Amazon allows Kindle eBooks to be loaned to others… and I yawn. (Part 2)

imageSo I’ve talked about the inequity that exists between physical books and Amazon Kindle’s eBooks.

Because I WANT book publishers to be successful.  I don’t want to see what happened to the music industry happen to the eBook industry.  Very simply, the plodding & unfriendly manner in which book publishers seem to be adopting digital technology is symbolic of other media industry leaders that just… don’t… get it.

If you don’t make it easy & desirable to buy digital versions of your content and make it flexible enough to use in place of the prior/legacy format, individuals will STEAL YOUR CONTENT.

The book publishing industry is on the precipice of a booming industry – possibly even a revitalization of reading.  I myself rediscovered the joy of reading through my Kindle.  And I will readily spend a LOT of money to acquire eBooks legally and properly.  (I’m up to 22 books & 2 periodical subscriptions)

But I won’t respect anyone that tells me that I have to pay the same amount of cash for an eBook as a physical paperback, yet I can’t loan that book to my friends (one at a time) without restriction. 

Meanwhile it is TRIVIAL to disable the copy protections used to protect Amazon Kindle books from being freely copied.  Add to the fact that each book is generally only about 1MB in size, and you can see how incredibly easy it would be for piracy to occur.

Sure sounds to me like the same situation the music industry was in & how they got decimated by MP3 piracy because they refused to bring parity between digital media & CDs.

Now that being said, here’s some things to know about the new Amazon Kindle eBook lending feature:

  • Loans are limited to 14-days
    People that accept loaned Kindle books are limited to 14-day loans after which, the book is disabled on the recipients device and is accessible again on the loaner’s device.  This might be a bit harsh a time limit considering real books have no time limit on them.  Also – what if the book is War & Peace?  14-days just doesn’t seem to cut it, does it?
  • Book unreadable until returned
    The book gets disabled on your Kindle or eReader while the it is on loan.  This is completely fair.  The book is being loaned out to someone else.  You shouldn’t be able to read/use it while someone else is in possession of the book right?  I eBook per person.
  • Only SOME books are loanable
    The book to be loaned as to be listed at Amazon as “Lending enabled”.  This is completely up to the publisher to enable – and most DO NOT, so the actual books this “lending feature” works on is negligible.  For most Kindle owners, they will find that their books are NOT loanable, (none of my books appear to be loanable) which of course ultimately makes this feature completely useless.  But that’s not the biggest problem in my mind.  The next bit is the galactically stupid deal breaker…
  • One single ‘loan’ allowed per book purchase
    Let me repeat that:  You can loan a book out once and only once in your lifetime.  Once the loaned book is returned to you, you will find that you can’t loan it out any more to anyone, period.  Ever.  As if the book were now super glued to you and couldn’t be lent out to anyone ever again.

Put simply:  Get to parity soon, book industry.  Really soon.  Because if you don’t, prepare to be looking at losing 90% of your revenues today because the book pirates are going to eat your lunch. 

The music industry took their sweet ol’ time with getting to a customer-friendly means of distributing their product electronically and eventually, they had to resort to unrestricted MP3 because their no one would use their old ultra-restrictive DRM-based systems.  I’m not saying DRM-based systems can’t work – to the contrary, I think they can and should.  But you can’t limit usage unreasonably to the extent that people can’t see the parallels between physical media & e-Media. 

And no value-add that you put on the e-Media versions of your product will compel people to choose it over print.  They’ll simply illegally pirate the e-Media version and purchase the physical version.  If they purchase the physical version at all that is.

eBooks are inevitable.  And the good news is that it’s ultraeasy to get people to buy eBooks if they’re available for purchase in a consumer-friendly medium.  The question will be, “How much money are book publishers going to make off of them?”



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