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Old 04-09-2012, 08:10 PM   #61
elcreative
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... The only problem they will have will be in selling bad-quality content...

Finally: I think that an exchange scheme such as the one I'm proposing would make consumers satisfied, instead of disgruntled, with media companies. The possibility of feeling "cheated" because we have found out that we have purchased content we don't like (an experience that all of us know all too well...) would vanish. And satisfied consumers are much less liable to turn to piracy than disgruntled ones.
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The quality police??? (perplexed)
You talk about bad-quality - a subjective judgement... and someone has to make the judgement...

You also forget the large number of people who will take content then, when finished, demand an exchange claiming "it was unsatisfactory" despite their use and enjoyment... and you don't even need your "pie in the sky" digital exchange as this already happens with physical goods as has been recommended many times in this forum.

You already have choices... if you think that you may like a book then you buy it in the full knowledge that you may not like it in the end and if you don't think you may like something then you don't get it... but buying media, "consuming" it and then demanding your money back would be a setup asking for misuse... and getting it...
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Old 04-10-2012, 01:36 AM   #62
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You talk about bad-quality - a subjective judgement... and someone has to make the judgement...
I did not make myself clear. I intended that if (as I proposed) you can request a substitution for unsatisfactory content, bad-quality content will see more substitutions than good-quality one. And appalling-quality content will be substituted almost always. So media companies will have difficulties in selling bad-quality content, and will tend to avoid proposing it to consumers.

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You also forget the large number of people who will take content then, when finished, demand an exchange claiming "it was unsatisfactory" despite their use and enjoyment.
I'm not forgetting that. That's the reason why -in my first posts in this thread- I hypothesized a (short) time limit to request substitution, and the possibility of excluding short-lifespan content from substitution.
If the time limit for exchanging a book is set at (say) 24 hours, only an extremely fast (and dedicated) cheater could defeat the system... and I doubt that he/she will take much pleasure in reading the "stolen" book :-)

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.. and you don't even need your "pie in the sky" digital exchange as this already happens with physical goods as has been recommended many times in this forum.
It already happens, but entirely on a voluntary base. I propose to make it mandatory.
Why is my scheme "pie in the sky"? Are existing laws that force companies to set up protection systems for users similar to the one I am proposing (to name just one: warranty!) "pie in the sky"?
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:55 AM   #63
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And then we end up with even more laws, even more government interference in areas previously outside government interference... and a good chance for even more lawyers to make money at everyone's expense and no-one's advantage (see software patents).

And most warranty's are "pie in the sky" as they usually try to reduce consumer rights rather than benefit them... and warranty's are not enforced by laws, consumer rights are enforced by laws... not the same things...
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Old 04-10-2012, 09:14 AM   #64
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I'm not forgetting that. That's the reason why -in my first posts in this thread- I hypothesized a (short) time limit to request substitution, and the possibility of excluding short-lifespan content from substitution.
If the time limit for exchanging a book is set at (say) 24 hours, only an extremely fast (and dedicated) cheater could defeat the system... and I doubt that he/she will take much pleasure in reading the "stolen" book :-)
But then you need an always on internet connection for your media consumption device and an unbreakable DRM system otherwise you just download it, convert it or copy it to your off line media device, say it's rubbish and return it while keeping a copy to use at your leisure.

It sounds like what you want is a "try before you buy" method (In fact just like the samples found on sites that sell ebooks, mp3's etc), or at the most extreme you want to use Giggles method of have everything you want and only pay for things you want to (i.e. never)
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Old 04-10-2012, 02:06 PM   #65
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If the time limit for exchanging a book is set at (say) 24 hours, only an extremely fast (and dedicated) cheater could defeat the system... and I doubt that he/she will take much pleasure in reading the "stolen" book :-)
There are very few books I couldn't finish in 24 hours, especially if I planned ahead to have extra reading time.

Even ignoring the "must have functional DRM to work" part of this (what prevents someone from downloading an ebook, stripping the DRM, and keeping a copy while returning the "official" version?), it penalizes everyone who doesn't immediately inspect all their purchases.

Fast readers would just buy a book on Friday afternoon, have that evening and all of Saturday morning to read, and return it Saturday afternoon. While I can't get through Atlas Shrugged in that amount of time, I could certainly get through a 50,000 word romance novel--and thus be guaranteed a free novel a week, maybe two if I get my timing right.

However, anyone who doesn't have time to *immediately* start reading, loses the chance to get a refund for crap. No more buying multiple books at once; customers will make each purchase separately in order to give themselves review time, and they won't buy during their lunch hour during a busy week, instead waiting until the weekend or a long enough break to have time to consider whether it's worth keeping.

Short time limits assumed to be too short to enjoy-and-return aren't going to work. (What's the time limit on a song purchase, an hour? Server congestion can prevent a request from going through in that time.)

Also: what mechanism do you have in mind to prevent double purchases? If I buy New Mega Blockbuster Novel, the literary masterpiece that's 1038 pages in print and 350,000 words of epub, what stops me from reading 75,000 words in my 24-hour window, returning it... and buying it again next week, and picking up from where I left off?

Do you assume there'll only be one online source for files? That every user's purchases will be tracked across all their purchase sites?

What prevents someone from not keeping a copy of their favorite book, but just buying, rereading, and returning it whenever they want?

Systems based on "try first; pay later if you enjoyed it enough" don't work. We don't have the kind of cultural arrangement that would make most people pay enough to support the arts this way. "Pay if you like" methods work as *additional* income in some cases, but they can't replace "check out the reviews, pay for access/a copy of your own."
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Old 04-10-2012, 03:03 PM   #66
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And then we end up with even more laws, even more government interference in areas previously outside government interference...
Actually, more laws are not necessarily an evil. It is only if the laws are bad. Otherwise, removing laws (even at random!) would always be a good idea :-)

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But then you need an always on internet connection for your media consumption device and an unbreakable DRM [...]
No to the former, yes to the latter. However, media companies are already depending on (not-really-unbreakable) DRM to protect their intellectual property, so nothing would change here.

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There are very few books I couldn't finish in 24 hours, especially if I planned ahead to have extra reading time.
Yes, of course this kind of system could be defeated by someone dedicated enough to plan in advance, and then execute, a reading marathon. But I would not classify this kind of thing as "leisure reading" ;-)

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Even ignoring the "must have functional DRM to work" part of this (what prevents someone from downloading an ebook, stripping the DRM, and keeping a copy while returning the "official" version?),...
What prevents someone from downloading an ebook, stripping the DRM, and giving a copy of it to his/her friends (or half the Internet) now? So, nothing new here.

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... it penalizes everyone who doesn't immediately inspect all their purchases.
The system we are using now penalizes all purchasers, always. My scheme would be an improvement.
Anyway, this kind of precise critique (and maybe some alternative proposals!) is exactly what I was hoping for. I think that media distribution is a field in dire need of innovative business models. And I am beginning to think that to get any real innovation from the existing companies, the only solution is probably using the law to push them. (Which of course opens the way to another set of problems.)

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No more buying multiple books at once; customers will make each purchase separately in order to give themselves review time, and they won't buy during their lunch hour during a busy week, instead waiting until the weekend or a long enough break to have time to consider whether it's worth keeping.
All true. Maybe we could expand the duration of the "exchange window" as the number of concurring purchases increases? Then again, nowadays we usually get no such window, so even a short one would be an improvement.

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What's the time limit on a song purchase, an hour?
This is, in my view, the main problem with my proposal. It suits some types of content (e.g., books) more than others (e.g., songs). One (partial) solution would be to exempt media which are considered "too short" (to consume), so that any reasonable duration for the exchange window would be too long. For instance, single songs. Albums, on the other hand, could reasonably be thought to allow an exchange window.
Actually, I tried to find a solution with the (not very elegant, in my view) idea of allowing media providers to exclude each item from the exchange mechanism, provided that they do not use this on a percentage of their output which exceeds a given threshold.

Maybe the key to the issue could be that you get an inferior quality version of the content unless you either confirm the purchase or the exchange window expires, and only then you get the full quality version to keep.
Say, (shabbily formatted) pdf instead of epub for books; low-bitrate MP3 instead of flac for music; low-resolution video instead of full HD for video. Something like that.
(Note: below I will propose a different solution to this issue.)

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Also: what mechanism do you have in mind to prevent double purchases? If I buy New Mega Blockbuster Novel, the literary masterpiece that's 1038 pages in print and 350,000 words of epub, what stops me from reading 75,000 words in my 24-hour window, returning it... and buying it again next week, and picking up from where I left off?
Easy if the seller is just one, but you correctly point out that (hopefully!) there will always be more.
This is another issue that requires work. Maybe (I'm making this up on the fly, it really needs more thought) the "preview copy" could actually be not a downloaded file, but an online "page" that you get an access to when you make your purchase, and that is common to all sellers of that specific work. It would be easy (and would not entail privacy risks) to forbid multiple accesses to the same "page" from the same IP address, if not sufficiently spaced over time.
I have to think more about this one. Fortunately the solution is not required to make cheating impossible; it only needs to make it sufficiently awkward that 98% of people prefer to buy instead. Ideas are welcome!

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What prevents someone from not keeping a copy of their favorite book, but just buying, rereading, and returning it whenever they want?
I like to reread my favourite books every few years. But I would NOT like to be forced to cram all the (re)reading within 24 hours! After all, we're talking about spending a few euros/dollars for a book, not hundreds of them. I suppose there's a limit to what people are prepared to put up with to avoid spending such a low sum!

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Old 04-10-2012, 04:06 PM   #67
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What prevents someone from downloading an ebook, stripping the DRM, and giving a copy of it to his/her friends (or half the Internet) now? So, nothing new here.
Under the current system, someone paid for that book. Maybe the downloader who bought & stripped the DRM, maybe someone else who bought the ebook, maybe someone who bought the physical book & scanned it. Currently, most copies are related to a paid copy somewhere. (A few are related to review copies.)

Also: publishers are not going to accept the argument of "well, it's no more insecure than current DRM, so you should do it this way."

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The system we are using now penalizes all purchasers, always. My scheme would be an improvement.
The current system requires purchasers to be aware of what they're buying. Also, some venues have return options--Amazon allows returns of ebooks (although it's possible that too many returns will get one's account frozen) as well as physical products, and any purchase made through a credit card can be reported as inadequate and a refund will be authorized. The current system requires buyers to jump through some hoops to get their money back.

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And I am beginning to think that to get any real innovation from the existing companies, the only solution is probably using the law to push them. (Which of course opens the way to another set of problems.)
No, the solution is to find a new business model & get some companies to use it successfully. Any system that requires total buy-in from all forms of business is demanding restrictions on commerce that the US doesn't allow.

If it's viable in an open marketplace, all you have to do is convince a business to try it. Plenty of new startups are looking for innovative methods to get customer support.

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Maybe the key to the issue could be that you get an inferior quality version of the content unless you either confirm the purchase or the exchange window expires, and only then you get the full quality version to keep.
Say, (shabbily formatted) pdf instead of epub for books; low-bitrate MP3 instead of flac for music; low-resolution video instead of full HD for video. Something like that.
Badly-formatted PDFs (or for that matter, well-formatted PDFs) are mostly unreadable on ereaders. I can't find out if the story is of a quality I'd pay for if the text is running off the end of the screen, or the lines are overlapping, or the words are too small to see.

You can't use a bad version of a product to convince people it's worth buying the good version.

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This is another issue that requires work. Maybe (I'm making this up on the fly, it really needs more thought) the "preview copy" could actually be not a downloaded file, but an online "page" that you get an access to when you make your purchase, and that is common to all sellers of that specific work.
If it requires total participation, it's a plan for failure. Who's going to pay for this preview page? Who maintains the servers and the software? What's the buy-in cost for a small business that wants to use it? Who gets access to the *data* of which customers access what content?

[quote]It would be easy (and would not entail privacy risks) to forbid multiple accesses to the same "page" from the same IP address, if not sufficiently spaced over time.[quote]

"Not from same IP address" means "not from library computers," and "multiple family members can't have different accounts."

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I have to think more about this one. Fortunately the solution is not required to make cheating impossible; it only needs to make it sufficiently awkward that 98% of people prefer to buy instead. Ideas are welcome!
For it to work, cheating has to be difficult (hence, ability to scam the system via proxy servers is not relevant; most people can't & won't bother), but it also has to be difficult or at least a hassle after the methods are known--if you can make a Firefox plugin that taps into a proxy server to get access as a new IP address, that's removed the difficulty.

A book preview that used, for example, Google's book viewer, would be difficult to scam... but someone would make a plugin that did series of screencaps to be sent to OCR. The only reason it's not done now, is that you can't get access to whole non-PD books for free.

There is no such thing as streamed content. There's just "content that's only copied to a temp folder on your computer, attached to software that tells it to delete very quickly." Which means all it takes is interrupting the "delete" message, and getting access to the temp area, to get a permanent copy of the content.

And the more popular and widespread the commercial system is, the more incentive to find a hack for it.

For it to be accepted by businesses, they need to believe it's more effective than the current DRM system. They're not going to pay for anything more buggy than the current setup. Also, you'd have to convince them that this would get more sales than the current system--that people wouldn't be more prone to scam returns than they are right now, or that they'd be so overwhelmingly in favor of this system that they'd buy more stuff.

And they won't. People have limited entertainment budgets; they might shift *types* of entertainment based on advertising or customer service features--might buy books instead of games if they're easy and fun and risk-free--but only if they don't feel they need the other kind of entertainment more.

I will not be buying more albums or movies regardless of how amazing the sales system is; I have more than I have time for now. I *might* buy more books... but that's also unlikely; it's more possible that I'd switch my buying from one company to another.

You're describing an awful lot of complex infrastructure which, yes, would be nicer for consumers, but doesn't seem to bring any benefit to manufacturers. Why would they bother? Consumers are not currently boycotting any particular businesses en mass based on a lack of returns policies. You're trying to fix a problem most people don't believe exists.

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I like to reread my favourite books every few years. But I would NOT like to be forced to cram all the (re)reading within 24 hours!
I read fast. Most books are less than a day's reading for me, and that's at a comfortable pace. 50,000 words between lunch and dinner isn't marathon-cramming for me, it's how I spend my weekends when I don't have other plans.

Downloading a book in the morning that I'd have to return before midnight to get it free sounds like an excellent "free books forever!" plan for me.
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Old 04-10-2012, 04:58 PM   #68
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No, the solution is to find a new business model & get some companies to use it successfully. [...] If it's viable in an open marketplace, all you have to do is convince a business to try it. Plenty of new startups are looking for innovative methods to get customer support.
Yes, but how many new startups have access to the media catalogue of the giant, encumbent ones? If you have an interesting business model, but you can't provide what consumers are looking for, how can you compete?
This is why I think that leveling the ground by law is maybe the only viable short-term solution (in the long run, things will sort themselves out, but possibly not before the whole internet is damaged in the desperate attempt to stop media piracy).

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Badly-formatted PDFs (or for that matter, well-formatted PDFs) are mostly unreadable on ereaders.
Well, you could check it out on your PC and then, after the first chapter has convinced you, confirm the purchase and have it on your ereader :-)

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You can't use a bad version of a product to convince people it's worth buying the good version.
This is unsubstantiated. In my view, you can use a bad version of a product *with the same content of the good version* to demonstrate (and sell) the latter.
On another note: what is the youtube trailer of a movie if not a reduced-quality version of a movie? I suppose it works, though.
Another example. In my life I bought a lot of second-hand books, some of them in less than perfect conditions, mostly because I was exploring and it was too expensive to buy large amounts of new books. Whenever I found something that I really liked, I usually bought a new copy of it. The used one was the "bad version", then.

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Who's going to pay for this preview page? Who maintains the servers and the software?
The content providers. Presumably there would be separate, but with similar interfaces, systems set up by the providers.
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Who gets access to the *data* of which customers access what content?
The content providers would not know who corresponds to each account (because accounts are generated by sellers). Each media seller would know who buys what (from that seller), like it happens now.

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"Not from same IP address" means "not from library computers,"...
Yes. However, would you use your credit card data with a public computer?

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...and "multiple family members can't have different accounts."
No. They can't have "exchange windows" open for THE SAME work within a longish time, though (say: 1 year). Not a strong limitation, I'd say. If I want to buy the same work that someone in my household has previewed (but not bought) within the year, I have to pay it upfront, without the possibility of exchange.

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if you can make a Firefox plugin that taps into a proxy server to get access as a new IP address, that's removed the difficulty.
I think that for the vast majority of people, this is already "too difficult".How many Firefox users are annoyed by ads but don't install Adblock Plus?

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There is no such thing as streamed content.
Of course. So if you hack around sufficiently hard, and get your timing right, and manage to cheat the system, you end up with a substandard version of the work on your hard disk. And you have saved a few dollars. Was it worth it?
Moreover, since we are considering the "online preview" scenario, who says that the preview has to be 100% complete? It could be the first half of a book/movie/record, for instance.

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Consumers are not currently boycotting any particular businesses en mass based on a lack of returns policies. You're trying to fix a problem most people don't believe exists.
I'm trying to improve on what is currently available to consumers, without damaging companies.

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I read fast. Most books are less than a day's reading for me, and that's at a comfortable pace. 50,000 words between lunch and dinner isn't marathon-cramming for me, it's how I spend my weekends when I don't have other plans.
I suspect this "use case" is so rare that its weight on the definition of any new business model in bookselling is negligible. How many of us have the reading speed, free time and desire) to engage in full-immersion reading of a whole medium-length book over a single day?
Personally, I would very much like to do such a thing; however, it could only happen if my whole family was on vacation... without me. Unlikely :-)
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Old 04-10-2012, 05:19 PM   #69
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...What if the "exchange scheme" was simpler, and a single one for *all* types of media content? (e.g.: book, song, movie, record, ...)
Something like: you choose what you want, and pay for it; you get the first half of it and have a longish time to check it out (say, a month); within such "exchange window", you can substitute the work you downloaded with (the first half) of another work of the same category, even multiple times; when you have found something that you like, you confirm the purchase and get the whole file; if the window expires, the work you are currently previewing is automatically confirmed.
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Old 04-10-2012, 05:36 PM   #70
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And then we end up with even more laws, even more government interference in areas previously outside government interference...

Originally Posted by BoldlyDubious
Actually, more laws are not necessarily an evil. It is only if the laws are bad. Otherwise, removing laws (even at random!) would always be a good idea :-)


Actually, more laws ARE usually an increasing evil... it usually leads to an ever increasing morass of law unclear to the majority of people and that is bad...

And the rest of your replies tend to be repeating the same points ad infinitum which doesn't alter either mine or Elfwreck's comments...
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Old 04-10-2012, 05:39 PM   #71
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Yes, but how many new startups have access to the media catalogue of the giant, encumbent ones? If you have an interesting business model, but you can't provide what consumers are looking for, how can you compete?
If you can't provide what customers are looking for, you don't have an interesting business model. If this only works by strongarming support from companies that don't like the idea, it's not a business model; it's socialized content management. (Which may not be evil, but the point is, if it can't be done by individual businesses, it's pretty much broken.)

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Well, you could check it out on your PC and then, after the first chapter has convinced you, confirm the purchase and have it on your ereader :-)
So... I can read a sample in circumstances entirely different from those in which I read books. Um. Not interested in "access free sample that you can't use on your ereader."

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The content providers would not know who corresponds to each account (because accounts are generated by sellers). Each media seller would know who buys what (from that seller), like it happens now.
You're proposing that all sellers combine their resources to a single point of access. (They'd have to, to avoid the same person sampling from different sellers' accounts.) Which means everyone has access to all the data used.

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Yes. However, would you use your credit card data with a public computer?
Me? No. But I have a computer at home. People do, apparently, use library computers to pay bills and such. How insecure are you thinking this interface is?

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Moreover, since we are considering the "online preview" scenario, who says that the preview has to be 100% complete? It could be the first half of a book/movie/record, for instance.
A lot of books at Smashwords already have a "download first 25-50% free" option, and it works on any ereaders. Kindle has a "download first chapter free" option. You're suggesting a more restricted version of those that requires an incredibly complicated infrastructure and is legally mandatory?

"Free total content before you buy" is a potential pitch to customers, although content providers would squawk. "Free partial content before you buy" just gets tagged as a nuisance by both sides, especially with all the restrictions you're proposing. Content providers believe they're providing enough free sample content now; customers sometimes think not, but they're not mostly interested in jumping through a bunch of hoops (register here, then there, install this software on your machine, only view in some formats, etc) to get more of a sample.

If they're that hard-pressed to find out if they like it, they'll ask someone they know. Which is what we currently do.

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I'm trying to improve on what is currently available to consumers, without damaging companies.
Other than the cost of building and maintaining access software, tracking user records looking for fraud, and watching out for the Killer Plugin that would allow complete access to all their content.

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I suspect this "use case" is so rare that its weight on the definition of any new business model in bookselling is negligible. How many of us have the reading speed, free time and desire) to engage in full-immersion reading of a whole medium-length book over a single day?
Apparently, you don't spend a lot of time with English Lit college majors. Not all of us has that much free time, but I'm not a superspeed reader. I don't read a book on the occasional day when I've scrounged up free time... I read 20-40k words almost every day.

What I give up for it? Well, all that time standing in the train waiting for it to get to my job. TV time... the family watches TV while I read. Movies... I don't think I've seen a movie in the theatre in the last year and a half. Games. Concerts. Cooking time.

It's a matter of priorities, and I'm not alone in arranging most of my nonworking time to be focused on reading. And no matter how rare my situation is--if publishers heard any number of people saying "free content if I can read it inside of 24 hours? Score!" that'd be the end of the program.
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Old 04-11-2012, 04:25 AM   #72
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But then you need an always on internet connection for your media consumption device and an unbreakable DRM [...]

No to the former, yes to the latter. However, media companies are already depending on (not-really-unbreakable) DRM to protect their intellectual property, so nothing would change here.
You seem to have ignored the bit of my post where I transfer the copy to my wireless reader, send the original back and read at my leisure.
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:00 AM   #73
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It seems to me that this discussion, apart from interesting debate on single points, has proved one thing: that the starting point, i.e., my proposal for a mandatory "exchange window" for purchases of media content, does not stand a chance of success. If we at MobileRead, who are all media consumers and are likely more self-conscious in that role than the average, didn't feel that my idea is convincing, all the more so it would be for the general public or media companies.
(Of course I wasn't really thinking of proposing anything to stakeholders: I only wanted to set up a bit of collective brainstorming.)

However, some food for thought emerged (for me, at least) from the discussion; so the net result is positive. Thank you, most especially to Elfwreck, for your contributions.

That said, my humble opinion remains that the media market urgently needs a novel distribution model. Any delay will probably bring collateral damage to the general freedom of the Internet, as media companies seem determined in trying to change everything and everyone to avoid accepting that *they* have to change.
I didn't expect to come up with a viable solution myself. However, it would have been interesting to read -in this thread- other proposals, alternative to mine.
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