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Analyzing Amazon's E-Book Loan Agreement

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the nobody-wants-to-prop-up-your-dying-industry dept.

Books 214

conel writes "The Economist has a knowledgeable mainstream take on the restrictions publishers are forcing on e-books. From the article: 'They wish you to engage in two separate hallucinations. First, that their limited license to read a work on a device or within software of their choosing is equivalent to the purchase of a physical item. Second, that the vast majority of e-books are persistent objects rather than disposable culture. ... Just as with music, DRM will be cracked. As more people possess portable reading devices, the demand and availability for pirated content will also rise. (Many popular e-books can now be found easily on file-sharing sites, something that was not the case even a few months ago, as Adrian Hon recently pointed out.)"

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first post (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34150592)

I masturbated three times today. what did you asshole losers accomplish? FAIL!!!

Re:first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34150704)

4 times while reading twilight on my kindle

I hope it's the beginning of a good thing... (1)

jafo (11982) | more than 3 years ago | (#34150600)

I've been imagining that it might be the camel's nose under the tent. Hopefully there will be some publishers who take maximum advantage of the book loaning and see a big benefit from it. I'm not expecting the big name publishers to take advantage of it initially, but hopefully some small names will and will gain from it. Optimistic, I know, but I'm looking on the bright side.

Sean

Re:I hope it's the beginning of a good thing... (4, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34150676)

Are you kidding? The ability to lend a book once for 14 days if the publisher allows it? How is that a good thing?

It's so ridiculously restricted it's essentially useless.

Re:I hope it's the beginning of a good thing... (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151668)

You are exactly right. Its almost insulting that the offer it, probably doing so only to deflect regulator attention for violating consumer's rights.

Its the same deal offered by the publishers to Barnes & Noble for Nook users. (Not Amazon's doing, in other words).

They have found a way to end run the First Sale Doctrine, by controlling right after the purchase. Non infringing resale is essentially impossible, and even loans or gifts are not possible.

The problem is no consumer group exists which can fight all the way to the Supreme Court, which is probably what it will take.

Re:I hope it's the beginning of a good thing... (1)

jadavis (473492) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151872)

The problem is no consumer group exists which can fight all the way to the Supreme Court, which is probably what it will take.

Where did that come from?

Sure, the e-book practices are bad. That's why I buy physical books.

Legislation is not the answer here -- let alone asking the Supreme Court to somehow bestow some bizarre new "right" upon you out of thin air.

Re:I hope it's the beginning of a good thing... (2, Interesting)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151830)

Are you kidding? The ability to lend a book once for 14 days if the publisher allows it? How is that a good thing?

It's so ridiculously restricted it's essentially useless.

And only once. Never ever again to the same kindle device. As if loaning it twice somehow is worse than once. I can see an automatic return after 14 days (I'd love that with real books; too many loaners gone for good), but the only once thing makes it heinous.

Re:I hope it's the beginning of a good thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34150754)

Optimistic, I know, but I'm not expecting the tent.

Hopefully the bright be some publishers to take advantage of the book loaning and see a big benefit from it. I've been imagining on the bright side. I'm not expecting that it initially, but I'm looking the camel's nose under the camel's nose under there will and see a big name publishers to take maximum advantage of it initially, but hopefully some publishers to take maximum advantage of the bright side. I'm not expecting and see a big name publisher.

old school piracy. (4, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34150680)

Ebook piracy has been around since before ebooks were commercially available. Even many years ago there existed a usenet board I used to frequent where a constant stream of books were distributed - painstakeingly scanned, OCRed and (hopefully) proof-read by enthusiasts. The selection was surprisingly comprehensive.
It's been a long time since I was witness to the ebook piracy scene, but from what rumors I have heard the real action there now resides on a few DC++ hubs.

Re:old school piracy. (2, Interesting)

deisama (1745478) | more than 3 years ago | (#34150918)

Yeah, I remember getting my first black and white PDA like 9 years ago and being so excited that I could read books on it.

I still have them, thousands of downloaded books, sitting around in a folder somewhere probably taking less than 100 megs of space.

I managed to get all of the Discworld, Sword of truth series, and Douglas adam's books plus a couple of series that aren't in print anymore. All before the kindle was even a glint in Amazon's eye.

When you're dealing with that kind of dedication to scan information, Ebooks and piracy aren't linked. Sure, you're making it slightly easier for them to do so, but at least your giving legitimate customers the ability to purchase them.

Re:old school piracy. (3, Interesting)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151028)

What i find most interesting in all this was the news that when the last book of the harry potter series was released, it took german fans 48 hours to scan, translate and distribute a german ebook version.

Re:old school piracy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34151296)

Distributed ...er, MANputing?

Re:old school piracy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34151224)

Shhhh.

Re:old school piracy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34151720)

Agreed, when I bought my Nook a few months ago (wi-fi version) A coworker pulled out one of his external drives and dumped 45 gigs of sci-fi ebooks onto my HD.

Now I'm sure there is some duplication but even with that it's a ton of pdf's of books. I won't need to buy a book for a long time.

Re:old school piracy. (1)

stms (1132653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151760)

Apparently you must hallucinate in order to read these ebooks. This was the kind of piracy we used back in the 60s we dropped some acid then hallucinated what ever movie/ebook/music we wanted to see/hear/read. I for one am glad to see those days back as most copyright infringement these days only requires delusion. Now get off my lawn.

What's wrong? (4, Insightful)

brit74 (831798) | more than 3 years ago | (#34150760)

I don't find anything wrong with the lend program. I realize Slashdot has a certain "information should be free" ethos, but it doesn't make much sense to build in the ability to give unlimited copies to everyone and think that it won't undermine the business. While the publishers "wish you to engage in two separate hallucinations", it seems like lots of other people want us to engage in another hallucination: that giving out unlimited copies won't turn into a financial problem for booksellers. For example, how many students are really going to buy their own digital copies of their textbooks, as opposed to passing around one copy for everyone? (Not that I really agree with the current economic model of expensive, often-updated textbooks, but I also can't agree with the pirates desire for unlimited free copies for everyone - as if that has no economic consequences, either.)

Re:What's wrong? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34150838)

The fact that it's limited to one 14 day loan if the publisher agrees to it. But, OTOH why miss a chance to bash people for not bending over for whatever the corporate masters want.

Re:What's wrong? (2, Informative)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151108)

It's a one time 14 day loan, you can't loan the same book twice. That's absurd.

If it were just a 14 day loan it would be a bit ridiculous, but not completely unacceptable.

Re:What's wrong? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34151164)

It's a one time 14 day loan, you can't loan the same book twice. That's absurd.

If it were just a 14 day loan it would be a bit ridiculous, but not completely unacceptable.

There's nothing stopping you from just lending your friend your e-book reader.

Re:What's wrong? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151220)

"There's nothing stopping you from just lending your friend your e-book reader."

How about the fact that, if I want to loan my friend one of my books, I don't have to loan them my entire collection? If I want to borrow a single book from the library, do you really think they are going to let me walk out with every book in the place?

Re:What's wrong? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34151236)

I've seen that suggestion several times. And it sounds just as stupid every time. You're not lending a READER when you let someone borrow your kindle/nook/whatever, you're lending your ENTIRE LIBRARY. If I buy a book, I can lend the book. That's the end of the story. I am perfectly fine with the fact that book lent out can't be read by me - that's fine. What I don't appreciate being told is how long the loan is, who is "allowed" to be lent the book, and "if" I'm allowed to lend the book.

Re:What's wrong? (5, Insightful)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 3 years ago | (#34150846)

I realize Slashdot has a certain "information should be free" ethos

I think you are mistaken. There may be a few people who believe this, but my observation has been that the vast majority of Slashdotters are much more concerned about the right of first sale, which DRM-encumbered digital downloads do not currently allow. There's no way I'm going to spend $10 or $20 on an e-book if I can't sell it to someone when I'm done with it.

Re:What's wrong? (4, Insightful)

cynyr (703126) | more than 3 years ago | (#34150960)

or gift it to a friend, or let my kid take it to college, or... any number of other things i may do with a physical book involving lending.

Re:What's wrong? (3, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151278)

I'm really starting to believe that we could completely do away with copyrights and things would change very little. Musicians would still sell music, authors would still sell books. Lawyers would be the big losers, as would a few of the conglomerates that have divisions with the sole purpose of owning other peoples' intellectual property. Other than that, the world would go on pretty much as before.

I'm still waiting to see any real data that shows the damages from widespread file sharing of copyrighted materials.

Re:What's wrong? (2, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151458)

"I'm still waiting to see any real data that shows the damages from widespread file sharing of copyrighted materials."

You'll be waiting forever because there is none. In order for something to be taken, it must first exist. The profits that they could have had in the future (which is what they try to say the pirate steals) do not exist, and therefore can't be taken. Not to mention that, again, everyone in existence 'steals' profit that others could have had. You do that by merely choosing not to give someone your money or by interfering with someones flow of profit. Everyone fits that category, as far as I know. The potential profit (demand, time, etc) argument is simply absurd.

Re:What's wrong? (0)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151704)

So you're saying that if we could freely copy music and books, that nothing would change? That argument is so ridiculous because it shows a remarkable lack of thought about the consequences.

First, few people will pay for something they can get for free. Second, even if it was 'easier' to pay for something than to get the free version, then the distributors would copy everything and never pay the artists. Thus you would only pay the distributors (while the distributors take a large chunk today, the artists at least usually get something of it).

Re:What's wrong? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151826)

I'm really starting to believe that we could completely do away with copyrights and things would change very little.

This issue has nothing to do with copyright. The discussion is not about violating anyone's copyright, or bilking the authors out of their due.

Its not about unfettered reproduction, or duplication of the author's work.

Its about loaning the book you bought to a friend for as long as you want, and when it is returned, loaning it to another friend.

That is not a violation of anyone's copyright.
This is not a copyright issue.

Re:What's wrong? (2, Insightful)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 3 years ago | (#34150964)

I realize Slashdot has a certain "information should be free" ethos...

Not really. "Information wants to be free" is used more when talking about the free/open-source software movement, or against locking down data in inaccessible proprietary formats. It's generally only used as justification for piracy in one of two contexts:

1. As a straw man attacking people with a rightful opposition to invasive DRM schemes.

2. By idiots who pirate things because they don't want to pay for them, and then flail around trying to find some kind of philosophical justification for their actions. Of course, that's nobody on Slashdot... riiiiiiiiight?

The reality is, there are always going to be fucktards who will look to the Internet to avoid having to pay for something. What we're saying is we don't see why the existence of these people- who will always exist and will always find a way to crack DRM, guaranteed- should mean that we have to have a crippled product that we legitimately paid for, and legally own.

Re:What's wrong? (2, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151498)

"The reality is, there are always going to be fucktards who will look to the Internet to avoid having to pay for something."

I'm sorry, but I don't see the problem with this. What are pirates taking by copying data? How are they harming others? If you say that they're stealing "potential profit," then I'm afraid that's illogical. For one thing, for someone to be taken, it must first exist. Profit that they do not yet have is not theirs (and thus the profit that they could have owned in the future does not yet exist). Second of all, everyone in existence 'steals' profit that others could have had. You do so merely by choosing not to give someone your money or by interfering with someones flow of profit. As far as I know, everyone fits that category.

If you're looking for something to fix or something to blame, you should turn to our illogical capitalistic society (at least, our current one) which practically demands that goods that are in an infinite supply be paid for, and if someone doesn't, then they'll be labeled a 'thief'. If anything, that is what is causing these supposed artists to 'suffer', because it certainly isn't pirates (for reasons pointed out above).

Re:What's wrong? (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151752)

You are confusing "goods" with "creative effort". It costs more than $7.99 worth of an authors time to write a full length novel, have it edited, marketed and distributed. The cost for developing the content is amortized over the entire set of sales for the book (which are higher for physical media because of the printing, distribution, and paper costs)

If you could duplicate a distribute a physical book for zero cost, that still doesn't change the fact that the author has spent a good portion of their life and creative energy creating the work, and deserves to be paid for it if they choose to. It's not like books are randomly generated by a computer.

It's true that books would (and should) be cheaper (or artists should make more money) but it would still cost.

If you don't believe that creative effort doesn't deserve to be rewarded, then either you feel entitled to things you didn't pay for, or you don't care about the creative work and won't read it. But you can't consume it and simultaneously say there is no value to it. That's just being dishonest..

Re:What's wrong? (2, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151866)

"If you could duplicate a distribute a physical book for zero cost, that still doesn't change the fact that the author has spent a good portion of their life and creative energy creating the work, and deserves to be paid for it if they choose to."

But as I said, this is no more the fault of the pirate (who didn't actually take anything, mind you) than it is someone who chose not to buy the product (if they had bought it, the author would have had more money and would have been awarded for their creative effort).

"If you don't believe that creative effort doesn't deserve to be rewarded"

I never said that. However, it should be an optional endeavor. Our illogical capitalistic society demands that this not be so.

"But you can't consume it and simultaneously say there is no value to it."

I never said that there was no value. It has entertainment value, but if I can get it for free, I'd rather do that.

Again, if you're angry at people for not giving the author money for his/her "creative works," then you will want to scold every single person who didn't buy the product but also didn't pirate it. Not rewarding someone with your money clearly means that you've stolen potential profit from them!

Re:What's wrong? (2, Interesting)

xous (1009057) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151654)

I did by books at one point it time but I'm in a situation now where I don't have a lot of shelf space and I find e-books more convenient. The first time (and last time) I bought a e-book was a nightmare. I chose the Adobe PDF format because it was only format that was available on just about any platform. The provider would not EVEN RESPOND to my complaints regarding the undisclosed DRM which made it unusable on my Linux Laptop. Never again.

If I want a book these days I'll pirate it or get it from the library. Never really understood the difference. Yes, the first is illegal and I really don't care. If the choice was paying for DRM'ed crap or not reading it -- I just wouldn't read it. The reason they are losing my money is DRM not piracy.

Re:What's wrong? (5, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151082)

I realize Slashdot has a certain "information should be free" ethos, but it doesn't make much sense to build in the ability to give unlimited copies to everyone and think that it won't undermine the business. While the publishers "wish you to engage in two separate hallucinations", it seems like lots of other people want us to engage in another hallucination: that giving out unlimited copies won't turn into a financial problem for booksellers.

Just for the sake of argument, let's accept that assertion of yours as truth: Infinite distribution necessarily causes financial problems for publishers. That doesn't explain why they would choose to give fewer lending rights to possessors of digital copies than to those who buy the paper object. Nor does it explain why they charge pretty much the same price for this reduced capability.

We seem to be dealing (yet again) with anti-features [wiki.mako.cc] : The publishers are actually adding to the consumer's burden in exchange for nominally lowering the cost and 'allowing' them the convenience of reading an electronic copy of a given book.

As the Economist rightly notes, this won't stand. Anti-features (including DRM) only need to be removed once. Argue however much you like about the rights of the author. As a writer, I'm pretty damn sympathetic. But realistically, writers have to adjust to the world as it is. People will share things that delight them. They do so with photos, with posters, books, music, TV shows and movies... in short, with everything they can.

Yes, it puts creators in a quandary. Yes, it threatens livelihoods and, potentially, might even prevent the next great opus. But to attempt to remodel the world to fit an outdated vision? That's just insane. I don't mean stupid -it actually requires a fair amount of imagination to get there- I mean insane - nuts, cuckoo. The idea is premised on the fact that all of society (save the poor, beleaguered author) is wrong, and must change. Even if the first clause is correct, the second does not follow. And even if we accept it logically, we still have no hope of effecting that change through technical means.

I suppose it is possible that we could change society. It's happened before. But we will not do it with DRM and anti-features.

Re:What's wrong? (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151200)

Piracy will never prevent the next great opus. Society will ever place media created for profit in the same category as real art.

Re:What's wrong? (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151324)

Piracy will never prevent the next great opus.

I know that [imagicity.com] . I was just granting that assertion 'for the sake of argument'. My point is that even if we grant that assertion as true, the methods being used to protect the author (the publisher, actually, but that's a different post) are inappropriate and ineffective.

Re:What's wrong? (1)

AstrumPreliator (708436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151314)

I'd like to also point out that the transfer from a physical to a digital copy removes restrictions. Back before this sort of thing was possible you certainly could lend your book out. Maybe you never get it back, or maybe whoever you lent the book to lends it to someone else. Or perhaps you do get it back. However, there is only one copy being passed around. It was a physical limitation. With a digital copy of a book no such limitation exists.

Basically the content used to be married with the physical world[1], now they are fairly separate. Everyone is still used to the idea of a physical object containing in some way some data, be it a book, a DVD, a CD, or whatever. We can lend it or sell it or give it away once, but only once (unless you get it back). This is no longer the case. However, all business models in the industry are based on this. Over the past few decades this has changed. So what do they do? They try to force the same set of restrictions (and more in some cases) which used to exist so that their business model still makes sense.

Now, I'm not saying I know how to approach this in any way, but you can't deny that there has been a very large change in the way information is exchanged. In the same way that the industrial revolution made manufacturing on a large scale easy, the digital revolution is making distribution (allowed or not) on a large scale easy. I do dread the thought of information becoming even more controlled and restricted when the current trend and technology should mean there is even less control and restriction.

[1]Yes, a digital copy takes up disk space and bandwidth to receive. Just as you could copy the book by hand a hundred years ago, or by photocopier a few decades ago. This is more of a continuum than a discrete change I suppose.

Re:What's wrong? (1)

dwillden (521345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151816)

But with a proper implementation of the lending systems Amazon and B&N have cooked up it would be the same.

I buy a book for my nook from B&N, I read it and decide I want to lend it to my brother. Currently my options are to A: Lend it to him for 14 days, hoping he has time to read it in that time, and that I don't want to lend it to someone else. B:Strip the DRM and share a copy with him thus committing IP infringement. Note that if I choose option A, but then want to lend the book to my mother, or if he decides he needs more time, I'm forced to resort to option B again.

What we are asking for is an Option C: As with the current version A, when I hit lend, I loose access to that book until he returns it. If he never returns it (very likely; some of my HC books are on his book shelves and vise versa) I never get access to it again. If he returns it, I can then lend it to my mother, or he can lend it to my mother and when she hits return it bounces all the way back to me.

That is the way it should be. Yes we can just strip the DRM and share it willy nilly, But we are willing to treat lending ebooks like lending hc books. Coming from a family with multiple over flowing book racks in every home, my family doesn't mind buying books, and we love to share the books between each other. That is what we want to do. Currently the two largest sellers are trying to block the type of lending we've been used to, the type of lending that Libraries operate on, and the type of lending the Doctrine of First Sale guarantees us.

Re:What's wrong? (3, Interesting)

dwillden (521345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151758)

This gives me an idea, perhaps someone should start a campaign with a site where you can print out Book lending agreements.

Each agreement will state in appropriately scary legalese that it authorizes the purchaser of the book to lend the book once, for a period of 14 days to one individual of their choice. Upon completion of the 14 day period the lender is legally obligated to recover the book from the lendee, even if their not done reading it yet, and that they are legally prohibited from ever lending that book again.

Then place these lending agreements, one (and one only) per book at every book store they can get them into.

We can complain about it all we want here in cyberspace, but the only way to really point out how flawed these "Lending programs" really are is to let hard copy buyers feel the same frustration at such ridiculous rules which totally violate the right of first sale.

If you figure out how to make a profit off this idea, I want a can of Mt. Dew as payment for use of my intellectual property of the idea. ;) I know, the idea really isn't worth that much, but ya gotta think big.

Re:What's wrong? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34151086)

it seems like lots of other people want us to engage in another hallucination: that giving out unlimited copies won't turn into a financial problem for booksellers.

I guess you've never heard of Baen Publishing? They have been giving out free copies of books for years, and not just one or two, but hundreds of popular, current books. The put CDs in their hardback books with a copy of a lot of that authors work, plus other, plus the book you just bought and ask you to distribute copies of the CD. They aren't going out of business.

Re:What's wrong? (3, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151098)

it doesn't make much sense to build in the ability to give unlimited copies to everyone

What you don't seem to understand is that B&N's lending policy doesn't come remotely close to this -- in fact, it doesn't remotely come close to what you can do with a printed book. If I give the book to you, you can keep it as long as it takes you to finish reading it -- no need to return it in 14 days. If you want to borrow it again next year, you can ask me and I'll probably let you. In fact, I might just tell you to keep it, in which case you own it now, and you could loan it to other people or pass it along, too. I could also loan it to someone other than you, if I chose to keep it.

None of this is possible with the B&N e-reader loan policy. With a Nook, I can loan the book to you once. You can only have it for 14 days, after which it disappears from your Nook and reappears on mine. And from that moment forward, I can never lend it to anyone ever again. Not to you, not to anyone else. And that's that. That is a far, far cry from what people expect when they purchase a book.

Re:What's wrong? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151208)

"I realize Slashdot has a certain "information should be free" ethos, but it doesn't make much sense to build in the ability to give unlimited copies to everyone and think that it won't undermine the business."

You are deluding yourself into thinking you have offered some kind of insightful criticism, and the mods are feeding your delusion. Nobody is claiming that authors shouldn't be compensated for their work, as you imply. The argument is also not that you should be able to make unlimited copies and hand them to everyone. The argument is that, just as a book can be loaned in perpetuity (no one time 14 day limit), so too should their electronic equivalent.

Re:What's wrong? Mono-location vs Multi-location (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34151320)

The big difference is that lending a physical book means that single copy is only in one place at a time, whereas electronic copies are capable of being copied to exist on multiple media simultaneously such as I do that with mine for my multiple ereading platforms (not for pirating out to the rest of the world - in my case, I am only reading that book on one ereader of mine or another at any one time). Thus, those copies can become substitutes for legitimate sales to different (human) readers, and that is a legitimate threat to the economic basis of the publishing industry, regardless of what one may think of it.

They should be worried, but DRM as it exists now is preventing legitimate lending and resale that compares to what can be done with a physical book, so many are motivated to circumvent it for comparability, such as my wish to read what I paid for on any device of mine that is convenient (and don't get me started on the horrible interface of Adobe Digitial Editions on Windows vs Aldiko on Android or the Sugar Reader app on the OLPC XO as viewed on the Pixel Qi screen inside or outside).

Re:What's wrong? (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151242)

For example, how many students are really going to buy their own digital copies of their textbooks

That's a special case, and the textbook publishers deserve every fucking bit of lost sales through textbook piracy.

Price-gouging publishers and your bought-off faculty shills -- fuck you.

Re:What's wrong? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151280)

I don't find anything wrong with the lend program. I realize Slashdot has a certain "information should be free" ethos, but it doesn't make much sense to build in the ability to give unlimited copies to everyone

I don't want the ability to give unlimited copies to everyone. What I want is the ability to read the book I've purchased on all of the devices I own, not just those which Amazon is willing to support.

To give a specific example: I use my Kindle DX to read mostly at home and during long travel (vacation etc), and my Android phone on short trips (getting around within the city), waiting in lines, and other similar cases. Now, while there is a Kindle app for Android, it sucks for a variety of reasons: the UI is pretty bad compared to many alternatives, it is huge with no app2sd support. I go with Aldiko instead, but that wants ePub. Not a problem, there are many MOBI (what Amazon sells) to ePub converters out there - except that DRM blocks that.

Ultimately I don't care much because most of my books don't come from Amazon store, and because it's easy to completely strip their DRM for those few cases when I do buy something there.

Re:What's wrong? (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151436)

"but it doesn't make much sense to build in the ability to give unlimited copies to everyone and think that it won't undermine the business"

Sounds like a problem with our capitalistic society rather than the process of handing out free information.

"For example, how many students are really going to buy their own digital copies of their textbooks"

Why would they? Some of them simply can't afford it. Education is far more important than money.

"but I also can't agree with the pirates desire for unlimited free copies for everyone"

How does copying data hurt anyone? We know that they aren't stealing the media itself, as they're merely copying it. Are you going to resort to using the potential profit argument? Demand? Time?

In reality, everyone in existence is 'guilty' of 'stealing' profit that others could have had. You 'steal' profit that someone could have had whenever you decide not to buy a product. You 'steal' profit that someone could have had whenever you decide to tell other people who were originally going to buy a product not to buy the product (warning them about bad products). Basically, you 'steal' profit that others could have had whenever you choose to not give them your money or interfere with their flow of profit. I don't believe that there is a single person that doesn't fit this category.

Again, what needs fixing is our outdated and illogical capitalistic society which essentially demands that goods that are in an infinite supply be paid for (and people who use the goods without paying are labeled as 'thieves').

Re:What's wrong? (2, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151798)

I don't find anything wrong with the lend program. I realize Slashdot has a certain "information should be free" ethos, but it doesn't make much sense to build in the ability to give unlimited copies to everyone and think that it won't undermine the business.

You have managed to TOTALLY miss the point here.

B&N and Amazon have developed a mechanism which would support lending books, but preventing the lender from reading it while it was on load. They have a mechanize to make an e-book exactly line a printed book.

The ebook is locked on the lender's kindle/nook for the duration of the lend.

So there is no "unlimited copies" nonsense.

Its just like a printed book. You lend it, you don't have it. Wait till you get it back and lend it again. Or give it away. Your book, your choice.

See the difference?

Doing it wrong (4, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34150796)

- It's often more expensive than a hard copy
- Its purchase does not affect the cost of getting a hard copy later (nor vice versa!)
- It is intangible and can (and will) be remote-deleted for the flimsiest of excuses.

Why are we supposed to buy this again instead of getting something made of paper?

Re:Doing it wrong (3, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34150868)

Convenience. Just like with convenience foods typically costing more than doing it yourself. Of course, that's more the rationale than the reasoning. The reason is that they can get away with it.

Personally, I like ebooks, but I do expect to be able to use them as I please. I like the way that O'reilly media handles their ebooks. The specifics depends a bit on the book, but most of the recent books are available via several different formats, including epub. My main complaint is that if you buy the book through their store rather than the android market that there seems to be no way of converting between the two.

Re:Doing it wrong (1)

aeoo (568706) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151608)

Why are we supposed to buy this again instead of getting something made of paper?

I don't. I get all my books on paper. ebooks are raw deal.

Slightly OT, but a question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34150806)

My library (a little rural library) lends ebooks with Adobe DRM. Nearly every ebook reader can read them, except the kindle. Why can't you download library books to the kindle?

I bought a nook instead.

Treat Digital Copies Like Books (4, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34150810)

We need to start treating digital copies like books. We don't own the content, but we should own the copy we purchased, and we should be able to do with them what we want.

Obviously there are some natural limitations that apply to books that would need to artificially applied to ebooks, but we can already apply them, as this piddly excuse for a loan policy proves.

The concept is easy: a function in the software that ties an ebook to the device and only allows transfer to another device if it successfully ties it to another device, and then disables the ebook on the original device. That would make ebooks behave exactly like regular books. Then you wouldn't need a stupid loan policy, you'd just give your friend your copy of the ebook, just like you would a physical book.

I seriously do not understand why this has not been done yet, or why they insist on these stupid "loan" functions. Just move the ebook off the old machine and onto the new! Leave it up to the owner of the book to get their copy back, just like physical books. We've been able to "move" (copy then delete) digital media for ages.

Seriously, it's not that hard. Why the hell are they making it so complicated?

Re:Treat Digital Copies Like Books (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34150888)

It's a bit harder than you might think..
If my personal vault of ebooks dies, how do I transfer them to someone? Or, is that the logical equivalent of my house burning down with all the contents?

Frankly, the probability of my ebook reader dying/getting lost/stolen/destroyed is MUCH higher than my house, not to mention that paper books have a fairly decent lifetime. I've got books that are 100 years old and still perfectly usable. Yes, I also have paperback trash that is falling apart after a decade or so. However, reading my 20 year old emedia (5 1/4" floppies anyone?) might be a bit of a chore, and reading eMedia from 1980 (8" floppies) would be a real chore.

The lifetime of media/reader thing could be easy to deal with if you let me freely make copies onto new formats as they become available (e.g. burn all those 5 1/4" floppy images onto CDROM, along with the software to read them), but it's really hard to make it easy for me to make copies but not easy for me to give free copies to my friends.

Re:Treat Digital Copies Like Books (1)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151020)

If my personal vault of ebooks dies, how do I transfer them to someone?

Think of your ebook reader as a bag full of books. If you lose the bag, or the books get damaged somehow, then they're gone for good. Similarly, if your Kindle gets destroyed, then the e-books you've kept on them are gone for good as well.

Re:Treat Digital Copies Like Books (1)

Count Fenring (669457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151456)

The main issue isn't theft or loss, although I'd put it out there that I'm much more likely to have my Kindle/iPhone/Laptop stolen than my several thousand paper books, at least in one theft transaction.

The main issue is that the expected lifetime for any one digital device these days is what, 1-3 years? Phones and other "carry-them-everywhere" devices have an even shorter life expectancy. This kind of ephemeral existence isn't the norm, or liable to be accepted as such, for books and other data. I mean, would you be happy if, because your DVD player died, you had to re-buy every single show or movie you'd ever purchased? Of course not. If your computer died, would you be alright if there was no way to potentially get your data off? I'm guessing not.

Re:Treat Digital Copies Like Books (1)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151570)

You realize this isn't true right? If I lose my Kindle or it's destroyed I simply buy another, tell Amazon, and my books transfer. In fact if I have a family and we ALL have Kindles on the same account we can ALL read the same books no problem. This is books purchased from Amazon mind you. If I update my Kindle the new one gets all my Amazon rights - it's nice. Sadly the publishers dorked the price up and I don't buy from them anymore so I must maintain my own backups now...

Re:Treat Digital Copies Like Books (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151138)

If my personal vault of ebooks dies, how do I transfer them to someone?

If your book burns in a fire, how do you get a new one? That's right, you buy a new one

Or, is that the logical equivalent of my house burning down with all the contents?

Yes, it is. If you keep all your books on your ebook reader, and you lose/break/whatever your reader such that they cannot be retrieved, you should be SOL.

Since the rest of your post flows from the above two mistaken (in my opinion) premises, there's no need for me to respond to what follows them.

Re:Treat Digital Copies Like Books (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151420)

Yes, it is. If you keep all your books on your ebook reader, and you lose/break/whatever your reader such that they cannot be retrieved, you should be SOL.

Your suggestion of tying the books to a single device necessitates them being stored in one or two places (reader, computer, or split between the two). Those 'places' are, by their nature, fragile electronic devices that hold many thousands of books - the actual data storage part easily fits in a pocket. It's a hell of a lot harder to safeguard a micro SD card than a library.

Imposing certain artificial restrictions on eBooks could be seen as a valid way to preserve the value of the content. I personally don't agree that DRM is the way to go, but I understand the mindset. Your idea of having 'artificial fragility' as one of those restrictions, however, is simply introducing one of the fringe drawbacks of hard copy into the digital version; fragility it's a function of the cost of reproduction, not of the value of the content.

Re:Treat Digital Copies Like Books (1)

dwillden (521345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151848)

Uh, back up? Maybe? The current ebook readers have a life expectancy of two to three years. The books purchased from the seller of the reader (Amazon/Kindle, Barnes & Nobel/Nook) are held on-line for your re-download at no cost.

With the Nook (and I'm sure it's the same with the kindle) you can get reader apps for your Mac, pc, or other smart device and thus can have the books stored there as well.

Books from other sources you just keep backed up like any-other slightly valuable data.

Re:Treat Digital Copies Like Books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34150928)

The concept is easy: a function in the software that ties an ebook to the device and only allows transfer to another device if it successfully ties it to another device, and then disables the ebook on the original device.

1) File transfer fails
2) My device thinks it didn't fail
3) I've now lost my book, pending spending hours on the phone trying to convince some customer support monkey that I honestly got fucked on a file transfer and I'm not trying to scam them

Compare that to just straight-up pirating the book and being able to give the book to whoever I want for free.

(and if I really like it, spend about the same I'd spend to get the digital copy legally on the hard cover)

Re:Treat Digital Copies Like Books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34150946)

Because quality services cost money, they don't want to give you quality services, they want your money. As a 21st century customer you would think, you would be entitled to that kind of service if you pay for it, but that's not the case. You simply have a monopoly that chooses how to handle the market, in this case in it's advantage.

With paper books, you buy it once, and then you can lend it to a hundred friends, and get it back, any time, for the next 100 years or until the paper gets too worn to read. With electronic books, you buy the work of the author, and the publishers marketing, which should make it a fraction of the cost. It isn't happening. When you buy it, you discover you just bought software with a license. You can't keep it in your library to read any time you want, and you can't loan it to friends. Why?

The best way would be to have something similar to the PS3, where it's tied in to the hardware, you can have as many devices as you want, and if your friends want it, you can loan it to them, for as long as you want.

But the truth is, they want you to buy the book, at their set price, and they want your friends to buy the same book, though they probably live next door, or the next room. They don't want you to loan the book, for free, they want you to pay for that as well.

They can try to keep the books with DRM and such, but people will just scan the paper versions. Unlike pirating games, this is fairly simple.
In the end the the user gets screwed because of shitty service, the author gets screwed because he/she gets less or the same amount of money when it should be more, and the publisher and Amazon get the biggest reward, making cash by selling millions of books using servers that cost a few bucks a month to run.

Re:Treat Digital Copies Like Books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34150948)

> function in the software

Said device would run only the software provided by the manufacturer. Lame.

Re:Treat Digital Copies Like Books (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151114)

The concept is easy: a function in the software that ties an ebook to the device and only allows transfer to another device if it successfully ties it to another device, and then disables the ebook on the original device. That would make ebooks behave exactly like regular books. Then you wouldn't need a stupid loan policy, you'd just give your friend your copy of the ebook, just like you would a physical book.

Um... this is exactly how e-book loaning works. The part that's the "stupid loaning policy" is the part where B&N and Amazon only allow you to do it once, and only allow the transfer to be in effect for 14 days. They don't "need" to do it that way, certainly. In case you missed it, the fact that they've decided to do it this way anyway is what makes people so mad.

Re:Treat Digital Copies Like Books (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151212)

When I said disable I actually meant delete, I hit submit before I realized that mistake. It should be a permanent but freely repeatable transfer.

The B&N and Amazon plans prove that this can work just fine, but instead of doing something that made sense (an actual move), they chose to do this ridiculous one-time temporary copy. It's stupid. Why didn't they just give us the real deal? Like you said, as far as the hardware/software is concerned it's almost exactly the same thing, and is actually less complicated technically speaking than what they are actually doing.

Why the hell would they do it? It's unbelievably stupid.

Six months? What six months? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34150850)

Thousands of painstakingly OCRed and corrected digitalised books can be had for free if you know where to look. And this has been the case for at least a decade. And not all of them "out of copyright" either. So no "six months" that I can see.

So yeah, more and better cracked drm versions. Sure, fine. For some books it matters more than for others. Textbooks I like best in PDF if original or DJVU if scanned (and it better be a good scan, many scans in PDF or DJVU or any format are horrible), but for most fiction, text/plain is the best option by far. Though if the publisher comes with a reasonable format then that's acceptable too. Baencd, anyone? And oh yeah, Baen. They've caught on, and are doing well by it. Good for them and (of course) all their readers.

honest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34150854)

to be honest if you are to call them real books then we should be able to go to the online library , read them and leave without paying anything and without owning the book

E-books more expensive than paper (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#34150926)

I was moments away from ordering a Kindle - I had added it to my Amazon shopping cart and had started to add some e-book titles. Then I noticed the used book prices. Every one of the 5 e-books I had picked out were priced at $9.99, while used books with shipping came out to prices ranging from $4.50 to $9.99 including shipping.

While I understand that people that travel a lot may prefer an e-book for the convenience, I do 90% of my reading in my living room. Why would I pay $139 for a device plus a premium price on each book just to have a fancy gadget? I'm not one to run out and buy the latest bestseller and I have enough books on hand to not find it hard to wait a couple weeks for a used book to arrive.

I could even resell the books after I'm done and make the effective cost even cheaper (printing a priority mail label takes a couple minutes, so there's hardly any inconvenience). Though in reality, I donate my books to a local charity.

I don't expect the publisers to allow e-book resales, but unless they cut their book prices significantly, they are going to have a hard time competing against paper.

Re:E-books more expensive than paper (2, Insightful)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 3 years ago | (#34150978)

hogwash.

New books range from 9.99 to 14.99. Older books are cheaper. Classics are free (thanks project Gutenberg) and the good stuff (sci-fi) even recent sci-fi is normally 6 bucks or so. Heck Anathem is 7.99. Sure you can get used books for super cheap and even market place paper backs cheap as well, but we are talking about bookstore prices here, nit bargain bin copies.

Re:E-books more expensive than paper (2, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151050)

How can you say "hogwash" if you haven't even read what I wrote? I clearly said used books. Why buy new when the words on a used book are just as legible as a new book? I rarely keep a book after I read it, so I don't care if the cover is torn or the pages are a little dogeared.

I'm not talking about bookstore bargain bin prices,I'm talking Amazon used books delivered to my door.

Re:E-books more expensive than paper (2, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151106)

Sure you can get used books for super cheap and even market place paper backs cheap as well, but we are talking about bookstore prices here, not bargain bin copies.

Except that if this current approach takes off there will never ever be any more used books. I'm sure the publishers think that's a good thing for them. But they aren't thinking it through. The used market supports the new market. If they can't resell your used copy, that's effectively a price increase for anyone buying new. Furthermore, lack of cheap used books means less opportunity for an author to build an audience. People are much more willing to risk 50 cents on an author they've never read before than they are $10. If those 50 cents books aren't around that just more incentive to look elsewhere for entertainment or to pirate, and once you've gone through the effort to figure out pirating why would you ever return to paying? So yeah, the availability and price of used books is one of the most important factors to the long term viability of the industry.

Re:E-books more expensive than paper (1)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151542)

Oh but the publishers say that we're getting a bargain with their high prices because it's a huge discount off of new LIST prices. Mind you I've never paid list for a book! These books are also way more portable so of course they are a better value. And you know printing presses cost a ton of money so eBooks have to help support that. No seriously! Go read through the last year's worth of posts on the Macmillen blog http://blog.macmillanspeaks.com/ [macmillanspeaks.com] I swear these guys think their customers are stupid...

Re:E-books more expensive than paper (2, Interesting)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151524)

Where are you seeing these prices for new Sci-Fi? Last I looked they sure as hell weren't $6. All of them I've wanted have been higher with a little love note from Amazon pointing out that the price is now set by the F'ing publisher. Some of them were even more expensive than new paper books. The industry has gone the way of the music industry so far as I'm concerned. Screw 'em.

Here's an example from the action stuff I've been reading lately - check the paper and Kindle pricing. http://www.amazon.com/The-Spy-ebook/dp/B0038BZOYA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1289098451&sr=1-2 [amazon.com]

Another - http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Empire-Fargo-Adventure-ebook/dp/B003XQEVD0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1289098451&sr=1-1 [amazon.com]

NYT Bestseller - Hardcover is CHEAPER than eBook -> http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003ZK58WM/ref=s9_al_bw_ir01?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-3&pf_rd_r=1YNQWHDQP69J4JEHSTCP&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1278657562&pf_rd_i=322189011 [amazon.com]

Here's one I wanted to read pretty badly - http://www.amazon.com/Spy-Dust-Masters-Disguise-Operations/dp/0743428528/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1289098993&sr=8-1-catcorr [amazon.com] Note the date it was released.....

Thankfully some authors are taking notice of this guy http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] and you'll also note that often the highest sellers on the Kindle lists are lower priced - like this guy's work. He even gives away some books on his site. Sadly it's just not my kind of writing but he sure does tell it like it is on his blog! The publishers are screwing us and the authors and piracy is ramping up as a result!

Re:E-books more expensive than paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34151676)

Where are you seeing these prices for new Sci-Fi?!

Try Baen.com

They list all their books, except the ARCs in that price range, DRM-free and in just about every format you could ask for. They've also got an impressive free library.

Re:E-books more expensive than paper (1)

KingFrog (1888802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34150986)

It's hard to compete with the used market. If you buy new, it's a much better proposition. In my case, I like being able to take all those books on long plane flights without carrying dozens of pounds of paper with me. That convenience is worth a lot when traveling, so for me it's a good deal.

Re:E-books more expensive than paper (1)

obarel (670863) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151180)

The only thing is that you can have 1000 classics included in the price you pay your ISP. I hope you like "The Black Tulip" and "Pinocchio".

That, and as many PDFs as you care to download. I wouldn't recommend printing "Handbook of Applied Cryptography" and the used price is $43.00 on Amazon right now. But you can download it. Also, something like Peopleware is still cheaper in Kindle format than the cheapest used version.

But I tend to agree with you - I've seen (and bought) some sweet bargains for used books, and most of the technical books I buy are used. e-book pricing should reflect the fact that no trees were harmed, that the ink is free, and that shipping burns very little fuel.

eBook piracy (4, Insightful)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 3 years ago | (#34150944)

I avoid eBook piracy by simply by reading the classics [gutenberg.org]

Re:eBook piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34151078)

Classic Perl for Beginners, by Baudelaire

One publisher seems to have a clue... (5, Insightful)

Decker-Mage (782424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34150982)

Baen Books has been posting e-books, several formats available, for several years now. And, curiously enough, it's the authors that make the choice. I have a solid library of their titles that are loaded on all my machines to read during down-time (waiting on something) and all of them, including ones that I initially wouldn't have bought in book form normally, are here in the pulp as well. So, it's a good deal for the author, give me a book that may have me buy the series, rather than miss a potential sale.

A rather radical thing that I recently encountered was a hardback Baen Book ("Rats, Bats, & Vats") that had a CD with several dozen titles from Baen on it that encouraged you to make a copy and give them out.

As for the e-book community, yes, they are alive and well in the newsgroups last time I looked (August I believe) and you can get what you want in almost any format. Then again, that's been true of anything that can be presented in electronic form pretty much since newsgroups (NNTP) came to be. Just as with the cracking community (hell Apple should know what with rooting the iPhone) you'll always see them out there. Keep the price point low enouigh and frankly most people won't go to the effort of finding, downloading, etc., since you never going to know what you get (unusable/, malware, and lawsuit, oh my!).

And before anyone professes that this is incorrect, go back and take microeconomics again, specifically opportunity costs. The beautiful thing about iTunes, iPhone Apps, NetFlix, downloadable software, and e-book marketplaces is that they have been an ecometrician's wet dream for statistical market behavior. I don't think that this was the intent of the providers of music, apps, and video, but there you have it. Saved us a ton of research grant money. Thank you!

Re:One publisher seems to have a clue... (4, Interesting)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151170)

Their free ebook program has pretty conclusively proven that books that are past their peak sales mark (usually 2-6 months after first publish) see a substantial increase in sales after publishing the ebook for free.

Don't hide it, promote [baen.com] it!

The prime palaver section really details why this works, but the lengthy introduction on the front page is good enough for it to make sense to most people.

This quote really sums up the real problem quite nicely:

Income doesn't derive from preventing theft, it comes from making sales. A certain amount of loss due to theft is simply one of the overhead costs. Obviously, taking simple measures to eliminate as much theft as possible is sensible. But at a certain point -- and much sooner than you might think -- the measures you take to prevent theft can start cutting your income.

Re:One publisher seems to have a clue... (2)

Decker-Mage (782424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151464)

Income doesn't derive from preventing theft, it comes from making sales. A certain amount of loss due to theft is simply one of the overhead costs. Obviously, taking simple measures to eliminate as much theft as possible is sensible. But at a certain point -- and much sooner than you might think -- the measures you take to prevent theft can start cutting your income.

One of the best descriptions of opportunity cost for both buyer and seller I've encountered in a long time. And the fact that it has to be described is a fundamental damning indictment of "modern education".

Re:One publisher seems to have a clue... (1)

proxima (165692) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151398)

Baen Books has been posting e-books, several formats available, for several years now.

As someone completely unfamiliar with their authors and catalog, can readers of Baen books provide some recommendations? Anything available as an ebook (free or otherwise) would be of interest to me.

This is one advantage of the larger stores - it is usually straightforward to find the bestsellers within any given genre. For those of us new to a genre (or new to the modern works in a genre), this can be a helpful starting point. So many books, so little time.

Re:One publisher seems to have a clue... (1)

Decker-Mage (782424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151534)

To begin, a link: Baen Books Free Library [baen.com]

The problem here is you didn't described what books you like! I read pretty much everything that isn't nailed shut and I'd be there with a claw-hammer prying the nails out. No joke. Even just pointing at a genre (Science-Fiction, Fantasy, etc.) isn't good enough these dsays. For instance, in Science-Fiction you have Military Science-Fiction (a favorite here given my background), Space-Opera (still alive and kickin'), even cross-over series such as the Recluce series (which is most definitely a scientific magic based series, and if you don't believe me, go read "The Practice Effect" by David Brin and completely different from L. E. Modessitt's novels). Hell, I read romances, especially historical and vampire romances, thank you Mom!

To borrow from an advert that came out when Baen Books was getting started: "I like Baen Books because they taste good." While I haven't ever eaten one (although with this economy and a healthy bit of mayo, it looks tempting), the author of that had the sense. What books taste good to you? I've probably read them and I'm certain the other denizens here have so we can recommend away.

[OMG, have I opened the Thread From Hell? Will my Karma survive ;-).]

Re:One publisher seems to have a clue... (1)

proxima (165692) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151632)

My impression was that Baen books is primarily science fiction. I've drifted from that genre over the years, but I'm a fan of many of the "classics" (Dune, Foundation series, the Ender series, etc).

Perhaps the best recommendation would be a great book by an author with many other books available. That way if I like the first I know where to go next for similar fare. The real issue is that I really hate starting a book and not liking it; I want to finish it and it just nags at me when I don't. Fortunately that is very rare and tends to happen with poorly written non-fiction.

Re:One publisher seems to have a clue... (1)

Decker-Mage (782424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151838)

Just 'cause it's (primarily) Science-Fiction doesn't mean we can't have fun. Rick Cook's Wizard Series is awfully (sometimes the puns can be as bad as a Xanth novel ;-) fun. Eric Cook's and David Drake's Belisarius series practically defines the most recent alternate history genre (okay a bit of an exageration but not by much), lately. Lackey's Serrated Edge novels are pure urban fantasy as best exemplified elsewhere by Seannan McGuire or Jim Butcher's Dresden Files or Kim Harrison, heck a lot of what I read these days.

What you are missing here is the chance, for a negligible download (now I sound like a shill, sorry), to get a sample of each author before you commit. Eric Flint wasn't even on my radar here, let alone Mercedes Lackey, yet I absolutely adore all of their works and Lackey writes a heck of a lot of Fantasy. I get a sense, probably mistaken, that you are pidgeon-holing authors. So far as I can tell, the good authors wander all over the terrain. Ably.

Re:One publisher seems to have a clue... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34151612)

The Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold are ones I like.
All of the Baen CDs can be downloaded (legally, even) from here:

http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/

The most recent CD (#24 - Cryoburn) has, I think, all of the
Vorkosigan books to date.

The Honor Harrington series by David Weber is also available, on
some of the other CDs.

It's worth noting that the CDs contain books that aren't yet
available on Baen's website.

Re:One publisher seems to have a clue... (1)

Decker-Mage (782424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151734)

And I send a serious "thank you kindly" for that link! I rather like the Bujold's Vorkosigan and Weber's Honor Harrington books but that should be no suprise given my addiction to Cromwell's Sharpe's Series and the ever present Horatio Hornblower (which the BBC ably redid not too long ago). Heck, Chandler even took a swipe at the Hornblower books.

My mother always told me, she has a well-earned doctorate in anthorpology, that there are only senven stories that humans tell. Seeing it in print, or even on the screen, I now belive her. Still, the variations are always interesting, at least to me.

Re:One publisher seems to have a clue... (1)

taxman_10m (41083) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151708)

Check out the Comic Book Scene (1)

deisama (1745478) | more than 3 years ago | (#34150990)

Even though there's hardly digital comics you can purchase, people still take the time to manually scan each comic as it comes out.

For manga, people even take the time to TRANSLATE it before they release it.

Just like anything else, piracy is based on demand, not convienence. People don't do all that work just because its easy, they do it because people want them.

The demand for ebook piracy may increase as people get more and more used to the idea of reading digital books, but wether or not a publisher decides to sell their books digitally would have no bearing on the chances of it getting pirated.

Re:Check out the Comic Book Scene (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151176)

If publishers were smart enough to get in on this, they could be making an absolute killing.

But apparently they aren't. Their loss.

Pirate sweat shop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34151002)

As more people possess portable reading devices, the demand and availability for pirated content will also rise. (Many popular e-books can now be found easily on file-sharing sites, something that was not the case even a few months ago, as Adrian Hon recently pointed out.)"

Is this really the smart thing to do at the beginning of a fledgling industry? At least publishers have physical books to fall back on if E-books don't take off. Physical protections aren't perfect, but there's the satisfaction of seeing "pirates" actually working for their booty.

Adrian... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34151120)

I find it amusing that you broadcast so proudly to the internet how you download other peoples property. I can't wait to hear more of your smug reports after it happens to you and your company, (assuming people really care enough to steal your shit).

Who cares? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151266)

Who cares about what Amazon does not want you to do with the books? Removing the DRM completely is not entirely trivial (yet; it shouldn't be hard to write a 1-click app that does it, it's just that no-one bothered, so far as I know), but the instructions [nyquil.org] are out there.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Hortensia Patel (101296) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151480)

Who cares about what Amazon does not want you to do with the books? Removing the DRM completely is not entirely trivial (yet; it shouldn't be hard to write a 1-click app that does it, it's just that no-one bothered, so far as I know), but the instructions [nyquil.org] are out there.

Personally, I care because when I pay money to Amazon for a Kindle book, I'm sending them an implicit message that I approve. That I consider it acceptable for them to be locking me in to their walled garden and stripping me of my basic consumer rights while pretending that this is normal and nothing has changed and this is still a "sale", no really, it is.

I do not approve. I do not consider it acceptable. And I do not believe that Amazon will ever grow an ethical backbone on this issue until they start losing sales because of it.

Re:Who cares? (1)

dreampod (1093343) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151810)

Presumably Amazon. If it is just as easy for me to pirate the book in the first place than to strip the (unethical) DRM from it, I'm likely to just pirate it in the first place. If I do that then Amazon loses out on what I might have shelled out for that.

Re:Who cares? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151832)

I guess you could put it that way. I also remember now hearing something about Amazon selling Kindle (not DX, but the smaller ones) at a loss after the recent price cuts, supposedly because they can make it up from ebook purchases. If true then in my case they're losing money since I purchase very little from them.

A few months ago was before the Publishers F'd up! (5, Insightful)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151356)

A "few months ago" I wouldn't have thought about pirating a book. I could get my favorite books for under $10 and I was reading them like crazy. Then here comes iPad and the bullshit deal Apple setup with the publishers to let THEM set the price and break Amazon's lock on E-books. Publishers, led by Macmillan, put the hurt on Amazon, and now they too are forced to let Publishers set book prices. Damn near overnight my buying of books came to a screeching halt as nothing I was interested in reading could be had for what I felt was a reasonable price. Some of the books I looked up were CHEAPER in hard copy! Books that have been out 6-7 YEARS for $12++?!

So I too looked towards Torrent sites and elsewhere and sure enough there was tons of books available. I haven't bought a single book from Amazon, hard or soft copy, since this change in pricing went into effect. the sad thing is that E-books are so small no one ever just shares one, it's ineffective. Instead you see huge collections thrown together in order to make the file size decent.

Thankfully some authors are getting a clue! Hopefully more will follow this guy's lead -> http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

Stealing is the exception (1)

Erick Lionheart (745320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151516)

People "in general" don't want to steal. They're happy to generally pay for something, given that its price intellectually/intuitively feels somewhat justified.

With the advent of digital and globalization, Content publishers have wet dreams when they project their old business model onto the new potential audience. Obviously, it's encountering issues.
The market is enormous, but the price, availability, and (lack of/DRM) ease of use of the legitimate version is prohibitive compared to the ease of use and availability of free pirated versions.

I spend much time in the Philippines, where locals routinely spend 30 pesos (~65 cents) buying pirated dvd's of widely varying qualities. From good dvd-quality screener copies, to horrible in-theater recordings with coughs, people standing up in middle of screen, and poorly synced bad-quality sound.
While they don't have to pay for the making of the movie, they still have to pay for the printing of the CD, creation and printing of a jacket and cd-box, multiple layers of distribution etc. And still make enough of a profit to justify the risks. 65 cents covers all that it seems.
And Filipinos are very poor, yet still are willing to pay a little for entertainment.

Sell movies online between $0.5 and $2 with no/minimal DRM depending on quality/popularity/whatever, and millions/billions will buy rather than pirate. Sell a collector's edition in stores for $30 if you like (With no DRM at that point, since it won't be needed) for those that want/like a physical version.
Offer monthly download/streaming subscriptions Netflix-style for $10/$20/$30 with the best stuff available first in the $30's. Again, no real DRM needed.

Same for music. Make it a few cents instead of a dollar, and you'll find that a whole lot more people don't mind paying for an actual music collection.

In either case, a tidy profit will -still- be made. Not to mention how much MORE can then be made from the derivatives when you tell ad execs that yeah, that 60 cents movie was purchased by 1.3 BILLION people actually. With a neat breakdown in metrics by country, age group and whatever else you make customers fill-out when they sign up.

Books are a bit more tricky. A song takes 5 min to listen to. A movie 2hrs to watch. A book is more in the 5 to 20+ hrs range and is a significant time investment on the reader's part.
I know I skip a lot of free books, even though they're easy to get from Amazon for my Kindle, just because I'm not interested. A good book is worth a good bit more to me than a good movie, but a bad book is worth a whole lot less than a bad movie. So prices ranging from a few cents (you can get the book for a song!) to $6 ?

Studios are trying to make orders of magnitude more $, without providing that much more -value-.
The market is dramatically larger, distribution is dramatically cheaper, prices -should- be dramatically lower. THAT is why people pirate.

__
www.gamersloot.net: Gametime cards, Cd keys and game news. No gold sorry!

er, make it like Steam... or Netflix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34151564)

Well, like movies or games, for an online business model, please make it *more* convenient to use.

Download the book to any device anytime if you are a subscriber (Netflix) or a purchaser (Steam) and if the book has all the tagging information in the precisely the best format I want for my device, it's worth many extra dollars to buy the e-book it as it saves time. Maybe add comments from other readers and see notations from your friends. Add value to the e-book, don't make it worse with DRM.

The current cost of an e-book is far too close to print cost, and DRM makes it less convenient. Authors give out e-books for free (Baen) and it improves their print sales.

Decisions decisions (1)

belthize (990217) | more than 3 years ago | (#34151574)

My wife's been hounding me to by a kindle. Let's see, $150 for a device that needs charging and costs roughly the same per book which may or may not work 3 to 5 years from now versus a book I own forever can loan to anyone and reread 50 years from now if I feel like it.

I have every book I ever bought, including pulp sci-fi from 30 years ago. I'm free to loan them to whomever, reread them whenever. I really really have a hard time seeing the attraction of switching.

Saying I'd now be free to loan it to somebody for 14 days but only once just brings the distinction into starker reality for me, it's hardly a selling point. If they ever reach the point that I own the content, it's delivered in a completely portable format, I can transfer it to any device and loan it to anyone at any time and to as many people as I want just like I can with a normal book I might consider it, not until then.

Not good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34151738)

I think they need those protections, because pirating can hurt the book market a lot. Only the biggest name authors can make money from perfomances, while local bands can still tour. Most books don't have the secondary markets like movies do, such as Netflix, Redbox, or other venues: only a few can be adapted into movies. Most authors make barely anything breaking out, and already suffer legitmate piracy through the remainder and used market, receiving no royalties.. The options that other media can make use of to defray piracy don't exist for authors. /. doesn't realize it, but their constant focus on free information is going to harm content creators, and help the people they hate. The aggregators can just shift to the long tail approach and offer tons of digital e-books for free or for low cost, and most will be crap or legacy works. They will make money no matter what, but the creators wont. Look at Nextflix's instant queue, and count how many titles are low or no-budget. That's going to be the bulk of the content of the future: fast, cheap, and sucky.

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