Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Amazon Launching eBook Lending Program, Publishers Unenthusiastic

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the amazon-wants-you-to-put-ebooks-on-fire dept.

Books 150

An anonymous reader writes "The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon is starting a program to lend ebooks to Kindle users. It will allow users to borrow just one title at a time, but readers will be able to keep the borrowed ebook for as long as they want. The initial library will only have around 5,000 titles, because 'None of the six largest publishers in the U.S. is participating.' The article continues, 'Several senior publishing executives said recently they were concerned that a digital-lending program of the sort contemplated by Amazon would harm future sales of their older titles or damage ties to other book retailers. ... The new program, called Kindle Owners' Lending Library, cannot be accessed via apps on other devices, which means it won't work on Apple Inc.'s iPad or iPhone, even though people can read Kindle books on both devices. This restriction is intended to drive Kindle device sales, says Amazon.'"

cancel ×

150 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

How will this work? (1)

ooctav (1684044) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934160)

How exactly is this supposed to work? What will be the costs, since most books are already cheap?

Re:How will this work? (4, Informative)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934674)

You get one free book rental a month with no due date if you're a member of prime.

If you read a lot and really quickly that probably won't be enough... if you're like me where you don't always have the time- this is about right and I'll read free classics in between.

eBooks are not cheap- they're bloody expensive for what they are. I got a kindle thinking it would save money- but the average new ebook is more expensive than the average paperback.

Lucky for me I like classics and older books just fine- most of which are free- if not from Kindle then from Gutenberg... Occassionally Kindle has special deals- 99cent books etc which include one or two newer books.

This won't be all books available for check-out, but apparantly will number in the thousands and include some new releases.

This might actually push me to Amazon prime- I've already considered it due to movies/tv shows and increased shipping. A book a month (if consider they're about $10 to $15 a pop if you buy the newer ebooks) makes prime even more usefull.

Re:How will this work? (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935928)

Most books are already cheap? Really? Most e-books I've been interested in are more expensive than paperbacks and a buck or two cheaper than the hardbacks. Since I can't resell them or buy them used and there's no guarantee they'll last as long as a hardback, I find them far too expensive for my tastes. I'd be interested in a lending type of situation much more than buying the ebooks outright. I don't have to rebuy all my dead tree books and there's no worry about books going "out of print" so they'll always be around. All I'd really want would be an inventory of books I've read both so I don't check one out that I've already read and also so I can easily find a book I'd like to read again.

[John]

Re:How will this work? (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37936806)

The one thing I want to know.

I have a kindle- my wife has a kindle.

If one of us gets prime (which can be shared amongst 3 family members I think) - can we each rent a book for free each month since we both have kindles? Or would we need two prime accounts?

If we can both rent a book that is cool- if we each need a prime account then it isn't.

Re:How will this work? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937052)

Probably similar to the way that it works on Nook. You can lend a book once for a max period of time. And if they want to keep reading after that, they have to buy a copy.

I think the concern is that one person could buy an electronic copy once and lend it indefinitely. There is some validity to that concern as ebooks don't wear out or go missing. Ultimately even with things like this where there aren't new copies being spawned, it would still hurt the publishers.

That being said, those are the 6 largest publishers, smaller publishers aren't necessarily on the same page with them.

Someone should explain to them... (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934188)

Someone should let them know that people are going to 'borrow' them one way or another, so they can either provide a legit means to do so that might actually result in a sale, or fight it and get nothing.

I'm not gonna hold my breath waiting for the 'legit means to do so' choice.

Re:Someone should explain to them... (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934292)

They should also explain how cities and towns across the country have these buildings with lots of high-quality books that anybody can read completely for free. They can sometimes even take them home with a mere promise to bring them back reasonably quickly. It's really quite amazing.

Now I know, that whole thing sounds kinda socialist, so I should point out that many of these buildings were originally funded by the noted pinko commie Andrew Carnegie.

Re:Someone should explain to them... (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934416)

Unlike Kindle Owners' Lending Library, brick-and-mortar libraries lend out physical goods and thus have no need to make an additional copy on the borrower's device. This is the key difference from publishers' point of view.

(In before whoosh)

Re:Someone should explain to them... (1)

swv3752 (187722) | more than 2 years ago | (#37936708)

A number of Libraries offer Overdrive, which lets you download up to 7 books for 21 days. http://www.overdrive.com/ [overdrive.com]

Then there is the http://www.baen.com/library/ [baen.com]

So the digital ebook libraries are already here. This Amazon thing is just a gimmick to help drive Kindle sales. I'll stick with my Nook and be able to read every format of ebooks besides the Kindle's proprietary format, nor do I need to worry about someone deciding to lock me out of my books.

Re:Someone should explain to them... (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934576)

They should also explain how cities and towns across the country have these buildings with lots of high-quality books that anybody can read completely for free.

Some of them, like the London Library Consortium [overdrive.com] (all the public, local libraries in London) already lend out eBooks.

(I tried it once, but I don't have a proper eBook reader. I'm not sure how good the service is.)

Re:Someone should explain to them... (1)

Sparrow1492 (1962256) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935546)

It's coming to a lot of libraries, and in fact many have this service. The problem is that they must buy another copy of the book to make it available electronically. In a time of tight budgets, this means that it can come down to either having 2 copies of the same book or 2 different ones on the shelf. I've found in trying to get books for my 8-year old to read on her Nook, the children’s selection electronically is pretty much nil.

Re:Someone should explain to them... (1)

RubberMallet (2499906) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934928)

I've been to those buildings, and while you can enter for free, and read for free if you remain in the building, if you want to take a book home to read later, you've got to pay. Library memberships cost money in every city I've been in, across multiple countries.

Re:Someone should explain to them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37935028)

Library memberships cost money in every city I've been in, across multiple countries.

Library cards (allowing checkout of materials) are free in all US Public Libraries. We have private libraries of course but Public Libraries are the ubiquitous places Americans know as "libraries'.

Re:Someone should explain to them... (1)

Kryptonian Jor-El (970056) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935156)

Sucks to be you. The only time I've paid at a library was to replace my library card, and it cost me $1

Re:Someone should explain to them... (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935432)

Library memberships cost money in every city I've been in, across multiple countries.

I guess you've never been in the USA then. I've lived in several cities here and never had to pay for a library card.

Re:Someone should explain to them... (1)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935932)

You've probably paid for it, just not explicitly through a membership fee. Around here, part of the property tax goes to the library for their annual budget. If you rent, you don't pay property taxes, but your landlord does which then is reflected in your rent.

If you just visit the library, then it's usually free. But if you check out something, the privilege is still paid for somehow.

Re:Someone should explain to them... (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#37936308)

If you just visit the library, then it's usually free. But if you check out something, the privilege is still paid for somehow.

Well, if we actually follow your logic to a reasonable conclusion, you're paying to just visit the library as well. Unless your library squats on someone else's property, pays no utilities, and steals all of its book and media holdings. At least in my community, my taxes pay for that as well.

Re:Someone should explain to them... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937458)

I guess you've never been in the USA then. I've lived in several cities here and never had to pay for a library card.

Wow...I live in the US, and have never had to pay for a library card.

What cities are you talking about that actually charge you to be able to borrow library books?

Re:Someone should explain to them... (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935550)

Frankly, here in the U.S., I've never even seen a library that charges rental. I know that private libraries exist, and I've heard of a couple that charge for a membership to said library, but even those libraries either did not let books leave the premises at all or allowed members to check them out free.

Obviously it's different in other parts of the world, but one of the few things I can genuinely say I am proud of as a U.S. citizen is the sheer number of free libraries that are all over the country. Hell, up in Alaska where my mother lives they actually fly books out to the remote Native American villages free of charge (the state covers the cost). Free libraries enjoy almost universal approval and support.

Re:Someone should explain to them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37935140)

You obviously haven't been to a local library outside a massive establishment in a large city. The reason few people use them is that they most certainly do not have lots of high quality books. Reference material is weak, limited and very dated, fiction is mostly womens' romance drivel, kids' sections are weird budget titles and even more dated that the other sections. DVDs and CDs are woefully dated and of little interest. The movies are so old, TV channels won't even show them.

So next time you want to be a sanctimonious prick, try visiting one sometime.

Re:Someone should explain to them... (1)

RoverDaddy (869116) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935524)

I hardly consider the suburbs where I live in eastern MA to be 'large cities', but our libraries are generally excellent. They are actually busy places. One of them near me has hundreds of DVDs and keeps the collection fairly up to date. CD's are a bit older. And the libraries are grouped into online networks so if the library in your town doesn't have something there are about 20 other towns it might be able to pull the item from for you.

And if you want to see sanctimonious, maybe you just live somewhere that doesn't value education and intelligence enough to invest in decent libraries.

Re:Someone should explain to them... (1)

Omestes (471991) | more than 2 years ago | (#37936244)

You obviously haven't been to a local library outside a massive establishment in a large city. The reason few people use them is that they most certainly do not have lots of high quality books. Reference material is weak, limited and very dated, fiction is mostly womens' romance drivel, kids' sections are weird budget titles and even more dated that the other sections. DVDs and CDs are woefully dated and of little interest. The movies are so old, TV channels won't even show them.

I live in a large city, Phoenix, AZ. The local branch library where I lived sucked, badly. It was mostly DVDs (meaning 6000 children, meaning no reading in most of the library) and very popular fiction (it didn't have a single book by Hemingway...). Actually all of our libraries have pretty much turned into "free Blockbusters for the urban poor". This annoys me.

But... There is this thing called "Inter-library loan", which managed to keep me reading free books for most of my youth, and well into my adulthood. If my local branch didn't have a book I wanted to read, I just enter some stuff into an online form in the catalog, and within a couple days I get an email telling me my book is waiting for me at my local branch. Magic. If you want to get truly zesty, you can also borrow from other libraries, both public and academic, both local and national from a single branch. The wait time is a bit more extreme, and there are some conditions, but it generally works. I used that when doing research a fair bit, getting books from various universities throughout the U.S., even pretty rare and obscure ones.

I do hate where our library system is going. I would completely purge every single popular DVD from every single branch in the U.S., if I had the power. I would also probably remove most of the free access computers, as well. At the branch I used to frequent the top floor (reference and non-fiction) was completely taken over by computers, halving the floor space for books. You were lucky to hear yourself think, much less read, thanks to the "clackity-clack" of teenage Facebook use, and the leaky music from headphones. The bottom floor (fiction, multimedia, and childrens) was worse, thanks to the huge families gawking at DVDs, inevitably chatting loudly on their ever-ringing cellphones. This and the fact that our library started only acquiring "contemporary Chirstian fiction", instead of real books, is why I stopped going. As a child I loved libraries. Now, I could go to Walmart on a Saturday for the same experience I get for going to the Phoenix library.

Luckily the library next to my new house is much, much, better. Go suburbia!

Re:Someone should explain to them... (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937616)

I've found fantastic local libraries in both larger cities and in more rural areas. What made those libraries successful were a combination of good leadership, community support, and ample funding. Now, I admit the smallest community I've looked for a library in was about 16,000 people, but since the vast majority of the country's population lives in a community larger than that, I think the comment is fair.

And older material can be just fine: Jules Verne hasn't rewritten any of his works in the last 20 years, the Marx Brothers are still funny, and Louis Armstrong hasn't played any new hits recently.

Taxes pay for libraries (1)

sjbe (173966) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937524)

They should also explain how cities and towns across the country have these buildings with lots of high-quality books that anybody can read completely for free

Last time I checked I paid taxes to support those libraries. I'm a huge supporter of libraries and think that money spent on them is a usually money well spent but let's not pretend they are free.

Re:Someone should explain to them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37936032)

Someone should let them know that people are going to 'borrow' them one way or another, so they can either provide a legit means to do so that might actually result in a sale, or fight it and get nothing.

I'm not gonna hold my breath waiting for the 'legit means to do so' choice.

MOST people do not pirate eBooks.

Re:Someone should explain to them... (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37936186)

MOST people do not pirate eBooks.

That will change if they keep trying to maintain a ridiculous artificial scarcity business model...

Not many people pirated music when Napster first hit the scene, but I bet a lot less would today if the RIAA wouldn't have wasted years afterwords trying to shut it down rather than putting their resources into legitimate ways for people to buy music online for a reasonable price.

Will this be a library or a rental? (1)

egburr (141740) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934194)

Will this be like a library, where you check out a book for free, or will it be a rental, where you pay to borrow it?

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934324)

It's free. Hence, "lending" and not "renting."

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 2 years ago | (#37936378)

Which is, of course, why money "lenders" never charge interest...

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937694)

Actually, I stand corrected. It's being bundled with the Amazon Prime service, which is $79 a year but comes with a host of other stuff. So it's not really free after all - more like a lagniappe.

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37934336)

It's "free" if you're a paying Amazon Prime customer. It's not available to anyone else.

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (1)

Marcika (1003625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934340)

Looks like it requires a subscription to Amazon Prime, but won't cost anything extra.

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (1)

Ogre332 (145645) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934352)

From what I've read (can't find the link to the article I saw this morning) it will be tied to the Amazon Prime program as an "exclusive" feature. If you are a Prime member and have a Kindle, you will be able to "check out" these titles at no cost, just like a public library.

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (5, Insightful)

John Courtland (585609) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934428)

Remember that libraries are not free, in fact you subsidize them with your property taxes (in the US, idk about other countries). Libraries are awesome, but they are not "free".

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37935460)

TANSTAAFL. letting amazon.com move towards a monopoly in the distribution of information costs us in terms of lowered business tax revenue, lost jobs, destruction of the local economy, and the end of democratic (small d) control of the library system. Libertarians are like guard dogs. they have their place, but you dont let them run free to do as they wish, or lots of little children get torn to shreds, with relish.

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37935974)

Remember that libraries are not free, in fact you subsidize them with your property taxes (in the US, idk about other countries). Libraries are awesome, but they are not "free".

This isn't free either, you need to;

1. purchase a kindle.
2. purchase a yearly prime membership.

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937088)

If you want to get that technical about it, nothing is ever free, there's always some sort of a cost that comes with it. Whether it be bandwidth, opportunity cost or just taking possession.

In practice, it's a tiny bit of your budget ultimately and is there whether or not you use it.

Meaning (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937302)

Remember that libraries are not free, in fact you subsidize them with your property taxes

Meaning if the GOP gains the White House and Senate again, damn near every US library will be bulldozed and the land sold to real estate developers. An ignorant public is a controllable public (this also explains their desire to destroy effective (read: funded) public education).

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934438)

Libraries should use this system and set it up exactly the way it is setup for printed books: limited number of available copies, queues, limited checkout time for hot books, free use. That should make happy everybody: publishers (because nothing changes in the libraries), libraries (system is automatic, no need for that many librarians) and library users (no hassle of driving to the branch).

Amazon should use this system as a rental like Netflix: monthly fee, limited number of copies one can hold at the same time.

This is one rare case where online system could copy exactly the brick and mortar system analog thus making everybody happy.

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934522)

Libraries should use this system and set it up exactly the way it is setup for printed books: limited number of available copies, queues, limited checkout time for hot books, free use.

They do! [gizmag.com]

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934810)

This

To borrow an eBook, all you'll need is a library card - which I hope you already have - and an Amazon account - which if you have a Kindle, you probably already have. Head to your local library's website, find the book you're after and select "Send to Kindle" to check out the book. This will redirect you to Amazon.com where you'll need to log into your account, whereupon the book can be downloaded to your device via W-Fi or transferred via USB - there's no 3G support.

could be obviously simplified. It's like driving to Barnes and Noble every time I need to check out a book from the library...

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935040)

It's simplified if you're using an Adobe Digital Editions device (ePub or PDF). It's only Kindles that need to go out of their way, and that's because Amazon is unwilling to let anybody but themselves do the DRM encryption.

There is one added bonus to the "roundabout" way, in that your Kindle book is "first class" - you get to use all of the features from purchased books (syncing notes and current page to Amazon's servers, etc.), rather than the subset they allow sideloaded books.

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935392)

"use all of the features "

As long as the feature "display text" is there, I am fine with this.

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935376)

If by "drive to Barnes and Nobel" you mean "log onto a webpage," then yes. Personally I find logging into a webpage a lot simpler than driving to a store...

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935602)

I am not sure you understand how analogy works.

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937176)

I think they usually involve similar things... not sure though. Perhaps the word you are looking for is hyperbole?

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934644)

Also, every car purchasers should be mandated to buy at least one buggy whip together with his car.

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37934734)

Except that I think the big publishers would love to see the new digital system completely obliterate old brick and mortar system (the libraries) and eliminate free lending altogether.

Re:Will this be a library or a rental? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37935614)

downloads.bclibrary.ca/

I bet the publishers aren't happy (4, Insightful)

Sinryc (834433) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934210)

No big publisher wants more to bring anything like a library back to life. Publishers had to have hated the fact that something like a library existed in the first place, and if digital publishing can wipe away libraries, you know they will be happy. A digital library is something that the publishers have to hate.

Re:I bet the publishers aren't happy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37934330)

No big publisher wants more to bring anything like a library back to life. Publishers had to have hated the fact that something like a library existed in the first place, and if digital publishing can wipe away libraries, you know they will be happy. A digital library is something that the publishers have to hate.

The real question is why is this even something they can opt out of? Can they opt out of traditional library? I don't think so...

Re:I bet the publishers aren't happy (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934444)

Can [the major publishers] opt out of traditional library?

In theory, they can by choosing to only rent books to customers instead of selling them.

Re:I bet the publishers aren't happy (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934364)

Actually... libraries are one of the biggest purchases of books in the country. Most libraries have a new acquisitions budget in the hundreds of thousands (millions for the big regional libraries), and there are thousands of libraries across the country. A book that hits #100 on the bestseller list is probably going to be picked up by those thousands of libraries too, so once a book hits a certain critical mass, the publishers have another wave of guaranteed sales.

Re:I bet the publishers aren't happy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37934826)

But but, each of those library books will be read by a dozen (or more) people. That's a dozen times thousands in lost sales!!!!1

Re:I bet the publishers aren't happy (1)

Tyrannosaur (2485772) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937304)

I would almost label this troll-like, but it's too funny. And depressing. To people who don't get it, read: digital music pirating.

Re:I bet the publishers aren't happy (1)

Rogue Haggis Landing (1230830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935236)

Actually... libraries are one of the biggest purchases of books in the country. Most libraries have a new acquisitions budget in the hundreds of thousands (millions for the big regional libraries), and there are thousands of libraries across the country. A book that hits #100 on the bestseller list is probably going to be picked up by those thousands of libraries too, so once a book hits a certain critical mass, the publishers have another wave of guaranteed sales.

Yes, exactly. And it's doubly true for academic and some other specialist presses. A large minority, or often a majority, of the copies of most titles published by university and other academic presses are bought by libraries. Publishers can sometimes profit from this by jacking up the prices on books that they know lots of libraries will purchase, because they know that there wouldn't be any sales to individuals anyway, and libraries *have* to buy certain titles no matter what the cost. An example would be the new editions of the Oxford Francis Bacon [oup.com] . These are excellent, scholarly editions that every library that takes the history of science and/or the history of English thought seriously will have to own. They also cost $250+ per volume, for a set that will eventually be something like 15 volumes. If it weren't for libraries, there would be no way that OUP could get away with that kind of pricing. Moreover, most of the endless specialist monographs that academic presses churn out are pretty only sold to libraries. Without those sales, there would be far fewer scholarly monographs published on exotic or esoteric topics. The decline of library budgets over the last couple of decades (and the massive increase in the cost of journal subscriptions) has led to libraries buying far fewer academic titles, which has then led to fewer titles being published by some of the big presses. (Note that this might be a good thing, if it means that academics start getting tenure not for publishing scholarly monographs but for getting material into open, peer-reviewed online archives instead.)

There's more than just academic monographs. Libraries are the main consumers of reference books. Libraries are major purchasers books in translation and of titles from small and specialist presses. Libraries are major purchasers of poetry and drama. Libraries are major purchasers of art books. Libraries buy a huge amount of hardback fiction outside of just the best sellers. And these are pretty much guaranteed sales -- a publisher can estimate that he'll sell X number of copies of a new book to libraries, which gives him a safe minimum from which to start budgeting. Libraries hurt you if you're a bestseller, but they help almost everyone else.

Re:I bet the publishers aren't happy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37935240)

Nobody ever accused publishers of being rational when it comes to these things. Just look at the movie and record industries.

Stupid (5, Insightful)

AtomicDevice (926814) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934300)

Ebook lending is so dumb. It's a silly method to try and bring back the good ole days when people couldn't pirate your stuff because it was a big stack of dead tree. Now it's just some bits, and it's super easy to copy, so copy the hell out of it and sell it at a low price that reflects the ease with which it can be copied. I could pirate videogames, but instead I buy them on steam, because it's easier and better. They aren't just providing some alternative to piracy, they're providing a *better* alternative, and that's why I want to pay for it.

A nice organized ebook store with low prices that tracks what I've purchased is *better* than just pirating them and stashing them on a disk somewhere and loosing them all when that disk dies.

Publishers and people like amazon (amazon, to be fair, does an ok job already) need to think about what they can provide that is better than piracy. Ebook lending is not better than piracy, it's annoying and confusing and sucks.

Re:Stupid (1)

linuxwolf69 (1996104) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934452)

I personally am happy to spend 5 - 30 on a single hard cover book by an author I appreciate. I'm not willing to spend more than $5 on an ebook, specifically because it's so easy to copy it.

Some ebooks I've seen are just as expensive as the paper version. I'd much rather spend that money on the paper version and add it to my bookshelves / personal library. Give me 99 cent ebooks, and I'll spend a lot more money on them.

Re:Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37934950)

you do know that most of that doesn't go to the author, right?

Re:Stupid (1)

egburr (141740) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934556)

I don't think it's so dumb. Why should I buy a book that's permanently attached to me if I only expect to read it one time? Maybe if I like it enough and want to re-read it, I'll go buy it. A good book will be permanently mine, while a lesser book will be returned.

It's easy enough to pirate ebooks already. Amazon makes it easy to buy books, and soon borrow them, so there is little incentive to pirate them. I agree that a nice organized ebook store can be better than piracy. However, many ebooks currently are priced higher than the same physical book; this does not do much to encourage the purchase of the ebook.

A lending library for ebooks will at least let you decide if the book is worth purchasing before you are committed to a non-refundable purchase.

Re:Stupid (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934834)

The stupidity of ebook "lending" is that there is nothing actually on loan. What this should really be called is "timed reading," or perhaps "controlled reading," or even "restricted reading." I guess those terms are less marketable, but at least they are honest.

Re:Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37935226)

Amazon makes it easy, sure, but the publishers do not. They make it hard on the wallet and sometimes harder on the wallet than the old tree based books.

Re:Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37934854)

You had a valid argument until you spelled losing wrong.

Re:Stupid (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937408)

A nice organized ebook store with low prices that tracks what I've purchased is *better* than just pirating them and stashing them on a disk somewhere and loosing them all when that disk dies.

I was with you (to a degree) up until you said 'trackings what I purchase'.

sorry, I don't want that or like that. one thing I've learned from this world we live in - audit trails WILL be used against you, one way or another. burn all evidence or try to keep none at all. your 'read history' can and will be used against you, one way or another. count on it.

info is a tool to be used against us if we are not careful. do not willingly give info out about yourself if you can help it.

and digital 'lending' is so stupid that its user-tracking, in essence.

this has not made pirating less useful. in fact, I want to pirate more given how trackable everything seems to be these days. pirating is anonymous (when done right) and yet buying is less and less anon these days. the 1%ers also want to get rid of cash and have *everything* be tracked. I find that sickening and will never voluntarily help our society move in that aweful direction.

what I read is NO ONE's BUSINESS. certainly not amazon's and not any big data's business, either.

Local library (1)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934368)

My local library in New York has a decent ebook lending program [live-brary.com] . Essentially it uses DRM-ed PDFs. Also, the New York (City) Public Library has a rather large eBook library [nypl.org] , although it's locked into the Kindle universe.

I'd prefer to see a more cross-compatible standard that works with all the eBook readers out there, and doesn't give Amazon a monopoly, but this is better than nothing.

Re:Local library (3, Informative)

orthancstone (665890) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934684)

It looks like nypl offers epub format on some books (can't say if that's the case for all titles), which isn't Kindle specific. So other readers will work.

What I want is Spotify for books (1)

samael (12612) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934400)

I'll happily pay £10/month for access to all the books I can read.

Re:What I want is Spotify for books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37936118)

I agree. Just image how can people read. If if they download all the library there is limit to what they can read. So, publishers should not be worried.

Can books be all borrowed out? (1)

yourtallness (1183449) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934422)

Will borrowing out all "copies" of a book prevent other users from taking them out unless you "return" your lender, like a real library? :-P

Re:Can books be all borrowed out? (1)

Sparrow1492 (1962256) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935664)

That's how it works for library e-book lending today. If the one 'copy" is checked out, you can get on a hold list just like a paper copy.

first sale doctrine is dead? (1)

egburr (141740) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934446)

I'm still waiting for the used ebook market to claw it's way to life. Unfortunately, it seems as if the first sale doctrine has been derailed by DRM to become the only sale doctrine.

I love my kindle, but I am reluctant to buy new books unless I am absolutely sure I will like them. At Borders (I guess Barnes & Noble now) I flip through the book, which I can to a limited extent with Amazon. However, with ebooks, I can not take a stack of finished books to the used book store and sell them for a fraction of the cost, and then buy more used books at half the original price. What really bugs me, though, is that the ebooks are often priced higher than the ones in Borders! As much as I like my knidle, I'm still more inclined to browse the used book store than to buy new ebooks.

One good thing from this is that I've been re-reading a bunch of the classics lately, since they're all free.

Re:first sale doctrine is dead? (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935448)

You aren't buying things anymore. You are buying a license to use the thing. Please report for re-training.

Re:first sale doctrine is dead? (1)

gorzek (647352) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935656)

Borders?? I take it you haven't been to one lately... they don't exist anymore. :)

Re:first sale doctrine is dead? (1)

egburr (141740) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935824)

Yeah. The one 2 blocks from my house is long gone. "Going to the bookstore" has for years been "going to Borders". I know it's gone. I just have to re-train my internal labeling system inside my head. The Barnes & Noble down the street is not nearly as convenient, and I don't go nearly as often. It's just as easy to visit the used book store a few miles away as it is to visit B&N.

Local Library (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934462)

One of the reasons my wife got a nook was that (at the time - but you can use the kindle and other devices) was that you can borrow eBooks. Yes they expire after a time limit, but this type of stuff does keep the local library relevant, plus its already paid for by my taxes.
 
The library also publicizes these other sources of eBooks: Project Gutenburg [gutenberg.org] , Open Library [openlibrary.org] and the International Children's Digital Library [childrenslibrary.org]

Can you say "buggy whips"? (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934620)

The industry (publishing) is undergoing fundamental change and most of those companies which do it by printing text on ground up dead trees are not realizing it. There most certainly is a role for "publishers", apart from that of printing and distribution. That particular role is fast becoming irrelevant.

Re:Can you say "buggy whips"? (0)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934786)

Publishers do typesetting, proof reading, layout, cover design, marketing and a tonne of other things.

Self-publishing, while a good thing in the main, does not replace everything a publisher does - and in quite a lot of self-published books, it can show.

Re:Can you say "buggy whips"? (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934918)

Publishers do typesetting, proof reading, layout, cover design, marketing and a tonne of other things.

Self-publishing, while a good thing in the main, does not replace everything a publisher does - and in quite a lot of self-published books, it can show.

Riiigght. Those would be what define the "other role" I referred to.

Re:Can you say "buggy whips"? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937196)

Indeed, I went to a lecture on getting a book published and the whole industry is changing rapidly.

What a lot of folks forget about is the time and effort it takes to actually take a manuscript and create an ebook out of it. There are plenty of tools that will do it automatically, but you do still have to go through and make sure that it was done correctly. And in some cases debug the book.

A decent publishing house will provide editorial support and see to it that the book gets into the retailers that have the target audience. Plus, these days, Print On Demand is an increasingly viable option. It costs more, but the quality is there and if one is expecting most purchases to be electronic, it allows for people to get a dead tree edition if they wish.

The big six publishers have the same sort of problems that they do in the recording and film industries, they're large and unable to keep up with the rate of change.

What's in it for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37934770)

it won't work on Apple Inc.'s iPad or iPhone, even though people can read Kindle books on both devices. This restriction is intended to drive Kindle device sales, says Amazon.'"

That may be good for them, but what is my incentive to support this self-serving plan with my money?
It seems that I don't get any real benefit, and they get more money.

"Lending" something with no cost to reproduce (1)

sjbe (173966) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934858)

"Lending" something that has zero cost to reproduce is insane. This has somehow eluded Amazon and the rest of these lunatics.

We lend physical books because they were and are a scarce physical resource. At first books were rare and expensive due to the physical constraints of making them. Later on copyright was created to artificially reinforce the scarcity once publishers gained the ability to print enough books to destroy any hope of profits and with it the impetus to create books. The concept is a good one even if the current execution is rather nuts. People could lend books because it didn't infringe on copyright (nothing was copied), the societal value of exchange of information was a good one, and books do have a meaningful cost to create, reproduce and distribute.

But "lending" an ebook is a rather stupid concept. The cost of reproducing and distributing an ebook is a good approximation of zero so the notion of lending makes a lot less sense. The exchange of information work equally well whether the book is lent or copied so that doesn't really matter. The only argument possibly in favor of the practice is that not "lending" would somehow damage the motivation to create and disseminate useful works. However you could accomplish feat of keeping markets viable by simply lowering the price of the book to a non-monopolistic price, thereby selling more of the book. This is possible because the role of publishers is drastically reduced when you do away with the need for a physical distribution system.

The natural price of an ebook is nowhere near $10. There is a cost to the creation of the work but the publishers are to a large extent middlemen who provide relatively little value without their monopoly on the old physical distribution system. Think of books a little like apps on your Android or iPhone. Most aren't worth much and will sell for small amounts of money but there also isn't the cost of a physical distribution system and its attendant middlemen. There is SOME cost but you can be certain it's a lot less than $10/book. We need to protect the incentive to create but we have no obligation to protect old obsolete monopolies.

Re:"Lending" something with no cost to reproduce (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935062)

Not zero cost at all, actually.

In addition to the small costs of the electricity to run the devices during transfer and the cost of the bandwidth utilized to actually copy the data, there are also administrative costs that must be used to cover the salaries of the people who would necessarily have to maintain the system and ensure its continued operation.

In an ideal world, computers would be perfect and never need human administrators to perform effectively. The real world is nowhere near ideal.

Marginal cost (1)

sjbe (173966) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935752)

Not zero cost at all, actually.

That would be incorrect. If you want to get pedantic it is zero marginal cost [wikipedia.org] . You ALREADY are spending the money for those electrons and bandwidth and admin costs and what costs they do present are spread out widely among lots of people and other services. The additional cost of putting a single ebook into the mix once you've already bought a computer and set up the infrastructure is so small that it is effectively zero. There is effectively zero variable cost [wikipedia.org] involved. All the costs are fixed costs [wikipedia.org] and you would pay them anyway even if ebooks didn't exist.

Disclosure: I'm a cost accountant in my day job.

Re:Marginal cost (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937234)

You're correct and if I'm not greatly mistaken, those costs ought to be taken from the promotion budget.

B&N is great because when I take my Nook there, I can read for a period of time any book they have in their ebook store for free, it is limited per day, but it's a great way of getting customers to start reading a book that they might not be ready to buy completely unread.

Re:"Lending" something with no cost to reproduce (1)

egburr (141740) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935886)

"The cost of reproducing and distributing an ebook is a good approximation of zero so the notion of lending makes a lot less sense."

That's what I would have thought, too, except that the prices of ebooks are typically higher than the physical book in the bookstore down the street. Apparently, that server costs a lot more to maintain than all that paper costs to ship.

Re:"Lending" something with no cost to reproduce (1)

ischorr (657205) | more than 2 years ago | (#37936410)

The scarcity isn't the issue - it's that you purchased a thing. The issue is that people's brains break when they can't physically touch it, but there should be no difference.

There's no question that I can sell or lend a chair to my friend. Or a knife. Or a DVD. Or a camera. Or a book. It's property - I bought a thing. Nobody questions that I bought a thing, and I can do whatever I want with a thing.

Somehow people think different about digital THINGS that you buy. Some people are fooled with a weak (though arguably legal) argument that you've really bought a "license". The only reason this argument continues to exist is because a huge number of people - including smart, tech-savvy people - can't wrap their brains around the idea that the whether the thing you bought came embedded on a dead tree, burned into plastic, or stored as magnetic bits, the content is the same. Why should it be treated any differently?

Lending makes no sense without scarcity (1)

sjbe (173966) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937464)

The scarcity isn't the issue - it's that you purchased a thing. The issue is that people's brains break when they can't physically touch it, but there should be no difference.

People grasp buying intangible goods just fine. Look at any balance sheet of a major corporation and you'll see some form of intangible goods on there. People buy music from the iTunes store every day. We understand it just fine. That doesn't mean that every type of transaction makes sense. Lending an electronic copy of a digital book is an absurd attempt to replicate a practice that arose due to scarcity of physical goods.

Scarcity is very much the issue. Lending makes no sense for a good that is not scarce. In the case of ebooks you haven't bought a tangible good but you can just as easily buy an intangible good (information, intellectual property, etc) or a service. I'm an accountant and we even have formal accounting treatments for these things. But the price of anything is based on its scarcity. If I can get it easily it will have a low cost. If it is hard to get the price will be higher. If someone controls the supply of something they can create artificial scarcity and thereby command higher prices.

Copyright and patents exist because the best available solution we have to the free rider problem is artificial scarcity. It's not a perfect solution (and our current laws aren't helping any) but no one has come up with a better one yet.

the nook has always done it. (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934904)

I have two B&N nooks, and I've always been able to share any of the books I buy with friends.

There's a limitation (8 weeks or something), and you can't loan the same book to the same friend twice.

I can also "check out" books from my local library via their website, and I've done that before trips where I won't have good Internet coverage.

How does B&N get away with being able to do it, but Amazon can't?

Re:the nook has always done it. (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935200)

Kindle can borrow from the library too (now).

The difference with this new plan and borrowing from the library is that this skips the library. Kindle lets you borrow direct from Amazon now for free... well kinda for free- you only get one a month and you have to be paying $80 a year for Amazon Prime. Libraries buy copies with your tax money. Amazon is a private company.

I don't see why the publishers should complain if Amazon buys "x" number of licenses to rent out the books. Publisher gets paid the same if Amazon loans the book that they paid for- or if the Library does.

The main thing is probably that the publishers don't like anything that makes e-books more viable to more people. There is a lower startup cost to becoming an e-book publisher than a paper book publisher.

If the physical book dies- publishers essentially face stiffer competition. Anyone can publish e-books.

Re:the nook has always done it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37935408)

Read the article. Amazon already has person-to-person lending, similar to that of B&N. Instead, this is allowing prime members ($79/year) to borrow up to 1 book per month for as long as they want for free. Just like the recently added prime video titles that you can stream for free as a prime member, now you can read books for free, with no return date or needing to find a friend or library that has the book available.

Also, lending is 2 weeks for person-to-person.

Excellent idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37935178)

Right now publishers sell paper books and people buy those books, often at a discount, and then give them away or resell them or borrow them from libraries. The publisher receives a profit on the first copy sold and hundreds of people may read that copy although the average number of readers per copy is 3.9 for print books. For electronic books the average reader is less, probably less than 1. Most people do not get past page 18 of a book that they have purchased. 5% of book sales are used books.

If we calculate costs of a book per reader, averaging $7 per copy of either a print of e-book the cost per reader for an e-book is probably $10 or more and the average cost for a print book is under $2.

I typically buy books at used book stores. When I need to buy a new book I go to Walmart, Costco, Sams Club, or another retailer that discounts the retail cost. My favorite book store discounts orders 10% to 20% from retail price for me when I have to order. Most print books I buy end up in a box that I donate to the homeless.

I can't give away e-books, especially I can't give them to people who can't afford a reader.

Publishers are idiots because their reticence in electronic distribution is increasing the black market (0 cost downloading) of books. A 0 cost download can be given away and kept. Every time a market tries to limit supply through regulation or artificially increased costs (drugs, prostitution, guns, music downloads, book downloads, numbers rackets) where there is a demand and resources available a black market will develop.

Want a cure for cancer? There is a supply because there is a demand. I can't say the cure will work, but, I guarantee someone will supply a cure when there is a demand. The cure may be free (local faith healer) and the cure may cost millions (local con artist) but it will be available. Publishers who refuse to recognize the basic laws of economics will find themselves destroyed economically.

Not interested in the publishers (2)

Pop69 (700500) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935776)

Anybody bother to find out what the AUTHORS think of this or do we just have the opinion of what is essentially the middlemen ?

This is why I won't buy a license (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37935778)

This is why I will NOT buy a license for a book (ie: ebook) at all. Untill such time as I can "buy the book" in electronic form, I won't be "buying a license" to read a book on electronic devices.

When I buy a book I am paying the author for this creative works as well as the overhead to publish that works ... whether it's in paper form or in electronic form. To *sell* paper but *license* electronic is just stupid and so are the *sheepable* that support this distinction with their dollars.

Buy an e-book and lend it? (1)

GPLHost-Thomas (1330431) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935802)

I always asked myself: when we buy a dead tree book, we can lend it to friends. What about e-books? Is there some kind of copyright/licensing that prevents it? Then could we make lending of a paper book forbidden (which I would feel weird about)?

Re:Buy an e-book and lend it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37936640)

I always asked myself: when we buy a dead tree book, we can lend it to friends. What about e-books?

You're late to the party. Later than Amazon, even.

Not all B&N Nook books are lendable, but the chances of me buying a Nook book go up dramatically when it has that "Lend Me" icon next to it.

What really sucks is the DRM system at the library. Instead of a blanket license for "X" many books, the library generally has only 1 "copy" of each book, and anything worth reading has a waiting list months long. At least with the Dead Tree editions, they buy multiple copies.

Digital Rights = Rights (1)

ischorr (657205) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935918)

It seems like the problem with digital rights discussions is the fact that they include the word "digital".

How can there be even a question that people would be able to lend out their books? That we'd be able to re-sell our used music and games? Whether media has a a physical media attached to it should make absolutely zero difference to what you can do with it. The only difference between the two is how they're stored, so why should what you can do with the content be any different, period?

If content owners want the same *protections* for digital-only media as media that also comes stored on some physical item, the same rights need to be given.

This is a large reason why I refuse to buy ebooks over paper books.

The Right To Read (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37936074)

Looks like we're getting closer to it happening...

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

Publishers are scared of e-books (1)

pwileyii (106242) | more than 2 years ago | (#37936846)

E-books scare the crap out of the book publishers because if they replace printed books, they lose control of the book market. Publishing a print book is expensive and risky, while publishing an e-book is cheap and easy. Publishers can easily be eliminated from the e-book business and they are trying there best to keep paper books popular by tightly controlling the e-book market and making them less desirable options. In my opinion, they are failing.

Loaning books (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937688)

Has been happening for generations, and its not hurt the publishers enough to worry about, and often causes a 2nd sale due to them wanting their own copy to keep and hold.

Sounds like the insane rants of the *AA all over again trying to save their dying business model.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>