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Sony Books Handhelds Media

Sony Breathes New Life Into Library Books 374

Posted by Soulskill
from the about-bloody-time dept.
Barence writes "Sony has launched a new range of touchscreen eBook readers — and is breathing new life into the concept of public library books. The readers offer support for free eBook loans from local authority libraries. If you're lucky enough to be a member of a local library supporting the service (50 have signed up so far in the UK) you'll be able to visit its website, tap your library card number in and borrow any book in the eBook catalog, for free, for a period of 14 or 21 days. The odd thing about this is it works in a very similar way to the good old bricks-and-mortar library. While a title is out on loan, it's unavailable to others to borrow (unless the library has purchased multiple copies); it only becomes available again once the loan period expires and the book removes itself from your reader."
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Sony Breathes New Life Into Library Books

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  • by wiredog (43288) on Friday September 10, 2010 @10:50AM (#33533824) Journal

    IIRC, most libraries that loan e-books use the EPUB format, so any non-Kindle reader should be capable of borrowing library books.

    • by cdrguru (88047)

      What this article is talking about is the Adobe format that most of the libraries in Arizona seem to be using. It has an expiration date built into the format.

      Kindle didn't include the Adobe software and can't deal with this format. Unfortunate in some ways but not others. EPUB would be a good addition to Kindle and is likely to show up at some point, but I don't think we will ever see Adobe's mobile software there.

    • by MoonBuggy (611105)

      You also need compatibility with the particular DRM scheme attached to those library EPUBs, but it is fairly widely supported (and one of the main things that swayed me to the nook rather than the kindle). Loaned books, especially free ones, strike me as one of the few valid uses of DRM I've seen. I haven't actually found an online library that lends them out yet, so the scheme might be limited (rather anachronistically) to bricks-and-mortar libraries that one is a member of (if so, does anyone have a conve

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by networkBoy (774728)

        I thought the same thing about the DRM part.
        This is the only 'good' use I've seen yet. I particularly like that it is automatic return from loan, that I don't have to drive to the library to return the books.
        -nB

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nabsltd (1313397)

        Loaned books, especially free ones, strike me as one of the few valid uses of DRM I've seen.

        All eBooks with DRM are loaned [slashdot.org].

    • The same system loans audiobooks for free also.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by InlawBiker (1124825)

      You can remove the DRM from EPUB, PDF and PRC (Amazon's flavor of Mobi DRM), but it's not easy enough for the general public to do. Google Mobidedrm and ineptpdf.pyw.

      I do this for everything I've bought on my Kindle just on principal. Kindle doesn't support ePub, most likely so they can lock you into their evil monopoly plans. If I had it to do over again I'd get a device that supports ePub, just to avoid the hassle. In this case I don't mind the DRM too much.

  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday September 10, 2010 @10:50AM (#33533828) Homepage Journal

    I'm against this with every fiber of my being and hope it dies.

    The odd thing about this is it works in a very similar way to the good old bricks-and-mortar library. While a title is out on loan, it's unavailable to others to borrow (unless the library has purchased multiple copies)

    Sony has devised a system of artificially restricting access to books, effectively a short-term, no end-user-cost license. This is different than libraries buying X copies of a book for loan, it's DRM for books.

    .
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, 2010 @10:55AM (#33533878)

      It's the same thing as a library except you can't steal the book. So go ahead and shut down every library out there.

      • by arth1 (260657) on Friday September 10, 2010 @11:13AM (#33534144) Homepage Journal

        The main difference is that for physical books, the book can't be lent out to more than one person at a time. With e-books, this is an artificial barrier that makes absolutely no sense except as life support for a dying publishing industry.

        Another difference is that if I don't return a library book at the due date, the library doesn't send out stealth ninjas in the middle of the night to replace the book with a brick. While I may have to pay a nominal fine if I return it late, I'm still in control of the book until I give up that control.

        In this case, Sony wants what's best for the publisher and worst for the reader from each of the two technologies (paper books and e-books), which I think is neither fair nor is going to cause a lot of sales.

        Barnes & Noble Nook also has a crippled lending scheme, the difference being that it's not library based, but allows people to lend books to others. Except that they too have crippled it into uselessness. First of all, it's restricted to some books (generally those that don't sell). And they have to be bought through B&N, and not any third party (like ereader.com, Fictionwise or others that also use the peanutpress format). And both the lender and borrower have to have active accounts with B&N, as well as a nook. And finally, there's also the same artificial imitate-dead-trees limitation of one reader at a time because that's more restrictive, not because it makes sense from a digital perspective.

        I think it's time that the e-book producers stop pissing in the well, and realise that while getting more for more is sellable, getting less for more isn't.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The main difference is that for physical books, the book can't be lent out to more than one person at a time.

          I know that. It doesn't really matter, they shouldn't be able to rent out books to multiple people at once without paying more. So the logical thing to do is to prevent them to lend multiple books out unless they buy more than 1 copy.

          Another difference is that if I don't return a library book at the due date, the library doesn't send out stealth ninjas in the middle of the night to replace the book with a brick. While I may have to pay a nominal fine if I return it late, I'm still in control of the book until I give up that control.

          So basically you want to be allowed to steal the book. I think that's being an asshole to other people who also want to rent it, not something logical that should be allowed. You don't deserve that control at all.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, 2010 @11:28AM (#33534318)

          And with zero scarcity driving the cost down to zero for all books, publishing will will go from dying to dead. This is not the RIAA here, authors need book sales to get paid. Rant all you want about free information, but unless you have a real solution for the business model, the only authors you'll see dedicating themselves to the art are cranks writing manifestos and dilettantes who are already well-off enough to do it as a hobby.

          • by supersloshy (1273442) on Friday September 10, 2010 @12:54PM (#33535394)

            And with zero scarcity driving the cost down to zero for all books, publishing will will go from dying to dead. This is not the RIAA here, authors need book sales to get paid. Rant all you want about free information, but unless you have a real solution for the business model, the only authors you'll see dedicating themselves to the art are cranks writing manifestos and dilettantes who are already well-off enough to do it as a hobby.

            Frankly, I don't care if the book industry is dying as-is, and you shouldn't either. What do you think happened when the printing press was invented? When the phonograph was invented? The camera? The video recorder/camcorder? And now, the Internet? It's all the same thing; "our outdated business is dying" and it's because something better is just around the corner. "People won't buy music/books/movies if you give it away for free", huh? Look at Jonathan Coulton, Binaerpilot, Renard, Lemon Demon (who made The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny), Brad Sucks*, Cory Doctorow, Lawrence Lessig, Randall Munroe**, Flattr, Jamendo***, etc. There's an infinite amount of ways to make money on something besides directly selling it. People will always be making art because it's human nature to do so; people will always give money for things because it's human nature to help out. If you absolutely need money to want to make something (besides production costs), then it's not art, and if the Internet helps get rid of that then good riddance.

            * All five of which are successful indie artists that give away most of their music and don't care if people "pirate" it; I highly recommend checking them out by the way.

            ** These three are successful indie authors that I also recommend checking out; Randall, you might know, is the author of XKCD [xkcd.com] and the book sales from XKCD Vol. 0 helped to build a school in Laos.

            *** These are websites that let people give away things for free, while still allowing artists/authors to make money.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              >>>If you absolutely need money to want to make something (besides production costs), then it's not art

              I notice you still accept a paycheck for the "art" you create every single week (random guess: technology hardware or software). Why is it that you think you should be paid for your labors, but not book writers? Hmmmm. Maybe we ought to stop paying you too. I'll just steal whatever you produce w/o paying you.

        • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Friday September 10, 2010 @11:35AM (#33534410)

          Honestly, what would you want?

          There has to be some sort of return on producing books, are we going to rely on people doing it as a hobby, or go back to the old days where you need a patron? (Hope there is some rich guy who likes your genre and hires an author?)

          This isn't like the music problem where mandatory license fees prop up the RIAA and related companies who have a vested interest in keeping the market limited.

          There is NOTHING preventing free books from being released by authors now. There is effectively ZERO barriers to entry. You don't even need your own internet connection.

          1. Write book at home on an old 286
          2. Borrow someone's connection and upload it to the web.
          3. DONE.

          Your book is infinitely published.

          And unlike the music industry there are currently no major laws with regard to publishing which force authors to support one company that has been granted a monopoly. This system is evolving exactly as it should and probably in the best way it can.

          If you were attacking the length of copyright terms, I could understand, but this IS the work produced by someone of their own free will and can be released in a manner of their choosing. I see nothing wrong with this.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Bigbutt (65939)

          You don't have to have a Nook to lend or read an ebook. Just the nook reader app. A friend loaded me Daemon from his iPhone to my iPad.

          [John]

        • by Jhon (241832) on Friday September 10, 2010 @11:41AM (#33534500) Homepage Journal

          In this case, Sony wants what's best for the publisher and worst for the reader from each of the two technologies (paper books and e-books), which I think is neither fair nor is going to cause a lot of sales.

          So, what would you suggest? The publisher sells one ebook to a library that can then GIVE away the book? And if one library has it, why should any other library buy it? Just copy the first sold copy and give THAT away.

          There NEEDS to be a financial incentive for a publisher to publish books. And there NEEDS to be a financial incentive for an author to write a book. If you take away their ability to make money on their works, you will effectively kill the majority of new materials. No new novels, no new poems, no new articles, etc.

          How can this not be seen by the "information wants to be free" crowd?

          I have ZERO problem with loaning an ebook I have to someone and not having it available to me until it is "returned". I have ZERO problem with a library only being able to "loan" an ebook out in volumes that match their license until the book is 'returned'.

          I *DO* believe we should be able to re-sell ebook copies just like paper copies, though.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            There NEEDS to be a financial incentive for a publisher to publish books.

            Not if books are no longer "published"

            And there NEEDS to be a financial incentive for an author to write a book.

            Seems to me the only only authors guaranteed money write crap. Does the world really need Sarah Palin's second book?

          • by k.a.f. (168896) on Friday September 10, 2010 @01:05PM (#33535536)

            There NEEDS to be a financial incentive for a publisher to publish books. And there NEEDS to be a financial incentive for an author to write a book. If you take away their ability to make money on their works, you will effectively kill the majority of new materials. No new novels, no new poems, no new articles, etc.

            Wrong. There needs to be a financial incentive for authoring and publishing for a caste of professional writers and publishing specialists to be viable. It has not been established yet whether this, in turn, is in fact necessary for an adequate supply of literature to be available to society, or whether masterpieces will be produced anyway and their authors sustained by means other than per-printing fees (like Shakespeare's plays). Many, many outcomes are possible and most haven't even been tried yet; but insisting on a model based on a scarcity of physical objects that has become completely pointless, just because it's what you know and what you currently do, is as disingenuous as subsidizing buggy-whips.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Jhon (241832)

              Wrong.

              You're wrong.

              It has not been established yet whether this, in turn, is in fact necessary for an adequate supply of literature to be available to society, or whether masterpieces will be produced anyway and their authors sustained by means other than per-printing fees (like Shakespeare's plays). Many, many outcomes are possible and most haven't even been tried yet; but insisting on a model based on a scarcity of physical objects that has become completely pointless, just because it's what you know

          • by LanMan04 (790429) on Friday September 10, 2010 @03:36PM (#33537788)

            There NEEDS to be a financial incentive for a publisher to publish books. And there NEEDS to be a financial incentive for an author to write a book.

            Statement 1: True
            Statement 2: False

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, 2010 @10:56AM (#33533902)

      Yes, it is DRM for book. But, you're only borrowing the book, for free, as you would if you visited your local library. You would end libraries? Get a grip. This is useful DRM.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "Useful DRM"?

        Get a hold of yourself, man.

    • by TheCRAIGGERS (909877) on Friday September 10, 2010 @10:57AM (#33533920)

      I know what you're saying, but seems like a decent compromise. Besides the obvious "give ebooks away for free" what do you think would work better?

      Frankly, I'm surprised Sony is working with libraries at all given their previous stances on sharing copyrighted material.

      • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Friday September 10, 2010 @11:17AM (#33534184)

        The department of Sony that runs their eBook stuff is apparently run quite a bit different from the rest of the company. They support open standards, don't heavily push DRM, and don't try to sue their customers into oblivion. It's a big company with a lot of diversity, I'd bet that 95% of the people that work in the eBook department have no significant contact with people in the games, movies, or music department. For all intents and purposes they may as well be their own company.

      • by delinear (991444) on Friday September 10, 2010 @11:20AM (#33534230)
        Sony is made up of many different wings under one umbrella. The hardware department responsible for pushing the e-reader obviously think this is a good move, since it's likely to shift a few units (actually if I'm paying money for a book I like the physical copy, I can put it on my bookshelf, it's easier to read and hold, I don't care if I forget it on a train, etc - being able to get a free copy from the library makes these e-readers marginally more attractive to me), and they're probably allowed to do this right now because it doesn't step on any other department's toes. I can imagine if it was the walkman department suggesting libraries allow free music loans, they'd be shot down in short order by the music wing of the company. Still, I think it's positive and while I'd wish they didn't impose the artificial restriction, I can see the reason why they'd want to (if they didn't you could effectively keep the book forever, the library wouldn't mind renewing it every two weeks or whatever because they'd have unlimited copies).
      • Frankly, I'm surprised Sony is working with libraries at all given their previous stances on sharing copyrighted material.

        I don't think they've ever had issues with sharing copyrighted material (okay, maybe somewhere in a board room they do) beyond the typical*. But neither a library nor filesharing are 'sharing' of the copyrighted material. A library lets you borrow the material. Once you borrow it, the library no longer has it. Filesharing on the other hand involves making a copy, and then distributin

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mcgrew (92797) *

        What's wrong with giving them away? Giving them away results in greater book sales, odd as that sounds. Cory Doctorow credits his free downloads of his books to his status as a best selling author. One publishing company, trying to find out how badly piracy hurt book sales, was surprised to find that when the books were scanned and hit the internet a few weeks after initial publication, there was a second sales spike -- the piracy HELPED his business.

        • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Friday September 10, 2010 @11:43AM (#33534550)

          Giving them away results in greater book sales, odd as that sounds.

          Book sales increase now because the book IS a better product when compared to ebooks. If ebooks became the better product (let's say an ereader was invented that out-performed physical books), the current situation would not exist.

          The only reason it works now is because most people still prefer physical books. You would probably have seen a similar result for music if when MP3 players were still crap, you released a digital copy of every CD available for free. People would get a taste of the product, but still prefer the physical media.

          When the physical media is inferior, those sales will dry up.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mcgrew (92797) *

            You would probably have seen a similar result for music if when MP3 players were still crap, you released a digital copy of every CD available for free.

            That's where the RIAA screwed up royally; CDs are still superior to MP3s (though not FLAC or SHN). But their take on it was that they have radio, while indies only have file sharing, Facebook, and MySpace. The RIAA's war against P2P is really against their competetitors, the independant artists.

            People still like buying things. Things they can share, give aw

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hedwards (940851)
        I wouldn't be surprised, this is a swipe at the second hand market. Most libraries stock up on large quantities of popular books to keep the wait manageable. When the demand drops they sell the extras to recoup a portion of the costs. So the book publishers basically get dinged multiple times. First they lose sales from the people who borrowed, then they lose from the second hand sale.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by lxs (131946)

      I couldn't agree more. They may give some slack but you're still on a leash. However after stripping off the DRM (which is still legal in the civilized world) I find that I really enjoy reading ebooks.

      • I wonder, do you consider it a leash when you normally rent a book from the library? I mean, there are well-known rules and such around borrowing them, foremost being that you will return it within so many days.

        Or is it only because this is an obvious restriction they invented?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      For Christ's sake, why do you have to be so negative? How is this any different to normal library books? I think this is a great idea and could save a lot of people money especially when it comes to school/technical/reference books. It would probably kill the O'Reilly bookshelf.

      I wish they'd start doing something like this but with music and movies. I know, it'll never happen.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        I wish they'd start doing something like this but with music and movies.

        Huh? You can check CDs and DVDs out at the public library here in Springfield. But I've never seen school/technical/reference books they'd let you check out at any library, and I've been going to libraries for over half a century.

    • by sonicmerlin (1505111) on Friday September 10, 2010 @11:00AM (#33533968)
      But you get free access to these books, and you can download them from the comfort of your house. I don't like DRM either, but renting something for free doesn't strike me as a problem.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dave420 (699308)
      Without Sony's technique, no one would be getting free electronic books from these libraries at all. DRM often gives content providers the ability to get their content out into people's hands, albeit with restrictions, which is obviously better than them not having DRM and simply refusing to offer up their content in a digital fashion. Yes, the world would be a much better place without the need for DRM, but that's not the world we live in. Content providers need to do everything they can to protect thei
      • by EggyToast (858951)
        Agreed; it's hard to be upset about DRM on free products. It's not like anyone's paying for anything, so the idea of "ownership" is rather moot.
      • Without Sony's technique, no one would be getting free electronic books from these libraries at all.

        Where have you been for the last few years? Libraries have been making free electronic book loans using systems based on Adobe Digital Editions for a considerable time. OverDrive is the predominant service, with something over 9,000 libraries participating. Granted, ADE requires a PC of some sort (Windows, Mac, Linux) to handle the main interface and then transfers a copy to your ebook reader. That doesn't

      • by delinear (991444) on Friday September 10, 2010 @11:35AM (#33534420)
        Yes - DRM on things I have paid for and should own is always a bad thing. DRM on something someone else has paid for and owns and is loaning to me free of charge is not even in the same league. It'd be nice not to have it, but if having it means we get a free service with lots of benefits and no disadvantages over the current system, I'd struggle to say that's a bad thing (albeit any kind of DRM raises a feeling of unease).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Is there any exception made if the book is in the public domain?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mcgrew (92797) *

        If it's in the public domain you can download it free from many internet sources. No need to visit a library at all, unlesss you want the dead tree version.

        Internet Archive [archive.org]
        Gutengerg Project [gutenberg.org]
        lots of universities [virginia.edu] post PD books on the internet, as well as a lot of books that are still under copyright. I was assigned Only Yesterday in a history class I took in the late 1970s at SIU (I still have the book), and now It's on the internet as well [virginia.edu]. It's a good read, I reccomend it.

        Plus, there are Creative Commons boo

      • by delinear (991444)
        I suppose that depends if the digital copy counts as a sufficiently different work that it attaches its own copyright, and if it did, whether the person who transcribed it did it free of charge and offered their work up under a creative commons license or something. There's no reason a library couldn't digitise its own public domain works and give them out without restriction (although whether they'd do that is another matter - it's in their interest that you have short term loans that keep you coming back
    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Friday September 10, 2010 @11:14AM (#33534152)

      Your knee jerk reaction is everything that is wrong with blind idealism. Yes, this is DRM, it's DRM that opens up functionality that would not otherwise be economically feasible or even legally defensible. Do authors deserve to get paid for their work? Because unless they don't, you can't have libraries giving out unlimited, copyable, no-return-required copies of books. This is the only realistic way that libraries will continue to exist in any form if we move towards a 100% digital distribution, an idea that I personally believe isn't as far fetched as a lot of people seem to think it is.

  • Sony? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday September 10, 2010 @10:52AM (#33533842) Homepage Journal

    Ever since I was a victim of XCP there's no way I'll touch ANYTHING Sony makes. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

    Honestly, guys, stop buying computer gear from a company who would root paying customers' computers and destroy legally installed software.

    • by Amouth (879122)

      I too refuse to buy from Sony - not only because of the root kit issue but then how they handled it and then what they ended up getting away with.

      the ONLY time i buy something made by sony is if there is no other choice (ex, they have the only product that meets the need). I don't care if i have to pay 2x as much if there is another supplier that will meet the need i will buy theirs.

    • Sony has annual revenues of around 80 billion dollars, over 150,000 employees and an order of magnitude more contractors and manufacturing partners. XCP sucked, but - Sony is the size of a nation. Do you boycott China because of the melamine-laced products?

      For pure entertainment value, the internecine feuds of the various heads of the Sony hydra are pretty hard to beat.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by localman57 (1340533)
      I'll buy gear from any company that finds religion, and starts adhering to standards. Sony is now using SD cards in their video cameras, (and also memoryStick) using the MP4 format (better than .mov, at least I feel), is doing much better about using standard connectors for things, and is offers eBook readers with no wireless component, so you'll always be able to load them with eBooks without worring about big brother.

      Yeah, they did the XCP thing. And ripped Linux off of the PS3. But if you want to
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Yeah, they did the XCP thing. And ripped Linux off of the PS3. But if you want to send a message, you buy the products they make that conform to standards (assuming they're worth buying), and don't buy the ones that don't. That's the stuff that influences what they make. Just crossing a company off the list for something they did years ago isn't a way to affect change.

        So I buy the stuff from them that meets my needs and conforms to standards... until it doesn't.

        Sony's actions with regard to OtherOS makes th

    • by delinear (991444)
      While I largely agree with the Sony sentiments - so long as there's no insistence that you use their device or their standards, I can still say they're doing something good here. It wouldn't convince me to buy their technology, but if I can buy someone else's e-reader and enjoy the benefits of Sony pushing for this then they might win back a couple of points of goodwill (they'd still have a hell of a long way to go to get me back as a customer, not that I'm on some kind of personal crusade, I just don't wan
  • by iONiUM (530420) on Friday September 10, 2010 @10:52AM (#33533850) Homepage Journal

    I think there's some problem going on in the world of business while we transition from physical things to digital copies. I mean, I think it's great this library is offering digital copies to read for free, don't get me wrong, but why is there an artificial limitation on the number? Is this because if it was infinite nobody would need to buy a book anymore?

    I just find it really strange that we goto such lengths to treat something that is, basically, a free resource (copying digital bits) as something that is finite (an actual book).

    • by bsDaemon (87307) on Friday September 10, 2010 @10:56AM (#33533914)

      The cost of the book goes to cover paying author royalties, the editors, the type setters, etc. Just because you don't have a "press" anymore doesn't mean you don't still have pre-press. This seems "good enough" for now. Digital copies of books, movies and music are already cheaper than the physical ones, and most commercially-produced content isn't going to be free-as-in-beer, because they can't operate like that. What's good for software doesn't necessarily work for other things.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Well, actually... it takes a lot of resources to make a physical book. Which is why I understand paying say $7.99 for a physical copy. That appears (all those paperbacks all over) to pay the author, the publisher, the printer, ink-maker, paper-maker, cover-artist, etc., everyone---everyone makes a profit or they wouldn't be doing it.

        In the digital world, you pretty much only need to compensate the author---the rest of the costs become jokingly low (and if they're not, you're doing something wrong). So how c

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TheCRAIGGERS (909877)

          I'm guessing the authors already make a living off less than that.

          But to answer your question, they sell it for the same cost out of plain greed. Consumers have already been conditioned to shelling out $8 US for a paperback book (nevermind the insane cost of a hardcover) so why shouldn't they expect consumers will keep right on doing it when in electronic form?

          My great worry is that all the extra profit is going straight to the top, instead of the authors for which I feel it rightfully belongs. Hopefully

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Buelldozer (713671)

        Digital copies of books are cheaper than physical ones? The truth of that is declining every day.

        Here, look at this:

        http://www.amazon.com/Changes-Novel-Dresden-Files-ebook/dp/B0030DHPAW/ref=pd_sim_kinc_7?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2 [amazon.com]

        The kindle edition is $12.99, price set by publisher.
        The paperback edition is $9.99, price set by publisher.

        That's right the publisher, in this case Penguin, has decided that the digital version should be MORE expensive than the the dead tree version. This is becoming more common

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bieber (998013)
      Unfortunately, we live in a nation where everyone has been conditioned to believe that effectively-endless copyright protection is some kind of inalienable personal right, not a balance to be struck between society and authors for the greater good of society as a whole. So when ridiculous crap like self-deleting downloads come along, people don't think "Why am I letting these people seize control of my own computing devices away from me so that they can protect their artificial monopoly?", but rather "Oh,
      • by Derkec (463377)

        I'm with you that endless copyright is bad.

        But we can probably agree that copyright for some period is reasonable. Right?

        So, in order to protect our computing devices, do we simply never load copyrighted material on them, or do we compromise and say, "If it's on loan, I'll let it delete itself after some time period to enforce the loan?" That's a compromise I think is pretty reasonable. If my library books would return themselves automatically and I didn't have to remember to take them back or face penaltie

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Agreed! Plus, something the DRM friendly jokesters from a few threads above don't realize when they lay down their "oh, it's good for everyone with the DRM and the restrictions" logic is that this is a play by Sony to get their eBook readers into peoples hands and gain traction on Kindle/iPad/etc. It's nothing more. Save me your "it's just like the library" bullshit, people. It's about Sony making money and feeding you more DRMed content, even when it's freely available elsewhere without restrictions, o

    • by lxs (131946)

      It's technology crashing into social adaptibility cf. red flag laws [wikipedia.org]

    • by cdrguru (88047)

      Is this because if it was infinite nobody would need to buy a book anymore?

      The library does not have the right to freely distribute books. It buys a limited number of copies and has the right to lend these out for a limited period of time. Period. Distributing unlimited digital (or physical) copies would essentially be usurping the author and copyright owner's rights to control distribution.

      If anyone, anywhere (yes, I specifically am including truely-free.org) distributes digital copies of books in an unrestricted manner they are pretty much making a decision for the author and

    • It's not so strange when one considers that the entire western economy is based off of supply and demand. Infinite supply is bad, so they artificially impose restrictions.

      Hopefully we will figure out a new economy some day instead of trying to shoehorn the future into the old ways.

      • by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday September 10, 2010 @12:02PM (#33534744) Homepage Journal

        I keep hearing people talk about artificial scarcity.
        What we are actually dealing with is an artificial abundance caused by digital copying.
        People keep talking about how the cost to produce a book, movie, TV Show, or song is now practically nothing.

        That is a false statement.
        The cost to produce those things has been decreased they are still far from zero.
        Let's take a book for example.
        It may take an author six months too write a book.
        It may take an editor three weeks to edit it.
        It may take a typesetter/layout artist a day to lay it out and check the proofs.

        That is all labor and costs money.
        Now the author often gets no pay for his labor. He is making an investment that he will get paid.
        The publisher invests his money in the editing laying out of the book for production as well as advertising.
        Most books do not make a profit.

        The way the system works is that we pay a small amount for book, movie, TV Show, and more Music compared to what it cost to make because the cost of duplication means that the cost can be spread over a large number of people.

        Digital copying provided the illusion that the cost to produce these things is zero.
        It is not. The cost to duplicate them is very close to zero. That is the problem
        The end result should be that the cost per person should come down but it shouldn't become zero. If ti becomes zero then production will stop.
        There are two problems.
        The current producers want the decreased cost of duplication to mean increased profits for them. They see this as windfall.
        Consumers are ignoring the cost of production and only seeing the cost of duplication and want it for free.

        The problem really isn't one of economics but one of greed. Actually two problems of greed.
        The greed of the media companies that want an even larger profit margin.
        and
        The greed of consumers that want the media but want it for free.

        If we could just solve human greed then we wouldn't have this problem.
        The consumers would be willing to pay a fair price and the produces would be happy with a fair profit.

    • Isnt it more comparable to a multi user licence for a software product than "a free resource (copying digital bits)"

    • by Amouth (879122)

      Is this because if it was infinite nobody would need to buy a book anymore?

      Correct - why buy it if i can get it for free legally and just as easily?

      If there is no incentive to buy a book then what will be the incentive to the people who would write a book?

      Sure you will still get true great works - and works from people who write for passion. But there are a lot of books that exist that a lot of people read that do not fall under that area. Without the incentive of making money (either extra or a living) these works would not otherwise exist.

      And i'm not talking just about paperba

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      The cost of duplication is practically free but that isn't new.
      The printing press reduced the cost of duplicating a book as well.

      The entire idea of copyright laws is to provide an incentive to publish and create works that can be duplicated easily.

      In many ways it works like venture capital or a start up company.
      An author invests their time which could be working or or doing a different activity creating a work. He has no guaranty that he will make any money off the effort. Most authors do not get rich or ev

    • "Is this because if it was infinite nobody would need to buy a book anymore?"

      Yes. Personally I don't think it's in the public interest to allow libraries to kill off publishers anymore than it is to allow publishers to kill off libraries. They are two sides of a symbiotic relationship that has served society well for a very long time.
  • Whats odd? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bsDaemon (87307) on Friday September 10, 2010 @10:53AM (#33533866)

    I know that it doesn't really "cost" anything to make digital reproductions of digital goods, which is probably the point the summary was hinting at with the "odd thing" bit, however this seems like a fairly decent compromise to get a new media format worked into the traditional model of how libraries function. It'll get more content out, expose more people to the library system, and probably help gain new acceptance for the technology. In a few years, the model will probably evolve -- most librarians I've known were all about anything to help get people reading, and would be towards the head of the pack in pushing for new ways to make it happen.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      It also accustoms people to the idea that digital data is something that is under the thumb of corporate overlords.

      They can make it disappear whenever it suits them and that's alright with everyone...

      • by bsDaemon (87307)

        That's a problem with digital content in general, like Wikipedia. Any jackass can edit it to say anything they want any time they want, and depending on who else is paying attention, they might get away with it. I'm not particularly into ebooks, but if staring closely at a back lit screen for hours and hours is what it takes to get kids to pay attention to Pride and Prejudice sans the zombies, then it'll have to do.

        Face it -- we don't live in a post-scarcity Star Trek world. We don't live in the Spanish

        • by Amouth (879122)

          Pride and Prejudice sans the zombies

          I haven't read it personally but several people i know said it was better with the zombies as it filled in some of the gaps, after reading it once i can't bring my self to do it again even if it is possibly better.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
      So you're fine with promoting yet another model of artificial scarcity to promote sales of media which can be duplicated and distributed for next to no cost whatsoever?

      Let me guess, next will be loaned digital music from the library. I actually wouldn't mind that, apart from two points:

      1. I don't have the original copy of the work. There are an infinite number of copies available, the artificial limit just needs to be removed.
      2. The media is on my device, and without that artificial scarcity they would be
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by wygit (696674)

        So do you have a solution to an author actually getting paid for their work, or a musician, or a filmmaker?

        Or are they all just supposed to produce their works just for the joy of it?

        I'm really asking here... I'm curious as to what your solution is, once 'they get their heads around and adapt to" this new way of distributing media.

  • LCD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DogDude (805747) on Friday September 10, 2010 @11:00AM (#33533976) Homepage
    I see the move to e-books in libraries as a bad thing. If anything, it's the antithesis of what a library is for. Libraries exist so that everybody, no matter how poor or disenfranchised can both educate and entertain themselves (LCD = "lowest common denominator"). Anybody can read a book. Only the wealthy can afford e-book readers and the subsequent fees. If libraries move to having titles on ebooks instead of having hard copies, that immediately eliminates people who cannot or won't buy those silly, overpriced book readers.

    Not only is it disenfranchising, but it's putting control of information even more in the hands of just a few big corporations. Who trusts Sony with their books? I certainly don't. What happens if Sony discontinues their service? What happens if Sony goes under? What happens if a suit at Sony decides that it's no longer in their best interests to continue this program? A book is simple, and nobody, short of a thief or vandal, can take those away from people or libraries.

    I'll keep checking out physical books from my library, and I'll continue to pres my library to acquire more physical books, instead of Sony licenses.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lemmy Caution (8378)

      I see the move to eBooks as providing a better hedge against the loss of a book than the physical possession of the book is. That "short of a thief or vandal" (or simply losing a book) is a much bigger drain on resources than you're letting on.

      Libraries also have problems with space. The San Francisco library actually had to shrink its collection when it moved to its new facility, and other libraries are facing similar problems, especially for periodical collections.

      Libraries have been subscribing to electr

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jeremy Erwin (2054)

        Libraries also have problems with space. The San Francisco library actually had to shrink its collection when it moved to its new facility, and other libraries are facing similar problems, especially for periodical collections.

        No, It didn't have to shrink its collection. It made that choice.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Again (1351325)

      I see the move to e-books in libraries as a bad thing. If anything, it's the antithesis of what a library is for. Libraries exist so that everybody, no matter how poor or disenfranchised can both educate and entertain themselves (LCD = "lowest common denominator"). Anybody can read a book. Only the wealthy can afford e-book readers and the subsequent fees. If libraries move to having titles on ebooks instead of having hard copies, that immediately eliminates people who cannot or won't buy those silly, overpriced book readers.

      You talk of the LCD as the poorest person who is unable to afford an ebook reader. Well consider the LCD who is bed-ridden or for some reason unable to visit the public library. This type of model allows them to now also make use of the library.

      • Wouldn't the LCD already be excluded? I mean those who are illiterate. I'd point out that the illiterate are from communities that haven't invested in--due to inability or disinterest--in mediocre/good public schools. So libraries are already near-useless for those people because of a cost issue.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wygit (696674)

      "Only the wealthy can afford e-book readers and the subsequent fees."
      1) Only the wealthy can afford computers to PUT ebooks on their ebook readers
      2) The price of a reader is dropping to around the price of 5 hardbacks, if you buy hardbacks, which I don't. Maybe the price of 15-20 paperbacks?
      3) What fees? I've had my Sony Reader for a couple of years now, and I've never paid a fee. Everything on my computer that I transfer to the Reader is eit

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by michael_cain (66650)
      I sympathize with your perspective, but once the cost of hardware comes down some more (OLPC's XO-3 is targeting $75, and could be stripped down even more for an ebook-only device), and the publishers and authors figure out that there's an optimal pricing strategy, the libraries are going to be in trouble no matter what.

      The "right" pricing scheme, based on what has worked for other types of content, has three tiers: initial release at $10-25, depending on the author and some other factors, mass market re
  • But how will the libraries get by with no more funding from late fees?

  • I've used OverDrive's eBook/audio/video checkout services at local libraries here for a couple years now, and they all work that way. You add items to a basket, check out, and then you have access to them for a fixed period. During that period, nobody else can access them. It makes sense given how the library got the items in the first place - through licensed sale from the publisher.
  • by gondel (1309723) on Friday September 10, 2010 @11:11AM (#33534108)
    I am not sure if this is really news. We have had a scheme like this in Hamburg for much more than a year. http://www.bibliothek-digital.de/hamburg [bibliothek-digital.de] You take a book or newspaper out and it is unavailable to others, exactly as described in the article. You cannot return an article early, even if you are finished with it. Perhaps the main difference is that in Hamburg, the selection of books is very weak, but the selection of newspapers and weeklies is better.
  • I like it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Carik (205890) on Friday September 10, 2010 @11:11AM (#33534110)

    Sounds good to me. I've got no objection to paying authors -- or their editors! -- for their work, and I think it's reasonable that libraries should have to pay for books just as they always have. I would hope that the price would drop if printing wasn't involved, but the author still has to make a living somehow. And the DRM makes sense to me in this case... it leaves you with a system exactly like the old one, which works fine.

    On any personally owned ebook or music, of course, I'll avoid DRM, but on a library book it's no more restrictive than their current policies.

  • Not odd at all (Score:4, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday September 10, 2010 @11:15AM (#33534164)
    It's not odd at all that the library would be required to treat these as physical books. It was probably the only way to get the publishers on board. Otherwise, why would anyone ever buy a book if an unlimited number of people could check it out for free whenever they wanted to?
  • by Albanach (527650) on Friday September 10, 2010 @11:19AM (#33534210) Homepage

    One 'benefit' of DRM is that it should make lending or even reselling trivial. Frankly I don't mind if there's even a small admin charge to cover the DRM costs.

    I bought my first book on my iPad. Told a friend about it and they said "oh, I'd love to borrow that when you're finished'. Immediately it is clear that I have rented the book and I have to say sorry. The user experience is crap. Users are losing a right they have held for centuries.

    Barnes and Noble have made a pathetic attempt by allowing one time 14 day sharing. Really it's just an advertising tool for the Nook.

  • by RabbitWho (1805112) on Friday September 10, 2010 @11:28AM (#33534320) Homepage Journal
    Okay Jesus what we're gonna do is we're gonna keep these loaves and fishes in this little box.
    - But my child, there is no need, there is an infinite number of them.
    yes but Jesus Christ we don't want them decreasing in value, people won't appreciate your creative energy.
    • by RabbitWho (1805112) on Friday September 10, 2010 @11:52AM (#33534644) Homepage Journal
      Oh and god forbid bread-makers should go out of business!

      This is what I don't understand, I spend most of the money I have on things like books and educational equipment if it's not on rent or food. If we had access to infinite food would we throw it away so a small portion of people could still make profits on selling it? Surely it would be better for them and everyone else to have free food instead? If we had access to an unlimited amount of land would we still make people buy it and rent it? Why? So the person who benefits from that can have more land? Wouldn't it make sense to let the tenants and the landlords have the infinite land for free?

      And here we go! We have this exact situation with information and we're trying to limit it! what on earth is going on! People have been dreaming about this for centuries and we're charging for things FOR NO REASON.

      One of the greatest modern Irish writers, John Mc Gahren, died of old age shortly before this whole e-book craze. He survived on a special state grant for artists and writers. The money from his book sales actually wasn't enough to support him. He had some bestselling books! These are the people whose incomes we are trying to think? Don't you think an infinite free library would have been worth more to him than the amount of money he earned selling those books? You think he wrote to make money!? You think that people will stop writing when they're not getting paid!? There is more writing being published and more published writers now than ever before in the history of the world.

      We haven't got unlimited space or unlimited energy or unlimited food yet. These are the things we should pay for. I don't mind reading a blog that has an ad for things like this on the side, which I will buy with money I earn doing concrete things. But unlimited access to books and information wouldn't cost anyone a penny beyond the costs of electricity and bandwidth. It would make each and every one of us with access to a hundred dollar computer and the internet; writers, cleaners, artists, waitresses, CEOs - each and every one of us the richest people in the history of the world.
  • I crunched the numbers on this a while ago ( http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showpost.php?p=619831&postcount=11 [mobileread.com] ).

    Given that each hardcover book releases ~8.85 pounds of CO_2 ( http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/emeraldcity/2008/06/paper-vs-paperl.html [latimes.com] )

    And a Sony ebook reader (I used the weight of my old Sony PRS-505, 9 ozs.) requires ~16 pounds of CO_2 to manufacture (CO_2 footprint for energy: http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/ggrpt/carbon.html [doe.gov] role in manufacturing: http://www.energybulletin.net/node/4 [energybulletin.net]

  • It's more like using more ridiculous DRM shit trying to force technology to conform to the worst traits of the brick-and-mortar library.

    What is the POINT of having a waiting list for an electronic book? Is the value of the imaginary property magically diminished because people can read it concurrently?

    Concurrent licensing makes at least a (very) marginal kind of sense with software, which is expected to be in use almost constantly. With books that are read once and then returned, you're just inconveniencing

    • I agree. This is just a clever marketing ploy to find a way of getting DRM accepted by Joe Public "through the back door".

  • "The odd thing about this is it works in a very similar way to the good old bricks-and-mortar library. While a title is out on loan, it's unavailable to others to borrow (unless the library has purchased multiple copies); it only becomes available again once the loan period expires and the book removes itself from your reader."

    How is that odd? Do you fail to reallize that paying for one copy of a book only entitles the librar to loan out one copy at a time? This is 100% consistent with the way libraries l

  • Some of those library books smell awfully musty.

  • Reduce the copyright limits back to more reasonable levels. What I mean by reasonable levels are levels where the user makes money within a shorter period of time and then it's allowed to go into the public domain where anyone can copy it. Something like a period of 20 years or so, with an option for a single extension.

    Media and content should benefit the public at large. The copyright laws as they are set up now to perpetually give money to publishers for publishing and holding onto books and then simpl

  • The odd thing? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jridley (9305) on Friday September 10, 2010 @11:44AM (#33534564)

    That's how all of the library loan systems I've used work. They can only have the number of files that they purchased out at once. Otherwise they could buy one copy and lend it to a million people at once. One service could buy one copy of everything and loan it to everyone for practically no cost.

    Audiobook downloads work the same way.

    How the heck else could it work, if authors are to ever get paid anything?

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