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E-Book Lending Stands Up To Corporate Mongering

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the you-may-loan-seventeen-words-at-a-time dept.

DRM 259

phmadore writes "Publishing Perspectives is talking today about the rise of e-book lending, which, one would hope, will lead to a rise in questioning exactly how far one's digital rights extend. Although the articles are mostly talking about the authorized lending programs through Kindle and Nook ('The mechanics are simple: ebook owners sign up and list books that they want to allow others to borrow. When someone borrows one of the ebooks you have listed, you earn a credit. Credits can also be purchased for as little as $1.99 from eBook Fling'), we have to ask ourselves why we are suddenly paying publishers more for less. In the case of iBooks, you can't even transfer your books to another device, let alone another user, but then at least the prices are somewhat controlled. In the case of sites like BooksOnBoard, you've got ridiculously out-of-control prices with a greatly decreased cost of delivery. It's not all bad, don't get me wrong; Kobo offers competitive prices that never leave me feeling ripped off or stuck with an inferior product. Still, I can't help but think: digital rights management, sure! Where are my rights, as a consumer, and who is managing them? I wouldn't mind selling the rights back to the publisher or store for in-store credit; I also wouldn't be terribly bothered if they got a reasonable cut off the resale of the product to someone else. What I won't like is if they never allow it or continue to make it impossible for me to sell what's rightfully mine."

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259 comments

Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (5, Interesting)

Yaddoshi (997885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202162)

If it's not available in any of those standards, then the eBook is as worthless as DRM-hampered MP3s purchased digitally. If you can't purchase your eBook in one of the aforementioned formats, do yourself a huge favor and go to your local bookstore, and purchase it in paperback. That way you can keep it indefinitely, sell it, trade it, lend it to friends, and so forth. It's about time for companies to stop proactively treating their customers like criminals and thieves. Vote with your wallet.

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (1)

iammani (1392285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202216)

Are there any stores that sell in these formats?

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (1)

mu51c10rd (187182) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202250)

Borders and Barnes and Noble sell epubs. That have Adobe's DRM attached...but it is easily stripped. You can also use Calibre [calibre-ebook.com] to convert the epub to other formats.

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35202450)

The original post is a bit of FUD. Almost any major publisher is going to throw on DRM (thank you Baen/webscriptions - gold standard for epublishing), no matter what the file format technically is. Personally I run everything through calibre anyway, and it strips amazon mobi's to editable files as easily as anything else. epub are easier to manually edit, true, but converting from one ebook format to another is a piece of cake, so once its drm free it doesnt really matter.

TL;DR - File format doesn't really matter and is easily convertable - only the drm state makes a difference

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202542)

Calibre can not convert DRM epubs to other formats.
Calibre does not support stripping of DRM.

Stripping DRM is illegal under the DMCA in the US (there are exceptions, including for the blind OR when no version is available for your platform, none of which has been yet tested in the courts). Other countries may have different rules.

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (2)

Winckle (870180) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202808)

Who cares if it is illegal? You bought it, you do what you want with it. It's not immoral in my opinion to do so.
  The police are hardly likely to break down my door if i'm stripping DRM for my own devices, so it's under the same category as ripping a CD in effect.

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (2)

MattW (97290) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202926)

I care. I don't want the government to have any excuses to selectively enforce bad laws. Bad laws should be removed, not simply scoffed at and ignored.

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (3, Informative)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202272)

Barnes & Noble is using .epub for all their stuff.

Of course, the .epub spec allows for optional encryption... And I'm sure B&N is doing something to lock down their books.

But, you should be able to open any .epub document on any device that supports .epub, even with the encryption in-place. Or, at least, that's my understanding.

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202598)

But, you should be able to open any .epub document on any device that supports .epub, even with the encryption in-place. Or, at least, that's my understanding.

Your understanding would be incorrect. If the ebook is encrypted in an unknown/unsupported scheme then, obviously, the ebook reader will not show you any of the encrypted parts (or maybe none at all, depending on the application/device).

And each publisher/distributor decides which they use... there is no "standard" that they adhere to, either. B&N and Amazon, for instance, each use their own encryption scheme and can't use each other's books without first stripping the encryption and possibly converting them.

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (3, Interesting)

rafial (4671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202452)

If you look around, you can find stuff, usually from the smaller stores, or direct from smaller publishers. For Science Fiction & Fantasy, Baen offers quite a lot of books through their Webscriptions service (although I think newer stuff is now getting funneled into the "rental" market and thus not showing up on Webscriptions). Daniel Keyes Moran just started fsand.com to publish the back catalog of several of his SF writer buddies in open formats. I've also found open books on places like Fictionwise (you have to read carefully to determine which books are being sold in open formats and which come encrusted).

Pragmatic Programmers sells all their technical books direct in open formats. Role playing game books from most publishers can now be found in unrestricted formats from drivethrurpg.com. It's pretty much only the popular fiction market (and the large sellers) that are locked into customer hostile practices.

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (4, Interesting)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202254)

The Nook, Kibo, and (I think) Sony readers all use ePub, but the books still have DRM. As you yourself point out, just because it's an open standard (or a de facto one, like MP3) doesn't mean you're automatically free of DRM.

If anything, the way this will change is if people buy the hardware, use it, and put pressure on the vendors to get rid of the DRM. It eventually worked on Apple and Amazon for music. I think Barnes & Noble would be more than happy to provide people with DRM-free books (and I've received some classics from them that already are, though they don't advertise it). It's the publishers we have to convince (and maybe Amazon, which seems to want to create an empire).

Also, note that it's trivial to crack the Adobe DRM used on the Nook, for example. And I often find myself doing it, not necessarily to pirate the book, but because the formatting is so cockeyed on my Nook that I have to bust open the ePub and tweak the CSS myself. Digital publishing still has way to go before it's truly mainstream.

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (2)

slyrat (1143997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202732)

The Nook, Kibo, and (I think) Sony readers all use ePub, but the books still have DRM. As you yourself point out, just because it's an open standard (or a de facto one, like MP3) doesn't mean you're automatically free of DRM.

This is only really for the major e-book stores that are the default stores for the devices. There are currently several third party stores that sell e-books in multi-format (including without drm). Whenever I buy e-books for my device (sony eink) I shop around and try to get it in the non-drm format if available. I think part of the problem is that most people don't know of these third party stores so don't know that there is competition for buying e-books. I do hope that some sort of universal book format prevails, along with a good way to sell and/or trade said bought digital books. Until then the e-book market is a bit broken.

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (2)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202270)

>>>paperback. That way you can keep it indefinitely, sell it,

You sold me. Actually amazon sold me a long time ago - I've got a 4th edition of "Best Science Fiction of the Year (1986)" which is going for $150. Final Fantasy 7 I could sell for about the same price. I only paid ~$18 for these. Try that with an ebook (you'd get nothing).

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202662)

I don't understand. There's a book for Final Fantasy 7? A novelization would be awesome.

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (4, Interesting)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202362)

1) Buying ePUB does not guarantee no DRM. Apple sells DRM'd ePub, and so do B&N and Sony.

2) MOBI (which is what Kindle uses) is really just as open as ePUB (it's also packaged HTML). There are a bunch of other formats like this - e.g. LIT, or Sony's LRF. You can use e.g. Calibre to convert them to ePUB or other format of your choice, provided DRM is stripped first.

From a purely pragmatical point of view, just buy books in formats for which DRM stripping tools are readily available at the moment. Today, this means Kindle, or any of the stores that use Adobe ePUB DRM. Don't bother with iBooks.

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (1)

mwolfam (1996248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202836)

"Buying ePUB does not guarantee no DRM" This is a very good point. It matters where you buy. I personally publish on SmashWords.com because they explicitly do not use DRM, and they will automatically convert your story into a wide variety of formats and even list it on sites like Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and iTunes. Note that when sold from these other sites, DRM may be added. I like not having DRM because people who buy my works can share it with whomever they please (just like a 'real' book). I have seen my book show up on piracy sites, so it is available to those who aren't going to pay for it anyway. I don't think people who pay for it should be punished by being locked down just because they chose to actually supported me. Just my 2 cents.

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (5, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202386)

Welcome to "modern DRM", also known as "Broken By Design."

Buy a console video game on disc... but then there's the 0-day "DLC" associated, the "DLC Expansion" the month later because the developers were too damn lazy to finish the game before ship date. 5 years from now, nobody will have a complete copy unless the game's lucky to get a "game of the year edition" release, because all the consoles will have broken and the DLC authorization server will be turned off.

Don't believe me? Take a look at Halo 2 right now. Want to set up a LAN party? Hope you're willing to bring in 3-4 original Xboxes, better hope they're all softmodded, hope someone has the custom installer for all the DLC maps preserved somewhere, and pray one of them doesn't die on you while you play.

Ebooks? The goal of the publishers is, and has always been, to try to figure out ways to stop lending and resale. They hate, hate - with a passion - companies like Half Price Books that buy and sell used books. They hate, with a passion, the public library system.

And what they really don't understand is how stupid it makes them look. The "pirates" do the world a huge favor by crafting no-CD hacks, by coming up with ways for people to back up their discs and still play the game, with the original tucked safely away where a dog with chewing issues or a small child can't reach it to destroy it. They give people a way to back up - without having to trust in "authorization servers", without having to hope for a working net connection - downloaded package files for DLC content.

And what's sad is it didn't have to be this way. They could have included a way for us to back up our DLC packages on the consoles. They could sell the games without the ridiculous DRM crap and DVD drive being used as a fucking 5 1/4" dongle. But no. Instead, they treat the customers as criminals and drive them right into the hands of the "pirates."

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35202530)

5 years from now, nobody will have a complete copy unless the game's lucky to get a "game of the year edition" release, because all the consoles will have broken and the DLC authorization server will be turned off.

Yeah.. before long it'll be..

$25 for the game engine (extra $15 for WUXGA or multi-monitor support).
$10 for the basic physics engine ($15 for the better one).
$10 extra for the multiplayer module (doesnt include the gaming service cost).
$5 for basic sound or $15 for 5.1/7.1.

then you'll pay $20 for the game artwork & a few levels.

want more levels.. $2 per month.

That doesn't include your broadband connection and the extra its going to cost you to download the 25gig game every time you clear a few games from your console (10 gig of which will be in-game adverts).

Each game engine/module will have its own serial key and require an internet connection to a different server every time its used.

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (1)

MattW (97290) | more than 3 years ago | (#35203008)

I've been gaming my whole life, and I think that'd drive me to do something drastic. Like, go play frisbee or something.

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35202538)

Everything you said is right on the money. I agree with it all.

That out of the way, what are these folks supposed to do to prevent rampant piracy of their copyrighted materials? We all know that piracy of unprotected works is huge. We don't need to discuss numbers. We all know that some few folks pay for stuff they pirated or get turned on to something and pay for newer versions later. However, the fact remains that piracy is a huge deal for content creators. What should they do about it? We need to come up with solutions (and frankly I am not smart enough to come up with one myself). It doesn't do any good to just say "DRM is teh evil" without coming up with a way to protect both consumers and producers rights.

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (2)

Cinder6 (894572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202568)

Of course, the benefits of piracy is a double-edged sword--if there were no pirates to begin with, we wouldn't have DRM. No DRM means no need for all the no-CD cracks and what have you. Did that world ever have a chance to exist? No; there were always going to be pirates. Do I like or want DRM? No and no. Do I understand why companies feel they must spend resources trying to stop people from stealing their stuff? Yes.

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (3, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202688)

if there were no pirates to begin with, we wouldn't have DRM.

If pirates did did not exist, it would be necessary to invent them.

-- Media Publishing Voltaire

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (1)

panda cakes (1333537) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202840)

DLC is there to suppress used games market, not because of "lazy developers". Releasing DLC in few weeks after the game saves sales from the flood of the used copies from the people who bought the game on the release date and have already finished it.

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35202392)

The Pragmatic Programmers [pragprog.com] do a great job of this. Their books and videos are all DRM-free and all but the oldest books are available as unlimited downloads in ePub, mobi, and PDF format, so I keep copies on my eReaders (plural), phone, home, and work computers without any issues.

Re:Only buy PDF, ePUB or another open standard (1)

cob666 (656740) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202590)

DRM isn't the only issue involved, my girlfriend is not very tech savvy but she knows enough to be able to download her ebooks and copy them to her device using the software I set up for her. Almost all of her books have some form of DRM that is 100% transparent to her and I would say that she depicts an average reader of ebooks.

The biggest detriment to ebooks again isn't the DRM, it's the cost. It's absolutely ridiculous that I can walk into any bookstore and buy a paperback book for 7.99 but that exact same ebook sells for 9.99. Also, some new releases aren't even available in ebook format for several weeks or even months after the book is released so the ebook sales won't hamper physical book sales. A simple pricing strategy would be something along the lines of selling an ebook for the lowest cost a book can be obtained for at a store (or online). When a new book is released on hardcover and is selling for say 24.99 then the ebook should be 24.99. When the paperback is released for 7.99 six months later then the ebook price should be NO MORE THAN 7.99. It's insulting that publishers are charging the prices they do for ebooks. I have a LOT of physical books and I have no problem downloading ebook versions of them from torrent sites so I can read them on my ereader. I would even deal with the DRM if the cost of an ebook was more inline with the cost of a physical book.

Real lending (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202846)

Actually I really like this DRM proposal and here is why.

When I lend a real book, I no longer have it. I even am taking a risk I will lose it. This addresses both of those.

first, imagine a transferable DRM system. I can lend my book to someone else. But I have to transfer the ownership to them so that I no longer can read it or lend it to anyone else. That seems fair in the way that it emulates the rights I have for physical property I own. I think this might be a headache to implement. I recall that some softwares I've owned in the past came with a lic agreement that was exactly that: treat it like a book; you can lend it to someone else but you can't both be using it at the same time. They did not enforce it with DRM, but that was the licesnce. I thought that was fair. If two seats are using it, then I should purchase two copies, but all seats are transferable since I own them.

Second, suppose that when I lent my book, and transfered away my liscence, I could pay $1.99 to keep a copy for myself? That would be awesome. That way I get to lend it and for a pittance not lose my copy of it.

Which is exactly what this licence is proposing.

1) treat it like a book (meaning there is one copy but it is transferable)
2) but never lose your copy for a small fee.

  perfect.

Rights? (2)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202176)

You don't have any rights, you're a consumer. You stopped having rights when you became one of them.

Re:Rights? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35202354)

Our economic system is based on infinite profits growth and infinite resources. It took several decades for everyone to realize that this flying rock has finite resources, so now everything risk to collapse. DRM and virtual rights are the cure for a sure economic collapse: very few resources needed to keep profits growing.

Books On Board Versus Kobo Confuses Me (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202220)

I'm confused with the random selection in the summary of the two examples. I looked up more nerdish books and was met with many examples of the exact same price: Kobo's Eye of the World [kobobooks.com] vs BoB Eye of the World [booksonboard.com]. Both $6.99. Makes me wonder if the prices aren't dictated by the publisher. I'm also confused how BoB calls itself "the Largest Independent eBookstore" as they're clearly hosting major publishers' works. I'm guessing the McCarthy book cited in the summary is going through different copyright fee channels with the distribution. Either way, I have yet to be impressed with any electronic publisher's prices and I don't think I ever will because when I visit publishers' websites like O'Reilly or Tor (Macmillan sub) [macmillan.com], the eBooks are often sold at or near the regular book price. So this tells me that our problem isn't the distribution site like Amazon or Kobo but instead the publishers who disagree with me on a fundamental level that a soft copy of a book's worth compared to a physical dead tree version. Until then, I'm staying old school. Go ahead and laugh at my room full of books, at least I own something and not an ethereal "right" on an electronic device locked down by some draconian DRM.

Re:Books On Board Versus Kobo Confuses Me (2)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202496)

I'm also confused how BoB calls itself "the Largest Independent eBookstore" as they're clearly hosting major publishers' works.

An independant grocery store still sells campbell's soup and coca-cola. Independant just means its privately owned ... not part of a major chain. "Mom-n-Pop" small/medium business type of thing.

Funny - just posted on my journal about this subj (2)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202232)

Not going to post the whole thing, but I like this quote:

"Fiction magazines are steadily losing readership, down 40% since 2000.
The survival of these magazines is essential if you'd like to see
lots of good SF and fantasy stories - one important way you can help
is by *subscribing* to them. It's never been easier to do, with a few
clicks of your button... and receive the traditional print format by
mail, or downloads to your Kindle or computer... you can now subscribe
from Overseas just as easily as from the United States, something
formerly difficult or impossible." - Gardner Dozois, editor, asimovs.com

Wow. He makes it sound like the short story is doomed. I would have thought, with the ease-of-use of Kindles, that these magazines would be gaining MORE readers not less. I still subscribe to the Paper, since it enables me to sell the whole 2011 bundle on ebay, come the end of the year (i.e. convert magazines to 10 dollars cash). If they gave me a discount for the E-version then I'd buy that instead.

Re:Funny - just posted on my journal about this su (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202528)

There are plenty of short stories out there. You have access to more than you ever have before. They just aren't particularly organized -- just spread out all over the Internet. I've already checked out a couple free ebooks which get reviewed like any other book. Quality, especially in the fiction area, varies wildly...just like it does with corporately published books.

Re:Funny - just posted on my journal about this su (2)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35203012)

>>>They just aren't particularly [good]

Fixed. :-) They are typical fan rubbish, whereas the stuff found in magazines are professionally-reviewed and therefore I only see the the cream of the crop, not the badly-spelled, poorly-written shit that most fanfiction equals.

And yes I know that's harsh.
But it's my honest opinion.
Fanfiction is 99.9999% shit.
I want professional quality work.

>>>ebooks which get reviewed like any other book

Yeah but Gardner Dozois was specifically discussing short fiction, not books. Personally I prefer short stories or novelettes to full-sized, padded books.

The FSF got it right (5, Insightful)

Saint Aardvark (159009) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202234)

Still, I can't help but think: digital rights management, sure! Where are my rights, as a consumer, and who is managing them?"

And that is why the Free Software Foundation insists on calling this technology "Digital Restrictions Management (http://www.defectivebydesign.org/what_is_drm [defectivebydesign.org]): it points out that this is meant to keep YOU, the paying customer, from doing useful things with the stuff you buy.

Re:The FSF got it right (1)

spikenerd (642677) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202394)

To "manage" means to keep something from getting out of control. Hence, "rights management" clearly implies that they are preventing you from freely exercising your rights. "restrictions management" makes it sound like they are working to stop evil corporations from being too restrictive--which is exactly the opposite of what DRM does.

Re:The FSF got it right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35202484)

The FSF is also a bunch of crybabies. They sent out an email recently to laugh at intel for having a broken production line just because their processor includes DRM, an unrelated and completely ridiculous thing to poke fun about.

Defective by Design is a fucking joke.

The Right to Read (5, Informative)

rafial (4671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202518)

While mentioning the FSF, it's also worth pointing out Richard Stallman's old "science fiction" story, _The Right to Read_

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html

It's worth checking in with it every few years to see how close we've gotten to that particular dystopia.

Re:The FSF got it right (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202620)

Personally, I prefer to use a simpler term: restriction systems. By saying "restriction system," you are getting right to the point, and not confusing anyone about what DRM is. Why bother playing games with what the acronym stands for; why bother with the acronym at all? Just be up front about it: the technologies are systems that restrict how much control people have over the devices and data they purchase.

Re:The FSF got it right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35202854)

I'm so fed up with this all, the term "digital straight jacket" would be most appropriate i guess.

I am waiting for academic publishers to realize (5, Interesting)

savi (142689) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202236)

That their out-of-print books from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, that are currently making them ZERO money, could be sold for $2-$5 as pdfs. There are hundreds of books that I would like to buy, but since they are out of print (and weren't cheap to begin with and had small print runs), they cost in the rage of $70+. This means that I simply don't buy them. This means that no one makes money of my desire to own these books. What a waste.

Re:I am waiting for academic publishers to realize (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202508)

I've started to see some things along those lines. NCBI has started hosting some older versions of biology textbooks online. Professors don't generally know about them, and they're outdated so most students just assume they won't work (having the page numbers off so you might have to skim a bit to find the exact two pages of required reading? Oh God no!). Some of the texts state that you can search in them but not just browse, which seems to be completely pointless. And obviously, it's in publishers interests to push the new expensive versions rather than old low-demand stuff.

Re:I am waiting for academic publishers to realize (4, Interesting)

radtea (464814) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202564)

That their out-of-print books from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, that are currently making them ZERO money, could be sold for $2-$5 as pdfs

This is unlikely to happen.

Having dealt with academic publishers I've found them to be the most ignorant bunch of incompetent rent-seekers imaginable, whose entire business model is fortunately doomed. I once tried to find a copy of an out-of-print book that I wanted to use for part of a class I was teaching. I asked the publisher if they knew where any were available, and also for permission for photocopying limited sections of any copy I did find for teaching purposes (fewer than 10 students, but I figured I may as well play nice.)

I got a nastygram back refusing permission to make copies, and also asking me to inform them if I found a copy because they didn't actually have a copy anywhere. They had "ownership" of the copyright, but not the actual text! This raises any number of fun questions, the first one being: how can they know if I've violated their copyright if they aren't in possession of the text?

As it turns out it was all moot because I never did find a complete copy, but its still the most egregiously stupid thing I've ever heard from the bloodsucking, parasitic, rent-seeking academic publishing industry.

Re:I am waiting for academic publishers to realize (3, Insightful)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202616)

Of course, remember that it would have to be a photographic scan. No one is likely to go through the trouble of typesetting these books all over again. OCR based on the scan would be nice, but you'd still need the raw pictures in case of OCR errors or to handle any sorts of illustrations (e.g. graphs, plates).

The main stumbling blocks, probably, are 1) the expected return is fairly low, so they have higher priorities; 2) the contracts they made with the copyright holders may not have been written with the possibility of publishing them in an electronic format, or may have already terminated for one reason or another, in which case the rights would be with the author or the author's estate, which might not know, or care.

Chalk up another reason for requiring copyright registrations and frequent renewals (so that the rights holders can be tracked down easily, if they continue to have an interest in the work) and short terms (so that rights don't last longer than the rightsholder's active interest in keeping them).

Re:I am waiting for academic publishers to realize (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202650)

If you look at what happened with music, it may not happen that way. From what I hear, iTunes charges pretty much the same price for the old stuff. At least some of the stuff sold for 'full price' would be considered 'out of print' and only available in specialty shops.

Hardware Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35202240)

Why isn't there a decent scanner that can take a 500 soft-cover sized stack of pages, automatically run then through, OCR them, and spit out a PDF/ePub/whatever? Seems like that's something that would solve the "issues" with eBooks in a hurry. Plus, I can't imagine that would be illegal...

Re:Hardware Solution (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202696)

I was recently doing something similar for a month. I used a multifunction photocopier with an automatic feeder to scan a ton of hardcopy mechanical documentation (dozens of 3" binders full of generator manuals and similar) into nice neat PDFs. We didn't bother with OCR though.

resale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35202248)

I also wouldn't be terribly bothered if they got a reasonable cut off the resale of the product to someone else.

First sale doctrine says you can lend, sell, or give away what you buy. Why in the world would you give that up? Do you think Toyota should get a cut when you sell your used car? If you share a drink with someone should Coke get a check?

Re:resale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35202330)

Hey bad analogy guy, why is a raven like a writing desk?

Re:resale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35202474)

They both start with "r"?

Re:resale? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202594)

If you share a drink with someone should Coke get a check?

I could be wrong, but I don't think that would fall under first sale doctrine since you're splitting the same first sale. Coke does actually get paid for both halves of the drink that's consumed. For that metaphor to work, coke would have to demand money for all future uses of the drink. And actually, I'm okay with an exception being made in Coke's case. I'd really like to see them try to claim a cut if and when you sold your urine.

You aren't buying a book. (2, Informative)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202274)

You aren't buying a book.

What you're buying is the temporary allowance to read that collection of words in that order, as the authour, or perhaps later editors, intended. You aren't buying a hardcover book or a mass-market paperback. What you're buying is your share of the time it took for the authour to write that book. It's not comparable to the older, dead-tree style of stenography and printing.

You could never photocopy a dead-tree book and loan that out. Likewise, why would you be allowed to make a digital copy of a book and send that out to your friends?

Look, it's Valentine's Day and I'm just getting a quick troll in before lunch.

Re:You aren't buying a book. (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202338)

You could never photocopy a dead-tree book and loan that out. Likewise, why would you be allowed to make a digital copy of a book and send that out to your friends?

Should I not be allowed to send a digital copy to a single friend and delete it from my own device?

Re:You aren't buying a book. (0)

trollertron3000 (1940942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202436)

You can loan out the book itself though, so if I lend it to a friend is that not okay?

I'm okay with this myself, I only buy print. There's something special about the tactile feeling of holding a book. But I see the point of ridicule.

Re:You aren't buying a book. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35202464)

Exactly! Incidentally, loaning Kindle titles worked just fine before they instituted the new "loan" policy--you just had to loan your Kindle as well.

Shockingly, this worked the same way as loaning traditional books. Now, apparently, some company has decided that they can make money off of monetizing the concept of a "loaned" eBook. My guess is that they don't make it a year, not because of publishers but because existing communities can already organize loaning much better, and for free.

You aren't paying for a book either. (2)

Comboman (895500) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202782)

You aren't buying a book.

What you're buying is the temporary allowance to read that collection of words in that order, as the authour, or perhaps later editors, intended. You aren't buying a hardcover book or a mass-market paperback. What you're buying is your share of the time it took for the authour to write that book.

If that's true, then the cost of an eBook should be far less than the cost of a physical book, since I'm not buying a stack of paper and cost of printing/shipping/storing/retailing that paper. My share of the author's time (assuming he sells millions of books) should be a pittance.

intellectual or personal property? just pick one (5, Insightful)

craftycoder (1851452) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202288)

Much like music before it, publishers can't decide if books are personal or intellectual property. If they are personal property, then you should be able to do with it what you want after you purchase it. Put it on any device. Share your ONE copy as you want. Sell it when you are done etc. If a book is intellectual property and you only have a license to the content, then the form of the content takes should be provided to the license holder at cost. Say I buy a license to Rush, 2112, a favorite album of mine. I should be able to get an MP3 version for the cost of transmitting it to me. I should be able to get a CD, LP, cassette, 8 track or whatever new format is available whenever and as often as I want one for the cost reproduction and delivery. If books are intellectual property, then I should be able to get a nook, kindle, mobi, pdf, word doc, and any other digital version for the pennies it would cost to deliver it to me and printed versions should be made available at printing cost + shipping once I've purchased a license. The caveat for IP is that I cannot share it with anyone ever.

As it is now, they want the best of both worlds. They sell me a license to the content and give me no credit for that license if I want to put that content on some other device I own. Buying a printed version in the IP world should essentially mean I get free digital versions of that product for life. Same with music. I promise you that if you sold Harper Collins a piece of software and they lost the hard drive it was on, they'd insist that you let them install it on another computer. Why are we not treated the same way?

Re:intellectual or personal property? just pick on (3, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202862)

A book is personal property that contains intellectual property. Possession of it as personal property implies a license to access it as intellectual property. You have a right to sell it as personal property, and with that the same license you had, but not to sell the intellectual property, that is the right to create more licenses.

When you copy it electronically, you are diluting its value as intellectual property, and eliminating its value as personal property (the copy has 0 value, since you can give it away and still have exactly what you had before; meanwhile the intellectual property owner can no longer command the same price for new, licensed copies).

eBooks with DRM create a situation where the book is no longer personal property. The nook you're holding is, but the content is not. Each copy has 0 value, and the license to access it holds all the value.

And that is a contract you agree to when you purchase access to the book. If the contract states that you can subsequently transfer that copy to another, then you should value it higher and expect pay more. If it states that you can transfer a copy and keep one for yourself, then you should value it still higher and expect pay much more. If it states you can make all the copies you want, then you should value it very high and pay a lot for it, if your license is exclusive, but pay almost nothing for it if your license is not exclusive, and nothing if the intellectual property is essentially being unprotected by its original holder.

I don't see any legal conflict here. They will structure their license as they rightfully see fit, and you will either buy the book or not depending on the price.

Short rant about e-books. (5, Interesting)

yossie (93792) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202342)

They cost as much or sometimes more than the printed copy, are badly edited/proofread and the software for reading them has issues with formatting, they are DRM'ed, and the rules for lending and/or reselling them (when that is even possible) are restrictive and draconian..
Fact is, e-books are an outrageous scam, by any measure. Far more so than the music and movie industry, the book industry figured out how to fleece its customers more, so much more.
That said, they do save paper. I own a kindle, but I am still trying to figure out how much money I want to give amazon. I am petitioning my favorite authors to directly publish, hopefully cheaper..

Re:Short rant about e-books. (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202612)

What's the situation now with non-Western scripts on the Kindle? I heard that when the device was launched, texts that contained foreign alphabets would just display gibberish instead, making people pissed off that they had wasted their money. I see from recent Amazon reviews [amazon.com] that the device supports Spanish, so I assume Western European letters will show up correctly, but what's the situation with Cyrillic or CJK text within a publication?

I don't know if the old problem with the Kindle's lack of fonts or erroneous automatic conversion to Kindle format by the publishers, but for the Kindle to be a reliable device for a wide range of academics, it's not to have that internationalization.

Re:Short rant about e-books. (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202652)

it's not to have that internationalization.

Err, this should read "it's got to have that internationalization", sorry.

Re:Short rant about e-books. (1)

slyrat (1143997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202794)

That said, they do save paper. I own a kindle, but I am still trying to figure out how much money I want to give amazon. I am petitioning my favorite authors to directly publish, hopefully cheaper..

My advice is get a nook or sony e-ink reader since you can use them with the digital libraries and can use more open formats for books.

Summed up (1)

trollertron3000 (1940942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202346)

You have no rights when it comes to DRM'd content. Stop supporting them and you'll be okay. Simple fact is you don't NEED these things, they are toys. Don't support this crap. Or if you do understand you have limited rights and be on with your life.

Re:Summed up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35202608)

Vote with your dollars, don't buy it if you don't like it! The only reason companies keep making stuff is because people keep buying stuff. The fact that anyone would pay the same or more for an ebook, which can only be read on a computer or device which cost $100 or more in the first place is crazy from a financial standpoint. Yet people do it and businesses are happy. Remember, the MARKET sets the price, not the actual cost to produce it. Businesses will adjust the price until the revenue stream works for them. The only way to drive ebook prices lower is to stop buying them at their current price.

Re:Summed up (1)

dwillden (521345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202848)

I don't NEED books period, hard or soft copy, I don't NEED newspapers or magazines. However, I do like to read, I read a lot, in addition sometimes I travel overseas, and carrying enough books for 18 hours of flight, two weeks in a non-English speaking country (No English Bookstores) and 18 hours of flight back is burdensome. Just such a trip is what sold me on finally getting a Nook. Now I rarely have less than a hundred books with me at any time, in a very convenient form factor.

We don't NEED most modern conveniences, so NEED is not a criteria.

I rarely buy DRM'd stuff, there are multiple sources of quality non-DRM'd books, Baen Books, The Gutenberg Project and others. But I do occasionally buy new releases from B&N. I also like that when shopping at B&N in person, I can read any ebook they carry for free while in the store, and if I decide I want it, it's a couple taps on the touch screen and the book is mine. If I need to I can strip the DRM from those books but so far I haven't had the need.

iBooks can't be transferred? (2)

MrEkted (764569) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202352)

In the case of iBooks, you can't even transfer your books to another device, let alone another user, but then at least the prices are somewhat controlled.
Where did this notion come from?
I was under the impression that:
Books downloaded from the iBookstore can be placed on up to five computers you own that you’ve authorized with your iTunes Store account. You can sync your books to all iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches you own.1 Audiobooks, PDF files, and ePub files you've added to iTunes will appear in Books under Library. To sync Books to your device, connect it to your computer using the cable it came with. In iTunes, select your device then click the Books tab. Choose the books you would like to read on your device then press Sync. Books will sync to iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch even if iBooks is not installed; to read synced books, download iBooks from the App Store. Note: Samples downloaded from the iBookstore will not sync to your computer. They remain on your device and can be removed using iBooks.
From here. [apple.com]

Re:iBooks can't be transferred? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35202502)

They also work like apps, so you can download them on any device tied to your iTunes account and only pay for the initial download. All other downloads are free. iBooks takes it even a step further than the App store by giving you a tab that shows you your purchase history, and you just touch "redownload" for any books tied to your account on any iPad, making it really easy. My wife and I each have an iPad, and when she buys a book I sometimes download it directly to my iPad so I can read it too (we share an iTunes account). No computer or sync involved.

What you can't do is lend it to another iTunes account.

iBooks can go on multiple devices (3, Informative)

lordDallan (685707) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202366)

From Apple's iBooks FAQ [apple.com]:

Can I copy my books onto other computers or devices?

Books downloaded from the iBookstore can be placed on up to five computers you own that you’ve authorized with your iTunes Store account. You can sync your books to all iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches you own.1 Audiobooks, PDF files, and ePub files you've added to iTunes will appear in Books under Library. To sync Books to your device, connect it to your computer using the cable it came with. In iTunes, select your device then click the Books tab. Choose the books you would like to read on your device then press Sync. Books will sync to iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch even if iBooks is not installed; to read synced books, download iBooks from the App Store.

Note: Samples downloaded from the iBookstore will not sync to your computer. They remain on your device and can be removed using iBooks. http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059 [apple.com]

Re:iBooks can go on multiple devices (2)

lordholm (649770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202490)

Also, note that the free books (Gutenberg project) you can download in iBooks are free from DRM (they do contain your user name in some metadata though), and you can put them on any ePub supporting reader.

I never buy books from iBooks as they are infected by DRM, but i do download Gutenberg files through the iBooks store.

Re:iBooks can go on multiple devices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35202976)

Look who posted the article. We all know fact checking requires cognitive skills that are unfortunately far beyond his level.

When DRM is involved it's not sale, it's rental (2)

rafial (4671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202384)

A recent insight that came to me is that when paying money to access any content encrusted with DRM, you should never think of the transaction as a sale, but merely as a rental. You have not purchased anything you can own, merely gotten the temporary (long or short term) use of it, and under limited circumstances (use on particular devices, or in particular programs).

Consider the reasonableness of what you are paying according that formula. For my part, I might be willing to pay 2 or 3 dollars to rent a book that I might otherwise purchase for 10 dollars in hard copy, but I have no interest in paying that same price or more to rent a book that I could pay to own it (whether that ownership be in hardcopy, or unencumbered electronic file that I may use when, where and how I see fit).

The FSF "Defective by Design" campaign has promoted the idea of reading DRM as "Digital Restrictions Management", but I propose you could also call it "Digital Rental Management". Once consumers begin to understand the nature of transactions involving DRM (that they are not making a purchase in traditional sense, and that having paid their money, they own nothing as a result) then I think they will be begin to demand pricing in line with what is actually being offered to them.

ZERO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35202648)

The correct price is ZERO then. I can already borrow for free from the library.
I'm definitely not regressing to a lower level of usability because of technology. No corporate doublethink is going to force me to change my standards, just because it's digital.

Re:When DRM is involved it's not sale, it's rental (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202916)

It's a sale.

I don't have to return it in a set time and I don't have to pay more over time.

As long as the machine that plays it still operates, it's mine.

This is no different from all that boxed late-80s/early-90s software that's taking up shelves in my home office that I highly doubt I could get running on any machine I currently can boot up.

And soon it may be no different from anything I've bought for Windows, ever.

Re:When DRM is involved it's not sale, it's rental (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35202964)

Yup, that summarizes the matter well. The fact is, if you want to own a book, you have to buy a physical book. Not some e-whatever thing.

All those questions of lending books to people or reselling a book you've bought are very curious considering we've been doing that forever with the physical object...

Baen does it right (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35202400)

I've always claimed that Jim Baen (R.I.P.) and Baen books got it right. They realized WAY back that DRM is a losing proposition. (The most cogent comment was that publishers have faced "free" competition for years. They are called libraries. If people WANT to read free - they will. So why bother with the expense of DRM?)

They set up the Baen Free library as "free sampler" of their ebooks - in various formats, all without DRM.
And then they discovered that the as authors put stuff into the free library - the value of their OTHER back catalog books increased - due to additional exposure.

So now Baen sells their ebook - in various formats, all without DRM.

Waiting for free digital copies with book purchase (1)

Sortova (922179) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202402)

I read a lot, but I don't own an eBook reader specifically because of the DRM. When I buy a physical book it's mine to keep, sell or share. The "Animal Farm" fiasco with the original Kindle scared me off investing on any eBooks, at least while the price point is so close to a paper book. Sell me a $25 book in eBook format for $1 and I'll live with the DRM. Sell me one for $23.95 and no deal. What I am waiting for is an eBook vendor to follow the lead of the Blu-ray/DVD industry and include a digital copy along with the physical one. If I could pay $25 for a hardback *and* get a digital copy I'd be there in an instant.

Re:Waiting for free digital copies with book purch (3, Interesting)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202566)

You can get a hardback AND get a digital copy of not only that book, but most of the other books by the same author, if you buy from Baen. Not for all of their authors, and not for all of their books, but certainly for Weber, Ringo, Flint and Steve White - see http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/ [thefifthimperium.com] for a full listing of the CDs.

They also have a very extensive free library with eBooks. Their eBooks are published free of DRM and in different formats. Seriously, I can't recommend them enough, in the face of what the larger publishers are doing. If you buy from anywhere - make it from them. Oh, did you know they also have a CD published with a selection from the Gutenberg site (as a coproduction with the site)? Really, great publishers in that respect.

Re:Waiting for free digital copies with book purch (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202588)

[trollface] Just do it yourself. Buy the paper-book, find the ebook. Problem publishing industry? [/trollface]

It's not like they're missing out on money, I quite like paper copies of books, but I'll be damned if I want to carry a library of reference books from my shelf to my OH's so I'll just cope with reading them in whateverformat in Preview. Also, I'd be quite happy to buy an ebook off my favorite authors website for $reasonable_price, and I can almost bet that $reasonable_price >> $revenue_from_publisher. Drop publishers, keep editers. Sorted.

Re:Waiting for free digital copies with book purch (2)

gweeks (91403) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202606)

Look for the Baen hard covers that include a CD. They don't charge any more for them and you get a digital copy of that book and many more on the CD. Now if only other publishers followed the example. Oh, and Baen doesn't believe in DRM for any of their books.

http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/ [thefifthimperium.com]

Re:Waiting for free digital copies with book purch (1)

DadLeopard (1290796) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202722)

Not all but some books by Baen publishing come with a CD in a pocket on the inside of the back cover. This CD not only contains the book you bought or loaned from the library, but it also contains up to 50 other books and you are encouraged to copy and distribute it to your friends! These CDs are also available free on-line for download, be advised that this is a comparable offer to the "Friendly Neighborhood Pusher's" offer of "Try this, it's free", these books are addictive and they are "Giving" you the first couple of books in a series of maybe 12 or twenty in some cases! here's the url for the CDs http://baencd.freedoors.org/ [freedoors.org] enjoy!

Why wasn't I considered? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35202408)

I think this falls under the "Why Wasn't I Considered" meme, aka WWIC.

You weren't consulted because you're a fucking nobody. Your rights? You have the right to shut the fuck up and not buy it. Or buy it and shut the fuck up. Either way this whole deluded idea of you being the center of the universe is the problem, not how a company sells it's products. Stop buying that shit and they'll listen up. Until then it will never happen and you'll be the bitch. Welcome to the real world guys, where you truly are no one special.

eBooks (1)

Shrike9 (585789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202432)

Bah! No eBooks for me until I can stroll into my local public library, or better yet, download from the library site at home. I already carry a bag of some sort almost everywhere I go so a dead tree book can go along with me in place of some extra-cost/yet-another-electronic-device/theif magnet.

Re:eBooks (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202892)

Bah! No eBooks for me until I can stroll into my local public library, or better yet, download from the library site at home. I already carry a bag of some sort almost everywhere I go so a dead tree book can go along with me in place of some extra-cost/yet-another-electronic-device/theif magnet.

What rock have you been hiding under?

Most public libraries (of any size) have ebooks for loan, and you can download them to your computer, smartphone, ereader, or what ever. All for the price of a library card. (Free in most US locations).

Any library supporting Adobe Digital Editions ebooks, served up to you via their OverDrive service. You can also get music, Books on Tape the same way.

If your local library does not yet have this, check with regional libraries. Many of these will offer you a library card, or honor your local library card.

For short-term business related material... (4, Insightful)

ScientiaPotentiaEst (1635927) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202516)

... maybe I can see the point. But for long term reference material or for books I value, there's no way I'm going to use any of the eBooks. Sure, they're portable. But they come with more points of failure that can prevent the contained books from being read. Also, the text isn't (yet) so clear and sharp as ink on paper.

But even were there no technical issues, the DRM makes it a non-starter for me. I've had /.ers beat me up about my opinion on this subject. Still, it doesn't fix the "rub". When the distributors can reach out and remove books remotely (as Amazon has already done), or restrict what one can do with them, or charge for lending, or provide no mechanism to buy anonymously, etc, I'm just not interested.

PS: if you tell me that the distributors promise not to delete books remotely again, you are then telling me that you trust large corporations to keep their word.

Old news (2)

N0Man74 (1620447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202544)

I've been griping about DRM for years, and it's not exclusive to ebook content. The digital distribution models currently in place are very consumer unfriendly.

We frequently pay as much for digital only as for physically distributed goods, but lack the ability to transfer ownership, are sometimes tied to certain hardware (which may be obsoleted), usually lack the ability to loan the media (or can only do so in limited or cumbersome ways), and sometimes are even tied to a specific device.

Many folks I talk to think I'm overreacting, but yet they never seem to think about the implications are if we did truly go fully digital. I have many books, CDs, records, and even some magazines that are decades old. The oldest physical media that I own is over 100 years old. Sure, these items could be lost and damaged, but as long as they are taken care of, I can still continue to enjoy these (or transfer ownership) of these as long as I please. This is not likely to be possible for current digital media.

It also makes me concerned about the impact on libraries from the transition to digital media.

Re:Old news (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202940)

Then insist on paying less or not buying.

When they find their revenues dropping, they'll lower price until it's at a barely-profitable level above their marginal cost, which is $0.

Frankly, I'm dumbfounded that they haven't gone to an ad-supported model and started giving the content away for free, though I'm sure some have tried and failed only because the ones that haven't have tied up all the good content.

Once again DRM is Digital RESTRICTION (2)

HPUXCowboy (735911) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202558)

Once again the media publishers are usurping the rights of the individual. Back in the day (like about yesterday) if you bought a book in hard copy you could read it, lend it, burn it, use it for handling the final paperwork after taking a bio-break, whatever you wanted.

BUT, now that it's in a DIGITAL format, you have NO RIGHTS WHATSOEVER! Which brings to mind a question. HEre I will display my ignorance since I still buy books made of dead trees. Is there a EULA attached to these literary marvels? Does that EULA state that you have been granted a non-exclusive license to the book with all restrictions regarding what you can do with the title after you purchase it spelled out? If not, understand that IANAL, but it would seem to me the publishers are not only interfering with your rights as the "owner" of the title but are in outright violation of the law.

Is there anyone with a legal background that could elaborate on this point. Or am I just going off in some fantasy world where the rights of the individual still mean something?

iBooks can be shared (1)

tm2b (42473) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202640)

Um, bullshit.

iBooks can be shared among mobile devices registered to the same iTunes - it is trivial, you use the books tab on the device's config screen in iTunes.

More, you can share them among more than one person - iTunes can be registered to more than one account, and will load DRMed files registered to every account the iTunes instance is registered to, and if you copy the files from one iTunes storage to another, the 2nd iTunes will try to decrypt the files to any accounts it is registered to. My girlfriend and I do this all the time.

Coin Operated (1)

unlocked (305145) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202698)

Just wait till they can charge by the word or letter. Kind of like a 25 cent viewing booth. Oh the plot thickens... please deposit another 25 cents.

A reasonable solution gone bad (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202832)

The Lend-Me system form Barnes and Noble, and Kindle's equivalent are designed to make an eBook more like a paper book, namely, you have a copy that is yours to keep, lend, trade, re-sell. When you lend your copy, you don't have it to read, just like a real book. If you sell your copy, it does not remain on your device, just like a real book.

It uses the Adobe Digital Editions DRM scheme, which attempts to objectify a digital file, (giving it properties as if it were a physical object).
Its a reasonable solution, which if done correctly would have served both user and publishers well, allowing unlimited serial lending, gifting, selling and book banking of ebooks.

Unfortunately, the restrictions imposed by the publishing industry prevent these systems from being used to their fullest potential, and actually work against their best interests. (To say nothing of the interests of the customers).

They limit lending to once per book. Even after the borrower returns it, you can never lend it again.
They limit lending to 14 days. I've got lots to read, 14 days is not enough.
They prohibit gifting or resale.

Had they used this as it was originally designed, unlimited serial lending, request return of lent books, permanent transfer to a new owner (sale/gift) it would have actually increased the value of ebooks, justifying higher prices.

Instead, the lock-down just encourages stripping of DRM, and once that is done, the book is in the wind.

Thieves will always be Thieves. There will always be traffic in stolen digital items, just as there are in stolen physical items. Black markets will always exist, just as illegal knock offs of physical items will always be sold.

But the restrictions imposed by publishers mean there can be no LEGITIMATE market in digital items. You can never legally trade or sell your possessions. Someday this will have to be decided in court. In the mean time publishers aren't trying too hard to punish DRM stripping because they know that the imposition of such rights-robbing DRM is probably illegal and they do not WANT this decided in court.

Amazon makes a market in used books. Why not make a market in used ebooks?

Re:A reasonable solution gone bad (1)

Tanuki64 (989726) | more than 3 years ago | (#35202988)

Why not make a market in used ebooks?

And to emulate ageing with each sell randomly a few letters are deleted or even pages removed.

;-)

Because It's NOT RIghtfully Yours! (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#35203022)

You're aren't buying a thing! When you buy a book, you're buying a thing! When you buy an E-Book, you're licensing the right to read the contents of the file! In some cases the right you're purchasing isn't even remotely perpetual!

Now you might think, "But hey, that's significantly less rights than I had when I was buying a thing, and that thing might even have been significantly less expensive!" Actually you are thinking that. So how is it you'll pay as much or more for a not-thing that you can't treat in any way like a thing? It's because you have a set idea as to what a book actually costs. Publishers are exploiting this familiarity to sell you a book-like-not-thing.

So here we have it. There are some advantages though; it looks like anyone with access to some simple tools can publish their own text. Another publishing scam is to charge hopeful new authors to publish a book, so perhaps this E-book phenomena will put the brakes on that practice. Perhaps at some point in the future, control over new content will have been wrested from the publishing industry altogether, and then you might see prices fall. In the mean time, a number of "Classics" which we were forced to read in High School and College have fallen out of copyright, and you can get a lot of those for free on The Net. You could play in that space while you wait for the industry to settle down.

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