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July 10, 2009 5:28 AM   Subscribe

Kindle is coming soon to a library near you. Amazon is sending mixed messages about the concept. Librarians are having an online conference to the discuss the issues.
posted by Xurando (61 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Lending digital books is almost certainly going to be in breach of copyright. If it isn't then the publishers will soon ensure that it is. Publishers are charging libraries more to hold a digital book or journal than they do to hold the paper copy even if it is a single access copy, only accessible from a single IP address within the library.
posted by bap98189 at 5:38 AM on July 10, 2009


It's interesting to see how we're moving to the future of reading and library service. Most of the discussion of the matter in library circles, though, is a tempest in a teapot. Mixed messages or not (and most of the mixing of messages seems to be coming from low-level, not especially sophisticated customer service types), Amazon has no authority to instruct the owners of an artifact (i.e. a Kindle) not to lend said artifact to others. That's as preposterous as Apple suggesting you can't lend your iPod to a friend who's going for a jog.
What you cannot do is take the ebooks off the Kindle and distribute them for free or for pay. To my knowledge, zero libraries have attempted or even proposed that.
posted by willpie at 5:38 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


White noted, but the Kindle has been on the market for a year and a half now. (from the "messages" link)

Ouch, libraryjournal.com. An exciting and hip story, to be sure, but maybe you could have spent a wee bit more time on the editing process.
posted by nosila at 5:45 AM on July 10, 2009


Ah corporate conservatism and greed. Is there nothing you can't pointlessly postpone and fail to react intelligently to, to say nothing of leading?
posted by DU at 5:45 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


almost certainly going to be in breach of copyright.

I'm no lawyer, but I don't see where there's any copying going on.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:55 AM on July 10, 2009


"mixed" link seems to be broken at the moment.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:03 AM on July 10, 2009


Among the questions: how to deactivate the library’s account so patrons couldn’t add titles to the device. The library was not told its plan was not permitted.

Wait, I'm confused. Is it really technologically impossible to prevent a Kindle from being able to download more content?

If Amazon truly thinks that distribution of Kindles through libraries will be a great thing, then they're idiots for not making it capable for libraries to lock them. A password-protected function that disables adding/deleting files on the device should require at most, three or four lines of code.

If their stance is "well we simply CAN'T make that possible, libraries will just have to TRUST everyone not to rip media" then it's pathetic shocked-that-gambling-is-going-on-here bullshit.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:05 AM on July 10, 2009


I'm no lawyer, but I don't see where there's any copying going on.

Copyright does not just concern duplication of material. When a library purchases a text, the licence from the publisher includes all mannner of limmitations on who can access it. This is of particular concern for digital media. As far as I am aware, there are no agreements in place yet for libraries to purchase Kindle content, so effectively the libraries in queestion have bought a normal retail copy of the text, and are lending it out.

For libraries, the copyright licence granted by the publisher will most likely stipulate only certain people are permitted access to the text. For example, our library is in a hopsital and serves both medical staff, students and staff from the university as well as other allied medical professions. Many of our digital holdings are licenced to be accessed only by one of those groups of people. It is the responsibiility of the library to ensure only that group are permitted to access it.

The reason for this is cost. If we wanted to permit say university staff to access a journal, we would have to pay the publisher to extend our licence. This would cost more money.
posted by bap98189 at 6:08 AM on July 10, 2009


Incidentally, they dropped the Kindle 2 price from $359 to $299 a few days ago.
posted by smackfu at 6:16 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm missing something (and I'm sure I am, not being a librarian or publisher), but how is this any different than me lending my Kindle to my mom to read a book I have on it? Would the borrower be able to download it onto their own computer and keep a copy?

Don't own a Kindle (yet), so clueless about how they work.
posted by Orb at 6:17 AM on July 10, 2009


[i]Copyright does not just concern duplication of material. When a library purchases a text, the licence from the publisher includes all mannner of limmitations on who can access it.[/I]

That's two different things.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:19 AM on July 10, 2009


It's going to be interesting to see how they work out the logistics on this. My library lends audiobooks available for download. Anything in public domain is available immediately, but you can still only have 6 titles "out" at a time. Books still under copyright- not only are they unavailable instantly, some of them have wait lists.

I wonder how they're going to work this with e-book readers. If I want a copy of New Midlist Title No One Cares About, but it happens to be on the Kindle with Twilight- does that mean I have to wait until all the Twilight fans get done before I can read my midlist title?
posted by headspace at 6:25 AM on July 10, 2009


I'm surprised that they're focusing on kindles. Sure they're the most famous brands, but there are plenty of similar eInk devices around. They mostly have the identical displays (all eInk displays seem to come from the same company), are cheaper than the Kindle and display e.g. Mobipocket format books along with a wider range of other, non-DRM formats. Really, the only advantage the Kindle has over these is its wireless access to the store, which the librarians are planning to disable anyway.

(Also, does it strike anyone else as ironic that just as the music industry has finally accepted that DRM annoys users without deterring copyright theft, Amazon is trying to turn itself and the kindle into DRM'd iTunes and the iPod for books?)

bap98189- When a library purchases a text, the licence from the publisher includes all mannner of limmitations on who can access it.
Does that mean that when a public library buys a novel, it pays for the book and then for some licensing fees, coming to well over the cover price? What sort of markup might be typical, e.g. is it closer to 5% or 500%? I'd always assumed that this is the case for DVDs and music because they're easily copyable, but it had never occurred to me that it might be the same for books.

If it's true that a library cant just buy an ordinary book from a bookshop then loan it out, I can see why the same laws would prevent them from buying an ordinary eBook and loaning it out.
posted by metaBugs at 6:39 AM on July 10, 2009


mixed
posted by edd at 6:44 AM on July 10, 2009


In fact I linked the wrong one - the right mixed
posted by edd at 6:45 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait, I'm confused. Is it really technologically impossible to prevent a Kindle from being able to download more content?

It would be very possible to remove the Kindle's wireless functionality, which would effectively accomplish this. (The library would have to restore it in order to download new books itself, though. And I'm not sure how easy that would be. Kindle might just be broken.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:46 AM on July 10, 2009


Many of our digital holdings are licenced to be accessed only by one of those groups of people. It is the responsibiility of the library to ensure only that group are permitted to access it.

I think I understand, but I'm perceiving a difference between the fully digitial copies of journals that are accessed through licensed databases and the stored copy of a book on a Kindle Reader. Perhaps that's not a difference that makes a difference legally, but it certainly seems like a common sense distinction. A pdf has to be copied to each computer whenever a new users wants to read it: that's the copying whose right is licensed. A Kindle can simply be handed over: no copy.

In any case, the license on the Kindle doesn't seem to prevent this kind of loan, which distinguishes it from your example. It only hampers the attempts to "sell, rent, lease, distribute, broadcast, sublicense or otherwise assign any rights to the Digital Content or any portion of it to any third party."

I'm aware that property is a bundle of rights and that they don't all transfer in every transaction, but this would be a strange way of parceling out that bundle for the particular device.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:48 AM on July 10, 2009


Oh wait... maybe it's distribution?

No, that can't be right: "Do you mind distributing your pen to me for a moment? I'll give it right back."
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:55 AM on July 10, 2009


I was thinking there should be some kind of Netflix for digital books -- you pay some kind of monthly rate for how many books you can "rent" each month, which are delivered to your iPhone/Kindle/ebook reader, and which have some kind of built-in "expiration" of some kind.
posted by mothershock at 7:03 AM on July 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm a librarian and I lend Kindles. I did a write up of my experiences lending 6 Kindle2s recently - the rough version of which is here.

It's a really popular program. I have a waiting list of about a dozen people, which translates to about a 6 week wait or so to get your hands on one.

I can't see why Amazon wouldn't want libraries lending Kindles. When I started this pilot, we got one to test along with a Sony eReader. After a week with the Kindle, my director authorized us getting another one. To test. After a weekend with the library's Kindle, I bought one of my own. After a week of watching me read the Kindle, my wife demanded one for her birthday. The library then bought 4 more to link to a central account. Then another department at my school wanted one, so we got one for them. We have two DXes arriving in August. At least one of the patrons who has borrowed a Kindle from us has bought one. Two more will be getting one come Christmas.

Say what you want about eBooks and the like, but don't pass judgment on the Kindle itself until you read a book with it. It's in Amazon's interest to get Kindles into the hands of interested people. Speaking with one of our patrons who wanted to check out the Kindle for use in his department, he said that when he called up Amazon to ask about demoing one, they had no solution beyond "you can go over to this guy's house and see his" - ick.

And I think that's why Amazon has been so vague about Kindles in the library. They want them there to get people to try them out, but are concerned about the precedent it sets. So they wink and nudge and inscrutable. In time they may crack down and change their minds (I called Amazon before starting our pilot program and the rep said it was okay, except for a few conditions) and they don't want a precedent set.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:09 AM on July 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


The Electronic Frontier Foundation on the Kindle
posted by DU at 7:18 AM on July 10, 2009


Dammit. Here.
posted by DU at 7:18 AM on July 10, 2009


Kindles, or their equivalent, are probably the wave of the future, if they come down in price enough to hit the threshold of more than mere curiosity. (They are already below $300 per unit, whereas a year ago they were over $400.) There will have to be models to address the issues of copyright, and those models will emerge. Whether they will be acceptable or workable models, though (both for the consumer and the producer of content), is another question altogether -- just ask the music and the newspaper industries.
posted by blucevalo at 7:33 AM on July 10, 2009


When a library purchases a text, the licence from the publisher includes all mannner of limmitations on who can access it. This is of particular concern for digital media.

Content providers are not allowed to come up with any kind of licence that they want and expect consumers to conform to them though. In the US, consumers are protected by the first-sale doctrine, which says that someone who buys a copy of a copyrighted work can sell or lend that copy to someone without restrictions.

Copyright holders have a long history of trying to circumvent the first-sale doctrine to prevent people from legally reselling or sharing their works, and many are hoping that digital media license agreements and DRM schemes are a way to do that. No one will know for certain if those schemes are actually legal, though, until a case questioning those agreements is brought up in court.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:37 AM on July 10, 2009


I wonder: by displaying the Ellesmere Chaucer, is the Huntington Library violating Adam scryveyn's ToS?
posted by ford and the prefects at 8:03 AM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


obligatory link to "the right to read" by richard stallman
posted by symbollocks at 8:25 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't want to borrow a Kindle. I want to borrow the content.

By far the majority of my reading is done with library borrowed or used books. I am actually excited about the rise of ebooks and readers, but I can't help but see that the publishers' game plan is to reduce or eliminate loaning and secondhand purchases.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 8:56 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love this idea and I love librarians for always pushing the envelope.

Like most people, I could never afford a kindle, but I like the concept. I suppose one day the price will come down to what I can afford, but, at my age, I don't think I'll last long enough.

As for downloading books to the loaned Kindle, I would love to be able to download public domain books to a Kindle. Not just for convenient reading, but for other fun things you can do, like text searching and browsing favorite passages.
posted by charlesminus at 10:08 AM on July 10, 2009


My initial reaction was "how could a library possibly lend out $300 devices".

Then I realized they have no problem trusting me with $100-$150 worth of books or DVDs. We forget that a modern hardcover is $30.
posted by smackfu at 10:18 AM on July 10, 2009


There are libraries that lend out Kindles?

I just wish my library didn't have to close at 5pm two days a week because of funding issues.
posted by Lucinda at 10:45 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, no, since Kindle is not available in Canada it will most definitely not be at a library near me.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:48 AM on July 10, 2009


Yeah, I agree with burnmp3. I'd think this is covered under the first-sale doctrine. As long as the library obtained the titles legally, I'd think they'd be free to lend the devices. I'm not sure though about that TOS language. I think it might behoove Amazon to revisit it.

As a university press publisher (which is a department under the Dean of Libraries and Scholarly Communication, at our university) I don't have a big problem with this. How is it different than any other book? The library isn't making copies. Only one person can read it at a time. The open account issue needs to be addressed, you might not want patrons having access to a library's account., but if there's a fix for that, I'd think why not.

Another aspect that needs to be figured out is how Amazon will allow libraries to handle their accounts. Can they have a master account and say 5,000 titles so they can allow patrons to choose which books are loaded, or will they limit an account to only a limited number of titles or devices? What if Amazon abandons the format? Then if the devices die, are the books gone too? Good investment for a library or bad one, five years from now?

I actually have a device from my institution's library right next to me. We have about 100 titles in the program and I occasionally use these to check how our editions look and work. Currently our library doesn't lend Kindles, but they do lend Sony Readers, each filled with leisure fiction. The students love it, it's a very popular program. The handful of Kindles the library does have are all being passed around for evaluation. I just got the DX, but I think the charger port is busted. I've got to say I'm not as big a fan of the device as I think most others are. I think it's very convenient and portable, but it's too linear and just not as beautiful as a book.
posted by Toekneesan at 10:59 AM on July 10, 2009


Lending digital books is almost certainly going to be in breach of copyright

Someone should warn the Seattle Public Library.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:15 AM on July 10, 2009


I have a completely irrational hatred and anachronistic bitterness towards the Kindle and all ebook readers.

Ebook readers should only be used by older folks, the infirmed or handicapped who have difficulty holding books, students who need to get texts for classes, or perhaps, in a limited way in libraries. Short of that Fuck the Kindle is my slogan, and I'm sticking to it. I need a Kindle about as much as I need an 8-track tape player. Hey that would make another cool slogan.

Kindle: It's like an 8-track player for books.

Until the Kindle upgrades to pages, made out of paper with ink on them, and has a distinct cover with some nice artwork and that new book smell, and stops strong arming publishers and bookstores as well, Fuck the Kindle, fuck coy Jeff Bezos, who won't give any figures on how many Amazon has sold so far, lest they be seen as a failure (like all the other ebook readers).

I'm such a hater.


/bitterness and irrational hatred of yet another unnecessary bs media delivery platform.


Anyhow, publishers need to get in front of this now so that with the purchase of a book, people get the rights to limited use on any ebook reader, including access online.
posted by Skygazer at 11:55 AM on July 10, 2009


Lending digital books is almost certainly going to be in breach of copyright ...

Ridiculous. The first e-book I purchased was Anathem on Sony's Reader. After I finished reading it I gave the Reader to a friend so she could read the same book.

Are you actually trying to suggest that what I did should be considered a violation of copyright?!

Or is it just because I'm an individual that you think this should be allowed, but a collection of individuals should have a different right.
posted by odinsdream at 12:05 PM on July 10, 2009


How is it different than any other book? The library isn't making copies. Only one person can read it at a time.

I imagine they might get complaints from the publishers on the "you can transfer your books to 6 Kindles on your account at once". I'm not sure what the intent of that feature was, other than that you could have 2 Kindles and they could be interchangeable. But I doubt it was intended to facilitate 6 distinct users at the same time, all reading the same $10 book.
posted by smackfu at 12:08 PM on July 10, 2009


/bitterness and irrational hatred of yet another unnecessary bs media delivery platform.

Surely you would agree that from an environmental standpoint e-paper is a good way to go, though, right? Most fiction books I'd like to read are many hundreds of pages. I've stopped printing out manuals and websites now that I can load them on a reader. I suspect I'll decrease my paper usage by several pounds a year. Consider the same savings in a textbook environment where "new" editions are routinely printed with less than 5% content change at significant environmental cost.

The licensing insanity does need to be corrected in favor of consumers, but from a technical standpoint the devices are pretty great.
posted by odinsdream at 12:10 PM on July 10, 2009


Kindle: It's like an 8-track player for books

The much more applicable analogy would be an MP3 player for books, but let's say it is an 8-track player for books. In the music industry, the evolution was more or less vinyl -> 8-track -> cassette -> CD -> -> DAT/MiniDisc -> MP3/other pure digital formats. Sometimes the newer formats failed or the older formats still had advantages over newer ones.

If you bought music in the late 60s, you still probably bought vinyl, but if you wanted to listen to your own music in your car you had buy 8-tracks because that was the best technology around to do that at the time. Similarly, if you want to buy a book while you're sitting on the train on your way to work, you have to buy a Kindle because that's the best technology for that right now. Newer ebook readers will probably be incrementally better, just like cassette tapes were better than 8-track tapes.

And yes, if you buy ebooks in Amazon's proprietary ebook format with DRM and don't break the law to convert them to open formats, you'll probably end up screwed later in the same way that anyone with a box full of 8-track tapes was screwed in the 80s. But if you expect to keep reading new dead-tree books for the next 40 years you'll probably be fighting the same losing battle as the ones that never gave up vinyl.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:43 PM on July 10, 2009


Although there was an escape path out of iTunes DRM: you could pay a nominal fee to make your purchases free. So screwing isn't inevitable.
posted by smackfu at 12:52 PM on July 10, 2009


Surely you would agree that from an environmental standpoint e-paper is a good way to go, though, right?

Yeah, but I'd be hard pressed to imagine most people aren't still going to print out manuals or if they care save them online (I save a lot of stuff on Gmail through a lovely little add-on that has saved my ass so many times called Gspace) in PDF so they can be read on laptops or Smartphones etc. and I mentioned that students (medical, engineers, law), should use the Kindle to have access to not only their textbooks, but a sorta compenduim of great works in their field. And as I said older people, with arthritis have a hell of a time with big heavy hardcovers if they're reading in bed, not to mention text size (to able to make the text as big as you want as a Godsend).

But as for your fiction book with hundreds of pages?? Pshaw. You really want to stop paperwaste and environmental stupidity? Think of how much paper comes to you through junk mail and catalogs you didn't ask for in a years time?

My real problem here is that Amazon, is coyly positioning itself as the 600 pound gorilla in publishing through the Kindle, and until they adopt a standardized and open format for the delivery of e-content, and until they stop making readers sign an agreement that allows them to take back e-content they need to be carefully watched.

I don't think the publishing world is as stupid and self-sabotaging and greedy as the music industry, but I wonder if they're just going to let Amazon monopolize e-book technology.

And last but no least I admit I am addicted to books. New books, old books all kinds of books as tangible signs of perhaps one of the few legacies that man has, that is GOOD, and real and beautiful with a dialogue coming down through the ages. I realize it is the ideas and the words that matter, but fuck I love books.

I was a librarian in a past life, and the first job I ever had was as an acquisitions assistant at a pretty swank medical library here in NYC (NY Academy of Medicine), and as such I not only ordered books, but I processed them when they came in, and one part of the job I loved was processing these amazing medical tomes that they Rare Books room ordered at times, that were 500 or 600 years old. Maybe this sort of thing isn't impacted by the Kindle (rare books I imagine will still be valuable to people), but just to hold something like that, coming down through the ages and imagining all in that time who had turned the pages of that book and learned something or been moved by something, perhaps an early drawing of anatomy was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Suddenly 500, 600 years seemed like a drop in the ocean, and a lifetime within that even less than that, but that book somehow contained all those lifetimes in it and was not only a real thing pointing to all that was best about humans (learning, knowledge, healing, art), but a reminder of just how truly short a life is and yet this artifact was a sublime and transcendent thing.

And Jeff Bezos and Amazon will have to pry my real printed books out of my cold dead hands before I give them anymore of my money, because the Kindle is really sorta like the capitalist's wet dream version of Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

Here's another good slogan:

Kindle: It's like the Gutenberg Press in reverse.

C'mon everybody repeat after me:

FUCK.

THE.

KINDLE.

posted by Skygazer at 1:11 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


But as for your fiction book with hundreds of pages?? Pshaw. You really want to stop paperwaste and environmental stupidity? Think of how much paper comes to you through junk mail and catalogs you didn't ask for in a years time?

I'm not sure I understand the relevance of junk mail here. I have already done everything I can* to avoid getting junk mail. I don't choose to get what junk mail does arrive. I choose which books to buy and, now, whether to buy paper or electronic versions. I'm arguing that it's environmentally beneficial that we have a workable non-paper option.

I specifically avoided purchasing a Kindle in favor of the Sony Reader precisely because of Amazon's licensing position and hostility to open formats. I contribute to groups like EFF which advocate for consumer rights in this regard, as well.

I also love physical books, and I agree with you on the emotional connection people have with them. However, the future is going to move ever towards e-paper, which has definite advantages unrelated to the license restrictions publishers impose on the content.

* Signing up for removal from marketing group lists, avoiding giving my address when possible, sending junk mail back to people, signing up for e-billing where possible, etc.
posted by odinsdream at 1:21 PM on July 10, 2009


Kindle fans upset that Kindle 2 drops SD slot, replaceable battery
Amazon calls the changes improvements, not a downgrade
By Matt Hamblen
February 10, 2009 12:00 PM ET


"Users also criticized the new battery...
After a year, many said the battery needed replacing anyway because it wouldn't hold a charge."


For libraries or for private use there's your deal-breaker right there.
posted by vapidave at 1:25 PM on July 10, 2009


Burnmp3s: In the music industry, the evolution was more or less vinyl -> 8-track -> cassette -> CD -> -> DAT/MiniDisc -> MP3/other pure digital formats.

I think what you're failing to see here is that most everything after vinyl (except for Cassette's and MP-3's) was just garbage technology thrown out there to manufacture another piece of shit thing that was going to end up on the trash heap and/or screw the artists out of royalties. And there are cautionary tales to observe with those formats.

8-track was a joke, then and an even bigger joke now. Cassette's I think were important for their portability and the development of the walkman, but CD's never sounded as good as vinyl, not then and not now. Cleaner maybe, but never better. It was a transitional technology used to bilk the artists out of billions in royalties (they were listed in contracts as a special technology format that cut artist royalties in half), DAT/Mini-Disc never even got out of the gate and as for MP-3's, they sound even shittier than CD's, which is saying something, I can't even listen to a song on MP-3 transferred at less than 320 KBPS, and then when I hear it again on CD or vinyl, I just feel cheated. MP-3's are like the AM radio of our times and someday we will laugh hard at the format. I hope. Meanwhile guess what's making a comeback. Yep, good ole vinyl, because it's superiority is obvious.

The only, advantage a Kindle has, other than being a good tool for people who have trouble with heavy books is the fact that it's a distribution platform and a vast storage device, and that's neat of course, but that excitement quickly goes away, once you learn that every work on your Kindle, even though you paid for it, is not your property and Amazon can take it away from you for any reason they see fit. Hello?

Can you say:

FUCK THE KINDLE.

posted by Skygazer at 1:26 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Odinsdream: I'm not sure I understand the relevance of junk mail here. I have already done everything I can* to avoid getting junk mail.

Okay, that's a good point. I guess I feel safer knowing that paper requires the responsible management of a renewable resource so that it remains in abundant supply. I fear once trees are no longer seen as a valuable commodity, that stewardship will disappear and trees will not be replanted. Paper Co.'s will sell vast tracts of land they use as regenerative tree farms, which will turn into more concrete and developments (maybe not now, but in 20 years or whatever).

And once a book is printed, it's off the grid for good, no one can track it, take it away from you and you don't need to plug the damned thing in to recharge it. It's been charged up forever. Long as it's printed on good alkaline-free paper, you're good to go for a century or two, maybe more even.....
posted by Skygazer at 1:36 PM on July 10, 2009


Okay, I think I just contradicted myself there with that whole tree stewardship thing, as that would mean I want there to be MORE dead tree junk mail, which I don't. I just want more tree-made books.

(In my defense, I did say my hatred of the Kindle borders on the irrational and hateful. Grrr.)
posted by Skygazer at 1:45 PM on July 10, 2009


I live far away from the whispernet, and I have a Kindle.

And I gotta say, being far away from any libraries or bookstores with anything of interest in my language, the Kindle is awesome. So it's not connected to the wireless network and it's an extra couple of steps to download a book. Once I download it to my laptop, it gets backed up and dropped into the Kindle 2, and I can keep on keeping on in a place that remains disdainful of books in English.

Do I mind paying ten bucks for a book that'd cost twenty in a bookstore? Naw. Do I miss being able to write in books, flip through books to find some phrase that was at the top-right corner somewhere around ... here? Yeah.

But man, if it comes to no books or a cut-off Kindle, the answer is clear. And this is speaking as someone who literally cried upon seeing the new library at Alexandria.
posted by lauranesson at 2:23 PM on July 10, 2009


For libraries or for private use there's your deal-breaker right there.

OTOH, no lost batteries.
posted by smackfu at 2:30 PM on July 10, 2009


So, I have a question for anyone who knows something about the Kindle. What happens to the books you buy and read after you're done? Do they just stay on the Kindle? What kind of storage capacity does the thing have? Can they be DLed to a harddrive and kept indefinitely?

It's these kinds of questions that drive the cost/utility/rights issue for me.
posted by threeturtles at 2:41 PM on July 10, 2009


Lauranesson: But man, if it comes to no books or a cut-off Kindle, the answer is clear.

But, dammit, have you forgotten the joys of receiving an honest to God, real beautiful book in the post. Not to blow off your sound arguments, but these fine bookstores will all ship right to your door. I've gotten first edition hardcovers online from the Strand for less than $10, if you order more than just one or two books.

http://www.strandbooks.com/

http://www.powells.com/

http://www.alibris.com/

http://www.opencity.org/books.html

Hell, even these B&N are better than giving in to the Gutenberg press in Reverse that is the Fu*king Kindle, the Ted Bundy of the printed word..
posted by Skygazer at 2:46 PM on July 10, 2009


ThreeTurtles: It's these kinds of questions that drive the cost/utility/rights issue for me.

Well, let's put it this way ThreeTurtles: If the Kindle was a bad actor in a cheezy western, its most famous line would be:

All your books (Magazines, Newspapers, reading habits, marketing profile,) are belong to us. Heh, heh, heh...
posted by Skygazer at 2:52 PM on July 10, 2009


I can't even listen to a song on MP-3 transferred at less than 320 KBPS, and then when I hear it again on CD or vinyl, I just feel cheated. MP-3's are like the AM radio of our times and someday we will laugh hard at the format.

I agree, if you play an MP3 at lower than around 320 constant bitrate through high quality equipment you'll be able to hear a difference (the equivalent variable bitrate would be lower depending on the song). Lossless makes more sense, and now that there are established formats I hope everyone will demand music to be released in them. Lossy compression like MP3 was an important and necessary step though, because pure digital formats weren't taken seriously until downloading them became popular, and when modems were still the norm it was not feasible for most people to download music in a higher quality format.

CD's never sounded as good as vinyl, not then and not now. Cleaner maybe, but never better. It was a transitional technology used to bilk the artists out of billions in royalties

Audio CDs were purposely designed to capture the entire sound spectrum that humans can hear. I can understand why you might like the sound of vinyl for aesthetic reasons, but it's not because CDs are an inferior format. If artists wanted their CDs to sound less clean they could easily do that as part of the post-production process. I agree with you about the record companies exploiting the technology to make more profit (originally their reasoning was that they were more expensive to produce, but they charged consumers more and gave artists less long after production costs hit record low levels). None of that has anything to do with the format though, the records companies have always screwed over artists when they could and most likely always will as long as they exist.

Meanwhile guess what's making a comeback. Yep, good ole vinyl, because it's superiority is obvious.

Vinyl still accounts for an extremely low percentage of total record sales, and I would put its relatively strong recent performance on it being cool in a retro way and CDs becoming obsolete rather than on it being a superior format.

once you learn that every work on your Kindle, even though you paid for it, is not your property and Amazon can take it away from you for any reason they see fit

If you're willing to become an evil law-breaking vigilante, you can blatantly disregard the license agreement and DMCA laws and convert your DRMed Kindle files to an open format. Then you get to keep your book that you paid for in whatever format you want, and enjoy the fair use and first sale rights that you are probably legally entitled to anyway.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:56 PM on July 10, 2009


What happens to the books you buy and read after you're done? Do they just stay on the Kindle? What kind of storage capacity does the thing have? Can they be DLed to a harddrive and kept indefinitely?

You can delete books if you wish, and then re-download them at any point for free from your Amazon account.

Capacity is 2 GB. They are advertising that as holding 1500 books, so not very limited. (The original Kindle had a lot less space so it took SD cards, but they removed that in the 2nd version.)

Kindle has a USB port, and acts like any other flash drive so you can just copy the files off for backups.
posted by smackfu at 3:10 PM on July 10, 2009


Also, does it strike anyone else as ironic that just as the music industry has finally accepted that DRM annoys users without deterring copyright theft, Amazon is trying to turn itself and the kindle into DRM'd iTunes and the iPod for books?

Not really, at least not from Amazon's perspective. They're doing what Apple did, essentially: prove there's a market for electronic media while "protecting" the information for now. Once the market is established, they then will have the dominance to discourage DRM, as Apple did. If they went non-DRM out of the gate, no publishers would have signed up in the first place.

Now, I would agree that the book industry is being stupid by not learning from the music industry, but I think Amazon is following the Apple strategy.

This same dynamic exists in video as well, although there's a bigger mix due to all the non-DRM streaming out there (and the ease of renting and copying DVDs compared to copying a library book into an electronic format).
posted by wildcrdj at 3:34 PM on July 10, 2009


Until the Kindle upgrades to pages, made out of paper with ink on them, and has a distinct cover with some nice artwork and that new book smell, and stops strong arming publishers and bookstores as well, Fuck the Kindle

No, fuck that noise of yours. I don't want a book to smell it, I want to READ it. Publishers and bookstores are just middlemen, standing between me and authors. Amazon is no different - no better or worse.

I've had a Sony Reader for about a year, and loved it. I now also have a Kindle DX - I specifically wanted to put larger-format PDFs on it, and I love that too. You aren't limited to Amazon, you can put on whatever you want, as long as you convert it to the appropriate format (PDF, in my case). I actually have three Kindles on my account (well, my spouse's account to be accurate) - one Kindle 2 which he uses, the DX which I use, and we got a DX for his father, who is computer-illiterate and largely home-bound. It's very nice for us to be able to share books across them, etc.

These things help me READ MOAR. And that's what I'm most interested in. My house is already full of books.

Here's another good slogan:

Kindle: It's like the Gutenberg Press in reverse.


No, that's not a good slogan. Unless by "good" you mean "dumb."
posted by me & my monkey at 4:16 PM on July 10, 2009


"No, that's not a good slogan. Unless by "good" you mean "dumb."."


It's not "dumb." It's pure GENIUS!!

So shut up....

Nyah..nyah..nyah...nyah....



*Makes raspberry sound and sticks tongue.*
posted by Skygazer at 4:40 PM on July 10, 2009


I am extremely excited for this. Anything that pushes our country to a more electronic state is a good thing in my mind.
posted by peregrine81 at 5:41 PM on July 10, 2009


The only, advantage a Kindle has, other than being a good tool for people who have trouble with heavy books is the fact that it's a distribution platform and a vast storage device, and that's neat of course, but that excitement quickly goes away, once you learn that every work on your Kindle, even though you paid for it, is not your property and Amazon can take it away from you for any reason they see fit. Hello?

I'll have to take issue with much, if not all, of what you say, with apologies for straying from the main topic:

a) The only, advantage a Kindle has, other than being a good tool for people who have trouble with heavy books is the fact that it's a distribution platform and a vast storage device. No. Books in English are limited and expensive where I live. The last paperback I bought locally cost me 20 Euros - nearly $28, and I'm not rich. Far from it. When I order paper books by post, I have to pay extra shipping and VAT, and schlepp to the post office to get them (or pay even more for door-to-door delivery); ordering books used to be something I'd do a couple times a year, with birthday/christmas money... for me, normally a constant reader, this was misery.

Additionally, I live in an apartment... I have five full bookcases and nowhere to put any more. Additionally, I've moved about 35 times in my life... almost all of those moves meant I had to shed books. I retain a scant fraction of all the paper books I ever bought. E-books solve all these problems.

As to the Kindle being a storage device and delivery platform... I use it as neither. I keep under 100 books on my Kindle (the interface, at least on the 1, isn't really good at all for storing books, since it doesn't offer folders, and indexing all those books means more drain on the battery), with my full library on my laptop, and on an external hard drive. And I didn't get a Kindle because of Whispernet, since it doesn't work where I am; I got it so I can buy books from Amazon, if I choose to, but I download any ebooks I acquire to my laptop, and then transfer what I want to read in the near future to my Kindle via USB. My reader holds my current "stack" of to-be-read books.

b) that excitement quickly goes away, once you learn that every work on your Kindle, even though you paid for it, is not your property and Amazon can take it away from you for any reason they see fit. The day I bought my Kindle 1, I got access to over 30,000 free public domain works via Project Gutenberg and other sites (I didn't need an e-reader for this, but I can't read at length on my computer, and I'd be horrified to print them out on a printer)... all the classics at my fingertips, to read at will, anywhere, any time. My long, parched book famine was over instantly, which is why I was perfectly willing to pay the price of the new technology; in my situation, I couldn't afford not to.

Because I can't yet reliably convert all Amazon DRM books to other formats, my actual Amazon book purchases are extremely minimal. I can buy in other formats, and then convert for my Kindle, and there are lots of books (in addition to the public domain online databases) that I don't have to buy at all; Baen, for example, offers an amazing number of their titles for free. If I really want a title that can only be found at Amazon, I have that option, but I could never purchase another book again and still have way more than enough top quality literature to last me the rest of my life - none of which Amazon is entitled to take away from me for any reason.

The Kindle is simply a device. It's not evil or pernicious, any more than my laptop is, or my indoor wiring, or my eyeglasses/contact lenses. It's technology that allows me to do what I want to do - read books. I do feel that the DRM scheme that attempts to lock people in to using only the Kindle forever and ever because they won't be able to read their e-books on any other reader is evil with a capital "E", but I know my way around well enough to avoid that trap.

So, for people who love paper books and have convenient access to booksellers and lenders, who can afford to buy them, who have the space to keep them, who have no worries about having to ship them half way around the country or the world, who don't have to carry pounds of books on their backs... yes, I agree - why buy an expensive device that you don't need, especially when the technology has not yet been perfected, and the ebook market is so bewildered and bewildering (until you spend some time and effort sorting it out and determining your best options). These are early days, and e-readers aren't for everyone, but there are many of us who benefit hugely from this development. As for the claim that the Kindle is the Gutenberg Press in reverse... it's a cute soundbite, but silly. E-readers, including the Kindle, make it simple and convenient for their users to access the world's great, classic literature for free. Look: here are the works of Joseph Conrad, via Manybooks.net; I can be reading any of these on my Kindle in a minute or less. How is that the anti-Gutenberg?

(My defense of the Kindle is basically a defense of e-readers, though. I think I would have preferred the Sony 505 to the Kindle 1, but I decided I wanted the option of using Amazon. I don't know what reader is next for our household, but it will be something that reads a wide variety of formats. I can convert just about anything to just about anything else, but I'd rather save the steps.)
posted by taz at 2:02 AM on July 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


taz- Something tells me you've got the capacity to post one hell of an encyclopedic e-text FPP.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:54 AM on July 11, 2009


So, can I ask a stupid question of why people would want to check a Kindle out of the library? It seems to me to just be a 'cool' factor right now. Kindles seem to have 2 things going for them: (1) you can fit a lot of books on one device and (2) you can download books instantly from wherever you are, and since it's tied to Amazon, the selection is vast. I doubt libraries are letting people do (2) as that doesn't make sense. And I would think the limited borrowing time that libraries allow would diminish the advantage of (1).

So what are people doing with Kindles that they check out of the library? In the context of borrowing one thing at a time for a short period, how does a Kindle beat an actual book? (I'm not knocking the Kindle -- it seems way cool, and if my library lent them, I would check one out just to try it out).
posted by bluefly at 5:36 AM on July 11, 2009


Actually, I think it makes more sense from the library's perspective:

1) You don't need to manage the physical books, with re-shelving and deacquisition.
2) No wear and tear on the books.
3) You can buy books instantly, as needed.
4) You get a 6:1 multiplier on any books you buy.
5) The books are 40% cheaper than hardcovers ($10 vs $17).

Between (4) and (5), you can get 6 copies of the latest James Patterson book for $10 vs $102, and you know you can loan out all 6 copies. The Kindle pays for itself quickly.
posted by smackfu at 9:24 AM on July 11, 2009


Response from Portland's Multnomah County Library:

"Your question about the library's plans for circulating Kindles was referred to me. We have no plans to purchase Kindles this year, largely due to the reduced materials budget. There also continue to be licensing and purchasing issues for institutions that want to provide shared readers that we continue to monitor. The Kindle is primarily aimed at the personal market for now. This will probably change in the future."

posted by blueberry at 10:35 PM on July 14, 2009


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