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Amazon To Allow Book Lending On the Kindle 280

Posted by timothy
from the glad-this-isn't-how-physical-books-act dept.
angry tapir writes "One of the oldest customs of book lovers and libraries — lending out favorite titles to friends and patrons — is finally getting recognized in the electronic age, at least in one electronic book reader: Amazon has announced that it plans to allow users of its Kindle book reader to 'lend' electronic books to other Kindle users, based on the publisher's discretion. A book can be lent only for up to 14 days. A single book can only be lent once, and the lender cannot read the book while it is loaned out." Kindle may be the best-known e-reader, but the similarly featured Barnes & Noble Nook has had this ability (complete with 14-day timeout) for several months, if not from its introduction.
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Amazon To Allow Book Lending On the Kindle

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:18PM (#34007184)

    Barnes and Noble's Nook e-reader has been able to do this since it was released last year.

  • by MHolmesIV (253236) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @08:53PM (#34007814)

    This would be reasonable if the digital versions cost less than the paper. This is often not the case. [amazon.com] (Dammit Slashdot, fix your comment system, I had to type the entire URL because for some reason I'm not allowed to paste...)

    Let's look at a $7.99 paperback: (like this one [amazon.com])
    Components making up the selling of this book are:
    Retail Markup: (30-45% for B&N) (We'll go with 30 for simplicity) :$2.40
    Wholesale Markup: 10%: $0.79
    Author Royalties: 8-15% (Lets be generous, publishers rarely are): $1.20 (I normally hear around $0.70 per paperback, but we're being generous)
    Printing: 10%: $0.79
    Pre-production (editing etc): 10-15%: $1.20
    Other (Marketing, lunches, power ties...): The rest.: $1.60

    With an Ebook, you can cut out the wholesaler and the printing cost. Marketing is probably a lot cheaper too, since it's taken care of for you by the digital seller (amazon, itunes). No big cardboard cutouts, no phoning stores asking them to stock the book etc. Pre-production is slightly cheaper, since you don't have to worry nearly as much about absolutely perfect layout, since the ebook formats don't support it anyway. (As far as I've noticed, they don't even bother proofreading the ebook versions...)

    We've cut out at least $1.50 from the costs, and probably closer to $2-3.
    Unfortunately, if we just reduced the selling price by that much, the author would get screwed (they get a percentage), so authors need to think about that when negotiating. I would say reasonable royalties on ebooks are 25%. So for the author to get the same $1.20, the selling price of the ebook should be around $4.80. With the agency model, that would be $1.44 for the retailer, $1.20 for the author, and $2.16 for the publisher, which would easily take care of their associated costs.

    Of course, that's not what happens. As we see, the books sell for about the same (maybe $1 less), and the publisher skims twice their normal share.

    Baen, the only enlightened ebook publisher, has a guideline that they sell their e-books for around 75% of the lowest cost paper edition, capped at about $6. It's done very well for them, but it's going to take years for the dinosaurs in the rest of the publishing business to die out and be replaced by people that actually know what's going on.

  • by hawkeyeMI (412577) <brock AT brocktice DOT com> on Sunday October 24, 2010 @09:25PM (#34007974) Homepage
    Someone already has. Google is your friend. I actually didn't buy more than 2 or 3 Kindle books until I figured that out. Now that I have, I buy a lot more. I also don't spread them all over the internet, I just know that I can always switch readers down the line. Kind of like what happened with iTunes/MP3s. Funny, eh? Meanwhile, the pirates continue to pirate, DRM or no.
  • by jacquelinew (946851) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @09:43PM (#34008074)
    I agree that copyright laws in the US are screwed up and need fix'n, but this is still a mis-aimed argument, Amazon offers War & Peace for free in their store - all nice and formatted for Kindle.
  • by demonlapin (527802) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @10:31PM (#34008286) Homepage Journal
    10. They're heavy.
    11. They take up a lot of space if you want more than two or three.
  • by lilo_booter (649045) on Monday October 25, 2010 @09:02AM (#34010900)

    As a european user, War and Peace for the Kindle is listed at $3.44, $10.45 and $13.79. No, I have no idea what the difference between those 3 versions is. Yes, we're forced to pay in $'s, yes, we're forced to use .com (apparently .co.uk isn't part of Europe or something), and, yes, we probably have different content and pricing to what stateside users see.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday October 25, 2010 @10:19AM (#34011720) Homepage Journal

    the logic behind DRM is, frankly, sound.

    No, it's not. I'll quote Doctorow: [craphound.com]

    Cryptography -- secret writing -- is the practice of keeping secrets. It involves three parties: a sender, a receiver and an attacker (actually, there can be more attackers, senders and recipients, but let's keep this simple). We usually call these people Alice, Bob and Carol.

    Let's say we're in the days of the Caesar, the Gallic War. You need to send messages back and forth to your generals, and you'd prefer that the enemy doesn't get hold of them. You can rely on the idea that anyone who intercepts your message is probably illiterate, but that's a tough bet to stake your empire on. You can put your messages into the hands of reliable messengers who'll chew them up and swallow them if captured -- but that doesn't help you if Brad Pitt and his men in skirts skewer him with an arrow before he knows what's hit him.

    So you encipher your message with something like ROT-13, where every character is rotated halfway through the alphabet. They used to do this with non-worksafe material on Usenet, back when anyone on Usenet cared about work-safe-ness -- A would become N, B is O, C is P, and so forth. To decipher, you just add 13 more, so N goes to A, O to B yadda yadda.

    Well, this is pretty lame: as soon as anyone figures out your algorithm, your secret is g0nez0red.

    So if you're Caesar, you spend a lot of time worrying about keeping the existence of your messengers and their payloads secret. Get that? You're Augustus and you need to send a message to Brad without Caceous (a word I'm reliably informed means "cheese-like, or pertaining to cheese") getting his hands on it. You give the message to Diatomaceous, the fleetest runner in the empire, and you encipher it with ROT-13 and send him out of the garrison in the pitchest hour of the night, making sure no one knows that you've sent it out. Caceous has spies everywhere, in the garrison and staked out on the road, and if one of them puts an arrow through Diatomaceous, they'll have their hands on the message, and then if they figure out the cipher, you're b0rked. So the existence of the message is a secret. The cipher is a secret. The ciphertext is a secret. That's a lot of secrets, and the more secrets you've got, the less secure you are, especially if any of those secrets are shared. Shared secrets aren't really all that secret any longer.

    Time passes, stuff happens, and then Tesla invents the radio and Marconi takes credit for it. This is both good news and bad news for crypto: on the one hand, your messages can get to anywhere with a receiver and an antenna, which is great for the brave fifth columnists working behind the enemy lines. On the other hand, anyone with an antenna can listen in on the message, which means that it's no longer practical to keep the existence of the message a secret. Any time Adolf sends a message to Berlin, he can assume Churchill overhears it.

    Which is OK, because now we have computers -- big, bulky primitive mechanical computers, but computers still. Computers are machines for rearranging numbers, and so scientists on both sides engage in a fiendish competition to invent the most cleverest method they can for rearranging numerically represented text so that the other side can't unscramble it. The existence of the message isn't a secret anymore, but the cipher is.

    But this is still too many secrets. If Bobby intercepts one of Adolf's Enigma machines, he can give Churchill all kinds of intelligence. I mean, this was good news for Churchill and us, but bad news for Adolf. And at the end of the day, it's bad news for anyone who wants to keep a secret.

    Enter keys: a cipher that uses a key is still more secure. Even if the cipher is disclosed, even if the ciphertext is intercepted, without the key (or a break), the message is secret. Post-war, this is doubly important as we begin to realize what I think of as Schneier's La

If a subordinate asks you a pertinent question, look at him as if he had lost his senses. When he looks down, paraphrase the question back at him.

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