Check it out!
November 8, 2011 6:59 AM   Subscribe

Kindle Lending Library is now live. (discussed previously). The good news is there are lots of titles and no due dates. The bad news is that there is a one-per-month limit. Oh, and you have to be an Amazon Prime! member. Not everyone is thrilled.
posted by TwoToneRow (98 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Congratulations, Kindle, on successfully re-creating the one major problem with physical books.
posted by DU at 7:02 AM on November 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


I think we can all agree that the one major problem with physical books is that they can be borrowed for free.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 7:04 AM on November 8, 2011 [16 favorites]


Reading the "not everyone is thrilled" link...Amazon just said "hey publishers, we're giving your stuff away now" and that was that? Seriously?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:05 AM on November 8, 2011


You can't access it through the Kindle app, even if you have Prime? I'm not a fan of being locked down to one device, frankly. Thanks anyway, Amazon.
posted by rewil at 7:05 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's amazing to me that publishers have a business model that is completely different than movies and television now. Like I can go to a library and not pay a dime to read a book. 1 copy, 1 book, 1 library, 1 payment to the publisher, multiple readers.

You move to the electronic world and suddenly it's different? Amazon paying for each user they're lending to in a lot of cases. So now it's multiple payments per title making it more profitable for the publisher compared to physical libraries.

I'd imagine that publishers would be against the concept of physical libraries if they were invented today, too.
posted by inturnaround at 7:05 AM on November 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


Seriously, people are complaining about this free feature?
Neither the price of Prime nor the price of the Kindle went up when this was added. Free. FREE.
posted by inigo2 at 7:05 AM on November 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Don't understand the confusion on how to pay authors. It is nothing but an extension of the current library system. Many libraries already have ebooks that they loan out. They even have ones you can download. Oh and you can borrow them for free without having to join Amazon Prime, not to mention being able to borrow more than one.

As always the more hassles the publishers/providers put in the system, the more people will just pirate the books.

It is getting more and more obvious that the need of publishing houses is quickly dwindling away to zero. The power and reach of the internet far exceeds any pre-net author's dream.
posted by 2manyusernames at 7:05 AM on November 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think we can all agree that the one major problem with physical books is that they canmust be borrowed for freeat all.

Is there an electron shortage I'm unaware of? It costs nothing to make a copy.
posted by DU at 7:07 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reading the "not everyone is thrilled" link...Amazon just said "hey publishers, we're giving your stuff away now" and that was that? Seriously?

Under previously agreed to wholesale terms, they're buying books from the publisher and giving them to their Prime users as a value added benefit. I don't see the issue.
posted by inturnaround at 7:08 AM on November 8, 2011


"Not everyone is thrilled" is the most perfect one-sentence summary of the Internet ever written. Reminds me of this.
posted by jbickers at 7:11 AM on November 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Reading the "not everyone is thrilled" link...Amazon just said "hey publishers, we're giving your stuff away now" and that was that? Seriously?


Agree it sounds of dubious legality (or at least longevity) and publishers will have to respond somehow. It's untenable as it is.

MY CYNICAL TAKE: amazon knows all of this and is simply trying to rope in a few more Prime members...
posted by DavidandConquer at 7:12 AM on November 8, 2011


Between this and the color Kindle, I think the Nook's days are numbered.
posted by drezdn at 7:12 AM on November 8, 2011


> ou can't access it through the Kindle app, even if you have Prime?

I suspect that's because there are easy ways to create PDF or epub files from Kindle apps (at least on the PC and Mac). On the surface, this whole thing does seem absurd (especially since digital copies don't really cost anything) but when you look at the details it at least makes some sense.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:13 AM on November 8, 2011


The Nook had days? The only people I know who own that device are hardcore tech-contrarians who purchase the not-leading brand for the reason alone that it is the not-leading brand.
posted by griphus at 7:14 AM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I'm reading the not thrilled link right, Amazon is paying for the books they're loaning out, but didn't ask for permission to do this. Apparently, it also raises questions about royalty rates.
posted by drezdn at 7:14 AM on November 8, 2011


The Nook had days?

Apparently the Nook has 25% of the market. Feature-wise, the Nook worked with public libraries while the Kindle didn't, it also had a color version way before the Nook. (I still haven't got one of either yet)
posted by drezdn at 7:17 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only people complaining or publishers and kindle owners outside of the US.
posted by stp123 at 7:17 AM on November 8, 2011


Agree it sounds of dubious legality (or at least longevity) and publishers will have to respond somehow. It's untenable as it is.

Yeah, how dare Amazon pay for books and then give them away!

Let the publishers figure out the royalties or renegotiate the price at which they sell the e-books to Amazon.
posted by inturnaround at 7:17 AM on November 8, 2011


f I'm reading the not thrilled link right, Amazon is paying for the books they're loaning out, but didn't ask for permission to do this.

I think that's right, and I don't understand why they would have to ask for permission. To frame the offer another way: "Join Amazon Prime and if you're a Kindle owner, we'll buy you one book a month, from this select list." Unless I'm overlooking something, seems like perfectly legit marketing, and frankly, a pretty brilliant way to drive people into both Kindle ownership and Prime membership.
posted by jbickers at 7:18 AM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I suspect that's because there are easy ways to create PDF or epub files from Kindle apps (at least on the PC and Mac).

Because making a copy of your one free book/month would definitely be the easiest and most convenient way to pirate eBooks.
posted by straight at 7:19 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


B&N just announced a new Nook Tablet yesterday that has similar specs as the new Kindle Fire, although it doesn't have the same seamless content delivery that seems to be the Fire's biggest asset.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:20 AM on November 8, 2011


> Because making a copy of your one free book/month would definitely be the easiest and most convenient way to pirate eBooks.

Such ponderous snark. Well, it's a means for them to lock it down at any rate.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:21 AM on November 8, 2011


Shit, that reminds me I need to pay my overdue library fees.
posted by angrycat at 7:22 AM on November 8, 2011


I suspect that's because there are easy ways to create PDF or epub files from Kindle apps (at least on the PC and Mac).

One of the articles says Amazon says the restriction is to help push Kindle device sales.
posted by inturnaround at 7:22 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The new Nook also costs 25% more than the Amazon Fire tablet. So there's that.

I think this is a good deal. Amazon Prime is the bomb. And not the dangerous bomb. The convenient type.
posted by glaucon at 7:23 AM on November 8, 2011


I'll go with whichever one lets me read Metafilter on the bus. So for the moment, neither.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:25 AM on November 8, 2011


Wow, we really are setting the bar for outrage low these days.
posted by Artw at 7:25 AM on November 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Shit, that reminds me I need to pay my overdue library fees.

I can't open a library card in Brooklyn without paying something like $30 because when I was twelve years old, I lost a copy of the Official Strategy Guide to Beavis and Butthead for the Sega Genesis.
posted by griphus at 7:26 AM on November 8, 2011 [27 favorites]


f I'm reading the not thrilled link right, Amazon is paying for the books they're loaning out, but didn't ask for permission to do this.

I think that's right, and I don't understand why they would have to ask for permission. To frame the offer another way: "Join Amazon Prime and if you're a Kindle owner, we'll buy you one book a month, from this select list." Unless I'm overlooking something, seems like perfectly legit marketing, and frankly, a pretty brilliant way to drive people into both Kindle ownership and Prime membership.


I believe the publishers did have to ask for permission, though I don't have the essential links at hand right now. None of the Big Six publishers are participating.

FWIW, I work in publishing and am a voracious reader, but the main thing keeping me from buying a Kindle is the fact that you just don't have as much access to free or cheap books. (Yeah, I'm an editor and I should be supporting the industry, and I do buy books I think are important, but I also mostly get free copies from trade shows and colleagues and buy deeply discounted used copies on Amazon and go to the library.) This, and the fact that you can get library books on the Kindle now, is starting to sweeten the pot. I think it's probably time to face facts that ebooks are here to stay, but people don't pay for books to begin with--sorry, but most people aren't readers--and to get the people who ARE readers to pay for electronic books, you're going to also have to make sure some books are available for free electronically.

I think this is a good deal. Amazon Prime is the bomb. And not the dangerous bomb. The convenient type.

Totally agree.


Shit, that reminds me I need to pay my overdue library fees.


Rack up some more! It's not like libraries are well-funded anymore.
posted by editrixx at 7:28 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just like with Prime video streaming, this doesn't seem to work for Prime accounts that are shared within a household. So Amazon may be able to get $79 a year from each person in a household now rather than only once for each house.
posted by stopgap at 7:29 AM on November 8, 2011


Look, publishers. As long as the content has to come out of some device, travel through the air and then enter my eyeballs/earholes, there are going to be ways to pirate copies. It's a physical fact of nature. It will probably even be true when you are beaming personalized copies directly into my brain.

The drivers for this behavior are many, but one of the major ones is convenience. It is sooo simple to get a torrent of the movie/book/album you want. Whereas searching stores is ponderous and once you do get the item you are bombarded by advertising often by the purchased item itself.

And if the item is electronic, you don't even let me use it how I want. I can't make local backups, I can't transfer to new devices, give a copy to a family member (which is completely legal for analog, btw).

If you want to reduce piracy, you need to increase convenience. I'll even pay the exact same price. Just cut out the hassle.
posted by DU at 7:30 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, virtually all the books I 'check out' from the 'digital library' come in pdf or djvu format, making the Kindle pretty worthless, but many layers like Jinke Hanlin handle em' nicely.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:36 AM on November 8, 2011


If ebook dealers were really worried about convenience, there wouldn't be the epub/mobi divide. An ebook should be readable from any reader, no matter who sold it.
posted by rewil at 7:36 AM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


One thing that makes this announcement great news is the stupid price of all e-Books. Not coincidentally, the price of e-Books probably drives the piracy that DU is talking about.

Why would I pay $11.99 for a 200 page book (specifically, Bill Clinton's new book which is 204 pages and $11.99)? What is the value of paying so much more for an electronic copy that DU so right points out has limited convenience compared to an analog copy?
posted by glaucon at 7:37 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't open a library card in Brooklyn without paying something like $30 because when I was twelve years old, I lost a copy of the Official Strategy Guide to Beavis and Butthead for the Sega Genesis.

Maybe it's time for Adult You to pay for 12-Year-Old You's screwup. It's just 30 bucks fercryinoutloud.

/shakes finger
posted by emjaybee at 7:37 AM on November 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


More and more, everything requires the use of a live credit or debit card, conveniently attached to my social security number or, even better, to a bank account as well.

I'll stick with my public library.
posted by Currer Belfry at 7:38 AM on November 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is awesome. I have Amazon Prime and I have a Kindle and I rarely get through more than one book a month. Yay!
posted by amro at 7:42 AM on November 8, 2011


Why would I pay $11.99 for a 200 page book (specifically, Bill Clinton's new book which is 204 pages and $11.99)? What is the value of paying so much more for an electronic copy that DU so right points out has limited convenience compared to an analog copy?

My biggest complaint about e-books is that I can't sell them when I'm done reading them. The price for the electronic version should at least be discounted by a few dollars for the loss of resale value, especially for books that would their value pretty well.
posted by stopgap at 7:43 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


*hold their value
posted by stopgap at 7:47 AM on November 8, 2011


I'm still not sold on e-readers in general, in that I don't like the limitations of storing/file formats/having limited rights to my own copy of something.
posted by emjaybee at 7:49 AM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


My biggest complaint about e-books is that I can't sell them when I'm done reading them. The price for the electronic version should at least be discounted by a few dollars for the loss of resale value, especially for books that would hold their value pretty well.

Agreed. Buying and consuming an eBook isn't so convenient that it's worth the premium. I stick to periodicals (which is where I really do see convenience) and free classics. Purchasing new books for the Kindle is muy loco.
posted by glaucon at 7:49 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's time for Adult You to pay for 12-Year-Old You's screwup. It's just 30 bucks fercryinoutloud.

When I move to a neighborhood where the local library is open after work hours and can provide me with things I want without going through the ILL system, sure, why not. For now, the library near me is a glorified day care center with internet access that's open for about twenty hours a week.
posted by griphus at 7:50 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shit, that reminds me I need to pay my overdue library fees.

Rack up some more! It's not like libraries are well-funded anymore.


Yeah, whenever I have fees I just round them up and tell them to take the rest as a donation; my library system is set up to deal with that so it's a simple way to help offset the pathetic situation they're in funding-wise.

I also do it because the late fines are WAY too low. The county/library needs to sack up, take the heat and bump them to the point where each day amounts up to an actual inconvenience. Currently they're $0.30 which means it takes a full 4 days before it even hits a buck.

My biggest complaint about e-books is that I can't sell them when I'm done reading them. The price for the electronic version should at least be discounted by a few dollars for the loss of resale value, especially for books that would their value pretty well.

I'd accept them being bound in some way to the cost of picking them up used. It's maddening to see kindle editions listed at $10 next to books that are going for $3 with free shipping, particularly when some of those kindle-ized older books were done in a slapdash way. I understand that creating the electronic version isn't without cost but pretending that you can sell this at greater than new physical-edition price when there's already a glut of existing editions is stupid.

Oh well, they'll get there eventually. It took a while for the iTunes back catalog to even begin to reflect that sort of reality.
posted by phearlez at 7:50 AM on November 8, 2011


Maybe it's time for Adult You to pay for 12-Year-Old You's screwup. It's just 30 bucks fercryinoutloud.

When I move to a neighborhood where the local library is open after work hours and can provide me with things I want without going through the ILL system, sure, why not. For now, the library near me is a glorified day care center with internet access that's open for about twenty hours a week.


Yeah, it's not like by providing financial support to the concept and demonstrating an interest now might somehow encourage them to expand the offering.
posted by phearlez at 7:52 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also do it because the late fines are WAY too low.

I'm no library administrator, but I think the problem with raising fees is that, for instance, kids from poor families wherein the parents do not value reading will be banned by their parents from using the library if they rack up too much in fees too often. Same thing goes for senior citizens on SSI or whatever who have trouble getting to the library unassisted.
posted by griphus at 7:54 AM on November 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


You move to the electronic world and suddenly it's different?

Yes! Welcome to the world of digital content where you lease your content instead of buying it and the right of first sale [in the US] is no longer in effect.

The county/library needs to sack up, take the heat and bump them to the point where each day amounts up to an actual inconvenience.


I assume you are somewhat joking here but it's entirely possible that the fines your library accrues go into the general fund [as they do in Seattle] and not to the library at all. And since the library is for the public, there are members of the public who definitely find a $.30/day fine punitive. One of thelarger problems your average library has is not making fines so punitive that they scare off the people in the community who could use the library most. And anyhow, since you can get online and "recall" a book through all modern online catalogs, many people argue that a more Netflix-like model [keep the book as long as you want, we'll let you know if someone else requests it] is more civilized for everyone involved.

This is a timely post because I just found out last night that the only way I can get a Kindle copy of the book I wrote myself is to pay full price for it [or pirate it] because once my publisher sends the proofs to the Kindle-text-creator it's out of their hands legally. I suppose I could try making a stink about this, but I'd rather explore the seedy underbelly of Kindle piracy.
posted by jessamyn at 7:56 AM on November 8, 2011 [19 favorites]


Is there some clever way to navigate the lending library? When I access it on my kindle, the books seem to be in a completely random order.
posted by wittgenstein at 7:59 AM on November 8, 2011


Yeah, it's not like by providing financial support to the concept and demonstrating an interest now might somehow encourage them to expand the offering.

I've been on the periphery of my local library for twenty years. Thirty dollars is not going to stop the fact that they've been forced to phase out anything not catering to elementary school children, senior citizens and people who need access to the internet. And, I mean, having spent most of my free time as an elementary school student in the library, that's fantastic, but I'm never going to find myself in there.
posted by griphus at 8:00 AM on November 8, 2011


I suppose I could try making a stink about this, but I'd rather explore the seedy underbelly of Kindle piracy.

The digital world is getting weirder by the minute.
posted by swift at 8:06 AM on November 8, 2011


> but I'd rather explore the seedy underbelly of Kindle piracy.

The PDF converter that I used was a Rube Goldberg-esque thing that simply used a computer's accessibility features to automatically turn the pages of the Kindle file while writing the output to a PDF while you watch it flip through.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:08 AM on November 8, 2011


I love the idea of one book a month. I know I was sold on many, many Kindle titles when publishers/authors wisely took the drug dealer's approach of "first one's free" for series books. Even if it's something that I might not be interested, I'd be much more likely to give it a shout if it's free.

On the downside, I had pretty much converted my Kindle reading to my iPad, which isn't supported by this. My Generation 2 Kindle has sat, unloved, due to me not wanting to carry around a whole lot of electronics. But still... one of those new Kindle Touches would be nice...

Anything that gets people to read more, be it free books from Amazon, libraries open later, or lightning fast ILL services is a big plus in my book.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:18 AM on November 8, 2011


"Lightning Fast Ill Services" is a great name for a hip-hop album.
posted by griphus at 8:22 AM on November 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think it's probably time to face facts that ebooks are here to stay, but people don't pay for books to begin with--sorry, but most people aren't readers--and to get the people who ARE readers to pay for electronic books, you're going to also have to make sure some books are available for free electronically.

I get what your saying here, but one odd thing that I've witnessed is that the e-readers, particularly the kindle, have created a new group of voracious readers. It's like Harry Potter for the Gen X - Baby Boomer set or perhaps this is just true with my family, and their friends, but here's an example of what I'm talking about:

My sister, who is in her mid-60s, is bright and interested in the world around her, but was never much of a reader. She worked long days and went back to school nights for both her B.S. and MBA. She'd read the occasional business non-fiction book (Crucial Conversations, 7 Habits, etc). Then last year for some reason she got a kindle and she's been reading non-stop. It's like she just discovered reading. I tried to ask her why the kindle made the difference and she mentioned that it was difficult to get to the book store and when I countered with the fact that Amazon has been around for several years selling analog books very conveniently over the internet and delivered to her home, she really didn't have an answer. Now she is never without her kindle (aside from when she is working), she's even reading during commercial breaks when she watching something on network TV. She suggesting and buying fiction books for me! She's gone from reading maybe one novel a year to two or three per month and she's really branched out with regard to the types of books she's reading (seriously before it was all Dan Brown and non-fiction). And she swears the same is true for all of her friends who bought kindles; that they are all reading substantially more than they had before. I don't really know how someone goes from being a non-reader to getting a kindle in the first place, but there you go.

My nephew, who is about my age (mid-40s) liked to read when he was younger, but got busy with work and kids. He gave the same excuse as my sister...no time to get to the book store....(seriously people...it's like they've been living under a rock and had no idea that Amazon existed). Got a kindle back to reading as much or more than he did when he was younger..

My sister bought me a kindle and if anything I'm reading a bit less. For someone like me who has always read voraciously, bought books through Amazon with their standard 20-40% discount, but even more frequently used the library or bought books cheaply at used bookstores, the $11.99-$12.99 price for most of the new literary fiction or non-fiction books that interest me is a barrier. And now that I've gotten used to the convenience of carrying around just a kindle, the thought of carting around a heavy tome from the library for my daily commute is less appealing. On the other hand for people like my sister and nephew, who rarely bought books and were used to paying full-price (plus sales tax) at the bookstore, don't blink an eye at the $11.99 or 12.99 priced books, indeed they feel like they're getting a huge bargain. The prime thing, if they opt for it, will only be icing on the cake for them.
posted by kaybdc at 8:23 AM on November 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


Such ponderous snark. Well, it's a means for them to lock it down at any rate.

The point is that, no, it doesn't lock anything down in terms of preventing piracy. The only "lock" going on is inconvenience to the paying customers, which is madness.
posted by straight at 8:24 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm no library administrator, but I think the problem with raising fees is that, for instance, kids from poor families wherein the parents do not value reading will be banned by their parents from using the library if they rack up too much in fees too often. Same thing goes for senior citizens on SSI or whatever who have trouble getting to the library unassisted.

I AM a library administrator (but IANYLA, probably), and you've brought up a good point. Jessamyn also brought up a good point about fine $$$ going into the general fund of the city/library system/county/etc.

Thirty dollars is not going to stop the fact that they've been forced to phase out anything not catering to elementary school children, senior citizens and people who need access to the internet.

Maybe not just YOUR thirty dollars, but it does add up. One of the reasons that my city in particular does not fund the library to provide the sorts of services you see lacking is because we don't bring in much $$$. There are city administrators out there that see libraries as giant money pits, into which goes $$$ and out of which comes ¢¢¢. Believe me, we want to cater to you. All of you. There's just only so much $$$ to go around, and so much time in the day.
posted by Elly Vortex at 8:28 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


We haven't really discussed Amazon Publishing on MeFi. There was a good article about it recently called The Truth About Amazon Publishing. Basically, for all the big FU's Amazon is giving the publishing industry, Amazon is quickly discovering that it's not so easy when it tries to be a publisher itself.
posted by stbalbach at 8:32 AM on November 8, 2011


For now, the library near me is a glorified day care center with internet access that's open for about twenty hours a week.

A library to which you owe $30.
posted by General Tonic at 8:40 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The PDF converter that I used was a Rube Goldberg-esque thing that simply used a computer's accessibility features to automatically turn the pages of the Kindle file while writing the output to a PDF while you watch it flip through.

I know we discourage directly linking around here, but if you have a legit Kindle serial number and a copy of the e-book management software calibre, there's actually a much much easier way to do this that you can find with some basic Googling.
posted by Apropos of Something at 8:47 AM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, but if you don't own a Kindle device then your options are different.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:50 AM on November 8, 2011


My biggest complaint about e-books is that I can't sell them when I'm done reading them.

Assuming you can sell them. I moved from a city with a great used-book seller (who usually took only a fraction of what we brought him) to a city where I'm struggling to find a place to give away books. Basically, I've just not found a good used book market in my location, and when you factor in $2-3 shipping on anything, getting used books online or selling online is more trouble than it's worth.

Actually what finally tipped the scales in making the investment was cheap or free material. Every now and then, I find something interesting where the electronic version is much cheaper than the hard copy, and there are a few weblogs that will announce discounts or promotional eBook giveaways.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:55 AM on November 8, 2011


> Assuming you can sell them.

Ever since the latest recession the used book stores in my city have seen huge surpluses of used books from people trying to scratch a few bucks together. They're offering minuscule amounts at the same places that used to at least not insult you.

Who's to say that used books won't see an uptick in value in a decade or so after ebooks see more market saturation.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:59 AM on November 8, 2011


I can pretty much guarantee to the e-publishers this simple thing: if you knock the price of ebooks down significantly (and let's be honest, the overhead of an ebook is NOTHING compared to the overhead of a physical book, so charging $20 for the physical book and as much as $15 for the same book in electronic format is DUMB), then they will sell more.

Knock the prices down to iTunes prices (like 99 cents, or maybe something closer to $2 a book) and the market will *explode* and piracy will be less of a big deal.
posted by grubi at 9:02 AM on November 8, 2011


Why so much grahh? I love my kindle, it saves me shipping a block of paper 1000+ miles.

So now, for $79 a year, not only do I get 'free' two day shipping (the reason I bought Prime), I get a large (10,000+) free movie/tv collection to watch and a now I even get a free book to read each month. Oh and with a Kindle, I can read any first chapter for free from their entire library.

I just borrowed and read "The Big Short" from this feature, and that saved me ten bucks (loved it). If I read a book a month via this, that more the covers the initial Prime membership fee, even without the other bonuses they include.

Whatever you think about ebooks, the fact is, they've got to be one of the cheapest forms of entertainment out there hour for hour. Yes, we all like things being cheaper, I get that, I'd love to pay a dollar less for a bottle of wine, a cinema ticket, gas, but the price is what the price is and there's obviously a healthly market there for it.
posted by Static Vagabond at 9:06 AM on November 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


About the library fines, it was always my understanding that it was a stick to poke people to bring their books back on time rather than a fund raising tool. If they bring the book back on time, you need to have less of the copies of the book particularly in cases like best sellers. You don't want to make the fines so high people are afraid to bring the books back.
posted by marxchivist at 9:09 AM on November 8, 2011


. . . I lost a copy of the Official Strategy Guide to Beavis and Butthead for the Sega Genesis.

And somebody actually noticed?

Seriously, the eBook subject has so many pros and cons that it's hard to capture them all in one place. I pre-ordered a Kindle Fire, but mostly for the "laptop" features. The eBook features are a plus.

I (think I) know that I can read Project Gutenberg books and books from the library. I can also share books with my wife's Kindle. I can also subscribe of my favorite magazines and get them on the Kindle Fire. All of these are pluses, in my book.
posted by Man with Lantern at 9:11 AM on November 8, 2011


I think the bad news, honestly, is that I spent half an hour sifting through stuff and found extremely little that looked worth actually reading. It was like sorting through the bargain bin at the bookstore used to be. Great deal, but 99% stuff that nobody wants to read, that's why it's cheap. I did notice a few things I liked and already own, but it felt like a lot of the books available were cheap filler a la "101 Home Businesses that Seriously Aren't Scams Really" and stuff that's actually in the public domain.
posted by gracedissolved at 9:19 AM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Interestingly after making such a big fuss about DC and Kindle the Nook appears to have it's own exclusive comics from Marvel.
posted by Artw at 9:26 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


FWIW, you can search prime-eligible books with this unwieldy URL.
posted by jepler at 9:27 AM on November 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


If the Kindle supported EPUB, I'd be all over it in a heartbeat. I've already got a Prime membership (terrific investment) and I'm a fan of Amazon in general.
posted by grubi at 9:27 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


As someone who preordered the Kindle Fire, can I say that I'm a little jealous of the Nook tablet's extra storage and SD card slot? Sure, cloud, yadda yadda yadda, but I think I would have payed the extra $50 for a Kindle with that.
posted by Artw at 9:29 AM on November 8, 2011


Yes, for pay things cost money. Abandon libraries at your peril.
posted by agregoli at 10:23 AM on November 8, 2011


If the Kindle supported EPUB, I'd be all over it in a heartbeat.

This is another thing that calibre is really helpful with. You can convert, or bulk convert, basically anything into anything, including epub into azw.
posted by Apropos of Something at 10:55 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's so bloody easy it makes me wonder why they don't give in and support the format.
posted by Artw at 10:57 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've seen the results of converting ePubs. They are generally unsatisfactory (formatting not honored, links acting weird, etc). If Amazon would simply allow the ePubs to be readable to begin with, there'd be no problem.
posted by grubi at 11:38 AM on November 8, 2011


new Nook Tablet yesterday that has similar specs as the new Kindle Fire

No, twice as much RAM and storage, plus microSD card expansion, better screen, jailbreakable, and not locked into a single retail ecosystem, for $50 more.

Not bad, I'd say. Very satisfied with the Nook Color I got my kid earlier this year, and Kindle hardware feels like crap in my hands.
posted by spitbull at 12:18 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, if Americans actually read one book a month on average (not Mefites, obviously) we'd have a whole different society. And I don't mean comics and Danielle Steele.
posted by spitbull at 12:21 PM on November 8, 2011


Say what now?
posted by Artw at 12:23 PM on November 8, 2011


If Amazon would simply allow....

Remember who it is you're talking about.

Speaking of dream sequences, if Amazon were to join the ranks of the civilized world and kick back a few sheckels to the authors every time a book was borrowed, well, authors might like them more.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:27 PM on November 8, 2011


Comics are ruining dozens, if not hundreds!, of American minds, Artw.
posted by griphus at 12:39 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've seen the results of converting ePubs. They are generally unsatisfactory (formatting not honored, links acting weird, etc). If Amazon would simply allow the ePubs to be readable to begin with, there'd be no problem.

This is a pretty unrealistic view of how software works. Something piece of code running on the device still actually has to parse the file and render it into whatever internal data structure is used to display and support user interaction. There's no reason that has to be any better than "converting ePubs".

It's also important to recognize that there is almost certainly a list they have in place of specific usability and user experience requirements, driven by various business concerns, which they require to be fulfilled before they ship any feature to customers. Some of those business requirements aren't going to be obvious external to Amazon. If they don't see the benefit of writing all this as being worth the expense to do so, it's simply not going to happen. This is the reality of how creating products occurs.

It isn't "If they'd just allow it to be readable". That's not the way things really work.
posted by atbash at 12:40 PM on November 8, 2011


Amazing, I make ten thousand unecessary em-dashes a day and I just blew the single actually appropriate time to use them.
posted by griphus at 12:41 PM on November 8, 2011


Reread it twice before sending and still didn't catch that it should say "Some piece of code". Sigh.
posted by atbash at 12:41 PM on November 8, 2011


phearlez: "Currently they're $0.30 which means it takes a full 4 days before it even hits a buck."

When I was looking at how libraries in my area are funded, there was a reference to the county paying like $0.30 per checkout So you're still paying a lot more than if you just clicked "renew" on the website.
posted by pwnguin at 12:42 PM on November 8, 2011


This is a pretty unrealistic view of how software works. Something piece of code running on the device still actually has to parse the file and render it into whatever internal data structure is used to display and support user interaction. There's no reason that has to be any better than "converting ePubs".

It's also important to recognize that there is almost certainly a list they have in place of specific usability and user experience requirements, driven by various business concerns, which they require to be fulfilled before they ship any feature to customers. Some of those business requirements aren't going to be obvious external to Amazon. If they don't see the benefit of writing all this as being worth the expense to do so, it's simply not going to happen. This is the reality of how creating products occurs.

It isn't "If they'd just allow it to be readable". That's not the way things really work.


I understand how software works. i also understand that there are plenty of devices with similar guidelines and requirements that *do* read and render ePubs better than reading and rendering a converted file. The iPad, for example. And if you don't think Apple has stringent usability requirements...
posted by grubi at 12:51 PM on November 8, 2011


I understand how software works. i also understand that there are plenty of devices with similar guidelines and requirements that *do* read and render ePubs better than reading and rendering a converted file. The iPad, for example. And if you don't think Apple has stringent usability requirements...

It isn't that they're stringent, it's that they're specific, they're business driven, and they come with a cost to implement and deploy and an estimated return on that investment. Amazon's a publicly held company. If they don't think something will make a profit at or above their current margins, it isn't going to happen.
posted by atbash at 1:02 PM on November 8, 2011


I get that. But Barnes & Noble has the same goal, yet their device supports ePub. Apple's device supports ePub. There are various and sundry applications on Android that support ePub. I'm not asking for OGG support -- I'm asking for the equivalent of MP3 support on an audio device.
posted by grubi at 1:05 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can actually get Kindle books at some local public libraries. In my area, it's via a partnership with Overdrive.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 1:45 PM on November 8, 2011


Read this with much excitement then learned it is for Kindles registered with Amazon.com. So too bad for those of us in the UK :(
We can't get the New Yorker on the Kindle either. Sucky.
posted by Megami at 1:49 PM on November 8, 2011


I'm asking for the equivalent of MP3 support on an audio device.

And the only reason that the iPod supports MP3, rather than Apple's proprietary format, is that the iPod predated the iTunes Music Store. Had it been the other way around -- had Apple already had a successful music retail business (like you know who) -- it's doubtful the engineers would have been able to beat the MBAs into submission to support a vendor-neutral format.

Amazon's support for AMZ at the expense of EPUB is bald-faced vendor lock-in of the worst and most basic kind. Period.

And I say that as someone who owns a Kindle and buys books from the thing all the time. It's shitty, but it's less shitty than the competing products (the Nook is terribly unresponsive and slow) and it beats the hell out of carting dead trees around, having them shipped to me, etc., and the net result is that I'm reading far more than I ever have in my adult life. I'll deal with Amazon's "ecosystem" in order to be able to buy a book while sitting on a train going 60MPH, but I'm not for a moment believing that it's not a cheap attempt at lock-in.

And as a result, I periodically strip all the DRM off of my Amazon purchases and back them up, and recommend that everyone do the same thing, because despite having a nice and very convenient product, at heart Amazon is just a bunch of conniving little bastards who will happily suck "your" content right back off of "your" devices if they think there's profit in doing so.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:52 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


As far as I can tell, the main reasons to go with an non-kindle e-reader are library lending and disapproving of vendor lock-in formats. This move seems like Amazon attempting to address the former. But libraries still sound way better to me. I've exclusively read library e-books on my Kobo for the past few months and it's so easy. I get three at a time (currently, The Postmistress, A Dance with Dragons and Amelia Peabody Mystery #2). This move is a nice bonus for people who already have Kindles and Amazon Prime but would not convince me to switch to a Kindle.
posted by carolr at 2:12 PM on November 8, 2011


I own a Kindle, I love my Kindle, and I'm rooting for Nook (or any other reader) to get the upper hand. All because of Amazon's lock-in and the proprietary AMZ format. I like to be able to tweak my ebooks --change the cover, add in essays or maps or illustrations or whatever-- and that's much easier with EPUBs than with any other format.

It's not so important now, but the formatting of books became a lot more powerful with EPUB 3 and Format 8, and unless Calibre becomes a lot more powerful in its conversion process you're going to notice a lot of difference between your EPUB books and the Calibre-generated MOBI you create for your Kindle.

Of course, the solution might be as simple as hacking your Kindle to give it the functionality you want to have. Still, it would be nice to support a company that let's you read the book in the format you want to read it. So I own a Kindle, I love my Kindle, but I'm rooting for the other guy.
posted by zueod at 2:29 PM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Amazon's lock-in and the proprietary AMZ format

Their existing Mobipocket-derived format is AZW. The not-yet-released new HTML5-based format is KF8.
posted by nev at 5:19 PM on November 8, 2011


(the Nook is terribly unresponsive and slow)

This has not been my experience at all with my kid's Nook Color, and with the Nook Tablet having 1GB of RAM, I doubt it will be "unresponsive" compared to a Kindle Fire.

What I find really unresponsive is Amazon.com itself.
posted by spitbull at 5:31 PM on November 8, 2011


Kobo gets bought.
posted by Artw at 5:41 PM on November 8, 2011


You're correct in both respects nev, and I should have explained that Kindle Format 8 (KF8) will be jettisoning the Mobipocket wrapper. The question that remains is how non-trivial it will be to convert the extra functionality of EPUB 3 to the similar functionality of the KF8.

It is also possible (if not probable) that with the HTML 5 / CSS guts, the new Kindle format will be more editable/modifiable than the old mobipocket-based AZW, which might make the question moot for many users.

In addition, EPUB 3 still needs to find a home (since, as far as I know, no reader on the market has begun to adopt it,) and Amazon has yet to plainly state whether or not the current generation of Kindles (3's and earlier) will be able to use Format 8, so it will probably be a year or more before we begin to see how these new formats play out.
posted by zueod at 6:32 PM on November 8, 2011


This has not been my experience at all with my kid's Nook Color, and with the Nook Tablet

Yeah I should have been clear, I was basing my comments on the monochrome Nook; I've not yet played with the color. But several family members of mine got the Nook over the Kindle 3, and each of them have had a terrible time with it. Like zueod, despite being a Kindle user I'd really like to see some serious competition for it ... it's not clear to me whether the newest generation of Nooks is going to do that, or if the purpose-built ereader field is being surrendered to Amazon in favor of trying for a downmarket iPad. (Although arguably Amazon is trying the same thing with the Fire.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:07 PM on November 8, 2011


I bought my wife the Nook Color last year for Christmas. She barely uses it because of the lack of responsiveness and slowness. Even after hacking it, it's still sluggish in places, despite a gorgeous screen. I later bought one for myself, but returned it within a couple weeks because of the same performance issues. I figure that if I would prefer to *not* look something up online rather than use a device, it's not the device for me.

I have high hopes for the Nook family; they're generally a great idea. But those OS deployments need to be t-w-e-a-k-e-d something fierce.
posted by grubi at 6:21 AM on November 9, 2011


Comics by comiXology ships on Amazon's Kindle Fire
posted by Artw at 9:52 AM on November 9, 2011


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