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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 @06:58PM (#34007058)

    is technology really improving our lives?

  • by ChrisKnight (16039) <merlin&ghostwheel,com> on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:04PM (#34007100) Homepage

    This is what Amazon needs to do to make the Kindle a worthy replacement for physical books:

    http://www.ghostwheel.com/merlin/Personal/notes/2009/03/05/open-letter-how-amazon-can-fix-kindle-drm/ [ghostwheel.com]

  • by migla (1099771) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:07PM (#34007126)

    Didn't you hear? Previously you couldn't lend a book to someone and now, with technology you can!

    Seriously, the restrictions of 14 days and lending only once is so ridiculous that it should push people over to the side of sharers.

    How many books could one roundtrip of the sneakernet fit?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:07PM (#34007128)

    The kindle is a great piece of hardware, but why buy books from Amazon when you can instead buy DRM-free ebooks from more enlightened publishers like Baen? Then you can lend ebooks without worrying about any silly restrictions. (Really, two weeks? I'm a bit envious of those who have enough free time for reading to reliably finish books in only two weeks...)

    Of course, some day I may run out of science fiction/fantasy/space opera/etc. authors that I like on Baen; I guess then I may have to decide between the immoral option of actually buying DRMed ebooks from Amazon and the illegal option of buying paperback editions and then pirating the corresponding ebooks.

  • Pathetic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:17PM (#34007172)

    Pathetic artificial restrictions in a feature only needed because it is on a platform with pathetic artificial restrictions itself. Go fuck yourselves.

  • by ickleberry (864871) <web@pineapple.vg> on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:20PM (#34007188) Homepage
    They need to get rid of DRM altogether. It worked for iTunes and many others

    DRM is stupid - i would not buy a closed device that implements such restrictions against me. When you buy a piece of hardware it should do what *you* want, not what the company that made it (and still controls it) wants it to do.
  • by BlitzTech (1386589) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:33PM (#34007254)
    I'm assuming that's your blog, and your point there is ridiculous. Stop trying to map physical objects to digital versions. That's what the RIAA is trying to do and most /.ers (as well as most people informed on the subject) think it's unreasonable to expect a digital medium to have the same restrictions the physical medium does. Treat each medium separately, and instead of pointing out advantages one has over the other and pushing for those to be mapped into each domain, KEEP THEM SEPARATE. It's an e-book. It's digital, can be copied for zero cost, etc. etc. Don't whine about not being able to share it with a friend. Yes, that's an advantage of the physical book. But it isn't a physical book, it's an e-book. So why try to create a system to match physical books?

    You can't have it both ways. Cheap, DRM-free music and e-books, or RIAA versions of both. All the arguments being made for physical media -> digital media are the same the RIAA uses. Pick one.

    Not posting as AC because I stand by what I believe. DRM sucks and needs to be removed, but publishers/artists/companies AND CONSUMERS need to understand that the two media are not the same and stop trying to make them such. In case someone gets the wrong idea from this post, I want the DRM-free versions and can't wait for companies like the RIAA to stop existing. I just think wanting to have it both ways makes you a hypocrite.
  • by brit74 (831798) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:34PM (#34007260)
    > "Seriously, the restrictions of 14 days and lending only once is so ridiculous that it should push people over to the side of sharers."

    To be fair, virtually anything a company does (short of policies that would result in their own bankruptcy) are easy excuses for "sharers". Example: "they charge money for books - that should push people over to the side of sharers." Presumably, the "solution" for them is to stop charging money for their products.
  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:42PM (#34007312)
    If I own the book I should be able to lend it for as long as I like, or lend it several times, or even give my copy away. They have the DRM technology in place to prevent theft of multiple copies, but they refuse to let the user do as he wishes with his own property (In spite of Amazon's own insistence of the rights of first ownership when they were aggressively into selling used books before the days of the Kindel and its DRM). As far as I'm concerned, if there is abusive DRM like this that diminishes the rights of the owner then I don't really own it, so I'll refuse to buy into the technology until they clean up their act.
  • by alannon (54117) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:49PM (#34007366)

    If only there was some sort of brick & mortar equivalent of such a scheme to use as a point of comparison, but then, surely our society would never allow some sort of public book repository where a member of the public could borrow the book for a limited amount of time, as that would have destroyed the book publishing industry! Who would ever want to own their own copy of a book if they could just borrow it for free?!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:56PM (#34007408)

    His point was that the effort needed to walk/bike/drive to the library might be what prevented the book publishing industry from being destroyed. With organized electronic lending, the balance could shift.

  • by drew30319 (828970) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @08:15PM (#34007502) Homepage Journal
    If I were Amazon I would be doing more than this because the first-sale doctrine will eventually be held to include digital goods. The more that Amazon does now to treat ebooks like physical goods the longer that they'll be able to continue before they are explicitly required to do so. The fact that their current licensing scheme has lasted as long as it has surprises me; this has to be at the back of their minds.

    And FYI, libraries around the world (in countries including the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, Mexico) are already offering ebooks online. Check out http://search.overdrive.com/ListLibraries.aspx [overdrive.com]
  • by zippthorne (748122) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @08:17PM (#34007520) Journal

    Bad example. Copyright on Tolstoy expired long ago.

    http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2600 [gutenberg.org]

    Book 2600, even....

  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @08:29PM (#34007624) Journal

    Once someone figures out how to crack the ungodly DRM, sure. Then we can do it just like the old days.

  • by ironjaw33 (1645357) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @08:36PM (#34007670)

    My library HAS eBooks....

    My library has eBooks as well and the availability and checkout policies are the same. The library can lend out as many "copies" as it purchased from the publisher for the usual checkout time limit. I do have to say that the current licensing scheme for eBooks comes off as ridiculous. A subscription based model, where you pay a monthly fee to read as many eBooks as you wish would be a better idea than trying to make intellectual property function like physical property.

  • by icebraining (1313345) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @08:41PM (#34007702) Homepage

    The publishers don't have to give us ebooks. They can refuse to put out anything but paper books.

    Even if most won't, some will, and they'll make a killing - even if the margins are low, the company with the monopoly always makes a good buck. Then it'll eat the others' market, which will have to follow suit if they want even a small piece of the pie. It's simple market based economy.

  • by mysidia (191772) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @08:51PM (#34007800)

    There's a little part of me that likes this. I can't tell you how many times I've lent stuff to people only to have it never come back - even after asking for it back.

    In this case, though, the restriction is too tight. There ought to be no specific time limit.

    The person who lent the book should have a 'return' button to push once they're done with it. They should be required to connect to the network every 7 days to verify the book is still lent out to them.

    When the person who lent the book selects the book they should have a 'request it back' button.

    Once it's requested back, the person who lent it out will get a text message sent by the person who lent it to them. They'll have 14 days to hit the 'return' button. 14 days after it's requested returned, the return is forced.

    The person who lent it should also have an ability to set a 'due back by date' when lending the title.

    Restriction against lending something again are absurd.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @09:14PM (#34007922)

    except that means jack shit when it comes to Amazon, they'll still persue copyright on the matter.

    Remember, copyright is useless for us to wield, only large corporations are allowed to wield it.

    Otherwise, they're allowed to steal and reclassify works as copyrighted under pure technicalities (such as republishings, or sheet music)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @09:27PM (#34007992)

    You know, I've got a lot of technology around my house. I like it. Very much. I abhor the practices of current industry to try and monetize every thing I do. I love books. Reading them, enjoying a fine binding and appreciating quality paper, lending them even if they don't come back (no dig towards you). So gracious of those companies to allow me to lend my book. Once. Fuckers.

    Besides, what the hell are all the censorship minded folk going to do, burn a pile of their Kindles :)

    Man, pretty soon I'm going to be to old to be on my own lawn.....

  • by socsoc (1116769) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @09:57PM (#34008116)
    What the heck is a recalled book? Does it explode without warning?
  • by forebees (1641541) * on Sunday October 24, 2010 @10:05PM (#34008142)

    Richard Glover (Sydney Morning Herald, Australia) wrote a great column about things being invented in reverse. The article was title "Sometimes it's the simple things in life that strike a cord" 22 May 2010.

    In the case of the Kindle (et al) which he didn't mention) he 'would' have written:

    Imagine if you had a Kindle/whatever and someone told you of this really interesting new device called 'a book'.

    1. You can buy them second hand
    2. You can loan them to anyone you like, as often as you like and they can lend them to someone else
    3. You can read them anywhere you like, though in the dark you need a torch :))
    4. If you drop it in the bath, you only have to let it dry out
    5. You can sell them once you've read them
    6. Sometimes you can get them for free because people give them away
    7. They don't have batteries so you can open and read them anytime
    8. You can copy pages from them to use in tutorials, lectures, give to others so they can read that small part, keep for notes in the future
    9. You can put very pretty bookmarks in them and ever WRITE on them

    Imagine! You can do all this and more with the new 'Book'. :)

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @10:23PM (#34008244) Homepage Journal
    Technology made meaningless concepts like lending books, or selling electronic versions at the same price as paper ones (even if the costs associated with managing the electronic versions are orders lower than the ones with paper versions), even book scarcity or limited editions. But still bookstores don't like that people realize that the emperor is naked, so they are ruling that is fully dressed, and is your fault if you dont see that.

    The problem is not technology, are the companies that should had became obsolete with it.
  • by demonlapin (527802) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @10:26PM (#34008266) Homepage Journal
    So, just to follow up on something a lot of people complained about when it happened, you're totally cool with Amazon having the ability to delete a book off your device without your explicit authorization?
  • by HAKdragon (193605) <hakdragon@ g m a i l.com> on Sunday October 24, 2010 @10:39PM (#34008330)
    The kindle is a great piece of hardware, but why buy books from Amazon when you can instead buy DRM-free ebooks from more enlightened publishers like Baen?

    Because I might like something other than Fantasy and Sci-fi?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 25, 2010 @12:35AM (#34008818)

    I read a lot of science fiction as well, and I'm very happy with what Baen makes available DRM-free. Yet, it is not quite enough. There are authors I read which are with other publishers.

    What do I do? I do the latter. I buy the paperbacks and "pirate" the ebooks. I feel morally justified in doing this. The only ethical dilemma I have is if this okay when *borrowing* physical books, such as from a library.

    Perhaps, then begins the very slippery slope of, "well, if the local library has it, and if I *was* to borrow it, it would be fine to download it, but that would be *silly*, so its just as good to *only* download it". Perhaps I can call the library and have them *reserve* the book for me while I read the digital copy.

  • by Mathinker (909784) * on Monday October 25, 2010 @02:02AM (#34009126) Journal

    > Do you think one can do this?

    Legally? Who knows. Why don't you go and hire a $200/hr lawyer to do some research about it. BTW, even if he says "yes", that doesn't mean that Amazon's lawyers won't someday decide "no". In fact, my guess is that it's probably unlikely that the Kindle book distribution service will outlive a healthy teenager of today. The most likely scenario is that suddenly one day those books will just disappear.

    OTOH, you probably could probably just as easily put your Kindle on/under your scanner/camera and just scan your books, page by page. Or even, *gasp*, download the books illegally from a public WiFi connection (they're *books*, no one is going to notice the bandwidth if you download them one at a time), or if you're uncomfortable with that, ask a friend who knows how to do this to do it for you and send you the books by email.

    Don't you feel any indignation at all that copyright has been twisted so much you have to go into intellectual contortions to think about how you might be able to pass on your books to your children after you die? And some of the best methods to do this are illegal?

  • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Monday October 25, 2010 @02:08AM (#34009150) Journal

    No, the solution is to find another business model. Stop expecting that there is a future in charging repeatedly for mere copies of collections of info, which with current technology anyone is quite capable of reproducing at extremely low cost.

    The reality is that information is not a scarce resource. These dinosaurs are clinging hard to the recent past when information was tied to media that is a scarce resource and wasn't so easily copied. That has changed, big time. They hold back all kinds of progress, to the detriment of us all. Copying is not a sin, and no excuse need be made for it. The sins being committed and garbage excuses being made are the ones the content industries do to justify themselves. There is no justification for the arrogant idiocy known as DRM, particularly that sort which not only tries to exert more control than they have a right to, but which recklessly endangers others' information, as the Sony root kit did. Nor is there justification for their purchase of ever more ridiculous and unenforceable laws such as the various "3 strikes" provisions, their pursuit of ordinary citizens for "piracy" for purposes of terrorizing the public and not just recovering compensation for alleged harms suffered, and their furious attempts to contain DRM breakage by resorting to extremes such as overzealous arrests and jail time for people such as DVD Jon and Dmitry Sklyarov, who are not criminals. And they do all this no matter what that costs in damage to reputations including those beyond their own, in the chilling of scientific and technological advance, and in the showcasing of tools, techniques, and arguments other reactionary forces are only too eager to use for their own nefarious agendas, as seen in things such as those ACTA drafts that they tried to keep secret, and the routine abuse of the DMCA to keep information from the public.

  • by tirefire (724526) on Monday October 25, 2010 @02:13AM (#34009174)

    I doubt it would be on interest to the vast majority of /. audience, given that the books are not in English.

    So while we're not interested in knowing the store's name, you think we're interested in knowing that you think we're not interested in knowing the store's name?

    *Scratches head*

  • by Mathinker (909784) * on Monday October 25, 2010 @02:16AM (#34009188) Journal

    Asimov did this long ago, while panning "The Double Helix" at the same time. And now for some meta-humor, I post a link to a DRMed eBook edition of that short story.

    http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/eBook3062.htm [fictionwise.com].

    (Hint: don't buy it in that format. Find a used copy of "Opus 100" instead. After that you might feel morally justified in downloading it. Or not --- a chacun son gout.)

  • by tirefire (724526) on Monday October 25, 2010 @04:11AM (#34009632)

    What is the solution? One possibility would be if society - as a whole (not just small segments of the population) - was very generous about donating to authors. This way, authors wouldn't be forced between: (1) having copy restrictions on their work and getting paid vs (2) having no restrictions on copying their work, but not getting adequately paid for their work / going bankrupt.

    I don't think it's necessary for society as a whole to be very generous to authors. I've been thinking about this for a little while and I think I have a system that might work, especially for authors of fiction. Set up a combination author's website and online store and stock the store with products that appeal to each type of customer:

    1. Leechers. They aren't going to pay you anyway, so at least let them get a free eBook directly from your site (or from an author-endorsed torrent). That way they'll think you're cool for it and be more likely to tell others about your book, even if only because your distribution model is neat. With this group, you are selling your eBook for the price of publicity. If the going gets rough, put banner ads up on your site.
    2. Cheapskates. These people are willing to pay, but they don't want to spend $35 for a hardcover. Let them download the eBook for free, just like the first group. Unlike the first group, this group will open their hearts/wallets when they see your "Paypal - Donate" ad on your site and in the foreword to your book. Little donations add up, and donating a portion of income to charity helps loosen wallets.
    3. People who prefer dead trees. Many people like to have a paper book in their hands, and since a paper book is a physical object, only thieves and library patrons (the latter being a surprisingly uncommon species these days!) will expect to get one for free. Use on-demand publishing and an online store to sell cheap paperbacks and expensive hardcovers.
    4. Die-hard fans and/or people with fat wallets. If your book is really worthwhile, a few people will go totally ape for it. Provide a special, lucrative way for your hardcore fans to connect with you. Look at what video game and DVD publishers do with their "limited edition" releases and adapt it to books. Sell pricey limited-edition hardcovers with gold-leaf binding, sell the original manuscripts w/ editing marks (if you wrote them up by hand), sell an expanded version with material you originally left out (see Stephen King's The Stand), or sell some autographed copies of the book. Even if you've never written a book before in your life, act like you're a writing demigod worth a $100 signed copy and see if you can't fool a few people. Be sure to sell recognition to the big boys - continually revise the foreword to include their names if they like (hey, it works for PBS).

    My plan does not rely so much on people's altruism as it does on their tendency to pay what they think something will cost . How many people do you know who buy Tylenol for quadruple the price of generic acetaminophen? How many people do you know who pay $3.00 for black coffee? How many people do you know who pay thousands for diamond jewelry? I know loads of people who do all three. They're not necessarily stupid or bad with money, they just don't like to concern themselves with what they see as negligible amounts of cash. I think this plan could provide an author with a tidy profit without resorting to holding a work of art for ransom.

  • by Kilrah_il (1692978) on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:19AM (#34009852)

    I agree that business models should fit the times and technologies and of course if technology takes as backwards (i.e. we can't lend digital books like we did with physical books) then it's not good. However, I don't think DRM is fundamentally bad. Its implementations up till now were something between not good to real bad (i.e. Sony rootkit), but the logic behind DRM is, frankly, sound.
    If we have a theoretical DRM that makes sure that you pay for the book, but after that allows you to:
    1) Read the book on any device.
    2) Lend it to your friends without restriction, except that only one copy is active at any moment.
    3) Doesn't give the publisher the right to take the book back at anytime.
    (Forgive me if I forgot any other requirement, but I believe these are the basics)
    then there is no problem. You get the benefit of technology (one small device, e.g. Kindle, that has all your books), with all the advantages of physical books (Except the experience of reading a physical book, but...).

    After all, even if publishing costs are far less for digital media, there are still many people that need to get paid, especially the author, but also the editor, proofreader, graphics people, advertisement folks, etc. Maybe digital books should be cheaper than physical ones, but we should still pay for them.
    So no, I don't think the current model is fine, but I don't think that taking books without paying for them (AKA stealing) is acceptable. Don't like the current model? Buy a goddamn physical book.

    P.S.
    Next time please try to divide your post into paragraphs, it's very hard to read as it is. Reminds me of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest.

  • by somersault (912633) on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:21AM (#34009860) Homepage Journal

    my guess is that it's probably unlikely that the Kindle book distribution service will outlive a healthy teenager of today. The most likely scenario is that suddenly one day those books will just disappear.

    Amazon are one of the leaders in online shopping and now cloud services. While I suppose it's possible that they could just disappear overnight in some freak scenario, I doubt it's any more likely than MS going bust overnight. You wouldn't lose any books that were currently on your Kindle even if they did go bust - once you have downloaded a book you don't need a net connection to further authorise it.

    Even if they did go offline, you'd be able to un-DRM all your stuff with some "third party" tool, if you can't already do that.

    But really, Amazon are one of the biggest companies around when it comes to online and offline distribution/services, and they seem to have their shit together better than most. They've been around a long time as far as the tech world is concerned. They have shown that they know what they're doing. They must be the current safest bet when it comes to legal eBooks, apart from going with Public Domain stuff or scanning your own books of course.

    I still haven't bought an eBook reader, my pile of unread books is far too large to justify it yet.. but any future books I buy will probably be eBooks.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday October 25, 2010 @07:52AM (#34010506) Journal

    Amazon doesn't have to go out of business.

    They could simply decide, "We're not selling Kindles anymorem because the iPhone now has 99% of the market, so like Betamax... we flopped," and end the service. This is what Walmart did when they suddenly decided to stop selling MP3 songs, closed down the server, and made everyone's songs unusable.

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