back to article Kindle lets users lend e-books to mates via email

Amazon is allowing Kindle users to lend a book to a mate, but the UK Publishers Association reckons e-book borrowers should get down the library. The new feature allows e-books bought for the Kindle platform to be lent out for 14 days, delivered by email and springing back to their owners automatically as detailed by Amazon, but …

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Silver badge
FAIL

Go to the library to borrow an e-book?

Hmmm.

Ok... so I go to the library to sign out an e-book.

How does the library send me an e-book to my reader?

Kindle? iPad? The easiest way would be to e-mail the book to the device.

Unless these devices have a standard USB data connection, the proposed solution doesn't make sense. Not to mention that its more convenient to borrow a book while I'm at home because I work during the day and the library is closed when I'm free.

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Alert

Public Libraries that lend ebooks are on line 24/7

@ Ian Michael Gumby

In UK public libraries that use Overdrive, you cannot generally download an ebook from within a branch library - you have to download online. Use your Android/iOS phone/tablet or a PC, and some ereaders, but not the Amazon Kindle.

The notion that you should have to go to a branch library to be able to download, was made by a dinosaur of publishing, Stephen Page of Faber and Faber, at the Public Library Authorities conference on 21 October 2010, and does not seem to have any weight with UK librarians,.

Amazon-USA is simply following behind and copying Barnes and Noble's (B&N) lending scheme based on their Nook software and Nook e-readers; that can also be used for public library borrowing (where the Amazon Kindle hardware cannot).

The terms and conditions that apply to lending and borrowing B&N ebooks appear to be less restrictive than those of Amazon-USA., which only operates at the publisher's discretion. To be published as a B&N ebook appears to be free of publisher discretion. Seems that Amazon did not think of this when initially drawing up their ebook T&C.

Overdrive library systems are based on using Adobe Digital Rights Management (DRM), in both ebook epub-file and PDF formats.

Nook ebooks are also based on using epub-files with DRM

Kindle ebooks are also based on epub-files with DRM.

I have Overdrive, Nook and Kindle software on my PCs and Android phone - and as all the systems allow downloading to more than device, in practise I can already lend an ebook to someone else (that I can trust with my account details). Being able to do this with the safeguards of the B&N-Nook system of borrowing/lending would be better and welcome.

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Unhappy

"...and the library is closed"

Maybe the place is simply ...closed.

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Anonymous Coward

Email + Regional Book Agreement & Amazon ebook prices

First @ Ian Michael Gumby - The 'email' part of the lending is detailed in the linked Amazon site. The emailing is used for an authorisation, for use by another user of the ebook owner's account. Then the database for the ebook loan is flagged, to authorise use of the loaned ebook by only one reader at a time.

Regional Book Agreement

Although the principle of lending/borrowing and library use is basically the same in the the USA and UK, restrictive practises by the publishers that operate under their Regional Books Agreement cannot be justified any more.

Amazon operates data services commercially. I guess that they use server load balancing that probably often involves shifting data across server farms based in different continents, including moving their own data.

In practise if I buy an Amazon-UK ebook that I cannot buy from Amazon-USA because of the Publishers Association Regional Books Agreement, I could be downloading the ebook from the same servers in the USA that a USA based customer would also use. Amazon operating in different regions demonstrates the point, that there is no significant cost difference. The effect of the restrictive practise on the price paid is reinforced by USA based B&N that is unable to sell ebooks to UK customers, but ensures competitive USA pricing by Amazon-USA.

Amazon ebooks are essentially in the cloud. So I might not have all of my Kindle ebooks on my phone, as they are easily downloaded . But because of the Regional Books Agreement if I buy a book from Amazon-UK, in effect I cannot lend it to myself while temporarily in the USA, which I might want to do in order to get it onto a phone. Plainly daft.

But here's the thing also - have you compared the ebook price for the same book on Amazon-USA and Amazon-UK or B&N ? The Amazon-UK Kindle price is usually significantly higher, and that is entirely down to the Regional Books Agreement, the greedy publishers.

Ebooks are classified as a service (now with 20% VAT) that some of the time might come from the same server for both USA and UK customers. The publishers' restrictive practises on regional pricing of services that demonstrably cost the same ought not to be unchallengeable (taxes excepted).

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Bronze badge

amazon.co.uk or just amazon.com

I can't see any mention of it on .co.uk so is this only for US and International customers?

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Anonymous Coward

yes

For now it's only for those in the US.

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Badgers

Really?

A prehistoric trade association getting into a hissy fit because the Internet threatens its outdated sales model? How unusual.

Yet another industry body that'll need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century, let alone this one.

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Think of it this way...

Libraries have had an effect on book sales, true, but their effect has been limited.

Basically, buying books is massively more convenient, so it's generally worth the extra money.

Libraries are inconvenient not just because of the short loan period, but also because:

* You not only have to go to collect the book, you have to go to give it back. You can collect at your convenience, but you have a hard deadline for returning. Inconvenient.

* Bookshops store loads of copies of popular books. Libraries only have a few. Inconvenient.

* Fines for late returns put people off using libraries. Self-disabling electronic loans save people like me from forgetting to bring the book back and incurring fines.

Electronic book loans drastically increase the utility value of library loans, which damages the comparative value of buying.

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FAIL

Biggest problem

This is where e-books fail for me. If I buy a book and its any good, especially a paperback novel, it gets passed round friends and family. Once it finally arrives back, if its still worth the effort and is still in good condition, it goes on Amazon Marketplace or if not on either count, it goes to whichever charity shop is nearest.

Publishing companies like the music companies are terrified of electronic media. Despite the overhead for producing an e-book compared to printed form must be virtually nil in comparison. They won't reduce the price of what they sell to a point where people will buy it as a matter of course or just on the off chance its actually any good and then they want to lock you in to what you can do with it once you've bought it for fear you'll cannibalise further sales by passing it on for free. See above!

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Thumb Down

Wrong

The overheads are much the same. Most of the costs are in the editorial, sales and admin work, not the printing and shipping. Add to that 20% vat and the prices are much the same. Books are not vatable, eBooks are.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wrong

I'm not so sure about that. It probably depends on the size of the print run and the type of book. Obscure academic books are sometimes edited and typeset by their authors, who are not paid any kind of advance. Admin can be automated. Shipping can be very expensive internationally. I've been involved in publications for which printing and shipping make up more than half of the sale price.

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Boffin

total rubbish

Publishing books in electronic format is loads cheaper than Printing.

'Most of the costs are in the editorial, sales and admin work'

So the Editors, Admins and the guy that makes the tea gets paid more than the author/creator/artist?

The writing and construction of the book are the same (most authors submit work electronically now so sub editing and layout is minimal and usually done by the creators own staff as they don't trust the publishing house with their creation) but once the construction is complete distribution become next to zero. And that includes the Copy Protection which Acrobat, FrameMaker and Quark allow you to build into the electronic copy.

So no eBooks should be loads cheaper to publish and distribute. Our company introduced electronic copies and was able to reduce our cost to customer by 25% and we were still quids in. We increased our take up by 14%

And anyone that says other wise is either a lawyer or a liar...

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@Irish Donkey

"And anyone that says other wise is either a lawyer or a liar..."

And those are alternatives?

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Stop

Common Misconceptions About Publishing

as far as the pricing goes you really need to read the relevent Charles Stross post in his "common misconceptions about publishing" (the whole series of posts is very interesting if your a bookworm) at http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/05/cmap-9-ebooks.html

TL:DR the cost of printing is so tiny its almost written off so the physical vs ebook pricing would only be a few pennies different.

the inability to lend ebooks isn't really a big factor personally. i used to by the 1p second hand copies off of amazon (which unfortunately sends no money to the authors) but since getting a kindle if i wanted to share a book with a friend i'd just point them to a site with a jolly roger, if they like it its there call to buy it as far as publisher/authors concerned the amount of money is the same.

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FAIL

Doomed to repeat mistakes of the past?

The book industry makes the music industry look as if it was forward thinking and progressive.

When it's easier to log into IRC and download a book than it is to borrow one from the libruary, they're just pushing people into piracy.

Publishers / the industry as a whole should be providing all-you-can-eat subscription services to ebook readers. They're blatantly going to be able to make a lot of money from that in addition to any subscription revenues (hint: they know what you read, and people will still buy physical books because they're nice to have on the shelf).

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Mr

haven't the publishers noticed that you can already lend ePub format books using Nook & Nook applications?

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one thing

The one thing that helps to keep the old model around is there are lots of people that rather have a physical copy then read it online. I still run into people who print all of their emails.

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Anonymous Coward

eBooks XOR paperbacks

"Not that Kindle users can use libraries anyway"

I beg to differ - there's nothing stopping Kindle owners from reading physical books too :p

( "eBooks will never replace real books" ... something I hear quite a bit )

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Good ideas but weak kneed implementation

Amazon's Kindle previously had the ability to read books with synthetic speech, publishers complained this "competed" with recorded audio books and so Amazon made it optional at the discretion of the publisher. Up until this point Amazon were considering making the Kindle's menus usable by the already present speech output for people with visiual impairments, they obviously abandoned the project since almost no books allow the synthetic reading.

Amazon has no guts whatsoever. The lending issue I'll admit is more contentious, but if they couldn't stand up for the synthetic speech I doubt they could stand up for anything.

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they do

nearly every book i've used on kindle allows text to speech (and even converted .chm files i have on it) and the option is there to have the menu's read (never tried it to confirm) tbh though text to speech is god awful although funny to hear it struggle with tech terms (QoS turns into "cus")

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Silver badge
Pint

E-books break down traditional 'borders' and encourage reading

Living overseas limits access to books I wish to read so the advent of e-books has opened up a new source.

Being a member of a Canadian city library (free) allows me to select a book which is then sent to me when it becomes available (they only purchase so many copies). The benefits to me are that I can browse the catalogue at my convenience 24/7, distance is not a problem, and the ability to view books from many, ordinarily incompatible, sources.

As an part-time ESL teacher I can introduce fresh subjects to my students, rather than the same old-same old school texts, making learning interesting.

For cash strapped libraries e-books are a God send as their staffs are freed from mundane work; no 'late' returns (the life of the book is two weeks unless extended before expiry).

A win-win situation for all.

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Unhappy

get down the library? You had better be quick

If you are going to use a public library, you had better get down there quick before it is closed.

There are 369 libraries plus 27 mobiles currently under threat or recently closed

http://publiclibrariesnews.blogspot.com/

Personally I will always prefer to read a real book rather than use a gadget.

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Anonymous Coward

The great thing about numbers ...

Closing libraries or any public service might not be great for the very local with limited mobility, but in the UK there are:

4,517 Public Libraries (2008-09 statistics)

979 Academic Libraries (2008-09 statistics)

6 National Libraries

So chances are there's still going to be a public library not completely out of reach.

( http://www.cilip.org.uk/membership/enquiry-service/top-enquiries/pages/numberoflibraries.aspx )

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Anonymous Coward

What would be nice

as a fan of both printed books and technology (but not ebooks per se as I don't trust the persistence) is an easy way to search through the physical books I have, online, rather than having to manually iterate through each book's index.

For example, I have a load of recipe books, and it would be nice to be able to search through them all using some kind of web application, and then having chosen what I want, reach for the book on the shelf and take that into the kitchen.

Is that just wishful thinking, or does anyone know of an app/service that does this, once I tell it which books I have?

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Happy

Try index and catalogue cards or a digital archive

Hire yourself a librarian to catalogue and index all your books.

Get them to digitize it and publish it to the web for you to peruse at your leisure. Use GNU EPrints archive that's free but it may cost a lot to get a professional librarian to create the catalogue.

Or you could scan all your books using Adobe Acrobat capture use the OCR software to read the text and create a massive PDF library which you can search.

Buy an eBook Reader and write to the publishers of all your books telling them you would like to extend the license of your printed book to one which you can use on an eBook reader. I sure they will be very helpful

Or you can just pick up the book and flip through the pages. Books are magic that way and will never be completely replaced in a consumers mind by an eBook.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Try index and catalogue cards or a digital archive

"Hire yourself a librarian to catalogue and index all your books."

Thanks for your (hopefully tongue-in-cheek) suggestions. I guess I was remiss in not adding that whilst I'm happy to pay for a solution, it does need to be affordable, and not take ages to implement (we're talking a few thousand books here - that's partly why I can't afford much ;-).

I guess if anyone working for Amazon or their ilk is reading this, such a service could be considered as a good way of getting your customers to share with you their list of books (sure, you know what they've purchased directly from you, but that's never the whole collection). You can then provide the indexing based on the ebook versions or 'look inside' scans, in return for a whole new insight into what people are interested in, and the opportunity to suggest suitable additions to my library.

(And for the avoidance of doubt, I don't want an ebook. If I buy a book I expect it to work for a good few decades, and not be victim to technical 'progress' or corporate failures. But I am interested in using technology to enhance the usability of my physical books)

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Happy

Re: Try index and catalogue cards or a digital archive

Yes very tongue in cheek.

Books are beautiful things and need to be loved and cherished but like you I want increased usability through technology. eBooks are an excellent way of providing that usability but the publisher want to be paid twice for the same thing. I think like many others that is unfair.

Recently I purchased a CD and on the day of its released I was emailed a link to download the files in MP3 while my CD was in the post. I downloaded the files and listened to the music. I received my CD and that is still in the wrapper staying nice and shiny. Why can't we have the same thing with our books? Buy a book get an electronic copy as well. Load the electronic copy to you PC/iBrick/eLibrary whatever use the electronic files as required. Use the Paper version as required. We the customer get the enhanced functionality we want and the publisher gets paid.

But then they would only be able to charge us once then

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Happy

Re: Try index and catalogue cards or a digital archive

"eBooks are an excellent way of providing that usability but the publisher want to be paid twice for the same thing. I think like many others that is unfair."

I totally agree.

I'd be prepared to pay a small premium when I buy a physical book to get an unlocked ebook version with it, but I'd much rather see that as the norm, and mandatory warning stickers on those books that don't come with.

However I don't think we should be relying on the publishers for this - at least not for the searching and indexing usage I'm after. For that to be useful it needs to be comprehensive, and that means it needs to work over the entire library, not just new books from enlightened publishers. It needs to cope with books published decades ago where the rights-holders are lost, and to cope with new books published by luddites.

Ironically I think the components of a solution already exist: Google and some public libraries have scanned and OCRed many older books, and many newer books are available in digital format.

Two problems remain with that - one political and one technical: those databases are owned by different organisations who have no history of co-operating, and there needs to be some extra method by which I can restrict down the results to those in books in my library.

However, (Amazon, Google, I'm looking at you) sort this out and prove us wrong!

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Grief, just how complicated is it?

In the good old days you went and got a big pile of paper with the words/pictures printed on it.

Stuck it on your shelf - short of fire or flood you would get to keep it forever.

You picked it up and read it when you liked

Thumbed through it to find the page you wanted

Had a little piece of leather/paper/folded down corner to show where you were, maybe several if it was a reference book

And could lend it, sell it or throw it out as you saw fit.

We seem to be going backwards, trying to do things electronically because we can, not because it actually brings any benefit at all.

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