you are assuming.

If an author gets a 10% royalty, that means they are being paid 10% of the list cover price of each book. For a hardcover, that can be upwards of 2 bucks a copy, and for a paperback that's still about 80 cents. That already means the publisher can "only" reduce the price of the book by 90% to make zero profit. But the publishing house probably paid the author an advance, taking a risk that the book would succeed (and not all of them do). They put work into editing the book, laying it out for various bookreader software, marketing it, doing cover art, and supporting a distribution infrastructure. There's probably twice as much that goes into all that than the original authorship, so let's call that 20% based on current margins.

So now the books cost $6 (hardcover) and $3 (softcover) to make, giving the author and publisher a reasonable chance at profit.

Then you have the distributor, who wants a cut. For electronic copies, that might just be a couple of bucks, but now you're up to $9 new releases and $6 older works.

Lower the cost to $0.25 as you suggest, and the publisher would have to sell 30 times as many copies just to reach their current profit margin, assuming absolutely zero incremental cost in distribution, which is unrealistic, so you're probably looking at 50 times as many or more. I'm not sure those kinds of numbers would be reasonable at all. I might buy more books instead of borrowing library copies if they were a quarter each (and songs, too, for that matter), but 30 times as many? 50? I'm not so sure.

Granted, for a quarter a copy, I'd be willing to tolerate some pretty draconian DRM, and if someone wanted to "borrow" my copy I'd just tell them to buy their own or buy one for them. So there's a certain economics at work at the 25-50 cent price point that you won't get even at the $1 or current $10 price points. But I'm not convinced it would counter the lack of margin on each sale.

Re:A limited # of digital copies? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33534506)

The cost of the book should go to cover paying author royalties, the editors, the type setters, etc., but doesn't.

FTFY.

Until I bought a Kindle a few weeks ago I believed the same thing you did; now that I am actually buying ebooks I have been gobsmacked by just how much worse the editing, typesetting, etc. are when compared with the print editions of the same books. Let's take as an example the classic novel Dune ... At $13.99 for the ebook of a novel first published in 1965, you'd expect that high price to produce a masterfully edited, typset, etc. ebook.

And you'd be horribly, horribly wrong: http://www.thebookcritics.net/dune-40th-anniversary-edition/ [thebookcritics.net] makes it quite clear that absolutely nothing of that high $13.99 price was spent for pre-press work. Similar reviews by other people caused me to download the free sample instead of buying sight-unseen and what I saw in the sample is as badly done as the reviews said.

Re:A limited # of digital copies? (2, Insightful)

bieber (998013) | about 4 years ago | (#33533962)

Unfortunately, we live in a nation where everyone has been conditioned to believe that effectively-endless copyright protection is some kind of inalienable personal right, not a balance to be struck between society and authors for the greater good of society as a whole. So when ridiculous crap like self-deleting downloads come along, people don't think "Why am I letting these people seize control of my own computing devices away from me so that they can protect their artificial monopoly?", but rather "Oh, how nice of them to offer for free what we should be paying arbitrarily determined sums of money for...

Re:A limited # of digital copies? (1)

Derkec (463377) | about 4 years ago | (#33534134)

I'm with you that endless copyright is bad.

But we can probably agree that copyright for some period is reasonable. Right?

So, in order to protect our computing devices, do we simply never load copyrighted material on them, or do we compromise and say, "If it's on loan, I'll let it delete itself after some time period to enforce the loan?" That's a compromise I think is pretty reasonable. If my library books would return themselves automatically and I didn't have to remember to take them back or face penalties, I'd be in favor of that as well. Personally, I'm often willing to sacrifice some control for some convenience.

Re:A limited # of digital copies? (2, Insightful)

countSudoku() (1047544) | about 4 years ago | (#33534268)

Agreed! Plus, something the DRM friendly jokesters from a few threads above don't realize when they lay down their "oh, it's good for everyone with the DRM and the restrictions" logic is that this is a play by Sony to get their eBook readers into peoples hands and gain traction on Kindle/iPad/etc. It's nothing more. Save me your "it's just like the library" bullshit, people. It's about Sony making money and feeding you more DRMed content, even when it's freely available elsewhere without restrictions, other than physical. Let's all play the DRM game and say it's good for everyone when it's only good for one party. Sony sucks balls. Their products show this in the many restrictions and their lack of respect for their own customers. Fuck Sony.

Re:A limited # of digital copies? (1)

lxs (131946) | about 4 years ago | (#33534010)

It's technology crashing into social adaptibility cf. red flag laws [wikipedia.org]

Re:A limited # of digital copies? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | about 4 years ago | (#33534032)

Is this because if it was infinite nobody would need to buy a book anymore?

The library does not have the right to freely distribute books. It buys a limited number of copies and has the right to lend these out for a limited period of time. Period. Distributing unlimited digital (or physical) copies would essentially be usurping the author and copyright owner's rights to control distribution.

If anyone, anywhere (yes, I specifically am including truely-free.org) distributes digital copies of books in an unrestricted manner they are pretty much making a decision for the author and copyright owner. Some publishers, like TOR, hold the copyright and distribute some books for free. I believe the author has no veto of this as part of the publishing agreement. Fine - they signed up for this when they got the publishing deal. However, for someone like a library or a guy named Bruce to take it upon themselves to decide to distribute materials for free in an unrestricted fashion is clearly theft. They are taking something (rights) that do not belong to them.

You can argue all you want about how nothing material has been taken - except folks seem awfully concerned about rights now and then and I'd say taking right away is certainly theft. It is theft when governments do it, and it is theft when individuals do it.

You can argue all you want about how those rights should not exist and that is a reasonable discussion to have. Arguing that taking rights away isn't theft is not a reasonable discussion as can be seen when most other rights are taken away in one way or another.

Re:A limited # of digital copies? (1)

TheCRAIGGERS (909877) | about 4 years ago | (#33534046)

It's not so strange when one considers that the entire western economy is based off of supply and demand. Infinite supply is bad, so they artificially impose restrictions.

Hopefully we will figure out a new economy some day instead of trying to shoehorn the future into the old ways.

Re:A limited # of digital copies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33534112)

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2010/02/anatomy-of-a-60-dollar-video-game.html

In a 60$ video game purchase 4$ goes to the manufacture and sitribution of the physical goods.

This has been replace with an essentially free ressource.

Maybe, going digital, we can also cut out the retailer for another 15$ and the return inventory for another 7$.

Leaves you with 35$ for platform and game development and marketing. This is a hard core of cost that needs to come from somewhere.

With books it's similar the physical production and distribution is a fraction of the cost. Eliminating that cost does not change anything else.

Re:A limited # of digital copies? (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | about 4 years ago | (#33534114)

Isnt it more comparable to a multi user licence for a software product than "a free resource (copying digital bits)"

Re:A limited # of digital copies? (1)

Amouth (879122) | about 4 years ago | (#33534122)

Is this because if it was infinite nobody would need to buy a book anymore?

Correct - why buy it if i can get it for free legally and just as easily?

If there is no incentive to buy a book then what will be the incentive to the people who would write a book?

Sure you will still get true great works - and works from people who write for passion. But there are a lot of books that exist that a lot of people read that do not fall under that area. Without the incentive of making money (either extra or a living) these works would not otherwise exist.

And i'm not talking just about paperback novels but technical works, reference manuals, the stuff a lot of people use on a daily basis.

Re:A limited # of digital copies? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | about 4 years ago | (#33534310)

Is this because if it was infinite nobody would need to buy a book anymore?

Yes.

This is the perfect example of "dilution of value" that is the heart of the argument against allowing piracy.

An author wrote that book, and expects a certain amount of money in return for that work. The individual copy you got might have cost the author nothing, and you might make the valid argument that you, yourself, would never have purchased the book therefore you are costing the author nothing, but there are a certain number of people who would have purchased the book (earning the author a royalty) who would not purchase the book if it were available for free.

If we want authors to continue writing books, we need to protect a reasonable copyright to reward them for doing so.

Note I said "reasonable", which leads to the other major issue - current multi-generational copyright is anything but "reasonable".

Copyrights should be placed for a certain number of years, not to exceed about 20-30, as originally intended. That gives the author sufficient time to profit from their work. I would also be in favor of strong DRM measures and enforcement laws with real penalties if copyright were set to a reasonable period of time. But, there's a caveat there.

Once that copyright expires, there has to be a provision in the law that makes it legal to circumvent any copy protection the author or publisher has originally placed on the work, or publishers need to file the decryption keys with their copyright application if appropriate, or file an unencrypted version with the copyright office that would automatically be released when the copyright expires.

We also need to have authors legally asserting copyright, not just able to put a (C) on something and call it good. If you want protection provided by law enforcement, you need to file an unencrypted copy of your work with a copyright office so the enforcement body knows what they are looking for, and the clock starts on that protection the instant you file it and have it approved. When your protection runs out, the copyright office should publish the unencrypted work.

Oh, and you'll also need to pay an application fee to pay for the system, because my current tax dollars for law enforcement are intended for protection of real goods and real people, not the protection of your profit margin.

Re:A limited # of digital copies? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 4 years ago | (#33534486)

The cost of duplication is practically free but that isn't new.
The printing press reduced the cost of duplicating a book as well.

The entire idea of copyright laws is to provide an incentive to publish and create works that can be duplicated easily.

In many ways it works like venture capital or a start up company.
An author invests their time which could be working or or doing a different activity creating a work. He has no guaranty that he will make any money off the effort. Most authors do not get rich or even make a living from writing books. He then has the promise of law that he can set a price for his work and sell it.
The same applies to the publisher.
We then get to buy the book for a small percentage of the cost of producing the book. AKA the amount of time the author spend writing, the editors spent editing it, and the typesetters spent laying it out.
The reason why we can pay so little is because the actual duplication of the book is cheap. The publisher and the author can sell lots of copies so they spread out the cost over every person.

Yes duplication is cheap and frankly the digital age is just the next step. It probably costs less than $2 to print and bind a paper back. It costs less than $1 to press and record or a CD.
Copyright laws allow authors and publishers to have a hope of recovering their investment and maybe making a profit.
In other words the part you say now is almost free was also pretty cheap before. But the actual cost to produce a book has not gone down. It has in fact gone up. It was all manual labor and pretty much still is.
What you are confusing is the cost of duplication with the cost of creation.

Now the problem IMHO still is that publishers are charging too much for digital copies. A publisher had to invest a lot upfront in printing a book. They ran a good amount of risk and incurred a good amount of cost in printing thousands of books that may not sell, warehousing them, and shipping them to stores.
The Stores used to also need to make a profit off each book sold to keep the lights on and pay the rent. They still do but an estore will be a lot cheaper than a chain of books stores.
All those costs and risks are now gone.
Also their is no reason for any book to now go out of print.
There are no digital print runs.
The same thing goes with movies and video.
For the most part they are now 100% profit after you take out the royalties.

I do not think that I should have to pay $5 for an electronic copy of a book that is years old and 99 cents a song is also pretty high.

Re:A limited # of digital copies? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 4 years ago | (#33534516)

"Is this because if it was infinite nobody would need to buy a book anymore?"

Yes. Personally I don't think it's in the public interest to allow libraries to kill off publishers anymore than it is to allow publishers to kill off libraries. They are two sides of a symbiotic relationship that has served society well for a very long time.

Re:A limited # of digital copies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33534532)

Having worked in publishing, current ebook prices do not reflect the reduction in cost to produce the book. I'm sure some could argue the lack of a substantial discount in price is due to the convenience of the format, but note that the convenience is an inherent part of the format and not a result of anything in the production process. Besides, per unit prices for physical books go down as the number of books are printed, but the publisher is limited by minimum print runs dictated by the printer and by the cost of the available space to warehouse the books. Now if you look at ebooks, your storage cost is practically nothing (you only need one copy on the order of MBs in a world of terrabyte storage) and not only can you "print" on demand but you're not limited by print runs. So the publisher can charge the minimum unit price to cover the cost of production (editing, typesetting, etc.) plus whatever percentage they want to take as profit. Of course this minimum unit price is based on the estimate on the projected sales to break even. If the publisher gets that wrong, they could find themselves on the wrong side of profitability.

Of course all of that still hinges on your belief that individual copies of a digital work can and should be treated the same as a physical copy, something I don't believe, because it's a logical fallacy made evident by the fact it takes a government to enact laws to create artificial scarcity in order to create a market.

Whats odd? (4, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#33533866)

I know that it doesn't really "cost" anything to make digital reproductions of digital goods, which is probably the point the summary was hinting at with the "odd thing" bit, however this seems like a fairly decent compromise to get a new media format worked into the traditional model of how libraries function. It'll get more content out, expose more people to the library system, and probably help gain new acceptance for the technology. In a few years, the model will probably evolve -- most librarians I've known were all about anything to help get people reading, and would be towards the head of the pack in pushing for new ways to make it happen.

Re:Whats odd? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 4 years ago | (#33533900)

It also accustoms people to the idea that digital data is something that is under the thumb of corporate overlords.

They can make it disappear whenever it suits them and that's alright with everyone...

Re:Whats odd? (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#33533970)

That's a problem with digital content in general, like Wikipedia. Any jackass can edit it to say anything they want any time they want, and depending on who else is paying attention, they might get away with it. I'm not particularly into ebooks, but if staring closely at a back lit screen for hours and hours is what it takes to get kids to pay attention to Pride and Prejudice sans the zombies, then it'll have to do.

Face it -- we don't live in a post-scarcity Star Trek world. We don't live in the Spanish Republic with the Anarchists (CNT) running the phone system. Some things you have to pay for, so you may as well just suck it up.

Re:Whats odd? (1)

Amouth (879122) | about 4 years ago | (#33534162)

Pride and Prejudice sans the zombies

I haven't read it personally but several people i know said it was better with the zombies as it filled in some of the gaps, after reading it once i can't bring my self to do it again even if it is possibly better.

Re:Whats odd? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33534280)

I guess it doesn't bother me much when it is spelled out that I am 'renting'/'borrowing'. It is when they have 'sold' me the item and take it back that I get angry.

Hence I don't mind Netflix's streaming service and how it doesn't let me save local copies.

Re:Whats odd? (1, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 4 years ago | (#33534016)

So you're fine with promoting yet another model of artificial scarcity to promote sales of media which can be duplicated and distributed for next to no cost whatsoever?

Let me guess, next will be loaned digital music from the library. I actually wouldn't mind that, apart from two points:

1. I don't have the original copy of the work. There are an infinite number of copies available, the artificial limit just needs to be removed.
2. The media is on my device, and without that artificial scarcity they would be free to distribute copies to the point that the charge of lending a copy against the percentage reimbursement for the original material becomes 0.

This is the old way of distributing media, when scarcity was because there was physically no more of the media made. Now, it is easy to duplicate and share. It's something they need to get their head around and adapt to, not butcher and lock down just to keep their coffers full.

About bloody time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33533884)

"'About-bloody-time", what?

This system is whacked out stupid. Try again.

LCD (5, Interesting)

DogDude (805747) | about 4 years ago | (#33533976)

I see the move to e-books in libraries as a bad thing. If anything, it's the antithesis of what a library is for. Libraries exist so that everybody, no matter how poor or disenfranchised can both educate and entertain themselves (LCD = "lowest common denominator"). Anybody can read a book. Only the wealthy can afford e-book readers and the subsequent fees. If libraries move to having titles on ebooks instead of having hard copies, that immediately eliminates people who cannot or won't buy those silly, overpriced book readers.

Not only is it disenfranchising, but it's putting control of information even more in the hands of just a few big corporations. Who trusts Sony with their books? I certainly don't. What happens if Sony discontinues their service? What happens if Sony goes under? What happens if a suit at Sony decides that it's no longer in their best interests to continue this program? A book is simple, and nobody, short of a thief or vandal, can take those away from people or libraries.

I'll keep checking out physical books from my library, and I'll continue to pres my library to acquire more physical books, instead of Sony licenses.

Re:LCD (2, Interesting)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | about 4 years ago | (#33534172)

I see the move to eBooks as providing a better hedge against the loss of a book than the physical possession of the book is. That "short of a thief or vandal" (or simply losing a book) is a much bigger drain on resources than you're letting on.

Libraries also have problems with space. The San Francisco library actually had to shrink its collection when it moved to its new facility, and other libraries are facing similar problems, especially for periodical collections.

Libraries have been subscribing to electronic databases of articles for ages, too. The risk of ProQuest's ABI/Inform going under is probably a bit higher than Sony disappearing, yet it seems to be working for libraries.

An e-Reader can be acquired for about $100, as well - hardly the stuff of "only the wealthy." Sony is providing e-Readers to the libraries, as well. Granted, they too can be lost/vandalized.

Re:LCD (2, Insightful)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 4 years ago | (#33534534)

Libraries also have problems with space. The San Francisco library actually had to shrink its collection when it moved to its new facility, and other libraries are facing similar problems, especially for periodical collections.

No, It didn't have to shrink its collection. It made that choice.

Re:LCD (2, Interesting)

Again (1351325) | about 4 years ago | (#33534256)

I see the move to e-books in libraries as a bad thing. If anything, it's the antithesis of what a library is for. Libraries exist so that everybody, no matter how poor or disenfranchised can both educate and entertain themselves (LCD = "lowest common denominator"). Anybody can read a book. Only the wealthy can afford e-book readers and the subsequent fees. If libraries move to having titles on ebooks instead of having hard copies, that immediately eliminates people who cannot or won't buy those silly, overpriced book readers.

You talk of the LCD as the poorest person who is unable to afford an ebook reader. Well consider the LCD who is bed-ridden or for some reason unable to visit the public library. This type of model allows them to now also make use of the library.

Re:LCD (1)

supercrisp (936036) | about 4 years ago | (#33534520)

Wouldn't the LCD already be excluded? I mean those who are illiterate. I'd point out that the illiterate are from communities that haven't invested in--due to inability or disinterest--in mediocre/good public schools. So libraries are already near-useless for those people because of a cost issue.

Re:LCD (2, Insightful)

wygit (696674) | about 4 years ago | (#33534326)

"Only the wealthy can afford e-book readers and the subsequent fees."
      1) Only the wealthy can afford computers to PUT ebooks on their ebook readers
      2) The price of a reader is dropping to around the price of 5 hardbacks, if you buy hardbacks, which I don't. Maybe the price of 15-20 paperbacks?
      3) What fees? I've had my Sony Reader for a couple of years now, and I've never paid a fee. Everything on my computer that I transfer to the Reader is either from Gutenberg, Baen Books (some free, some just cheap) Fictionwise, a few direct-from-the-author books, or the library. The only DRM books I have are from the library.
      4) Sony has no control whatsoever over my books. Except for whatever books I might buy from the Sony store, which I haven't, they don't even KNOW what books I have. I download books to my computer and transfer a copy to my Reader. Books are backed up with everything else on my computer.
      5) As others have pointed out, the library books use DRM to basically, 'auto check-back' the book. After the 3 weeks or whatever, you can't open the book any more and someone else can check it out. I'm cool with that; I believe in authors getting paid.

Your whole second paragraph seems to be based on the "Amazon deleted the Orwell books off the Kindles" story, which is why I don't have a Kindle. But it requires the vendor to have a way to communicate with the reader, which Amazon has and Sony doesn't.

And lastly, yes, this is old news. Overdrive has been around for awhile.

Re:LCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33534386)

Have you ever considered that the majority of the people actually going to libraries are educated, and not workshy slops living on benefits?

Late Fees? (1)

Nevynxxx (932175) | about 4 years ago | (#33534036)

But how will the libraries get by with no more funding from late fees?

This technology has been around for a while (1)

brian0918 (638904) | about 4 years ago | (#33534038)

I've used OverDrive's eBook/audio/video checkout services at local libraries here for a couple years now, and they all work that way. You add items to a basket, check out, and then you have access to them for a fixed period. During that period, nobody else can access them. It makes sense given how the library got the items in the first place - through licensed sale from the publisher.

Sony has little to do with it. (1)

LoneHighway (1625681) | about 4 years ago | (#33534066)

Sony needs to breathe new life into their own products. Overdrive Media Console is already available for many devices and many US libraries are already loaning ebooks and audiobooks this way. http://www.overdrive.com/software/omc/ [overdrive.com]

New life? (1)

Nesman64 (1093657) | about 4 years ago | (#33534080)

So, is Sony the new Dr. Frankenstein? I didn't realize that books had died.
Can we call these books Dr. Sony's Monster?

Scheme already running in Hamburg (3, Informative)

gondel (1309723) | about 4 years ago | (#33534108)

I am not sure if this is really news. We have had a scheme like this in Hamburg for much more than a year. http://www.bibliothek-digital.de/hamburg [bibliothek-digital.de] You take a book or newspaper out and it is unavailable to others, exactly as described in the article. You cannot return an article early, even if you are finished with it. Perhaps the main difference is that in Hamburg, the selection of books is very weak, but the selection of newspapers and weeklies is better.

I like it. (4, Insightful)

Carik (205890) | about 4 years ago | (#33534110)

Sounds good to me. I've got no objection to paying authors -- or their editors! -- for their work, and I think it's reasonable that libraries should have to pay for books just as they always have. I would hope that the price would drop if printing wasn't involved, but the author still has to make a living somehow. And the DRM makes sense to me in this case... it leaves you with a system exactly like the old one, which works fine.

On any personally owned ebook or music, of course, I'll avoid DRM, but on a library book it's no more restrictive than their current policies.

New Life Into Library Books ?? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 4 years ago | (#33534124)

I'm not sure I agree with the claim that it would

breathe new life into library books

Currently most libraries have most of their inventory in printed books, which really aren't helped by this. The printed books do not magically become ebooks for people to check out through this reader. Sure, libraries can buy more ebooks to loan out, but that doesn't do much for the existing inventory. For that matter, many library systems are currently facing budgetary shortfalls, and now Sony is asking them to spend more money.

And on top of that, it sounds that this system actually discourages (or at least, de-incentivizes) patrons from visiting the library, which doesn't help the books much either.

After all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33534138)

The greatness of our civilization was built upon artificially restricting access to knowledge, art, culture, and entertainment. Heaven forbid that fifty people be able to check out a book at the same time, without tax dollars being funneled to the middlemen and creators.

At some point in time will we ever say that it's not just about the money?

I want to rent books (1)

nick357 (108909) | about 4 years ago | (#33534160)

I would be likely to buy an eReader (Nook/Kindle,etc) if they offered a rental service. $1/day or $5/week (per book) or something like that. I don't see any point in actually buying eBooks - but I would like to rent them.

I think thats the model that will make these things take off.

Not odd at all (3, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#33534164)

It's not odd at all that the library would be required to treat these as physical books. It was probably the only way to get the publishers on board. Otherwise, why would anyone ever buy a book if an unlimited number of people could check it out for free whenever they wanted to?

If libraries can, why can't I? (4, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | about 4 years ago | (#33534210)

One 'benefit' of DRM is that it should make lending or even reselling trivial. Frankly I don't mind if there's even a small admin charge to cover the DRM costs.

I bought my first book on my iPad. Told a friend about it and they said "oh, I'd love to borrow that when you're finished'. Immediately it is clear that I have rented the book and I have to say sorry. The user experience is crap. Users are losing a right they have held for centuries.

Barnes and Noble have made a pathetic attempt by allowing one time 14 day sharing. Really it's just an advertising tool for the Nook.

Jesus would be so confused by the economy (3, Interesting)

RabbitWho (1805112) | about 4 years ago | (#33534320)

Okay Jesus what we're gonna do is we're gonna keep these loaves and fishes in this little box.
- But my child, there is no need, there is an infinite number of them.
yes but Jesus Christ we don't want them decreasing in value, people won't appreciate your creative energy.

Lucky enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33534346)

For fuck sakes.

Fuck you, slashdot.

Excellent way to lower carbon footprint (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about 4 years ago | (#33534348)

I crunched the numbers on this a while ago ( http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showpost.php?p=619831&postcount=11 [mobileread.com] ).

Given that each hardcover book releases ~8.85 pounds of CO_2 ( http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/emeraldcity/2008/06/paper-vs-paperl.html [latimes.com] )

And a Sony ebook reader (I used the weight of my old Sony PRS-505, 9 ozs.) requires ~16 pounds of CO_2 to manufacture (CO_2 footprint for energy: http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/ggrpt/carbon.html [doe.gov] role in manufacturing: http://www.energybulletin.net/node/49730 [energybulletin.net] and ratio of 12 to 1 for energy usage to weight: http://www.epa.gov/oms/climate/420f05001.htm [epa.gov] )

Reading 3 books on an ebook reader (which otherwise would have been purchased as printed books) puts one ahead (of course in a library situation this is ameliorated by the sharing out of the book among many readers).

That said, I mostly read public domain classics which I get from sites like www.mobileread.com

William

"New Life"? (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 4 years ago | (#33534448)

It's more like using more ridiculous DRM shit trying to force technology to conform to the worst traits of the brick-and-mortar library.

What is the POINT of having a waiting list for an electronic book? Is the value of the imaginary property magically diminished because people can read it concurrently?

Concurrent licensing makes at least a (very) marginal kind of sense with software, which is expected to be in use almost constantly. With books that are read once and then returned, you're just inconveniencing your customers because you can.

Re:"New Life"? (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | about 4 years ago | (#33534536)

I agree. This is just a clever marketing ploy to find a way of getting DRM accepted by Joe Public "through the back door".

This is Odd? (1)

kenh (9056) | about 4 years ago | (#33534454)

"The odd thing about this is it works in a very similar way to the good old bricks-and-mortar library. While a title is out on loan, it's unavailable to others to borrow (unless the library has purchased multiple copies); it only becomes available again once the loan period expires and the book removes itself from your reader."

How is that odd? Do you fail to reallize that paying for one copy of a book only entitles the librar to loan out one copy at a time? This is 100% consistent with the way libraries loan out books, audio books, music CDs, video tapes, DVDs and any other material they have. If the ebooks were copyright-free (not the same as DRM-free), then they could loan as many copies as they like, but if the works are copyright-protected then that limits the sharing...

Bad Breath (1)

PPH (736903) | about 4 years ago | (#33534488)

Some of those library books smell awfully musty.

I have a simple solution to this (1)

hellfire (86129) | about 4 years ago | (#33534538)

Reduce the copyright limits back to more reasonable levels. What I mean by reasonable levels are levels where the user makes money within a shorter period of time and then it's allowed to go into the public domain where anyone can copy it. Something like a period of 20 years or so, with an option for a single extension.

Media and content should benefit the public at large. The copyright laws as they are set up now to perpetually give money to publishers for publishing and holding onto books and then simply raking in royalties for over a century, even after the author dies. The current system rewards big time names and big time publishers to sit on their laurels and not produce new content but simply milk their huge libraries is the only reason for technology like this. A library could serve a great purpose as a repository for books, a place to access the web for free, and a place to serve up free digital books if only we would remove these artificial restrictions that copyright has put on us.

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