I have books and records from my youth that sit on my shelf and are there for me any time I want to revisit them. Heck, I even have software from back then because I never got rid of my Apple II.
Of course, there are emulators, and Spotify probably has 60%-70% of the records that are in my collection, and I can find A Wrinkle in Time on the Kindle. But how long is that guaranteed to be the case? And how can I be sure that the digital simulacrum are really the same as the originals, if the originals are gone?
For the moment, it's an easy answer—just don't use the subscription services, and keep owning things. But will that always be an option? Why should ownership continue to be an option ten, twenty, or thirty years from now, when it's so much more attractive to companies to rent their products to you for a constant stream of monthly income?
Will books end up getting unskippable "updates," or even being deleted at the whim of the publishers or Amazon one day?
I keep looking around and I'm not sure that I'm happy with the "ownership" aspect of books, or a lot of stuff in general. (Having moved three times during the last six years, moving books is an awful experience).
This is probably an expression of what I've been feeling in general as of late, but I am extremely happy with the "subscriptionification" of media that's been happening. Spotify's huge library is a net win for me, as opposed to collecting albums for them to just collect dust. For me, revisiting what I used to listen to in high school by over-hearing someone's playlist has a far stronger emotional reaction than revisiting it by walking past a bookshelf.
Regarding stuff disappearing ten, twenty, thirty years from now: my experpience has been the opposite. The Internet has been getting better and better and archiving content of yesterday, and has provided better and better access to it.
My personal lean has been to own less stuff in general, which includes books, music and media in general. So needless to say, I'm pretty excited about Kindle Unlimited.
I think the point here is that a bookshelf makes ideas have a geographic location. With web sites, knowledge doesn't occupy physical space and doesn't have the same permanence which a book occupies. With the bookshelf you're reminded of ideas not because they're hyperlinked together in some ever shifting zeitgeist, but because they're literally sitting right in front of you.
Latency of recall affects recombination/creativity. Same reason why native apps have a perceived UX advantage over web-based apps, even milliseconds can make a difference. Typing search terms or paging through book covers is not the same.
iBeacon could lead to physical objects that can be spatially arranged and use for search navigation.
But yes, basically I wanted to get rid of "stuff". I have notebooks of DVDs and CDs, all of which are ripped. I only keep them as "proof of license"
You can own books without owning the big, clunky physical embodiments of them that are a pain to move (and I certainly agree those are a pain to move--on my last move my book collection turned out to require 34 boxes). I own a number of books only in electronic form, and by "own" I mean that I have copies of them that I control and can read and access no matter what Amazon (or Google or any other seller of "subscriptions") might do in the future.
Tell me again how good the Internet's memory is.
Whether you like it or not, a person's social media profile is a part of their life. I'm sure you don't care about someone's photo album, or their diary, or the box full of concert ticket stubs they keep in their closet, either. But they matter to the person who kept them.
Except that now, we've grown accustomed to keeping our personal memories on Facebook, or Twitter, and used to keep them on MySpace, Friendster, and LiveJournal. "Just back it all up" you could say—but how many average everyday people even know how to do that?
The other day, I was looking for a podcast that I'd been on in 2010. Unfortunately, the site where it was hosted had undergone a refresh, and all content older than two years was gone. It reminded me just how quickly online content churns and disappears, and how even someone as backup-conscious as myself can lose digital media.
There's so much good about the planet-wide accessibility of digital data, and it's certainly better to have, say, a podcast out there that might be on thousands of computers than a cassette tape that's going to be lost or damaged in your car.
I'm simply saying that we should treat digital media as just as inviolate and permanent as physical media, and make it a better experience, not a more ephemeral one.
What they were, the things they possessed, are all just gone. I am not sure if that's a good thing or not, but the idea that digital storage is ushering in a new age of ephemerality is not justified.
That would be "Chris", one of the "Cool New People" on the homepage: https://web.archive.org/web/20060209175255/http://www.myspac...
Edit to add: a few years ago I decided I would probably never buy another CD, so I imported all my CDs into iTunes and donated the CDs to the library too.
All your points are just as true about the Kindle books that Amazon sells to people -- you lose the right of first sale(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine), so you can't re-sell or lend your books; they're tied to a specific DRM scheme; they can be modified or "turned off" remotely without your consent; etc. -- only Amazon charges you a flat fee, as if you were actually purchasing it the way you purchase a physical book, which you aren't. You're just purchasing a limited license to access its content via specific devices.
If they're going to be in the business of only selling limited licenses, I'd rather they do it via a subscription model, where every customer will understand that they'll lose access if they stop paying, than via a model designed to look and feel as much as possible like buying a real book. It's at least more honest that way.
I have an ebook available through Amazon and opted to have no DRM. I'm pretty sure this is still up to the author/publisher.
I just got an E-mail about Kindle Unlimited and it had a link to make my book eligible. However, to do so you have to enroll the book in Kindle Select (or whatever it's called) and that requires that the book not be available from any other outlets.
Well, fuck that.
I can see this as preventing a good many books from being available on Kindle Unlimited.
I expect this is more of an issue for self-publishing authors with zero rep.
In any event your comment reminded me that I need to make a current backup of the books on my Kindle and strip them of any restrictions.
If Amazon tries to use (monopoly) Segment A of their business to impose conditions on (emerging) Segment B, it won't help adoption or regulation.
It's their optional Kindle Select special promo arrangement that says that to be eligible the work cannot be offered anyplace else. Joining Kindle Unlimited requires first joining Kindle Select.
Does anyone here know if the EU Kindle Select program has the same restrictions?
That sounds worse than "price parity", it's like mandating an infinite price for every distribution channel other than Amazon.
Right now, when you purchase a digital good, you are quite literally paying for nothing. You're giving money to a company and basically asking them to do you a favor and give you access to some content. Nothing in the "license" you agree to obligates them to actually provide you with ANYTHING. It conveys absolutely no rights to the purchaser and, just as importantly, places absolutely no obligations on the "seller". As it currently stands, it's basically just a giant sham with consumers acting in good faith and waiting for some CEO at Amazon or Apple or Barnes and Noble or somesuch to try to eke out a little more quarterly profit by doing something like requiring consumers to pay more to unlock content they already "paid for".
The gaming industry has already done this kind of thing with on-disc DLC, incidentally.
Up until my mid-30s, I was all about collecting and accumulating things, but since then (~10 years) I've been much more focused on minimizing the amount of physical things I own. The sheer volume of it became oppressive to me. Among other things, I stick to digital media whenever possible. I still own way too much stuff but at least it's kind of under control.
It's all trade-offs, like just about anything in life. I give up some nice things by avoiding physical media, including all of the concerns you (and everyone else) are raising, but at this point in my life, what I get in return far outweighs what I'm losing. This applies to physical vs. digital media, and also to subscription vs. ownership models for digital goods. The weighting pros and cons for these things are different for different people.
There has been a consistent trend to portray the digital/online realm as a world apart from the "real" world, rather than, as is the truth, just another facet of it. This has facilitated massive erosions of civil liberties in the online world. Government censorship is the norm on the internet, not the exception. Warrantless monitoring and trespass on private systems and data by the government and law enforcement is also rampant, with few safeguards. In a similar vein, the protections of the rule of law and the criminal justice system are completely thrown out the window in many circumstances when it comes to the online realm. You can be effectively punished online merely due to an allegation (i.e. DMCA takedown), and often only arbitration is available as a remedy, erasing centuries of traditional protection for individual rights through the court system.
And that's aside from the ongoing war over DRM and the desire of major content aggregators to deny ownership rights and privileges to customers.
Add to that the growing reliance on paternalistic relationships with large corporations and business entities, eroding individualism. People rely on their ISPs and their cell carriers for access to the online world, a major aspect of modern business and private life. Unlike phone service these service providers have much greater leeway to decide what you can and cannot do online and have increasingly taken advantage of consumers. People rely on major services (gmail, hotmail, facebook, twitter, etc.) for their primary means of communication, services that in many cases border on unregulated monopolies. And at work people are increasingly dependent on their employers to provide medical and dental coverage, retirement savings, and so forth.
Which companies are you thinking of here? Amazon is still trying to drag book publishers into participating in this, and hasn't had much luck yet. Video subscriptions are more miss than hit. Spotify is the most mature, and (by your estimate) only has 60%-70% of what you want. And there's all kinds of complaints that Spotify doesn't result in the same kind of income that record sales did. I don't think the companies that own the products do like this model.
The reason they do it at all is because it's an effective way to compete with illegal downloading. The $10/month doesn't represent the actual value of the product (which for me at least is probably higher), but seems to represent about what the market will tolerate before it goes back to just torrenting stuff.
And that brings up a really good thing about these services: they address the market-efficiency losses of the copyright regime without needing to either break the law or change it.
For example, suppose the only way to get an ebook is to buy it, and each book costs $X. There are a small number of ebooks you value at more than $X, you buy those ones, and (in economic terms) positive value is created by each exchange.
But there is a much larger number of ebooks you value at more than $0 but less than $X. Those ones you would pay money for, and positive value would be created by that exchange, but the regime of "sell each ebook for $X" doesn't allow that value to be created.
Piracy fully reclaims that value, but has its own problems. All-you-can-eat monthly services also fully reclaim the value (as long as you can afford them and they allow the use you had in mind), but in a way that is mutually agreeable to everybody involved. That makes them a good thing to have around.
The real problem you're bringing up is that all-you-can-eat services don't allow some good and important uses, like saving stuff for later. But so far I'm not seeing any indication that they are replacing buy-it-and-own-it services -- or that content owners have any reason to want them to.
Amazon can already do this.
"what do you mean your bank own your home? what if it goes under?"
"what? you pay your car every month, are required to pay the most expensive insurance, and in the end the dealership still owns your car?"
... my guess is that in America anything that makes you pay a little less will have consumers. nobody cares about a bookcase full of old paper as you do. also i think that when the thing matures past the amateurs like EA we will see companies buying rights from other just like it happens with mortgage. apple went under with its flopped Newton watch? amazon buys all its drm licenses and continue to give you access to your media in hopes that your new purchases will come her way.
I think the "erosion" you observe is simply the phenomenon that many people genuinely prefer subscription models to one-time purchases, or perhaps they prefer to not manage their own files, syncing, etc. I don't think there's anything bad about that.
As far as personal access goes, I hear you, but that's how I took myself into near-hoarder territory with media.
I'm not too worried about subscription services becoming the only game in town. As long as some people will pay for permanent access of individual titles, or for value-adds like movie extras, someone will sell them.
The bigger worry is the yanking of the access to stuff you've "bought," of course. But I suspect the first time someone with power either gets hurt or even scared by a DRM-related action, we'll get some mass decisions that come down to "if it looks like a sale and acts like a sale, it's a sale."
You may or may not be able to resell or transfer it (legally), but I seriously doubt the courts will stand for someone arbitrarily taking it away. EULA or no EULA, there's a pretty fat implied promise there, and "buy" is used all over the place in language. That alone would be enough for the EU's courts to seriously hammer anyone who switched it up for "rent".
The early software-related decisions around owning "licensed" copies were in the infancy of digital licensing, and there's plenty of room for reversal there. The VHS time-shifting/personal backup decision is much more in line with what I'd expect the theme to be over time.
In particular, I expect format shifting to become legal as soon as a format shift or service closure screws someone with money/influence.
Right now, the only real-world examples are video game console libraries, and they just don't garner the same sympathy because everyone's predisposed to the idea that software ages out with tech shifts. It'll be when iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, one of those does it that we'll see action.
There are a number of books I enjoyed in the paper era that I flat out can't find on Amazon now, and I tend to think of Amazon as "ALL THE BOOKS".
If subscription becomes the dominant mode of book consumption, it would be disastrous. As an add on service, it is nice. Especially in the areas without strong library systems.
However, I think you're also underestimating the risk of all or parts of your stuff disappearing or getting destroyed in a house-burglary, fire, flood or another kind of disaster.
I'm not entirely sure what the actual risks are, but my gut feeling is that there's a higher chance of losing what you physically own than for it to disappear or get 'updated' as a digital / for-rent product.
You can even have your cloud-like experiences with software like Plex and Calibre (though I like Plex better, it won't do plain ebooks). Audio books work well enough on Plex, and you can even share the server with friends if you want.
How do you know Jeff Bezos didn't tweak a couple of sentences in your Kindle copy of Catch 22? I don't know, but I do know that detecting such a change will be far, far easier with digital publications than it ever was with paper.
George Lucas has already famously done repeated "updates" to Star Wars. If it existed only in subscription form, you'd never be able to see the original.
Or, you might sign up for a service where access to more than one version is a differentiating feature, and get both for the same subscription price rather than having to buy multiple re-releases.
I usually buy 2-3 Kindle books a month at around $9/per, so I would definitely use this service if the selection improves. I kind of wonder if Amazon could get away with charging $9/month for any book they have and just cash-in on folks that "spend" less than that a month.
So comparing Kindle Unlimited to Netflix's online streaming is actually a pretty accurate correlation. It's currently comprised of second-tier (or lower) books that aren't likely to yield the same profits as new and currently popular titles, so they're used as filler for this service.
But I did chuckle at Piketty's Capital being on unlimited.
It's not that that I dislike Safari, merely that I expect competition would push for a better product. The interface has barely changed in as long as I can remember with the same old clunky flash and limited search. It took years for the mobile app to go from horrendous to tolerable and it remains quite bad.
Giving 'Online' the same visual style as 'Flow' would be a start, but they seem to be keeping them separate and beyond the visuals I found Flow to underwhelming and frustrating even. I cancelled my Flow subscription despite being offered a deep discount as some sort of early adopter.
Meanwhile, Inkling is great is several ways, but lacks the critical 'all you can read' subscription option.
Edited: They just announced how the cutover will work: http://blog.safaribooksonline.com/2014/07/08/new-safari/
Several of the new/upcoming features of Flow are precisely what I asked for while using the service.
If I'd gotten some sort of acknowledgement of that feedback as something being considered or upcoming I'd have kept my discounted subscription.
We're sorry. Kindle Unlimited is currently only available for US customers.
Please visit us again when it is available in your country.
See this explanation by author Charlie Stross:
I have not yet been declined the opportunity to buy a ebook so it's strange that the rules for renting is different.
Motivation to rewrite is often tied to money. No money? No motivation.
Which is why some people in "remote places" don't really have many qualms about piracy. If it's not available at any price, what _should_ I do??
HN thread for that article: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7998604.
I'd imagine they don't have the copyright to distribute things in this manner outside the US at the moment.
My credit card's billing address is in France though so I think they're really just trying to make it as easy as possible to sign up while still respecting the letter of the contracts they signed.
The only books I ever ordered from Amazon were books in foreign languages and academic books that Amazon apparently prints on demand on behalf of publishers. Books in my mother tongue can only be sold at a fixed price set by the publisher, so there is little incentive of buying from a company that mistreats their warehouse workers.
I regularly borrow audiobooks and ebooks from the library with a couple of taps on my iPhone.
That's clearly inferior to Amazon's service where you can read any book in their catalog at any time, even if a million other Amazon customers are simultaneously reading it, and you can open it and read it as often as you want, with no waiting.
I borrow ebooks from my library quite often, but I also buy a ton of books for my Kindle, for similar reasons as above, and will most likely subscribe to Kindle Unlimited (depending on the catalog — right now the catalog looks like a few bestsellers I've already read or don't care to read, plus several hundred thousand self-published romance novels).
Yes. Yes. Yes. As well as book condition/cleanliness, and being able to keep books forever.
My local library is also only open from 10am-6pm, and closed sundays, so unless I want to take time off of work, my only time to go to the library is on a Saturday afternoon. Usually when I buy a book via Amazon, it's spontaneous because of a recommendation. I'll have a friend recommend me a book. Click, it's ordered and shipping. I'll see a book recommended several times in the same HN thread, check reviews for it, click, ordered and shipping. I don't really remember the book's info in order to look up later while at a library.
Currently I have no idea how to check if a book is available at my branch or a nearby branch. I tried going to the library website and clicked their "check availability" link, and I was brought to a calendar for conference room reservations. Amazon is just a much more polished experience than my library. So yeah, I'll buy a book instead of getting it free from the library.
It reminds me of when people say that services like Netflix, Spotify, Steam, etc are cutting down on piracy because in many cases, they provide a simpler experience than the piracy does. Amazon and books (hell, Amazon and most products) provides that same simplification over a cheaper/free distributor.
Amazon will, from the convenience of any computer (mobile devices included), ship you books from a vast & nearly inexhaustible collection at acceptable costs.
Now the Unlimited plan brings you both for $10/mo: beyond-library-scale of practically free books delivered instantly, and bringing you in close proximity to darn near every book ever written available at modest cost in 2 days.
Heck, many subscribers would pay more than $10/mo just in gas driving to the library.
Licensing, not selling. Unless you were talking about dead-tree versions.
Edit: I just found a link that includes Kindle Unlimited books with Narration: http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=9630682011
So yes, if the books you want to listen to are on KU, it's a better deal.
*Full press release embedded here: http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-unlimited-reading-2014...
Selling books is actually quite the complicated matter in some countries. At least in Germany you are not allowed to sell a book at a price of your choice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fixed_book_price_agreement)
It can be pretty fucking annoying to have these laws in place (they do have their merits, but... that's a completely different debate), but I can understand Amazon not having worked out all the legal issues to go worldwide with this
(How do they screw us? They cap the 70% less download fee royalty at the $9.99 level. In order to make more than $7 (less download fee) per sale, you need to price a book at over $20. So if I sell a $20 book on Amazon, BN, and iBooks -- I get twice as much from BN and iBooks as I do from Amazon. To make the same royalty from Amazon, I need to charge $40, but Amazon won't let me do that. So I pulled my book from Amazon and revenues increased.)
At different times, I prefer different media.
Until I can buy a book and get a digital version for either free or for a (very) small added fee, I'm just not getting on board with kindles (or whatever e-reader device).
Amazon did roll out some version of this book+ebook service a few months ago, but it included such a small number of volumes that it was virtually worthless.
The complications between Amazon and publishers are deep and messy and I surely won't get what I want as a consumer for some time, if ever.
Just thinking about the ideal situation for me, however unrealistic it is.
I love the concept - but I need at least a 50% hit rate on the books I read before i'll be willing to pay $120/year to use it.
Looks like I'll be giving this one a pass.
Prime gives you free 2-day shipping on a large number of Amazon products and gives you unlimited access to Amazon Video.
I personally was a little surprised (and disappointed) Amazon didn't roll this out as another Prime perk. I'm not sure why making Amazon Video available to Prime members makes financial sense to Amazon, but making Kindle Unlimited doesn't.
edit: With Prime, you also get access to music, some ebooks, and something called "Amazon Pantry". There is a description here:
Also: Prime gives you access to the lending library, but you can only lend one book a month.
I'm a Prime subscriber and I didn't know about this. It seems the lending library has 350K-500K books, not dissimilar to Kindle Unlimited. And like other commenters, it looks like both unlimited and the kindle lending library has pretty small intersection with my reading habits.
In a Dream World I would be able to get a Free Shipping only Prime Account. I will probably cancel my Prime after this year since the jacked the price up to $99, Just not worth it anymore (plus they now charge Taxes for my state so I am buying less and less on Amazon)
When I was little I went to the local library. There I had unlimited access to movies, music and books, for free. Sure, it's hard to compare the music collection to Spotify. But at the time I was content. And I actually think I'd still prefer both the movie collection and the book collection of the library (especially as my native tongue is Swedish).
I'm way ahead with KU (was using Oyster), Netflix/Hulu, and Rdio. If someone comes out with a decent all-you-can-eat gaming service that doesn't make me juggle discs, I'll be way, way ahead.
Unfortunately it looks like the Lending Library (which comes with Prime membership) still only works on true Kindle devices. I wonder if this is a licensing issue, or just a deliberate choice on Amazon's part.
That's ok Amazon. My local library lets me check out as many ebooks as I can read. And audio books. And paper books.
Total cost? FREE!
via taxation which works out as £13 per year (budget is £8 million, population is 650k)
I'm just not sure why people in the UK would go for this when the Library already does a fine job of "all you can read".
Or, get on the board of your local library.
A few will let you take your eReader to the physical library and help you put books on there.
They CHOOSE not demand their books to be available globally from publishers.
If you're in a rich Western country, the time you spend reading a book probably has an opportunity cost much greater than the cost to acquire rights to read the book. Why would you spend 10 hours with a book whose marginal cost is $0, when you could pay $10 and spend those ten hours with a better book?
I was hoping for something along the lines of Safari Books, only with a much wider range of categories. As hard as it might be to imagine, the selection of books here is far far worse than Netflix's selection of movies. That's pretty fucking sad.
yeah, amazon prime content is anything but prime. odd seasons of old series. movies that even late night open tv is embarrassed of showing, and now teen romances.
I searched for a philosopher I like to read and none of his books had the "unlimited" indicator... so I don't think this is for me.
They get paid based on number of their reads (that's anyone who reads >10% of their book) as a proportion of number of total reads across the library, calculated against a money pool that Amazon determines month over month and tunes to keep the program attractive.
More details here:
From the comments here, I assume that the model is similar in the US and 9.99$ is only so cheap, because there's mostly junk in the library.
In the future is art and literature going to once again be the exclusive province of either those who have taken a implicit vow of poverty or the independently wealthy? Are we seeing the end of the era when a person could actively earn a living doing these things?
The pricing is interesting. At $9.99, it's more than Netflix and the same as Spotify. I'm not sure if anyone will binge read books the same way people do with the other two services.
Surely you're joking, right? $9.99 is typically close-to the cost of a single ebook. For any avid reader, they'll easily blow through at least a few books a month.
Edit: I do notice that the website doesn't display the KLL option for me on eligible books, but I assume that's because my KU subscription enables less restrictive access to the same book.
Companies just don't learn. This is the Internet. If you sell digital content online, there is no "US customers". There are exactly two groups of customers: those with credit cards that are willing to pay you and all the rest.
This whole idea of segmenting by country is not only outdated, but harmful to business and outright offensive to customers that were not "included" in the "segment" that was "chosen".
Let's see, what will those people left outside the door do? Will they wait and "visit us again when it is available in your country"? Surely! They will patiently regularly check the webpage to see whether Amazon has graciously agreed to take their money. Or they'll just turn to Bittorrent and get the goods anyway, right now.
Anticipating responses: yes, I know, the usual narrative is that it's the evil publishers. So what? Amazon fights the publishers on other fronts, why can't it arrange for worldwide licensing here?
Of COURSE Amazon wants to access customers in other countries, it's not like they haven't thought of it!
Actually, I believe they are not fully aware of the adverse effect these kinds of restrictions have: as much as many people try to explain that it's not Amazon's fault (just observe the downvotes on my previous comment!), it is Amazon.com that rejects me as a customer.
But perhaps I should refrain from commenting, as downvoting based on opinions seems to have become the norm recently.
Secondly, US is the trend-setter in many things internet, that may be coming to an end but companies would want to try new things in a market they have most comfort before expanding out.