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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 Enry (630) <.enry. .at. .wayga.net.> on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:05PM (#34007104) Journal

      In some ways, yes. I really like my Kindle. Mostly because it allows me to carry a good portion of my library in my bag. I have about 4 books on it that I'm currently reading along with one that I'm currently reading to my daughter.

      I've bought almost all the books (some were PD, so didn't cost anything) and are books I may not have bought otherwise since they were impulse buys from the store. I'm looking at you "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo".

      Do I still buy physical books? Sure. Do I miss lending? Sorta. Books I lend out rarely return. My copies of "Snow Crash" and "World War Z" are somewhere on the East Coast of the US, but I can't get much more specific than that.

      What I would love to see for the Kindle and iTMS is a family account, where my wife and I can each have a Kindle managed separately under our own accounts, yet share books between us without having to repurchase the book. She has her preferences, I have mine, and neither one of us wants our suggestion list 'spoiled' by the other, though there are times we like the same book and would each like to read it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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 go

    • 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?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by brit74 (831798)
        > "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 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.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Kilrah_il (1692978)

            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

            • 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

      • by rolfwind (528248)

        I'm surprised they even let you loan out the whole book and not just 1/2 of it, or more likely, the first chapter. Something just slightly longer than Amazon's preview...

      • by Imagix (695350)
        The 14 day restriction doesn't bother me. The person can come visit me again in 2 weeks to continue with the book. If I can't read it at the same time, that's fine too. The "can only lend a book once" is stupid.
      • by icebike (68054)

        The restrictions are EXACTLY the same as Barnes and Noble nook supports, and they are dictated by the Publishers.

        Publishers seem to think they can control an Ebook after the sale to the end consumer. Until a court slaps them down, you have to live with the restrictions.

        With a Nook can borrow and read library books. So far, the Publishers haven't found a way to prevent that.

    • 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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by HAKdragon (193605)
        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 Nursie (632944)

        (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...)"

        At the moment I'm through three or four in that time.

        It's true, I have no kids, wife or currently very much of a social life (I'm just moved countries).

        The restriction still seems ridiculous though, what if it's not at the top of my pile. I frequently lend or borrow real books on the understanding that they'll be returned when they're done with. And often they'll go around one

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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 b

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Tim C (15259)

        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...

        You're envious of my 3 hours/day round trip for work? Really?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Penguinisto (415985)

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

      • by hawkeyeMI (412577) <brock.brocktice@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.
        • Did you ever find a good conversion for Topaz books? Removing the DRM is easy, but the only conversion I can find assembles the OCR search text into a file. I was hoping for something to string the SVG images together...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Sure it does. I own a Kindle DX, and, insofar as reading convenience goes, it's awesome. But I don't use their store except for newspaper subscriptions. For books, I go to a book store which sells me legal books in Kindle-supported format (.mobi) with no DRM for 1.5-2x less than a paper book.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by forebees (1641541) *

      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

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by demonlapin (527802)
        10. They're heavy.
        11. They take up a lot of space if you want more than two or three.
      • 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.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gmuslera (3436)
      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
    • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

      In some ways yes, in some ways you simply have to understand its limits. For something you want to lend out, for something you want to hold onto forever, or something with lots of pictures, get a real copy. If you just want a fun or quick read, an ebook works great.

      An E-reader does make some things significantly better -- for instance, I've been wanting to read a particular book for a long time, but it was unavailable as an ebook. I checked it out from the library, and started to read it, but its massive

  • by Ndkchk (893797) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @06:59PM (#34007072)
    By 'lent once', does Amazon mean that you can lend a book to one other person at a time, or that you can lend it to one other person, once, for each purchase? If the latter, it's not exactly that useful; if the former, I look forward to the websites letting people legally trade ebooks with one another.
    • by guyminuslife (1349809) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:33PM (#34007258)

      I look forward to the websites letting people legally trade ebooks with one another

      This is what will kill this plan; or rather, what will convince publishers to never, ever, ever allow ebook lending. It would be possible to set up a site, or a protocol for lending books, where you share the unused books you have licensed in a big pool with a bunch of other people; members who share will simply check out books from the pool. Then, it's fishes and loaves: if you have 2 copies of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", and 100 people who want to read it, they can all read from those two copies, 2 at a time. That would call for a queue, but a less popular book might not. And even if you don't want to wait in queue, if you purchase a copy, then there will be 3 books in the total pool....and eventually there will be more copies than there are interested readers at any given time, and no one will have to buy the book.

      People complain about first-sale doctrine with digital goods, and I understand, but the fact of the matter is that the potential for a streamlined secondary market for digital content is a much larger liability than it is for physical goods. Even having to make the trip to GameStop to sell your copy of Prince of Persia is prohibitive compared to being able to purchase a game, immediately license it out to people on the cloud, and then license a different copy whenever you feel like playing it.

      • 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?!

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          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.

        • Going to the library takes time. So does returning the book when you're done. And a library book isn't just like your personal book; if you spill your coffee on it, the library's going to charge you for it. An ebook, whether bought or lent, is exactly the same as every other copy.

          Sometimes it's about scale. I'm 35. When I was in college in the mid-90s, we would copy other people's CDs. Of course, that copy was made from CD to tape, and you had to be there to do the recording (to make sure you split the alb
          • My library HAS eBooks....

            • I live somewhere else. Can I check out ebooks from your library?

              I would bet that the system I was trying to describe would only really work if it were implemented on a large scale. And it would work better if it were P2P and managed like a torrent tracker, rather than relying on a central repository.

            • Yes, but they won't loan them to me, because I don't live in your city. guyminuslife is making a point about what would happen with universal lending.
              • by Joe U (443617)

                Most libraries will let you sign up if you visit and are not a resident. You'll get charged a yearly fee for a card, but you'll still be a member.

                • So? They won't let me sign up for free over the internet, and so don't really enter into this discussion. guyminuslife makes a very good point about what will happen if there is unlimited, non-time-restricted lending of ebooks across the web. Totally different situation.
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by ironjaw33 (1645357)

              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 Nursie (632944)

            "I'm 35. When I was in college in the mid-90s"

            I'm 32, When I was in college in the mid 90s we were using mp3s. Not distributing over the internet because modems were slow, but yeah. Things move on fast. MP3 hasn't killed the music industry any more than betamax killed Hollywood.

            As for reading on devices, reading a book on a screen would be a time-limiting experience for me. Print is just kinder on the eyes, though I'm sure the passive displays on reader devices are more comfortable...

            Bah. I don't hate the

        • Getting books from libraries is rather inconvenient if you want them on a long term basis. You have to contact the library to renew them every so often (this is not as bad as it used to be thanks to internet based renewals but it's still a pain). Depending on the particular library you may also have to watch out for messages saying the book is recalled (which in turn means if you are going away for a while you have to gather up all your library books and return them) .If you fail to renew or return on time

      • It's called a "library", and hasn't killed real books.

      • 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 fredjh (1602699)

      I means lent "once." One time per book. Period. Not once to the same person, just the one time... and then you can never do it again.

      Frankly, I find it a useless concession to hook people annoyed that they can't lend ebooks.

      I have a Nook, which has had this feature since I bought it, and have never used it once... because then it's actually the kind of thing that ends up causing strife. With a real book, someone asks if they can borrow it and I say "I lent to so-and-so, I'll let you borrow it next." We

  • by line-bundle (235965) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @06:59PM (#34007074) Homepage Journal

    The lend once only is very onerous and I have never seen a good reason why. Can anyone tell me?

    I lend my book(s) more than once, even to the same person.

    I hate it when they try to force non-physical objects to behave like physical objects.

    I guess next they will implement missing pages....

    • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:30PM (#34007242) Homepage

      I won't accept ebooks until I can get a digital DRM enforced coffee stain on it.

    • by Tharsman (1364603)

      The lend once only is very onerous and I have never seen a good reason why. Can anyone tell me?

      I lend my book(s) more than once, even to the same person.

      I hate it when they try to force non-physical objects to behave like physical objects.

      I guess next they will implement missing pages....

      Have to be VERY careful with this logic. If you claim we should not, ever, attempt digital objects to behave like physical ones, then what argument can you use to ask for the ability to lend/gift/transfer digital goods?

      I understand the desire to lend/gift/transfer digital goods, but to be honest, there are inherent issues with it. You have to be careful how to handle it without falling into plainly encouraging piracy.

  • I can download ebooks and audio books from my county library, but they use DRM and can only lend out one copy at a time. Really turns me off to the whole medium. I can see letting Joe User only lend it once at a time, but having waiting lists for a digital edition at a library is just ridiculous... They may own 15 physical copies of a book, but have bizarre restrictions on the digital version.
    • by Kalidor (94097)

      This is probably a question of licensing though. My library does the same but it generally gets 10-15 copies of every ebook it puts on the system, so it's closer of an analogue to the physicial book model. At the end of the day, even libraries are beholden to pay the publishers.

      • by socsoc (1116769)
        You're, right, it is licensing. But, what's the difference between allowing 1, or 15 for you area, download it versus allowing everyone to when it has the time restriction? Over time the readers who want to read it will get it. I'm torn between thinking that all the publishers are doing is limiting excitement about their titles and that they are trying to make sure they are profitable. I don't have the answer, but it could be improved. They aren't losing a sale, just losing my interest, I'll go borrow som
        • by Eskarel (565631)

          The difference is the publishers actually getting paid.

          If libraries had an unlimited number of copies of a digital book, very few people would ever actually buy one. The fact that your choice is between buying or waiting gives some people the motivation to buy(even if not you).

        • by Tharsman (1364603)
          Then ask your library why they did not license more copies of their digital books, or at least of the ones in higher demand. It's very likely if they worked out a deal like this, they also picked how many digital licenses they were allowed to lend for each specific title.
  • 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]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by socsoc (1116769)
      That's a pretty great idea. I usually don't read books again after my initial read, so the ability to gift, trade or sell them appeals to me.
    • 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.
      • 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?

        Wonderful since we're keeping things separate does that apply to the economic laws too?

      • by pookemon (909195)

        I'm assuming that's your blog,

        Did the title "The wacky world of Chris Knight" give it away? Just wondering because the post your replied to was made by a /.er called "ChrisKnight" and you seem to be having trouble with the connection.

        I'm fairly sure that you also entirely missed the point of the blog. Chris is making the point that the DRM on the Kindle prevents the ability to sell an ebook that you no longer want or need. The blog then goes on to say that while Amazon allows the sale of used books (and video games), it doesn't

        • Actually, I skipped the title. Only saw the "-Chris" at the end, hence assuming. Now I know for sure.

          You're right, Chris doesn't argue for stripping the DRM. That part of my argument is a bit out of context in that light; but the remainder stands. He's asking to sell a freely-reproducible digital object. Buying a 'used' copy is literally identical to buying a 'new' copy, except the recipient of your money isn't the original publisher, it's some person who no longer wants access to the book, and the price
          • by tftp (111690)

            I posit that if the e-book price is set to the expected difference in value between new and used, would you still resent being unable to lend or sell the digital copy?

            It doesn't matter how much the "new" unit costs because the "used" one is usually cheaper. The difference in price comes not from a physical difference (there are none) but from the book's value to the consumer (a book that is already read is less valuable than a new one.)

            This means that to keep things in balance you must allow people (in

      • by k2enemy (555744)

        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?

        In my opinion, the problem is price. If we stop trying to treat e-books as real books, then we shouldn't have to pay real book prices. I would be fine with either of these scenarios, but would probably prefer the second...

        a) Keep trying to treat e-books as real books. Let people lend and re-sell them. Keep prices where they are now, usually somewhere between a hardcover and paperback.

        b) Treat an e-book as a DRMed digital object. No lending or resale. Also recognize that it is nearly zero marginal cost

        • In my reply to Chris's blog, I offer b) as a point of consideration, though I set the price at the expected depreciation of value of the book between new and used copies, since that's how much you'd be out if you bought a physical version and re-sold it again via the First Sale Doctrine; at least with the e-book, you will always* have access.

          Otherwise, agreed.

          *: you know exactly why I starred this word.
      • 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.

        • Fully agreed. The comment you replied to was a shortened version of the reply to his blog, which says this. I won't re-type it, but you should look at some of my other replies to people in this thread; you just happened to do the math to support our argument.
        • Dammit Slashdot, fix your comment system, I had to type the entire URL because for some reason I'm not allowed to paste...

          I have no problem pasting into the text area. Maybe something is wrong with your web browser.

    • Thanks for saying this for us. It's one of the two hurdles to me using a Kindle2 (no resale and not beach-safe); and I'd still buy one for home if they'd get over this one hurdle. Problems is, with a physical book, the purchaser has control of the medium, with puts them in a powerful position relative to Amazon. Since Amazon controls the license, and there is no individual physical medium, they have all the power. It's essentially free for them to create a new license themselves, so why would they ever res
  • It's well-known that venture capitalists are increasingly interested in diversifying beyond the web into "atom-based" startups, i.e. companies working on manufacturing physical items. This is a perfect opening. While the traditional e-book has served us well for years, some of its limitations become apparent when one wants to run a lending system. It can be implemented, but clearly in an onerous manner. That's why my new startup will propose to make physical e-books. They'll be just as readable and affordable as the traditional e-books you know and love, but with our new permaprint technology, the text will actually be physically imprinted onto thin surfaces; a stack of such surfaces will contain the contents of a book. Since each permaprint e-book will be imprinted on a separate stack of surfaces, which can be moved separately, lending will be as simple as lending the appropriate stack. As an added bonus, battery life is much improved.

  • 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 Anonymous Coward

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

  • In response to the comments about the 'lend once' model: the major issue is maintaining the profitability of the book business. One could imagine a future where all books are read electronically. Now, if all books were just copied from a library server, then what's the point of buying ebooks? While some people might find the 'non-copyable digital copy' to be kind of an onerous restriction on something that can be infinitely copyable, and react with disdain towards the "why restrict what we can do with bo
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tirefire (724526)

      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'

  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mordejai (702496) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:36PM (#34007276)

    I've lent several books to friends and relatives.

    Most of them had the books for months or years, returned something that didn't look at all like the book I gave them, or didn't return them at all.

    So, this new "feature" is not at all like lending books!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by nfk (570056)

      Yeah, there was an old saying about books, something like: "Never lend books. Give them instead. The effect is the same and you'll look nicer".

  • 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 John Hasler (414242) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:47PM (#34007356) Homepage

    True. Paper books don't provide convenient means and permission to make temporary partial copies. You have to loan out the whole book. Just as you have always been able to loan out your Kindle.

    • Do you really believe what you say, or are you just trolling? Do you think you should have to lend out your Kindel just to lend one book? I don't have to lend out my entire library just to lend a book. and, having bought a physical book, I can choose to keep it after I've read it, or give it to a friend, or even give it to the public library. Giving away Kendels that way would be prohibitively expensive.
    • Just as you have always been able to loan out your Kindle.

      Ah yes, so when I loaned my copy of The Cathedral and the Bazaar to a friend of mine, what I really should have done was hand him my entire bookshelf full of books -- you know, because we are supposed to be replacing our bookshelves with our Kindles.

      No the real answer to this problem is for book publishers to wake up and realize that their business model is dead, we live in a new world with new rules and they need to adapt or die. Technology is not going to kill books, it is going to make books more a

  • So really they're going to allow the possibility of publishers to allow lending.

    Because *I* want to have a say in how the next technological regime for literature will be structured, I download and copy books.

  • Forced Artificial Scarcity.

    It's atrocious, and it's all enforced by DRM.

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