People have always had the option to read books without buying them. In those days, going to the library was effectively the same effort as going to a book store. In fact, it was more convenient for my family. We happened to live a few blocks from the library and didn't need to drive across town to the mall to get books in dingy little B. Dalton bookstore.
I will grant that the economics in the eBook situation are dramatically different than with physical books, but I really wonder how different they really are. Local libraries already lend ebooks as well. I'm not sure why more people don't take advantage of that.
It's a little bit like grocery stores... you can often get a better deal if you go to another neighborhood. But most people want to hang out with their peers in the nice grocery store. The savings isn't worth the trip either.
When your (cash-rich, time-poor) friends buy books on their Kindles instead of going to the library, it's most likely because they value the convenience of (a) not having to go to the library to get the book (b) not having to consider whether the book is stocked (c) not having to got to the library to return it (d) not having to keep track of when the book must be returned (e) not having to actually carry a physical book around -- more then they value their $10-15.
It's interesting to listen to the cascading excuses when bringing up books with friends. "Why not use a kindle?" "I like holding the physical book." "Oh, then why not go to the library?" "Well, I like owning the book too." "Oh."
I think you're right in that people like the "culture" around reading more than reading itself.
You can save a ton of money using your local library though. I really need to start doing that.
The usual price for a used book on Amazon is $.01, which with shipping comes out to still far less than the ebook.
There are other good sources of free books include this blog:
I don't like losing access to things. If it was "you can download one per month and keep access as long as you're a subscriber" sort of the way Playstation Plus works that would be OK with me.
But the rental program feels more like a cruddy crippled library than a real service.
I'd rather pay the $5-$10 for the eBook and not have to deal with it.
This new service is interesting. I don't read enough for it to be useful, but I could see it saving my dad quite a bit of money (or trips to the library) if they had enough books.
It's sort of a hidden link or a special way of narrowing search results with the criteria on the left side of the page. If you google I'm sure you can find instructions.
In the search box on the main amazon.com page, there's a drop-down list on the left hand side of the text entry. Click that and change it to "Books". Now just hit search (you can leave the text field blank). That will bring up a search results screen with a bunch of filter groups on the left. Scroll down and select "Kindle Edition" under "Format". After the page reloads, scroll down even further and you'll have a checkbox for "Prime Eligible". Select that, and you'll have only the books you can rent with Prime. You can then further refine by genre, search term, whatever.
The selection is generally pretty awful though.
Losing the sync ability basically killed the main utility I get from eBooks. If I have to carry the Kindle around, I can carry a library book around.
An appropriate term to use in a discussion that's literally about different media for books.
I'm quite specific about what I want to read. My local library (that happens to be just round the corner) never has what I want. I often don't even seem to be able to order in what I want. So I gave up and just buy books on a Kindle instead.
There's no catch. You order the book from whichever library has it, and they deliver it within a few days. Plus, the eBook loan program's collection gets bigger all the time. More states should adopt a system like this. The software behind PINES is free and open source: http://evergreen-ils.org/
There's an entire corpus of literature between 1920 and 2014 that is out-of-print for licensing or estate reasons, rather than quality, much of which can be found in libraries.
I mentor at a program at my library every week, and it's been really awesome.
They have budgets for things, and space, and a desire, they just need help figuring out where/how to spend things and how to then use the things they've gotten.
Once you're all there all the time anyway, then ease into the "now we want/need/demand permanent storage" And machine tools. And a pony.
The concept of a "Hackerspace-Lite" is interesting. No permanent stuff onsite. Carry in and carry out. The library is already full of meeting and presentation rooms and ours finally caved into to sell coffee and junk food for fundraising.
The biggest problem locally is the whole "A library is also a day care, right?" situation. Up to and including police taking abandoned kids into protective custody after a couple hours, which is weird.
There is a big cultural, uh, mismatch where the library requires more police intervention than any of the retail stores or bars or parks... liquor licenses have been lost for consuming far less police budget than the library. The library gets a free pass.
If all the policies were printed out from the web page it would be at least 100 printed pages. It is a very verbose CYA that boils down to anything you do that a librarian doesn't like will get you banned, and being there while banned is a legal trespassing offense, so one strike and you're out. If the librarians like you, you won't be banned no matter what you do. I can photocopy copyrighted materials, take pictures or videos of my kids, talk (whisper) on my phone, hang out for an hour while my kids take a class ... folks of a different race or economic group may have a somewhat different experience when they break any of those rules.
I was unable to find a minimum age, but I think you'd have to be at least upper grade school to survive not violating at least one of the hundreds of rules for more than a minute or two.
I did find that they define loitering as being in an area for longer than 15 minutes other than defined study desks, so no need for crayons or tagging. I've violated that rule a few dozen times, but I'm in no danger of being punished...
Given the sheer workload of homeless people and child day care, the librarians show quite a bit of restraint and can't enforce all the rules.
Did you complain to a librarian about the restrooms? That is a cleaning issue, same as a busy airport. The library belongs to all local residents, chip in and help make it the space where you would like to linger. Bathrooms can be cleaned. The rest of the building and books are wonderful.
Not to mention the, literally dozens, I get for my kids every month.
I use the library to sample books and because if I bought every book I read, despite my healthy income, I'd be broke. I am an information devourer.
I am pretty sure there are a lot of people like me, at least in the Austin area, because I have to wait on some of the books I'd like to read that I don't think very poor people would be interested in.
YMMV because my library is pretty awesome and well stocked, but I think libraries are a shamefully underutilized resource.
In some areas, it is definitely significant that libraries have bathrooms and shelter. But the Internet is always a big draw. With more and more of life moving online, libraries are providing an extremely valuable service by making Internet access freely available.
This is most likely true of any large city, but I don't have any first-hand experience beyond those three cities.
In the US, this might be the case. In Sweden, mostly you'll find kids, moms and people studying (depending on the city, if it has a university or not). A very small subset is there for computer access, but it's certainly not a majority.
In Bulgaria, no one seems to go to the library. They check your ID when you go in and it's not really a place to hang out.
Libraries aren't the same everywhere.
How this goes for authors depends on how Amazon are purchasing the rights to the ebooks. Having seen what streaming has done to music revenue I can't say I'm too optimistic about this. Some authors will do fantastically well, of course, but the much larger number of people who make a modest income from writing may well see it shrink drastically. The problem is that this doesn't necessarily improve things for consumers. Super-successful authors are often producers of lowest-common-denominator material. If high quality writers who appeal to a much smaller audience are no longer able to support themselves by writing, then they either move downmarket or take up another line of work, which results is a loss of quality for consumers.
The problem with streaming is that proponents treat creative output like a commodity and then point to the laws of supply and demand to justify economic upheaval. But pure supply and demand only applies in cases of perfect competition, where commodity goods are actually perfect substitutes; I have no particular reason to buy oil/ gravel/ corn from supplier X if supplier Y can deliver identical goods at a lower price. This is not the case for creative works.
PS I don't mean this as a dig against Amazon in particular, but there is a potential monopsony problem. I worry about this a bit less with Netflix because the economics of film production and distribution are enormously different than for other media, and Netflix is more like a peer among distributors.
I had to get rid of several hundred of my books years ago when I went traveling. It was tough since I had a lot of attachment to my physical books, but upon examination I realized there were few advantages and in my case many disadvantages. Exceptions are books you habitually reread or reference, but most novels fail that test.
My bookshelves are still crammed with books, but they've all got a date with the slicer! Mua-ha-ha-ha-haaaa!
BTW, for examples of books I've cut & scanned, see http://www.generalatomic.com (yes, I either acquired permission to post them or they are public domain).
The paper guillotine was impossibly heavy to carry around and terrifying to operate.
You'll also need a sheet feeding scanner with a hopper on it, that'll scan both sides at the same time. Otherwise, it takes far too long. The software with the scanner will OCR it automagically and create a PDF. I scan at 400 dpi, which looks real sweet on a retina screen. There are a lot of settings to tweak on the scanner, some experimenting will get you the best results. Make sure you turn the double feed detection on.
Use some denatured alcohol to regularly clean the window and rollers, I also use a solder sucker to blow the paper dust out of it.
And lastly, you'll never get 100% of a book to go through cleanly. Just rescan the screw-ups, and assemble the result using pdftk (a marvelous tool). I also like to scan the covers separately in color and fold them in.
Times vary, but I can scan an average paperback in 5 minutes. Turning the sheets sideways makes it go much faster.
Great tip, thanks - presumably it also reduces misfeeds.
Would you recommend a particular scanner?
How does pdftk help with rescanned pages, does it magically know where to reinsert?
You have to explicitly tell pdftk what to do.
It explains use of iTextSharp, a C# library.
Do I want my Louis CK DVD autographed? Or do I want a picture with him? I'll take the picture every time.
If my Library let me donate $120 to them annually with the ability to borrow from an eBook collection of 500,000+ without having to go to a local branch or waiting for someone to "return" the digital file then I'd write the check tomorrow. I just get so tired of everyone on social media so smugly pointing out that libraries exist and have books you can borrow for free. Yeah, we get it, but many libraries don't provide the service I'm (and others, it seems) looking for. I have the means to be flexible in my selection of service/product providers, and I choose to spend money on those that match my habits and preferences.
My university's library sometimes has this feature. In my experience it's more delimited by the availability of ebooks beyond PDFs (especially scientific publishers only hand out PDFs, no mobis/ePubs at all) and a good measure of paranoia.
Currently, I can read the uni-library's ebooks only using Adobe's 'Digital Editions', which doesn't have a Linux client, and doesn't want to communicate with my Kindle, even if the file in question is an ePub.
(Of course with the right plugin Calibre can remove the DRM making the whole security theatre completely unnecessary)
I can't get a library card, because I don't have mail show up at any residence I stay at. $120 for all I can eat books? Take My Money.
It works the same as a regular book (only one person per copy) but you can pick it up on your Kindle or other appropriate device.
Yup. Remember that well. "Bookstores" were tiny places with fewer books than we had at home. If you really wanted a selection, you'd go to the library. Then came B&N, Borders, etc with vast holdings on par with the local library (or bigger), and - better yet - newer content: everything was new & content turnover was frequent, as contrasted with the library which was pretty much stuck with what well-thumbed old volumes they had. In-store coffeeshops just clinched the attraction.
Local libraries already lend ebooks as well. I'm not sure why more people don't take advantage of that.
Mostly that it's just a new option that hasn't normalized yet. 'til recently, the process was obnoxious enough that physical media and/or a CC# made it much easier to get what you wanted. I'm using Hoopla a lot now; it's improving fast but hasn't quite reached the UX needed for normalization.
Have you ever tried that? Limited selection and weird rules like only certain devices and complicated account creation and then you only get to "keep" the ebook for 2 weeks or whatever.
I can get "free" audiobooks the same way. Its sadly easier to borrow the physical CDs and rip them.
Authors can make money by people who get gifts, and are in a hurry, or want reference tomes. I can read Stross's new novel after waiting in line just four or so months from now for free at my local library... Ah, who cares, its like an expensive lunch to just buy the ebook so I'll do that instead and downloaded it on release date. Another method is gifts. Nobody I know goes to bookstores anymore other than to buy gifts. We don't buy books for ourselves; we do buy gifts which happen to be books. Like the hallmark holiday card business, I don't buy myself Christmas cards, and thats OK, buy some and send them to other people.
If you're not in the "gift" "reference" or "trendy in a hurry" markets, you're in big trouble.
One would think that since ebooks are digital, any number of people could borrow the same book at once from a library. Alas, that is not the case. Just like libraries might only have one or two physical copies of a book, they might only have one or two copies of an ebook available to lend as well. If you want to borrow a new release, you might end up on a lengthy wait list. Additionally, if you borrow from a library, you miss out on a ton of books (especially self-published books).
As a reader, I'm excited about the prospect of Kindle Unlimited. As an author who self-publishes on Amazon, I am apprehensive (though the compensation for my books that have been borrowed with Prime has seemed fair so far).
I write because I want to share my ideas and point of views, not because I care about the money. It's nice though when someone pays the 5 EUR it costs, that keeps me awake with the coffee I can buy for the money.
Amazon unlimited seems good for the people that enjoy fiction, but I don't think they will be able to compete on the technical stuff.
Will amazon continue to allow books to reach those services as soon after release? Do they have the power to stop it in the first place? I think it will be interesting to see how the company, which it is clear has a lot of leverage in the book publishing community, handles competing with a free alternative.
paid by taxes.
nothing is free.
"Despite my techie contempt for their business practices, I really do want traditional publishers to survive, because their employees — unlike, I suspect, Amazon’s — tend to genuinely love books in the same way that I do, and because good editors are worth their weight in gold. But it’s hard to see how they can thrive fighting like this. In the long run their only real hope is to disrupt the Kindle ecosystem with a paid subscription model — a “Beats for books,” if you will.
I’m not sure how successful that will be. Books are not like songs. But it’s hard to see where else their future lies. Never mind the current Amazon vs. Hachette skirmish; that’s just a sideshow. Book publishers essentially conceded their long war with Amazon before it ever began, without even knowing what they were doing." 
Looks like he was spot on, and it looks like Amazon won the whole war.
EDIT: It looks like he predicted this almost a year ago in another article:
"With luck we’re entering a world in which readers have access to any and every book for a flat fee; authors get paid depending on how much they’re actually read; publishers remain a vital but decreasingly visible part of the process; physical books are still available via online print-on-demand and niche physical stores; and zillions of CC-licensed books are freely available to readers in the poor world who can’t yet afford books or subscription services. Call me Pollyanna, but it seems to me that that’s a win for absolutely everyone." 
And I have to agree, this looks like a big win for everyone.
"I mean, imagine what it would be like to start off as an incredibly smart person, arguably a first-class genius, and then somehow wind up in a situation where you have a general’s view of the industry battlefield for ten years. Not only do you have more time than anyone else, and access to more information than anyone else, you also have this long-term eagle-eye perspective that only a handful of people in the world enjoy."
Jeff Bezos is playing chess simultaneously with a number of industries and so far he seems to be winning.
And while Amazon has a good digital media business, it would be a stretch to say that they are beating Google or Apple in that space. Only in books does Amazon have a strong digital media share.
I don't think that's the point of it. Tablets and phones are insurance policies for Amazon; so that they can have some minimal leverage with Apple and Google going into any negotiating table. I don't think it's a coincidence that they started working on them when Apple started messing with the Kindle app.
The authors who figure out how to leverage more than just selling a book are the ones who will do well. The ones who don't build an audience will likely fail at a higher rate than they did previously.
At the same time, the capital needed to write is virtually nothing. All it takes is time. Editing, proofreading, and cover design are legitimate, important costs, too, but even those aren't that huge. And they only come into play once the book is written, which means most won't reach that threshold.
I, of course, want great writers to be able to devote all of their time to that and not have to work a day job. But I think having to write your first book or two in your "spare" time is an acceptable way to separating the wheat from the chaff.
In other words, write a book or two in your free time. The money you get from those will be your risk capital for your next work.
It's very simple - if there's less money available for a first book, less people will do it. This means that there will almost certainly be less authors, therefore almost certainly less great authors (though it's probably not linear).
Not to say you're wrong, just that talking about "I think it's sufficient" masks the fact that it doesn't matter what you think, there will in effect be less great books written.
Not sure what "Beats" means in this context - essentially he's talking about Netflix for Books, yes? I'd also love this, not least because most publishers still adamantly refuse to drop DRM and the paid-subscription all-you-can-eat model is pretty much the only one (aside from rental, which isn't going to happen) where I consider DRM to be morally defensible.
But I just don't see it happening. We'd just end up with a separate subscription service per publisher/imprint; it's the way they think. It's as if the whole concept of convenience isn't even on their radar.
already happened: http://www.scribd.com
multiple publishers - not all, but neither does any music service provide "all".
Also, if my service is all-you-can-eat, I'm definitely going to take more risks with authors I haven't heard about. That is a definite win for unknown and unpromoted authors.
Some of the blockbuster authors may suffer lower revenues ... but fuck them. I'm less worried about JK Rowling who makes a billion dollars on each book, and already has plenty of incentive to write. I'm more worried about Professor Joe Schmoe, a Com. Sci. academic who has this really great AI story inside him, that needs just a little monetary incentive to come out.
Totally. I'm one of those people and right smack in the middle of the crosshairs for this. I'm the kind of person that is always willing to overpay in order to have "unlimited" anything, even if it doesn't make direct financial sense. I'm not sure why, but I guess it's because I don't like having limits or having or budget, etc. Part of the reason I happily pay $9.99/month for Spotify when, if I really think about it, I wouldn't really buy 7-9 new songs a month every month on iTunes. But I don't care -- I'd still rather know I could stream 20 entire albums if I want for that same $9.99.
And same goes with Kindle -- I probably (actually, certainly) don't buy a book a month, but knowing I have a catalog of 600k titles at my disposal for $10 will be a no-brainer.
They are worth next to nothing to sell and I find it almost impossible to actually part with them. I've had some of them for 30 years+.
They are an albatross of culture around my neck.
I also think you're really underplaying how people enjoy their music collections. I hold on to records for the same reasons you hold on to books.
The next few decades will be interesting. Just like how vinyl has received an increase in popularity for many reasons, if this Kindle Unlimited type of distribution for the written word takes off like digital distribution did for music, you should fully expect hip young people in 2044 to start buying books again.
I'm guessing  you hold onto records not just because of your attachment to the physical object, but also because you get them out and play them from time-to-time. I hold onto countless books that I will almost certainly never read again.
 Yes, I'm aware that, in some people's eyes, this makes me the worst kind of philistine, but I'm a music fan, not an audiophile.
 With apologies if that's not the real reason you hold onto records :)
On the other hand, Amazon going bankrupt will wipe out your cloud library.
BTW, 20 years ago was 1994, and PDF was initially released in 1993.
It does suck -- in the spirit of competition, I hope they keep on going!
Oyster knew Amazon was going to end up trying this eventually. It's the obvious move. But Oyster also knows that the publishers do not like working with Amazon, which puts Oyster in a much better position to get good deals and get the publisher support necessary to have good books available.
So we'll see how well this works. If Amazon can't get the big 5 on board, but Oyster can, then I think they'll do just fine.
No big-5 publisher appears to be participating yet, based on my preliminary glance through the test pages. Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins have both made their ebooks available to Scribd and Oyster, but I haven’t yet seen books from those publishers on the Kindle Unlimited page, though I’m not done poking through all 600,000+ titles yet.
How much do people read? Nobody's too sure, but it looks like an extremely long tail distribution -- not just a matter of 80% of the books being read by 20% of the readers, but of 80% being read by maybe 5-10% of the readers.
The $9.99/mo price point will work fine for the major publishers if the readers end up on average reading $9.99 of retail-value ebooks per month, but not too much more, and if AMZN's accounting back-end pays them pro-rata for loans. It's like an all-you-can-eat restaurant buffet; some people will pig out, but most people don't fill themselves to the point of nausea, and it all averages out in the end.
However, I suspect it's no coincidence that this is surfacing at the same time that AMZN are renegotiating their ebook pricing contracts with the big five (starting with the current dust-up with Hachette). It's another form of leverage: Amazon can offer it as a tasty extra -- in effect, a commercial library access channel -- for compliant publishers, but can also threaten to withhold access to the new channel if they won't play ball over discount structures.
We actually have a pretty good idea. According to Gallup/Pew research, the median American reads 8 books a year. Slightly less than a third read more than one book a month. I doubt any customer who reads less than one ebook (let alone a physical book) per month would find it worth signing up for this service. That leaves the service with mostly heavy consumers of books, which is going to really stretch that $10/mo price point. Since the major publishers already think that a single ebook is worth at least that, I can't see them joining a program that will almost certainly deliver less revenue.
The thing is, Amazon might. They can read the distribution of books bought per unique user annually straight out their database, and them being the size they are, that seems like quite a good proxy for how many books are read per year by people.
In fact, I know that Amazon tracks how much people read. They know how many copies are sold, what people bookmark, what page they are on, etc...
I bet they have analytics somewhere that could tell you all kinds of amazing things about each book. That would be incredibly useful to an author that cared to dig into how people interact with their work.
Assuming the kind of books listed here are the kind on the daily deal (1.99): The average user would have to read only 4-5 books a month to break even (say 9 books every two months counting taxes).
I doubt most users would read that consistently. Maybe the first month, but usage would likely drop, and the deal works out better in Amazon's favor until they quit. Which for many users could be until their credit card expires.
I probably only read 6 books a month at the most these days, and some months I probably drop down as low as 1 book every month several times a year. I'd probably enroll in this service so even if they have 9.99 normal cost ebooks, I think overall it'd work so Amazon doesn't lose much more than they would with their current structure.
EDIT -- and what it implies for publishers.
If this model takes hold, the thing that may need to change is the book itself. The economics of subscription suggest a shift in incentives away from the years-long creation of 300+ page tomes, and toward serialization or shorter forms. It behooves me, as an author, to have 10 or 20 "books" (or serialized installments) floating around the system each year, casting a wider net, than to bet the farm on one book a year.
This has already happened. For smarter writers, Amazon's distribution model killed the Big Novel model and pushed them to a cheap installment-of-the-month model.
Dickens used to publish like this (not through Amazon, obviously) so it's not necessarily a bad model.
But writers are notoriously bad at business, which is why mainstream publishing contracts have gotten away with being so larcenous and exploitative for so long, and why it's been so hard to make a living out of fiction unless you top the best-seller lists.
Amazon changed that. A lot of authors were finding they could support themselves from self-published fiction, full-time - which was never possible with trad-pub contracts, because they give mid-list and lower writers a tiny advance, insultingly small royalties, and take up to two years to get a book into the stores after the writing is done.
Those self-pub writers are going to be looking at this nervously to see how it changes the economics again.
Not that they should be surprised. A lot of people predicted this.
"Those self-pub writers are going to be looking at this nervously to see how it changes the economics again."
I dunno. For the time being, many of them will need to think carefully about how this shift changes things. But they're the ones who stand the benefit the most here. Self-pubbers who have been playing a volume and catalog game -- as the more successful ones have for years now -- are going to understand how to play this new game. Traditional authors, who've never been much for business or self-promotion as a group, are going to freak out. People with large catalogs are going to win. People with one or two Big Novels are going to lose (unless those Big Novels happen to be bestsellers already). People who can produce reams and reams of new material every year, nurturing mailing lists and activating fan bases, are going to keep doing that, and it will keep serving them well.
It also seems like the incentives depend on how Amazon is compensating authors: a fixed per-book fee would incentivize splitting large books into small pieces, so as to collect the fee multiple times, while a per-word or per-page fee would be more neutral (assuming that Amazon tracks how many pages actually get read, e.g. Piketty would only get credit for the tons of people who read his first chapter).
What we can reasonably predict, regardless of compensation structure, is that Amazon will gain more and more buyer power over the book market, especially vis-a-vis a fragmented ecosystem of thousands of self-published writers. This gives the company theoretical power to drive royalties lower. Whether Amazon exercises that power, and to what extent, depends on the royalty model. Whatever the model, I still think this incentivizes authors to produce a higher volume of shorter works, as opposed to a lower volume of longer works. Piketty, in this model, would be better served breaking Capital in the 21st Century into two or three smaller volumes. As a side benefit, his wider net would allow him to increase the statistical likelihood that he appears in any given reader's 3-4 choices a month. (Holding aside the ability of the reader to read more per month if books get shorter.)
And that may actually be a better thing for readers and writers. More digestible, approachable, less intimidating books might actually be consumed and read more. Sort of like breaking a bigger meal into several courses. I can almost guarantee you that the majority of people who bought Piketty's book have only skimmed a few parts here and there. Which is suboptimal from the perspective of Piketty's mission, which is to transmit the knowledge contained in his book. So shortening or serializing the form might help get the book actually read more often.
This is a prime example of how this development could end up hurting consumers. For those of us that strongly prefer 'deep' books rather than ones released in chunks, the economic disincentives facing authors of such works suggest that there will be fewer options available in the future.
Of course, this isn't unprecedented. Dickens used to publish serially (partly because publishing and copyright enforcement was a bit of a free-for-all back then), and even the book-length versions of the novels had to be subsidized with advertising to offset the piracy losses. I have a copy of Great Expectations with advertisements for laundry soap and brass polish, which were aimed at the servants who were the target audience for the book.
But people also don't read as much books as they listen to songs, so naturally the royalty per unit consumed will be higher for books.
Look at iTunes Match - you pay a monthly fee, what Apple does on the backend is likely royalty payments per song (there may be negotiation with labels as to iTunes match rates).
for a voracious reader like myself this might be a great money saver depending on what is excluded. However it is quite possible to have more than you read for free just by surfing Amazon for all the free ebooks
Now I'd personally prefer any book or text over the wire, to spending over £4 getting to my local library, where the seating is crap, and I can't hold a cup of coffee.
All inter-library loans in my library board cost 1 UKP ( c. $1.40 ) which quickly mounts-up when there's very little on the shelf in the local branch.
I could read 'Excel 2003 for Dummies' again, I suppose, but I'm a bit bored of it to be honest...
But yeah, this is probably just "renting". I doubt you could download them all but I would love to try doing exactly that.
The market leader in print and audio fiction.
Fiction is ephemeral - mostly read and then discarded. The awesome potential for this service is in factual and reference books that are used hundreds or thousands of time each in their lifetime.
The 1.5 books per month metric is diluted in that case when it's possible to dip into 100 books per month just to extract the one snippet of information needed from each.
Well this is a whole different issue entirely, and could start another entire discussion.
"I feel like there’s an opportunity here for Amazon to provide a all-you-can-consume digital lifestyle at a fixed subscription price. If we could subscribe to one single service and forget about every pay-as-you-go service, it would be quite an attractive proposition."
This is becoming all too real really fast.
In the near future I hope to have limited access to all these books for free, or unlimited access for $9.99 a month, and the ability to easily switch between the two consumption models. That, for me, would be an easy sell. This is pretty much how i consume Hulu - most of the time, I just want to watch recent episodes of the Daily Show and am satisfied with the free tier. And when I want to get after specific content, I bump up to the paid tier for a bit.
I don't understand why "some content is always free" model isn't more popular in the content world. If Netflix offered something like three free movies a month, I would never "cancel" my account. They would get better brand loyalty, better app lock-in, and lower customer churn. Instead, I get annoyed at the always-on subscription model and cycle between subscribed and unsubscribed.
Digitization of content changed distribution patterns, which changed pricing patterns, and the combination of both changed consumption patterns. It feels like there is a feedback loop where now it makes sense for pricing and user management (acquisition, retention) strategies to adapt once again, this time to changes in user behavior and consumption patterns.
@Audiobooks, does this mean they're replacing Audible?
Selection seems extremely paltry, though.
This should be great for people who want to read a lot of books, and could even encourage people who only read say 1 book per year, to read a lot more.
EDIT: trimmed quote
POD books provided a handsome profit margin even at reasonable prices. But Kindle books, with their lower prices, have decimated POD sales. Meanwhile, Kindle customers expect more and more for the low prices they pay. Many feel cheated if they spend 99 cents or even less on a book that isn’t “full-length.” And the flood of easily-published books makes it harder and harder for individual ones to stand out—a problem that can only worsen with time.
The upshot is, if you want to self publish and are new to it, then by all means, hop in. But for a long time at least, it’s likely to be more for love than for money. Sure, self publishing is still a money machine—but nowadays, that’s mostly for Amazon, not authors.
Very interested if it includes the kindle editions of the various science and math textbooks offered.
E.g. having unfettered access to the entire Dover Books on Mathematics series would be a delight.
How this came to be I don't know; leaks are bad. They're unintentional (by the company) and contain unfinished/unspun/out of context information that can possibly be detrimental to the company.
Yet people keep using it to mean "press release"
Is this price too cheap? WHAT? too cheap? WHAT?
Is this price too expensive? So just don't buy it.
I don't understand.
Then they made video a subscription service. And because I didn't make videos (video being a lesser form of entertainment), I didn't complain. In fact it's great. I get NetFlix for $6.00 a month.
And then they devalued the perceived cost of software with the App Store. $0.99 for a game that took tens of thousands of hours of work to complete. Those greedy lazy programmers.
And finally, they came for the books. And I spent nearly a full month writing this book. And oh, if it doesn't make me furious that Amazon has the gall, and the temerity to allow people to read it for a fixed monthly subscription.
- Signed, a.n. author.
Take the (digital) music as an example. For a long time CDs were the only way to buy it. Then it was DRMd CDs I couldn't easily listen to. (but Kazaa already offered an alternative) Then it was music downloads with its own players, that were more expensive than CDs. (alternative: DC at the university) Then it was DRMd internet download/streaming services at prices comparable to physical media. (and torrent everywhere)
Now finally we've got a fairly cross-platform access to (almost) all the popular music out there that brings the physical production, storage and distribution costs down to almost nothing. Artists had nothing to do with it, but the distributors/producers could be in the position currently taken by Spotify / Google Music / iTunes many years ago. They could also keep prices higher than the current ones. They absolutely failed by sticking to old ways.
Customers finally got what they were asking for for a decade and now people act surprised it's a good business causing race to the bottom. It will sort itself out if it's unsustainable. Interesting bands will likely create a new service, offering streaming at higher prices with more profits going to them at some point.
If some band wants to get paid above the streaming rate, they should publish their album for direct download - people will buy it if they're good enough.
While your frustration is understandable and disappointing, the customers are far more to blame than any one company.