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E-Book Lending Stands Up To Corporate Mongering 259

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

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  • by Yaddoshi (997885) on Monday February 14, 2011 @03:41PM (#35202162)
    If it's not available in any of those standards, then the eBook is as worthless as DRM-hampered MP3s purchased digitally. If you can't purchase your eBook in one of the aforementioned formats, do yourself a huge favor and go to your local bookstore, and purchase it in paperback. That way you can keep it indefinitely, sell it, trade it, lend it to friends, and so forth. It's about time for companies to stop proactively treating their customers like criminals and thieves. Vote with your wallet.
    • by iammani (1392285)

      Are there any stores that sell in these formats?

      • by mu51c10rd (187182)

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

        • by icebike (68054)

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

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

          • by Winckle (870180)

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

            • by MattW (97290)

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

            • by icebike (68054)

              You bought it, you do what you want with it.

              For your own use, true. Nobody would know, and nobody would care. You can photocopy your entire hard cover library for that matter, or scan it to ebooks for your own use and nobody would come and arrest you.

              But you can't give/sell a copy to someone else, and retain your own copy. That is what "copyright" (the right to copy) is all about. You don't have that right, even if you bought the book.

              Unfortunately in their zeal to prevent you selling copies on the street, the people YOU ELECTED have made remova

      • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Monday February 14, 2011 @03:52PM (#35202272)

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

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

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

        • by jgagnon (1663075)

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

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

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

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rafial (4671)

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

    • by PCM2 (4486) on Monday February 14, 2011 @03:50PM (#35202254) Homepage

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

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

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

      • by slyrat (1143997)

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

        This is only really for the major e-book stores that are the default stores for the devices. There are currently several third party stores that sell e-books in multi-format (including without drm). Whenever I buy e-books for my device (sony eink) I shop around and try to get it in the non-drm format if available. I think part of the problem is that most people don't know of these third party stores so don't know that there is competition for buying e-books. I do hope that some sort of universal book format

        • by icebike (68054)

          There aren't any non-DRM versions available for every book.

          Virtually nothing on the best seller lists will be available without DRM.

          So what you are really saying is you restrict your reading to those books which are released without DRM, which are often out-of-copyright works (old) or from a few authors that insist on being DRM free.

           

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

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

      • I don't understand. There's a book for Final Fantasy 7? A novelization would be awesome.
        • Yeah, and I can just picture it. "Cloud ferosciously attacked the Cactuar with his sword. Tifa did the same a few moments later, punching it very hard. The Cactuar retaliated by striking Cloud and then got struck by a barrage of Barret's machine gun fire. Then Cloud ferosciously attacked the Cactuar with his sword. Tifa did the same a few moments later, punching it very hard and it was defeated. After doing a short and unnecessary victory dance, the friends sighed and took four steps north, when a Cactuar a

    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday February 14, 2011 @03:58PM (#35202362) Journal

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

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

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

    • by Moryath (553296) on Monday February 14, 2011 @04:00PM (#35202386)

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • by Cinder6 (894572)

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

        • by idontgno (624372) on Monday February 14, 2011 @04:30PM (#35202688) Journal

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

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

          -- Media Publishing Voltaire

        • by Ltap (1572175)
          That's like saying, "if there were no criminals, we wouldn't need laws." Regardless of everything else, "piracy" and the restoration of functionality (removal of functionality-breaking DRM) will always be around in some form, no matter what. Even if all "pirates" vanished tomorrow, they would still be used as a bogeyman and an excuse to gain even more control, as CD checks are replaced by or augmented by smart "protection engines" which scan the Windows registry for disk imaging tools like Alcohol 120% or D
        • by bit01 (644603)

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

          Don't be silly. DRM has little to do with piracy and everything to do with maximizing the revenue stream. Pirates who would not have paid are irrelevant.

          Do I understand why companies feel they must spend resources trying to stop people from stealing their stuff? Yes.

          "Must"? Don't make us laugh. DRM is simply a means to manipulate what would otherwise be a free the market, that's all.

          ---

          Don't be fooled, slashdot has many lying astroturfers [wikipedia.org] f

    • by cob666 (656740)
      DRM isn't the only issue involved, my girlfriend is not very tech savvy but she knows enough to be able to download her ebooks and copy them to her device using the software I set up for her. Almost all of her books have some form of DRM that is 100% transparent to her and I would say that she depicts an average reader of ebooks.

      The biggest detriment to ebooks again isn't the DRM, it's the cost. It's absolutely ridiculous that I can walk into any bookstore and buy a paperback book for 7.99 but that exact
      • by Bigbutt (65939)

        You're not looking at it correctly. They're pricing it based on the hard cover price, not the paperback price. If the hardcover book is $24.99, which they have out first for weeks or months, then a hardback sized paperback for $14.99 for another few weeks or months, _then_ the smaller paperback version for $7.99. They're looking at those prices and saying that $9.99 is between $8 and $15 on the cheaper side.

        Since, according to several sources I've read, the cost of printing is minimal compared to the other

        • by Omestes (471991)

          I do have to say that I don't think I've seen any ebooks that are more expensive than the paperback copies. I have seen higher priced ebooks without the paperback copy available for it but a hardback edition is available.

          On Amazon: Stephen King's new short story collection.
          Hardcover: $15.26
          Paperback: 9.99
          Kindle (ebook): 12.99

          It actually isn't that rare, spend some time browsing best sellers on Amazon.

          I just bought a Charles Stross anthology ("Wireless") for 7.99, I was going to buy the epub for my Nook instead, but it was 6.99. While being cheaper, I don't think losing rights is worth the dollar. In the end I wasn't a fan, took the paperback to Bookmans and got a whole $1.30 trade for it. So for an extra $1 I got the my

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

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

      first, imagine a transferable DRM system. I can lend my book to someone else. But I have to transfer the ownership to them so that I no longer can read it or lend it to anyone else. That seems fair in the way that it emulates the rights I have for physical property I own. I think this might be a headache to implement. I recall that

      • by icebike (68054)

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

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

        first, imagine a transferable DRM system. I can lend my book to someone else. But I have to transfer the ownership to them so that I no longer can read it or lend it to anyone else. That seems fair in the way that it emulates the rights I have for physical property I own. I think this might be a headache to implement.

        Actually this capability exists in the Barnes and Noble system of Lend-Me. Its just that the Publishers got together and forced B&N to remove the Gift/resale, multiple SERIAL lending, loan recall, and long term lending features.

        It wasn't that hard for them to implement, it was simply a book keeping entry in the B&N servers. It enforced the single copy paradigm so that you could not read a book you had loaned, but you could always recall your books. It would be easy to make this widely implemented

      • by Binestar (28861)

        I want the ability to buy a paperback and for a small (less than $1) added fee get the ebook. None of this buy the ebook at same price as paperback nonsense the publishers are doing.

        David Weber has done better than that with his Honor Harrington series. If you buy the Hardcover, you get all of his previous books in the series in multiple formats on a DVD inside the book cover. Great for catching up on a series.

      • I can lend my book to someone else. But I have to transfer the ownership to them so that I no longer can read it or lend it to anyone else. That seems fair in the way that it emulates the rights I have for physical property I own.

        It's close, but not quite the same. If you lend someone a physical book you still own the book, and can demand that they return it. If you actually transferred the ownership (gave it to them, rather than lending) they would have no obligation to give it back. A limited transfer with the possibility of revocation would probably go over better.

        It still seems a shame, though—we have this great technology which can provide everyone in the world with their own personal copy of anything they might ever care

    • I had an interesting experience with this just yesterday. I purchased a book on building a PC for my nook. In the first few pages, there was an advertisement to "upgrade the ebook to a DRM free version" for an additional $5 (the initial book was $18, so it was reasonable). I was intrigued, this was something I had never seen before. I went ahead and spent the $5 just for the experience.

      They ended up providing me with 4 additional formats: APK, ePub, Mobi, and PDF. Additionally, they guaranteed me that

  • You don't have any rights, you're a consumer. You stopped having rights when you became one of them.
  • I'm confused with the random selection in the summary of the two examples. I looked up more nerdish books and was met with many examples of the exact same price: Kobo's Eye of the World [kobobooks.com] vs BoB Eye of the World [booksonboard.com]. Both $6.99. Makes me wonder if the prices aren't dictated by the publisher. I'm also confused how BoB calls itself "the Largest Independent eBookstore" as they're clearly hosting major publishers' works. I'm guessing the McCarthy book cited in the summary is going through different copyright fee
    • by vux984 (928602)

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

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

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

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

    • by lymond01 (314120)

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

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

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

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

        >>>ebooks which get reviewed like any other book

        Yeah but Gardner Dozois was specifically discussing short fic

        • by lymond01 (314120)

          I guess it's a matter of opinion. I've read some really great short stories in my time from the web. Much better than 99.999% of the edited fantasy books at Borders. I do agree that you'll run across a lot of spelling mistakes if you just pick whatever, but like any review, read it and see where the flaws are. Sometimes the spelling is more than made up for by the characters, plot, script, etc. Heck, ask if you can edit for them -- if you like the story well enough, challenge the person to try to get i

  • by Saint Aardvark (159009) on Monday February 14, 2011 @03:47PM (#35202234) Homepage Journal

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

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

    • by spikenerd (642677)
      To "manage" means to keep something from getting out of control. Hence, "rights management" clearly implies that they are preventing you from freely exercising your rights. "restrictions management" makes it sound like they are working to stop evil corporations from being too restrictive--which is exactly the opposite of what DRM does.
    • The Right to Read (Score:5, Informative)

      by rafial (4671) on Monday February 14, 2011 @04:11PM (#35202518) Homepage

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

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

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

    • Personally, I prefer to use a simpler term: restriction systems. By saying "restriction system," you are getting right to the point, and not confusing anyone about what DRM is. Why bother playing games with what the acronym stands for; why bother with the acronym at all? Just be up front about it: the technologies are systems that restrict how much control people have over the devices and data they purchase.
  • by savi (142689) on Monday February 14, 2011 @03:47PM (#35202236)

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

    • I've started to see some things along those lines. NCBI has started hosting some older versions of biology textbooks online. Professors don't generally know about them, and they're outdated so most students just assume they won't work (having the page numbers off so you might have to skim a bit to find the exact two pages of required reading? Oh God no!). Some of the texts state that you can search in them but not just browse, which seems to be completely pointless. And obviously, it's in publishers in
    • by radtea (464814) on Monday February 14, 2011 @04:16PM (#35202564)

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

      This is unlikely to happen.

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

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

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

    • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Monday February 14, 2011 @04:22PM (#35202616) Homepage

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

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

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

    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      If you look at what happened with music, it may not happen that way. From what I hear, iTunes charges pretty much the same price for the old stuff. At least some of the stuff sold for 'full price' would be considered 'out of print' and only available in specialty shops.
  • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Monday February 14, 2011 @03:52PM (#35202274)

    You aren't buying a book.

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

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

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

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

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

    • You aren't buying a book.

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

      If that's true, then the cost of an eBook should be far less than the cost of a physical book, since I'm not buying a stack of paper and cost of printing/shipping/storing/retailing that pap

      • by ErikZ (55491) *

        "My share of the author's time (assuming he sells millions of books)"

        HAHAHAHAHahahaha!

        Oh god. Millions? MILLIONS?

        I know of self published authors that only managed to sell 500 of their self published books on Amazon.

        There are authors that are good, and are trying to break into the business. But the money isn't good. Only if you become "Steven King popular" does the money get fantastic.

        So, why the pittance for Authors? Don't you want your favorite Author to make a living?

        I support my favorite Authors by buyi

  • by craftycoder (1851452) on Monday February 14, 2011 @03:53PM (#35202288)

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

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

    • by blair1q (305137) on Monday February 14, 2011 @04:46PM (#35202862) Journal

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

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

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

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

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

      • by dch24 (904899)
        This is a really insightful comment.

        It hilights exactly what the legal stance is (for publishers) -- and why the indie scene (and other "scenes") are taking off.

        I've never bought an ebook. I'll probably never buy one.

        Like Audio CDs, I strictly stick to print books.
      • A book is personal property that contains intellectual property.

        That's not really accurate, and in fact, you contradict yourself later in the same paragraph with the more accurate statement:

        the intellectual property, that is the right to create more licenses.

        "Intellectual property" is really a nonsensical term, full of inaccuracies, and slanted toward a particular point of view. Personally, I try not to use it. But if any sense can be made out of it at all, it must be that as an intangible creative work is not property at all, and as a tangible object in which that creative work is fixed is ordinary personal property, the "intellectual p

    • by S77IM (1371931)

      Consumers want the best of both worlds, too, though. We want the work to be treated as IP for which we have a personal license -- one which lets us make as many copies as we want, on as many devices, for our own use. But we also want the work to be treated as physical property which we own -- loaning it to someone, gifting it, reselling it, returning it, etc. And let's be honest, for most people, "loaning" and "gifting" don't involve deleting their own copy first.

      I'm not saying that the current DRM clusterf

  • by yossie (93792) on Monday February 14, 2011 @03:57PM (#35202342)

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

    • by CRCulver (715279)

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

      I don't know if the old problem with the Kindle's lack of fonts or

      • by CRCulver (715279)

        it's not to have that internationalization.

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

    • In "The Book Bag," Somerset Maugham describes traveling with a misshapen bag of books so large that it "made strong porters quail [and] looked like a humpbacked gnome somewhat the worse for liquor."

      This 78-year-old story is not yet in the public domain, nor is it available on iBooks or Kindle. You can read it on Google Books, however.
      http://www.google.com/webhp?q=maugham+%22the+book+bag%22&hl=en&tab=pw#q=maugham+%22the+book+bag%22&hl=en&safe=off&site=webhp&prmd=ivns&ei=jZxZTbirM [google.com]

    • by drfireman (101623)

      As a very conflicted Kindle owner, I couldn't agree more. I'm especially concerned that I might not be able to read the ebooks I buy today on the device I want to use tomorrow. If that device is a Nook, or a Sony reader, or some new software that's better than what Amazon provides, then I have to ditch my entire ebook library or maintain multiple devices. Truthfully, I'm hoping that the licensing terms will change during my lifetime, and I won't have to feel like a criminal for wanting to do useful thing

    • The Kindle is an amazing device, though. It does present a pleasant reading experience; Kindle e-Books are generally (not by inherent property, but by luck) really well formatted... or not formatted, more like. They're blocks of HTML paragraphs with as little formatting as possible-- I'm fine with this, the device gets to word wrap and render them at the text size I want.

      More importantly, the application. Amazon.com lets you take 70% of the purchase price if you list for between $2.99 and $9.99; 35% o

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

    • by dwillden (521345)
      I don't NEED books period, hard or soft copy, I don't NEED newspapers or magazines. However, I do like to read, I read a lot, in addition sometimes I travel overseas, and carrying enough books for 18 hours of flight, two weeks in a non-English speaking country (No English Bookstores) and 18 hours of flight back is burdensome. Just such a trip is what sold me on finally getting a Nook. Now I rarely have less than a hundred books with me at any time, in a very convenient form factor.

      We don't NEED most mo
  • In the case of iBooks, you can't even transfer your books to another device, let alone another user, but then at least the prices are somewhat controlled.
    Where did this notion come from?
    I was under the impression that:
    Books downloaded from the iBookstore can be placed on up to five computers you own that you’ve authorized with your iTunes Store account. You can sync your books to all iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches you own.1 Audiobooks, PDF files, and ePub files you've added to iTunes will app
  • by lordDallan (685707) on Monday February 14, 2011 @03:58PM (#35202366)
    From Apple's iBooks FAQ [apple.com]:

    Can I copy my books onto other computers or devices?

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

    Note: Samples downloaded from the iBookstore will not sync to your computer. They remain on your device and can be removed using iBooks. http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059 [apple.com]
    • by lordholm (649770)

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

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

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

    Consider the reasonableness of what you are paying according that formula. For my part, I might be willing to pay 2 or 3 dollars to rent a bo

    • by blair1q (305137)

      It's a sale.

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

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

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

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

  • Baen does it right (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

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

    They set up the Baen Free library as "free sampler" of their ebooks - in various formats, all without DRM.
    And then they discovered that the as authors put stuff into the free library - the v

  • I walk the corner to the rubble that used to be a library,

    Line up to the mind cemetery now.

    What we don't know keeps the contracts alive and moving.

    They don't got to burn the books [slashdot.org] they just remove'm [slashdot.org].

    While arms warehouses fill as quick as the cells, rally round the family, pocket full of shells. [youtube.com]

  • by ScientiaPotentiaEst (1635927) on Monday February 14, 2011 @04:11PM (#35202516)

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

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

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

  • by N0Man74 (1620447) on Monday February 14, 2011 @04:15PM (#35202544)

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

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

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

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

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Then insist on paying less or not buying.

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

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

      • by N0Man74 (1620447)

        [quote]Then insist on paying less or not buying.[/quote]

        Which is precisely what I have done. I almost never buy DRM'ed content, unless there is some other reasonable benefit to offset what is lost, or there is a significant discount. However, my personal buying habits don't really matter much if the vast majority seem to be oblivious or apathetic to these pitfalls and buying into the model. Consumers have the ultimate say, but by and large, they seem to be just accepting a crappy situation.

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

    BUT, now that it's in a DIGITAL format, you have NO RIGHTS WHATSOEVER! Which brings to mind a question. HEre I will display my ignorance since I still buy books made of dead trees. Is there a EULA attached to these literary marvels? Doe

  • Um, bullshit.

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

    More, you can share them among more than one person - iTunes can be registered to more than one account, and will load DRMed files registered to every account the iTunes instance is registered to, and if you copy the files from one iTunes storage to another, the 2nd iTunes will try to decrypt the files to any accounts it is registered to. M
  • by icebike (68054) on Monday February 14, 2011 @04:43PM (#35202832)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • by Tanuki64 (989726)

      Why not make a market in used ebooks?

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

      ;-)

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Monday February 14, 2011 @05:00PM (#35203022) Homepage Journal
    You're aren't buying a thing! When you buy a book, you're buying a thing! When you buy an E-Book, you're licensing the right to read the contents of the file! In some cases the right you're purchasing isn't even remotely perpetual!

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

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

  • A) Why am I as a Canadian paying 30% more for books than the US price when the Canadian currency has been at parity or higher for years?

    B) I have never bought any so I don't know. Is there a difference between electronic versions, that is to say one price for Canadians and another for Americans? Because that would be the biggest scam ever. (can't even blame production, distribution, or stock/currency costs...)

  • by Hangtime (19526) on Monday February 14, 2011 @05:09PM (#35203130) Homepage

    Really good article this past week on Japan's ebook industry.

    In Cramped Japan, the iPad Is the Home Library
    Families save space by paying startups to digitize their books
    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/11_08/b4216033233882.htm [businessweek.com]

    For $1 a book, I would be digitizing darn near all my books.

  • Most public libraries have a system where you can borrow ebooks and read them on most readers.
  • by sgt scrub (869860) <saintium@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Monday February 14, 2011 @07:13PM (#35204438)

    Once upon a time people bought books, records, and watched movies at a theater. Sometimes people even went twice. Publishers made money off the one sale. When someone liked the book/record/movie, they told people how good it was. Those people then bought the book/record/movie. During that time the publishers still made enough money to be hugely profitable industries. So why is it now, if a publisher of a book or movie or song doesn't make money 7 different times off the same person for the same piece of art they cry, "We are loosing money!". Why are they suing their customers? Why are they trying to put laws in place to imprison people?

Neckties strangle clear thinking. -- Lin Yutang

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