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Librarian Attacks Amazon's Kindle Lending Program 191

Posted by timothy
from the ungrateful-whelps dept.
destinyland writes "A California librarian is urging librarians to complain to Amazon over issues with privacy and advertising in Amazon's new Kindle ebook lending program for libraries. 'In our greedy attempt to get content into our users' hands, we have failed to uphold the highest principle of our profession, which is intellectual freedom,' she argues in a 10-minute video. (Read the transcript here). Amazon keeps your history of reading library ebooks on their corporate servers, 'so it's an instant violation of all of our privacy policies. And we haven't told people that, and we need to tell people that.' And while many libraries have strict policies against endorsing a particular product, the check-out process concludes on Amazon.com with a pitch urging library patrons to purchase more Amazon books — and there's even book-buying plugs in their 'due date' reminders."
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Librarian Attacks Amazon's Kindle Lending Program

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  • I'm confused as to how it makes sense for Amazon to work with libraries if they cant even advertise.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm confused as to how it makes sense for Amazon to work with libraries if they cant even advertise.

      How about letting libraries lend books directly from overdrive like the epub books ? or supporting epub format for kindle ? They can make all the money they want. Just not by advertising on eBook rentals which are purchased with public funds and have nothing to do with Amazon except for their dogged notion of not supporting epubs.

    • Libraries pay for books. And Amazon gets advertisement just from having their products used, but doesn't necessarily have to say "Go buy our book!"

      Although it does not seem inconsistent with library policies not to endorse, at least no more so than selling a regular book is, because regular books have advertisements by other books by the author, etc...--some older books [and magazines] even have order forms in them.

      • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @02:24PM (#37780002) Homepage Journal

        Libraries pay for books. And Amazon gets advertisement just from having their products used, but doesn't necessarily have to say "Go buy our book!"

        Although it does not seem inconsistent with library policies not to endorse, at least no more so than selling a regular book is, because regular books have advertisements by other books by the author, etc...--some older books [and magazines] even have order forms in them.

        I tried to untangle that double negative phrase .. but anyway .. consider this: You own a bookstore. Your local library, which you fund through taxes, has advertisements for Amazon popping up all over. Pissed, yet?

        Libraries, as public entities, should show no favoritism or grant preferential placement/access to resources influenced by a directly related private business.

        If the local painter wants to give the library a reduced rate on redecorating for the placement of a placard indicating the fine (or shoddy) work was performed by Local Painter, that's one thing, as it does not directly affect access to books/periodicals.

        If you have to have an Amazon account to checkout ebooks on a kindle, that's a barrier. If the books include advertising for Amazon and their offerings of books, that is also a barrier.

        • True, local booksellers have a legitimate grievance, and one that is much more problematic with amazon than it was when it was only the publishers who were doing it and is much more problematic when people can buy from amazon immediately than when there was mail order.

          But that difference is one of degree--an important difference of degree, I grant, and one which should be considered carefully, but still not a fundamental change of policy, when you think about it. Because books *Always* advertise. Sometime

        • by sdguero (1112795)
          Libraries lend DVDs that have advertisements for other movies etc on them. If I owned a blockbuster I'd be pissed about that too. Just playing devil's advocate...
      • You're right about older works of fiction often having order forms in the back of them for more by the same author(s) or works from other writers in the same genre. But I seem to recall that this was only in the paperback and digest formats, especially for book club editions. Hard covers, anthologies and what are called trade paperbacks usually didn't have them. For more popular titles, publishers would often print a library edition, paperback or trade paperback in size, but sewn, not perfect bound and with
  • So do the libraries (Score:4, Informative)

    by tomhudson (43916) <`moc.nosduh-arab ... `nosduh.arabrab'> on Thursday October 20, 2011 @02:00PM (#37779334) Journal

    Amazon keeps your history of reading library ebooks on their corporate servers

    The libraries also keep a record of who has checked out what books. Otherwise, they wouldn't be able to send you a notice saying you have overdue books.

    They also are subject to FISA warrants (the "we can't tell you if your history has been subpoenaed") for your entire borrowing history.

    • by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @02:03PM (#37779416)

      There's a difference between a record of the books you currently have out and a record of the books you've ever checked out.

      • by Desler (1608317)

        And libraries do too. GP is correct. This person is just a whinging hypocrite.

      • by tomhudson (43916) <`moc.nosduh-arab ... `nosduh.arabrab'> on Thursday October 20, 2011 @04:44PM (#37782756) Journal
        The libraries can be ordered under a FISA warrant to hand over your entire history. Not just the books you've checked out, but also all other media (dvds, periodicals), any search requests you made while logged into their system either locally or remotely, any library-hosted events you attended, and any and all other information they have on you ... all while being required to NOT tell you that they've handed over the info even if you ask.
        • by sFurbo (1361249) on Friday October 21, 2011 @03:03AM (#37788186)
          IIRC, exactly that rule made some libraries ditch their records about books returned. The librarians seem to be some of the staunchest protectors of civil liberties. They didn't want to turn over anything to the authorities, so they minimised the amount of information they had.
    • by amliebsch (724858)

      Yes, but the library would never use that information to try to sell you something, which apparently is the most offensive activity imaginable, if you are a librarian.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Yes, but the library would never use that information to try to sell you something

        No... but they do alert the FBI if you take out any 'subversive' books.

        And I think that's worse.

        • by Monchanger (637670) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @03:26PM (#37781350) Journal

          Don't be stupid [ala.org] and don't spread stupid [ala.org].

          If your local library ignores the ALA, that's up to you to fix.

          • by Joce640k (829181)

            So what's the FBI "Library Awareness Program" [wikipedia.org] all about then?

            • It's not what you claimed was happening.
              Nor is it current.
              Nor was it library-endorsed.
              And it certainly wasn't library-initiated.

              So... what the hell are you talking about?

              • by Joce640k (829181)

                It's not what you claimed was happening.
                Nor is it current.

                Are you naive enough to think they stopped doing it because a few librarians complained? All it means is they changed the name and stopped doing it so openly.

                Nor was it library-endorsed.
                And it certainly wasn't library-initiated.

                I never said it was.

                I think I see the problem now, you're a librarian (or know one personally). You think you/they have ethics and are personally offended by this.

                I've got news: Ethics don't apply when the black SUVs arrive outside and people come in saying "Patriot Act". I've heard they can be very persuasive. You also can't ask questions and you're n

                • Yawn. Got any proof to all these wild accusations? No, of course not. Because it's "hidden better now..."

                  I think I see the problem. You watch television all day in your mother's basement and don't have friends to help you learn about the way the world actually works.

                  PS- you kept that rant pretty short. That'll never get you cred with fellow conspiracy theorists.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 20, 2011 @02:05PM (#37779496)

      I used to work for a company that makes library software and this is actually a very important issue in that field. While keeping a list of who has what is unavoidable, the librarians are very adamant that there should be no borrowing history stored. When you return the book they make a point to delete all records that show you ever had it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by tomhudson (43916)

        I used to work for a company that makes library software and this is actually a very important issue in that field. While keeping a list of who has what is unavoidable, the librarians are very adamant that there should be no borrowing history stored. When you return the book they make a point to delete all records that show you ever had it.

        So, you check out a book, find that it's damaged, and return it - and they have no way of telling who took it out before you. They have 50 other customers with the sam

    • by spopepro (1302967)
      This is misleading. The library keeps records of what you currently have checked out. My public and school libraries do not keep a record of what I have checked out in the past. Your library may differ, but the ALA officially vigorously defends individuals right to intellectual freedom, and that includes not tracking reading history.
    • by Phiz (21461) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @02:11PM (#37779646)

      Most libraries have privacy policies that state they delete the record of a book being checked out once it is returned. For example, you can find the policy for NYC public libraries here: http://www.nypl.org/help/about-nypl/legal-notices/privacy-policy [nypl.org]. They even state that they backup their data, and the record of your returned book may exist for an additional 4 weeks in their rolling backup system. I love that they give you this level of detail into how they operate.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      libraries don't sell your data

      • by tomhudson (43916)

        libraries don't sell your data

        1. [citation needed]
        2. ... yet.
        3. .... that you are aware of.
        4. no, they give it up for free (as per the article).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Um, not at my library. We delete your borrowing history once your books are checked back in. And the head librarian has gone to jail instead of giving out what people currently have checked out.

    • by afidel (530433) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @02:26PM (#37780046)
      Actually your library records are no longer covered, that part of the PATRIOT Act was not renewed. FISA only covers foreign agents. I know because the head librarian for the Medina County Library system has been one of the champions against COPA, the Patriot Act provision, and any other legislation which restricts the freedom of her patrons to freely read what they want without the government peering over their shoulder.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Historically, the libraries make a stink about any search, and are sticklers for the law. Corporation are willing to give over any information the feds want with a phone call.

    • can attest, those library cops can track you down decades later [youtube.com].
  • by edremy (36408) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @02:07PM (#37779536) Journal
    I've discussed this with our campus library: they deliberately keep no records at all of book lending. I wanted them to look up my records for a specific book I'd borrowed in the past and couldn't remember the title of, and they couldn't help me get it that way. (We found it via other searches) Cornell's library [cornell.edu] has posted a set of disclosure notices which seem pretty much in touch with our library and others that I've asked about since

    It might not be a bad idea for Amazon to work out a similar plan: simply destroy the record once the book is returned. They might have to burn some ad records as well though, since I'm sure they're offering the book for sale, and it would be easy to track that if they got subpoenaed. My guess is that is where Amazon would balk.

    • by _KiTA_ (241027) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @02:11PM (#37779650) Homepage

      They won't. To Amazon, your borrowing history is "product" that they can package and sell to advertisers and their own internal teams. It would be like asking them to burn money.

    • by Kenja (541830)
      So they dont know what books they have, which have been loaned out and to whom? Thats not a library, thats a "free book box".
      • So they dont know what books they have, which have been loaned out and to whom? Thats not a library, thats a "free book box".

        They know what books they have. They know what books are currently on loan, and who has them. What they CHOOSE NOT TO KNOW is who had what book previously.

      • by i.r.id10t (595143)

        Strangely enough, my little small town coffee shop (one of two in town, neither are a chain) *is* a free book box. They've got shelves full, feel free to come in, get some coffee, take a (paperback only) book home. And next time you come in for your coffee, feel free to return it, or bring some other books or magazines in. They have a good assortment of hard cover books, but those aren't allowed out of the store...

  • People don't care. They just don't. As long as they can consume something faster and cheaper, they will. Self respect doesn't even into the equation. Welcome to Idiocracy.
  • Prattlings from a worker in yet another doomed profession. I have several friends who work at libraries, and I'm constantly amazed at their delusions of relevance. More and more money spent acquiring multiple copies of best sellers rather than expanding the breadth of the library. Money wasted on video games and popular DVDs. A single years' budget could buy everyone in my city one of the subsidized Kindles. Lease the real estate to purchase e-books for lending. Instead, they're expanding the number of
    • by sycodon (149926)

      Unless Librarians are Hot, they are pretty damned useless.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Poorly managed and funded libraries will obviously be irrelevant. Well funded and managed libraries will never become irrelevant. The problem is that our country doesn't value education and sharing anymore. The decline of our library system tells us nothing about libraries, but it speaks volumes about our country.

  • Amazon keeps your history of reading library ebooks on their corporate servers, 'so it's an instant violation of all of our privacy policies.

    Doesn't the library keep a record of my reading history that is accessible by the gov'ment under the "patriot" act? How is this any worse? At least Amazon can do something positive with the data and make recommendations of books I might like...

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Doesn't the library keep a record of my reading history that is accessible by the gov'ment under the "patriot" act?

      If you'd read the earlier posts, you'd know that they don't. However, the current ebook lending system at my library requires using some crappy Adobe software which presumably has to 'phone home' for DRM, so I'm not sure how this is worse.

      • After further reading, I stand corrected. Still, good point about the Adobe software; my library uses the same system.
  • ... I hope.

  • Does it really surprise anyone? Amazon is the company that went and deleted people's books AFTER they were paid for and amazon will do what it takes to make a dollar. Libraries and Amazon really don't have the same mission (and shouldn't) so why is this any surprise.

  • “The American Library Association (ALA) opposes any use of governmental power to suppress the free and open exchange of knowledge and information or to intimidate individuals exercising free inquiryALA considers that sections of the USA PATRIOT ACT are a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users.” - From the ALA website.

    “The searches of some records kept by libraries and bookstores were authorized in an obscure provision of the USA Patriot Act, quietl

  • All your base are belong to us

  • From a Librarian (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ismene (680764) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @02:26PM (#37780050)
    Hi - I think a lot of people here are focusing more on Librarian In Black's concern of the "Buy Now" buttons - when you should be concerned about your privacy. First, I get why she is annoyed by the "Buy Now" button. Libraries do not wish to "endorse" a particular service or product over another - and the "Buy Now" button gives the sense that "This Library supports Amazon" over another bookseller.

    As for the privacy concerns, I've noticed a lot of comments on "Well, don't libraries give up those records with the PATRIOT act anyway?" When the PATRIOT act was enacted, libraries in the US scrambled to protect the rights of their users and the majority of them only have a record of who has what item out at that time - they do not have a record of what you returned.

    And of course, there are lots who are saying "Libraries, bah - NOT RELEVANT." And I'm sure that is true for many of you; however, the library is more than books. Libraries provide a space for people to gather, they provide free internet to those who cannot afford it, they provide lessons on various computer programs, storytimes for children, etc. I am in an academic college library, and the majority of my students cannot afford their textbooks, let alone a computer for them to use. Please remember, you are probably viewing this article from your own computer - there are still a lot of people out there who don't have that luxury. Libraries help people with research, and despite what everyone thinks - not everything is found via Google. Perhaps Rush Limbaugh could have used a librarian / library when he made those horrible remarks about the LRA.
    • Rush Limbaugh's fact checker has the easiest job in the world.

      Not that I like much about Franken's poltics either, but he is a pretty good comedian.

    • by MBCook (132727)

      Libraries do not wish to "endorse" a particular service or product over another - and the "Buy Now" button gives the sense that "This Library supports Amazon" over another bookseller.

      Does it? I don't think I would ever see it that way. I'd see it as my Kindle endorsing Amazon. I'd fully expect to see something encouraging me to buy from B&N on a Nook. This doesn't surprise me, I expect Amazon to track what I'm doing. That's how all their recommendation stuff works. It should probably be disclosed (and

  • I think I know which profession to look for women in, we'll get along just fine!

    • by i.r.id10t (595143)

      Librarians are the proto-geeks, proto-DBAs, and proto-sysadmins.

      Not to mention most are female, quite a few single, and quite a few good looking. Heck, there is even a subset where all 3 attributes apply!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The inconsistency in the Slashdot ethos about information is stunning. The library is THE PLACE that has kept information free in American society and when a librarian stands up for everyone in trying to a) protect privacy and b) give people access to information without bias, y'all complain?

    Where else can you, within current copyright law, read an entire book for free? Get it sent to your local library? Read an eBook for free? Take your kids and let them read and play in a special area for them? Take

  • If I agree with her, and her library has a copy of the book I want, I will read it in hard copy. If I disagree with her, I will resent that she is advocating for all libraries to take this choice from me... Even when they don't HAVE a copy of the book I want to read in hard copy.

    Actually, this is the only Kindle program I really like. Participating libraries can provide something they may not HAVE a copy of (saving small libraries). And if they DO have the hard paper copy, I'd probably prefer it anyway,

  • They don't mess around.

    Talking too loudly? SHHHH!
    Demanding the records of a librarian patron? STFU!

  • > In our greedy attempt to get content into our users' hands

    Um, wait I have this. Greedy attempt... get content in other's hands... greedy... others... greedy, ... access to content for others... greedy...

    I got nuthin'. Can someone help me on this?

  • That is what your little kids will be saying in a few years.

There is hardly a thing in the world that some man can not make a little worse and sell a little cheaper.

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