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back to article Library ebooks must SELF-DESTRUCT if scribes want dosh - review

The UK government will consider paying writers each time their ebooks and audio books are borrowed from public libraries - just like scribes are recompensed when their dead-tree tomes are loaned. Culture minister Ed Vaizey announced a decision will be made after a formal review concluded libraries must stock digital titles or …

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Back into medieval times

When books were something expensive and only few people could afford to read it.

Come on we are in the digital age now. It is now cheap to copy books which opens up a whole new world of possibilities. We have to stop trying to push back progress and try to live with it. Digital book burning doesn't solve any problems. (In fact it's even more likely that people will just scan an OCR it from their e-book reader if you have such draconian measures)

Instead of trying to keep people away from the advances of digitalisation we must find ways how to enable the authors to make a living in a digital world.

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Childcatcher

Re: Back into medieval times

Indeed. The smart thing to do would be to close all the libraries, run a single ebook service, and use the money saved to make sure everyone has access to it.

Pay the authors a single lump sum if they have to be paid, or tell them they can take their chances in the hard-copy marketplace.

Soone or later we have to stop trying to make the future look like the past, just because we have a sentimental attachment to the past.

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Mushroom

Re: Back into medieval times

This insistence of certain business concerns to apply old models and methods to new things....it makes my blood boil.

An eBook is NOT a hardcopy book - and this is NOT a bad thing! As stated above, this opens new possibilities...yea and verily so, EVEN new possibilities to rake in cash.

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Mushroom

Re: Back into medieval times

4 upvotes for a philistine who wants to close libraries?

Do whatever you want with ebooks, get your mitts off our libraries. If anything, we need more and larger libraries, not cheap ways for the privileged to get ebooks.

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Devil

Re: Back into medieval times

Close the libraries - not so sure.

It will be a decade or more until ebooks or ebook services on a tablet will get anywhere near acceptable quality levels for children books as well as some types of reference literature (art, travel, etc). So we will need a local library as long as there are kids and as long as kids want to have a bed time story read to them (mine do).

Lump sum - definitely not. This will continue to bring the argument about deterioriation which is bogus. Rent - pay. If the govt cannot process it hire Paypal, google or someone else who can. Micropayments are not that difficult.

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Re: Back into medieval times

The library here in Dundee lends E-Books and the dead tree versions and have not moved lots of books aside to make way for computers either. The computers are in the lobby. I use both. The E-Books were great when we went back to NZ before xmas, I took three from the library for no extra weight.

Which reminds me, I have a dead tree library book I need to return.

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Re: Back into medieval times

I don't know if I'd say close so much as repurpose. The local library here is a great place for family activities; turn them all into community centers.

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Go

Re: Back into medieval times

Yes yes! Now don't you worries, in Belgium nearly every town has a nice big almost new library.

The one thing they all have in common, is that they are all full of books, along with a few computers, but apart from the staff, virtually empty of people.

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Re: Back into medieval times

The current "coalition" government of Conservatives and LibDems has closed upwards of a hundred public libraries in the last two years -- as an 'austerity' measure. Anyone who thinks libraries are redundant has perhaps not visited one.

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WTF?

The panel also recommended that digital copies of books should "deteriorate"

Are they taking the piss ?

Tough shit, welcome to technological advancement. It's like car manufactures saying we'll set the engine to blow up on purpose after 40,000 miles as we now build better that last longer but we need to sell you a new car so we will make it deliberately fail after two years.

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Re: The panel also recommended that digital copies of books should "deteriorate"

> we'll set the engine to blow up on purpose after 40,000 miles

They do. I mean it's not "on purpose", but we know how to build piston engines that run for a million miles relatively reliably (it's called a diesel train). Just they don't bother building them because it's not commercially viable, so they build one which makes commercial sense.

> Are they taking the piss?

Compression technology moves on, so you if you want the latest and greatest iDevice support with the best features I guess you need a new version. Given how often my library replaces paper versions I guess they really mean every 25 years or so ;)

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Meh

@PeteH - Re: The panel also recommended that digital copies of books should "deteriorate"

>> we'll set the engine to blow up on purpose after 40,000 miles

>They do. I mean it's not "on purpose", but we know how to build piston engines that run for a million miles relatively reliably (it's called a diesel train).

No they don't "blow up". My car engine has done 260,000 miles with one decoke, one set of new bearings, one new exhaust manifold and two new water pumps. I look after it; in fact I do this stuff myself. Railway and small marine diesels (basically the same) have many parts replaced several times during their lives - valves, bearings, pumps, pistons, cylinder liners. Again, they are looked after; and in fact I have previously been both a ship's engineering officer and a railway engineer..

What matters is that wearing parts are replacable. Car engine parts are much more easily replacable than car body parts because the stylists have less influence in that area.

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Happy

Re: The panel also recommended that digital copies of books should "deteriorate"

Yes but the diesels in a train are only to run the generators that power the traction motors that turn the wheels. They aren't directly connected to the drive train so the engines aren't subject to the variable demands of an automobile which is what the real killer is. An internal combustion that can run at a stready rate can last an incredibly long time. Also the diesels for a locomotive cost more than every car an average person will own during the course of their life.

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"...digital copies of books should "deteriorate"..."

OK, provided that the rate of deterioration is set to match what Libraries find in practice, not necessarily what fits the publishers' business models.

And while we're talking about deterioration, the publishers should give an initial discount to reflect the piss-poor proof-reading that seems to have crept into digital formats.

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WTF?

Re: "...digital copies of books should "deteriorate"..."

Why is it OK? It's plain stupid, but of course it serves the publishers' interests, not the authors', so that's what they would say, innit?

A flat rate price with a fair % added to the author's royalty is simpler and will not give anyone an incentive to hack the bitrot.

They'll be inventing hardback and paperback versions of ebooks next.

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Re: "...digital copies of books should "deteriorate"..."

I smell a buggy whip manufacturer. Change is bad (for us)!

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@Yes Me - Re: "...digital copies of books should "deteriorate"..."

Actually, I'd rather Libraries stuck to the physical book form - they're gradually becoming soulless places with their increasing focus on providing internet facilities.

But, that seems to be the way things are going, so we should at least ensure that they aren't screwed by the publishers - hence my comments.

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Re: "...digital copies of books should "deteriorate"..."

"OK, provided that the rate of deterioration is set to match what Libraries find in practice"

I beg to differ.

The only reason a library should pay for a new book when it deteriorates is because it costs the publisher to print a new copy. OK, it doesn't cost as much as the library pays, but it does cost.

For eBooks, the "deterioration" should be built into the royalties. Instead of "pay the full price after x thousand loans", spread that cost into the per-loan royalty and it's sorted. The only thing which would be affected is the publishers figures.

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Re: "...digital copies of books should "deteriorate"..."

"OK, provided that the rate of deterioration is set to match what Libraries find in practice, not necessarily what fits the publishers' business models."

From what I remember of what my ex (a librarian responsible for book selection) told me, publishers expect books to be replaced every 20-something loans, whereas in practice they're usually good for about twice that number.

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Re: "...digital copies of books should "deteriorate"..."

"They'll be inventing hardback and paperback versions of ebooks next."

They have. :( I went to buy an ebook once. It cost £20 because it was 'the hardback version'. Needless to say I didn't buy it.

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Devil

Re: "...digital copies of books should "deteriorate"..."

There are a lot of books that are over 1000 years old. That should set the benchmark.

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Re: "...digital copies of books should "deteriorate"..."

20 something loans??? Are you kidding - I've got books here from my local library that have been borrowed into the 100's of timers. One here has 5 extra stickies over the original for stamping the return date and there's room for at least 50 stamps on each sheet - the sheets are normally removed but this lot haven't been for some reason. And the book is in good condition.

Are you suggesting we reward publishers, not just for screwing the author and the consumer, but for producing a low quality product?

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Re: "...digital copies of books should "deteriorate"..."

Not just E-Books have crap proofreading. I borrowed a dead tree Feist from the library that was almost unreadable with huge continuity errors. 'The wrong version' being uploaded was blamed. 'They fired all the proofreaders' is more like it.

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WTF?

What’s the point?

Why should digital copies deteriorate? The royalty revenue will continue as long as the copy is available, and, if that is for ever, why should that be a problem?

Or should digital music also develop scratches after playing a few times, or digital video start to stretch?

What sort of moron comes up with these ideas? Do you have to fail an IQ test to run for government these days?

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Re: What’s the point?

No no, digital versions of ebooks should deteriorate. BUT the cost should come down to reflect the savings the publisher now gets from not having to print, quality control, distribute, refund damage during distribution, insure distribution, staff costs for monitoring all of this stuff.

So kibraries will pay for these ebooks every 40 years, but the price will drop to about 20% of the paperbacks value.

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WTF?

Re: What’s the point?

Hmm, I think we just found the next Gordon Brown. Congrats!

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Facepalm

Re: What’s the point?

@Mark Simon

Or should digital music also develop scratches after playing a few times, or digital video start to stretch?

I think you misunderstand what is meant by "deteriorate" here. What is being suggested is that -- just as a paper book can only be lent a certain number of times by a library before it falls apart -- a digital "book" should only be lendable by a library a certain number of times before its licence expires. I don't think anyone is seriously suggesting that the pages should be shown as dog-eared onscreen, or that the fonts should become fuzzier the more times the book is lent!

The perceived "problem" that the publishers of digital books are trying to address is that once a library purchases a digital copy of a book for a one-off payment that copy will last forever, and no further fees will become due. There are two possible solutions: One is to not to charge a one-off fee but to charge a royalty payment each time the book is "borrowed", the other is to charge a one-off fee that covers a fixed number of borrowings (or a set period of time, or some combination of the two) after which the book is somehow made unavailable until it is re-licensed by the library. It is this second mechanism that is referred to as "deterioration".

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Facepalm

Re: What’s the point?

or they could stop living in denial and accept that times have changed, make less money because they are providing less value (to both authors and readers) and if they don't like that, they can go get a job elsewhere. Wasn't it a Conservative MP who famously said "On your bike, Pal."?

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Re: What’s the point?

"I don't think anyone is seriously suggesting that the pages should be shown as dog-eared onscreen, or that the fonts should become fuzzier the more times the book is lent!"

Don't see why not, as I'm sure publishers would want ALL E-books to deteriorate and hence as a user you would needs some indication that your copy was deteriorating and hence be prompted to go out and buy and nice shiny new edition - which you can be sure will either be out-of-print or not compatible with your reader...

I agree however the problem is that publishers and libraries need to change the nature of their agreement to a much lower initial stocking fee and a per loan royalty payment. the question is whether authors and publishers will accept this riskier proposition.

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Re: What’s the point?

> The royalty revenue will continue as long as the copy is available, and, if that is for ever, why should that be a problem?

Because the library load royalty ( a few pennies) goes to the author.

When a library buys a hardback, the 20quid goes to the publisher - and a few pennies gets passed on to the author.

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Re: What’s the point?

Well they could just pay the author, and the publisher also, say a fee to have the book originally to publisher, then a 1p renewal fee in Perpetuity to the publisher, on top of the authors fee. (I don't know what the author gets each time a book is borrowed, so this is merely an example.) in the cases above where people have stated twenty to forty loans, I am supposing that those are paperbacks, as I know from my own that they deteriorate faster than hardbacks. So another option would be to assume e-books deteriorate at the same rate as hardbacks, and repay the fee every two hundred loans or so.... Just a thought.

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Childcatcher

'The panel also recommended that digital copies of books should "deteriorate" so publishers can fake them getting worn out and force libraries to buy them again.'

Exactly what we need ... not only the flakiness of the digital copy as opposed to the relative solidity of a book or even its xeroxed counterpart but ... digital deterioration? Fuck. That. Shit. What next? Deteriorating software? More and more NullPointerExceptions until you cash out again? Then the rights holder says "Sorreee, we don't sell that anymore / not in your country / thanks for calling". Then you powerlessly rage and dream of visiting Intellectual Property Advocates to punch them in the face.

You will never again find used books at the recycling center that you then scan and distribute through sneakernet.jpg

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IT Angle

Err,

isn't that just another way of saying "licensing"?

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Anonymous Coward

It really should be simple enough

1. Only a limited number of people should be able to borrow an ebook from a Library at the same time.

2. The ebook should expire from one's device.

So, just like a proper, paper book library, but without the inconvenience of having to take the book back on time.

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Thumb Up

Re: It really should be simple enough

Exactly - a "UK library" app (hopefully not one app per library!) that allows you to "check out" ebooks owned by the library you are a member of. Limited number of copies allowed by each library, with the option to request a temporary license for inter-library loans. You have the ebook in your app until the library app expires it.

Personally, I think it's a good scheme. I'm sure libraries can also possibly add some partner functions - e.g. a "buy this with Amazon" (or other providers) link.

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Re: It really should be simple enough

Indeed it is - our library uses Overdrive for eBook lending (limited time borrowing, limited number of books "checked out" at one time), only issues are that you can't use with a Kindle ('cos of proprietary DRM format) and limited choice (publishers' insecurity issues).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It really should be simple enough

"Limited number of copies". Did you just say that about a digital medium and with a straight face? Really?

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Re: It really should be simple enough

How exactly does a "limited number of copies" (digital) benefit anyone? The publisher/author would still get paid when a copy was borrowed, so no loss there - in fact having unlimited copies increases potential payments. The library could simply pay the equivalent of however many physical copies they would have purchased - say 3? - and then be allowed to loan it out as many times as they wish; maybe, worst case for a time limited period..

Incorporating digital deterioration is pointless - i'm sure that over time format changes would cover this.

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Re: It really should be simple enough

Perhaps I should have said "limited number of licenses" - anyhow, the upshot of implementing that is if copies are unavailable then punters *may* be more likely to instead go out and buy the actual (e)book rather than having to wait for a free read via the library. I fully appreciate that a digital version could get "checked out" unlimited numbers of times, which would drive *some* revenue to the publisher. But it would get more revenue from purchases, so I would fully expect them to want to push folk towards this transaction type by restricting supply in the libraries.

It's a trade off - I don't know the weightings of each revenue stream given particular values of limits to library check-outs, but I'm sure a publisher would be interested to know.

Taking the "library-app" to the extreme, it makes available all literary works in a "pay-per-view" model (except the payment comes from the whole population in the form of taxes to fund the library system).

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Re: It really should be simple enough

ours (UK, London Borough of Haringey) uses Overdrive too.

That's why this idea of "running pilots" later this year is strange, because many have already been doing this for a few years now.

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Re: It really should be simple enough "Limited number of copies".

Yes, this I suspect is to do with the fact that they are putting the loans through their existing library systems, which will have been built on the assumption that a library would hold a known number of copies of an particular book. However, there is no real reason why for e-books this number shouldn't be 100 say rather than 5.

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Re: It really should be simple enough

I agree with your second point but not your first. Ideally the libraries should pay a (small) royalty per x amount of loans (x ideally being a large number). In that case (or any other, really) maximising the possible number of loans should be in the publishers interest.

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Re: It really should be simple enough

My Dad wrote some books. The last few he formatted himself - the publisher merely screwed him over for the privileged of shrinking his already small market even smaller by charging nearly 30 times the money for distributing his e-copy and printing a few. If he'd taken it directly to the library - he could have given the e-book to them for free and then just received the royalties from the library but as his work is relatively obscure research stuff the chance of you finding it your local library are pretty slim. The same goes for most educational stuff but probably applies to most works.

I dont know of any authors these days that dont produce an electronic copy of their works themselves. Why should publishers even be involved in the electronic side?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: JetSetJim

Did you just say "a limited number of licenses" in the digital age? Really? With a straight face?

PS, 64bit float and 128bit encryption says hit and hope it can cope with the 6 billion + licenses you require to track for your pay per read system. Possible, so no idea why your still wishing to "limit" digital distribution.

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Re: JetSetJim

*I* am not wishing to limit the distribution, merely pointing out that the publishers *may* want to and this gives them an easy mechanism for it

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and in the mean time piracy continues to flourish.

Why don't publishers get it, the people who pirate their films / books wouldn't be buying them in th first place, so any profit they get from them (pirated copies) is only a plus.

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Anonymous Coward

- the people who pirate their films / books wouldn't be buying them in th first place

That's not always the case - some things are better in their pirated versions, I've certainly found this to be true of DVDs and computer games where lengthy anti-piracy adverts and hideous copy protection respectively are stripped out by diligent pirates.

I know of people who would buy the original if it was similarly unencumbered but as this is not an option, prefer the pirate version. Industry cutting its own throat here.

Of course, I also know of people who used to spend quite a lot of money on e.g. music who now just pirate it all because they are lazy and cheap - so it is not entirely down to big business not understanding its customers but as nothing they are doing seems to stop this piracy it is not clear whether the effort they go to is worth it.

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Pint

I'm lazy - ain't You?

The algorithm is simple:

until ($purchase easier_than $pirating)

{

piracy;

}

When the publishers understand that, piracy will (almost) vanish. It will never be zero, but given the right conditions it will be turned down into background noise.

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