You don't have to "lend" books, you can just make a digital copy and give it to your friend. Anything less than that is software and hardware that is purposely crippled in order to manufacture an artificial scarcity.
#4 To Stay Afloat, Businesses Have to Pretend Unlimited Goods are Limited
A. Why can't the library just buy as many digital copies as are needed for the customers, and keep them forever, if they don't naturally degrade?
B. Wait a second. It's just a digital file. Why not just buy one copy, and just copy and paste it for every customer who wants to read it?
C. Wait a second. Why do you need the library at all? Why can't a customer just buy a copy from the publisher and "lend" copies to all of his friends?
D. Wait a second. If no printing and binding needs to be done, why do you need the publisher? Just buy it directly from the author.
E. Waaaaait a second. Why buy it? Once the author makes one copy available, why can't everyone just grab it for free?
Software did it by putting software behind services, not allowing copies to be distributed to the end users. Perhaps authors can figure out something analogous.
I agree that creativity isn't bound, but it will certainly happen less when a person who is exceptional doesn't have the opportunity to full devote themselves to their craft.
Publishers are not as dumb as the pirates think. The publishers just actually have seen the numbers and know that if you take out the cost of printing, you really haven't lowered the cost of the book very much. If you take out the cost of burning the CD, you really haven't lowered the cost to the record label very much. So why should they be expected to now evaporate 100% of their revenue becuase their cost drop 10 or 20 or 30 percent? That is nuts.
Related to book authors: they need a way to make a living writing books, at least part-time.
Also in a fair society, brilliant people should be rewarded accordingly.
"Reward" is the means to pursue your creativity. The ability for an author or a photographer or a painter or a musician to actually work on their trade instead of working menial jobs to try to support a hobby.
There was once a time in human history where creativity wasn't a meritocracy. It was an idle pursuit that the rich engaged in. Is that a better model?
>the fact of the matter is that you can't make the case that what we're dealing with isn't a matter of artificial scarcity
From a naive perspective, of course you can copy that floppy.
From a rational perspective, however, of course it deals with a real scarcity of creation that copyright seeks to prevent (just as patents attempt to prevent a scarcity of innovation, though the results are much more mixed).
For many people, while writing may not be their only job, they still need that part of their income.
Technical books aren't written because they are profitable, they are written out of passion or pride.
Edit: the same is true for a great many non-technical books. The average writer has a day job, writing is for most a questionably lucrative hobby.
I would argue that a budding hobby novelist culture already exists, and will only grow, just like the free software movement did.
Heck, we're already seeing open source movies.
Also, there's a whole culture of free fiction on the internet. It's pretty huge, although most of it is crap, there are some real nuggets of goodness out there.
Of course, most of the stuff people charge for is crap, too.
For a living, eh? So do we presume you feed yourself with soup kitchens, and live in a cardboard box on the street?
The same is being applied to music, artists like Unwoman regularly write songs and albums on spec and through crowd-sourcing. A friend of mine is a huge fan, and donated money for her to write a song using a Voltairine DeClayre poem.
In other words, your previous answer was a cutesy lie. You do not, in fact, earn a living giving away software. You earn a living getting people to pay you to to write software.
That you don't sell the software is irrelevant: you're still creating the software because there is money in doing so. What would the effect be on your creative output if nobody would pay you for it? How much software would you be writing if you had to crank widgets for a living instead? More? Less?
How much software would you be writing if you had to crank widgets for a living instead?
I've done pizza delivery, tech support, coffee barista, construction, and a bunch of jobs I barely even remember.
I was writing software while I was doing all of it.
My side project is Appleseed, which I've written in my spare time, which is tens of thousands of lines of code, and six years in the making, without any particular economic incentive. I've always worked whatever job I could to pay the bills, but no amount of poverty has ever stopped me from coding, at one point I had to sell my only computer to make rent, and managed to find someone who could lend me an older laptop so I could continue coding. And everything I've written is open source.
Writers, like programmers, and artists, and other creative people, create because they love to do it, because they'd rather do it for nothing, than not do it at all.
This is 100% spot on:
"In other words, your previous answer was a cutesy lie. You do not, in fact, earn a living giving away software. You earn a living getting people to pay you to to write software."
How can an author do that? There is absolutely no equivalence between the economic model around free software and the economic model around music and books. Free software makes money by giving it away to a lot of people, and getting money from the few people that need extra. Some people will pay for you to add a feature or provide support or make a change or put it under a different license or gaurentee uptime. Maybe the project matters so much to a person or group that they will pay someone to work full time on it. This is what makes FOSS go economically.
A book is a book for everyone. Once you have the book, what else could you need?
And to say that a side project and full time are the same thing is also ridiculous. I did a lot more coding on FOSS when I didn't have a 40-50 hour a week comittment to my FT job going on.
2. Fame, recognition, i.e. non-monetary benefits to being a good writer.
3. At least some people write because they believe what they have to say is important and/or helpful.
4. People will always want to own physical books. This is different than music or a dvd as a book can be passed-on/gifted much easier than a DVD or a CD, which will be obsolete.
I can see both arguments, but I'm definitely not worried about the possibility that people will stop writing books.
As examples, I'd offer both Why's poignant guide to Ruby and 2 pretty good books I've recently checked out, Learn Python the Hard Way & A Byte of Python.
Sure, just like Britney Spears gets all her sales by having good music.
Writing a good book means little if you can't find a way to get lots of people to read it.
Or Justin Bieber, who also only exists because of the internet and youtube. I'm not saying Bieber makes good music, but he exists and thrives because of the internet, not despite it.
If writing is something we value as a society, then there should be a good way for good writers to make money by writing, instead of having to find ancillary things they may not be particularly good at.
My local library offers assorted e-books. Every so often, when I've tried to request one, I was told I had to wait until someone else "returned" their copy.
Needless to say Amazon will take a cut in this feature, perhaps some to the book publisher and author too. Kind of works out for everyone.
Although the acronym Cracked uses is most definitely not the scientific one.
Copyright law is there to prevent real scarcity. Without copyright law there would be no big budget or little budget movies, little recorded music, few books, and on and on and on.
Sure, there will be a couple of beatniks who'll work night jobs as janitors to ply their trade, but the vast majority would abandon the effort.
The scarcity, minus the "artificial" scarcity, would be very real.
For books I expect to share and re-read, I'm back to the physical copy. The only new ebooks I'm getting are the disposable fiction stories; which is probably the business model Amazon/BN have in mind and why we're still years away from a reasonable digital reader solution.
The more important news, to me, is that they're now going to let you get subscribed magazines and newspapers in the kindle apps. Right now those only work with kindle hardware.
Second - The difference between a physical book and a eBook is that (A) you carry your _entire_ library with you all of the time and (B) your books are never lost/damaged.
I'm one of the 5% outliers who actually finds DRM encumbered eBooks (significantly) more useful than physical books - I never lose them, never have to move them, they never take up space, I never have to dispose of them, and can read them anywhere, any time.
Doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense, because they presumably know who you've lent them to.
Then again, non-limited lending raises other issues. How do you get it back? Do you allow the purchaser to forcibly take it back, removing it from the borrower's device? That sucks for the borrower. But that also requires that the device be connected to the web at some point; if the borrower only uses USB to load the device, the loaned item can't be snatched away.
Time limits, that don't rely on connectivity, are probably the simplest solution.
But that wouldn't work if there were no time limit at all - you could lend a book and disable all wireless connectivity. So why not make Kindle users who have lent book reauthorize every 14 days with Amazon's servers to extend the lease.. Sure, some people would abuse this system but it's not like you can't download more and more ebooks from various not-so-legal places anyway.
But then the whole thing is useless - seriously, I can lend some books, for two weeks and only once? No, thanks.
(Hey I don't believe it'll work, it's only what I think the publisher execs are thinking.)
The Kindle would be enormously useful to me if I could navigate to my library's website, check out an eBook, and read it right on my Kindle.
This was actually a (small) part of my thinking when I was trying to decide whether and which eBook reader to get. I ended up going with one of the new Sony models, in part because I knew it would work with my library's eBook system.
For whatever it's worth, though, breaking Adobe's DRM is trivial, as is converting the resulting unencrypted ePub file to a MOBI file, which, if I'm not mistaken, can be read on a Kindle. Your personal legal or moral mileage may vary, but from a technical standpoint it's pretty easy.
Which would probably make a lot of sense at this point, given all the free reader apps they provide on various devices.
Hell, the system could be pretty sweet. Look up a book at Amazon, and Amazon could determine your local library system based on your address, check the ebook 'inventory' of that library, and if a copy is available, offer a library loan as an option. You wouldn't even have to go to the library website.
Oddly enough though I don't have the same gripe with the apple App Store...
Its not the idea of paying that bothers me so much as the price point. I know damn well there's nowhere near the overhead costs to digital distribution that there are to printing, publishing and retail, why am I only getting a $5.00 discount? Popular digital books and MP3 albums could cost $2 and still be profitable...
Not to mention that I can't resell or exchange the digital copies like I could physical media, so there's no longterm value. If you consume as much media as I do you'll quickly go broke if you were to pay what they wanted, and not be able to at least recoup some of the value in tradeins.
$9.00+ for digital DRMed media is a total ripoff.
I dislike this argument - it assumes that products ought to be priced according to their cost of production, which is patently false in reality. The price of a product is whatever the market will bear.
Does this means MP3s aren't overpriced? Nope. The monopolistic cartel-like behavior of the labels does seem to prevent the market from reaching a natural equilibrium price for music; that being said, the notion that digital things should be almost-free because they're almost-free to produce IMHO is BS.
> "$9.00+ for digital DRMed media is a total ripoff."
None of the major digital music stores have been DRMed for a long time. Both iTunes and Amazon MP3 are DRM free, and in fact the only real place you'll find DRM on music these days is the Zune Store - but that's more because you're on a all-you-can-listen subscription plan, there's no confusion about whether or not you own your files.
(Ok, so the music you buy doesn't have DRM, that is true. But its still worth absolutely nothing after you download it...)
This isn't exactly true. Most of the 'overhead' of a CD isn't physical production, it's record labels. They give a band a lump of money to sign on, and then they bill the band at every opportunity. They charge you to use a recording studio, they charge you to hire a producer to make it sound the way they want, they charge you to hire an artist to do your covert art, they charge you to do the music video, etc. Once it's all done, they handle all the distribution as well, which has become relatively cheap thanks to economies of scale.
This is the same reason studios have always been against digital distribution. Once people realize how easy things can be, they'll realize that they, as an institution, are far less valuable. You don't need to get airplay on the radio if you can preview every song in an album, lend music to your friends wirelessly, etc.
The price of digital goods won't come down until we eliminate the actual overhead - the profiteering middlemen.
Reproduction is a very small part of the cost of a book or album, as a share of the per-item price.
If all print books were to (for the sake of argument) completely vanish right now, I'm afraid that we'd find ourselves in a world where books were less generally accessible, not more generally accessible. Given the relative ease of ebook reproduction and distribution, this strikes me as the reverse of the way things ought to be.
Only once? People won't enjoy that.
This is a little step but it is down the right path. As much as we would all love to have the same abilities as we do with physical copies of books going the full wack of unlimited lending for unlimited timeframes is most likely too big of a shock for publishers to deal with. Hell we don't even have a legal way to do this with iTunes, Amazon MP3, and other online media services (at least not that I am aware of? please correct me if I am wrong, note I said legal, technically it is possible as there is no DRM but legally there is no way, it could be argued this is true for physical media too due to the "license" on the inside of the CD, DVD, or whatever it is you bought but no court would ever actually follow thru on that however sharing MP3s online doesn't get the same treatment, go figure).
Anyway back to my point, I am pretty sure in time limitations will be lifted, maybe not to the same as you get with physical media but pretty close. One thing that is the same, if you lend a friend a book you certainly can't keep reading! It would have been pretty cool (and a much bigger deal IMHO) if the publishers used this as a marketing tool for word of mouth advertising by letting you "lend" the book to a friend while you can still read it but limit the lending limit to 14 days (or N number of chapters, which is better in IMHO as people read at different speeds, only at the weekends, etc. Time limits are a pain in the ass whereas content limits make it a lot more user friendly, at least to me it does, it is also much easier to manage, no clever ways to check when it has been 14 days (dealing with users who never connect to wifi and just set the date back, etc), no hacks to have to patch in the next firmware update, etc. just lend the friend 50% of the book, not 100% but with a digital lock around it that will be broken before even 1% of the user base upgrades their firmware) That way they can probably exploit the "omg I just got this amazing book you should sooo buy it" factor when someone first gets a book but hasn't finished it yet so won't lend it to a friend, then they forget or it is crap and they just dump it in a book store and the publisher never gets to sell that friend a copy.
Just my 2c
Hmm, I'm currently Reading Steven King's "Under the dome" I'm about half way through and it's been 14 days. I'm not sure this will be all that useful.
Assuming the book could be re-lent to an individual after the first 14-day period has expired and can be returned early without penalties I think this is pretty good. Two weeks is a nice break-even point for shorter works and massive novels.
Now I can recommend the kindle to friends and family without losing the ability to lend them some of the book I've purchased and would like to share.
Lending books is part of book culture! I don't own a Kindle yet specifically because half the reason I buy books is to lend or give them to friends. Sharing books is one of the greatest joys of reading. Everyone who shares is not a pirate.
I generally agree with you that people who complain about media costing money are not useful as customers. But there is a world of difference between not wanting to pay and wanting to be able to lend and give what you buy.
Why? Because books can only be lent once. Ever.
This makes the feature almost useless for legitimate consumers, but for non-DRMed files (on the Nook anyways) the lending feature is non-crippled, and (rightly) can occur as many times as the user pleases.
Personally I think it's a load of crap that the lending feature is crippled in such a way, but the fact of the matter is, the only people happy with the existing way lending works are the people who aren't encumbered by it - i.e., the people who never actually deal in purchased/DRMed ebook material.
In fact, we were going to offer a feature whereby any ebook you bought on any device could be made to work on any other device.
Unfortunately, we found out from a legal review that the DMCA makes that a criminal offense (we thought we would be covered by a consumer's right to make personal archival copies of media they'd purchased, but that common-sense right is not part of the DMCA).
Anyway, the lend feature is really a step behind what AMZ should be doing: portability of ebooks from device to device.