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Old 05-16-2011, 11:31 PM   #46
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Subscriptions worry me,

You'd need really tight DRM to make it work, and it also feels like one step closer to removal of peoples ownership of an originally bought copy of someones work.

Instead of owning a book, your renting it. Instead of being able to lend your book to a friend, he needs to rent his own copy.

I'm sure it's going to be successfull, we've gone from economical ownership of alot of products over the years to merely renting them. With somewhat interesting consequences for example, local households has effectively trippled their debt over the last 20 years.

It reminds me very much of this intriguing RSA animate:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOP2V_np2c0

In terms of convenince, subscription models are very likely an improvement. It'll give us greater access to litterature at the expensive of genuine ownership. I'm naturally talking a for rent model here, as bulk buying clubs has already been tried without too much success.
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Old 05-17-2011, 02:31 AM   #47
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I hate DRM, but I don't have a problem with it for rental services (you don't own anything this way, after all).

There are some paper book Netflix-type services - a few have died, but apparently a few are still around.

http://www.booksfree.com/available_plans.shtml

2 at-a-time $14.49 2 (1 book orders)
4 at-a-time $17.99 2 (2 book orders)
6 at-a-time $24.99 3 (2 book orders)
9 at-a-time $32.99 3 (3 book orders)
12 at-a-time $40.99 4 (3 book orders)
15 at-a-time $50.99 5 (3 book orders)

Book ship via media mail (notoriously erratic in delivery times...low priority mail).

Just pointing this out...

I think a rental service of some sort, ala Netflix, would be very enticing. However, I doubt they would be willing to do it any time soon. Netflix has been working on getting the industry to accept them for years, and they still get in spats with the various movie companies (look at the common 30 day hold on new movies now, for example).
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Old 05-17-2011, 04:18 PM   #48
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I'm not sure if I would subscribe to a rental service or not.*

*Caveat: I pay the yearly pittance to rent books from the Free Library of Philadelphia, so I guess I DO know if I'd subscribe to a pay-to-read service, but I don't know that I'd buy ANOTHER one, and certainly don't know if I'd pay more than $50 a year.

On the one hand, I like the idea of the model. I'm trying to get AWAY from the "collector" mentality where all books MUST be owned forever and ever amen. There's nothing wrong with that mentality, of course, but I don't want to be that way anymore for personal reasons.

On the other hand, I'm deeply worried by how easy it is to make an ebook unavailable. This has come up with things like the Scott Pilgrim volumes that I'd like to read: apparently they were ebooks for a very short time and then they were pulled from the market for various reasons. That distresses me. If I'd bought them at the time, then I'd still have them regardless of their current market availability; if I'd rented them, I would never be able to rent them (in ebook form) again once they were (permanently) pulled.

pbooks can go out of print, of course, but there's always SOMEONE willing to sell their copy for the right price. With ebooks, the day it's pulled from the market is the last chance you ever had to obtain the book legally. That really, really distresses me.

A "rental" subscription service where I have to worry that everything I enjoy must then be bought in order to "lock in" its future availability is somewhat scary. Once in that mind set, it makes more sense to just pay a little extra to buy what you want to read rather than renting the read.

Of course, as I said, I do already pay for a rental service, but the FLoP is so cheap I don't even count it. I doubt anyone could make substantial money with THAT model.

A subscription purchasing group might be nice - I do belong to Audible even though I hate their Special Snowflake formatting - but I'm not sure they could price competitively enough to draw my interest. A lump sum for X credits (like the Audible model) would work GREAT for me, but not so very much for the publishers when I was probably already gonna buy those 24, or 48, or 256 books anyway.
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Old 05-17-2011, 05:34 PM   #49
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Thank you, Greenmonkey! I was just going to post about booksfree. I have been a member for a couple of years. I am on the 4-at-a-time plan and I usually get about 6 books a month. Its great!
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Old 05-17-2011, 06:59 PM   #50
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Amazon pulling books, or books being pulled from the market.

When you own a book, atleast you have it forever and ever But as I wrote, this will very likely be appealing to a lot of people. Thats why services like Spotify is generating a bucketload of income.
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Old 05-17-2011, 07:27 PM   #51
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Here's an example of why a rental / streaming type model is smart.

http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/05/netflix-traffic/

Look. Reasonably priced service wins against piracy. That's the model that works.
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Old 05-17-2011, 07:47 PM   #52
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Definitely smart, and a very good price point on the subscription aswell.
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Old 05-18-2011, 10:40 AM   #53
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A subscription purchasing group might be nice - I do belong to Audible even though I hate their Special Snowflake formatting - but I'm not sure they could price competitively enough to draw my interest. A lump sum for X credits (like the Audible model) would work GREAT for me, but not so very much for the publishers when I was probably already gonna buy those 24, or 48, or 256 books anyway.
I used to belong to the Mystery Guild and I'd love something similar for ebooks, where I could get my choice of xx books every month for a set fee, with recommendations from my selected genre.

Slightly off topic, but I've been considering joining Audible -- what do you mean by "Special Snowflake formatting"?
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Old 05-18-2011, 12:16 PM   #54
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I used to belong to the Mystery Guild and I'd love something similar for ebooks, where I could get my choice of xx books every month for a set fee, with recommendations from my selected genre.

Slightly off topic, but I've been considering joining Audible -- what do you mean by "Special Snowflake formatting"?
Audible uses a special proprietary format called .aa, rather than my preferred format of .mp3. They claim that their aa format is better because the Audible playing devices support bookmarking, clearer playback, etc, but to my mind it's really just to lock you in to their formatting as a repeat customer. (Not to mention that my Cowon player already has a bookmarking option for my mp3 files.)

A lot of music players (including my Cowon player) support the aa format, and they have a player app for Android devices (and probably iPxxx), but I don't LIKE the aa format. There's not a particularly easy way to convert the format to another - without bringing up The Subject That Cannot Be Rationally Discussed, it's basically a 3-step process to convert from aa to mp3 and those steps involve older-not-easily-available versions of certain software programs plus a hefty time investment on your part.

B&N has started selling most Audible books in a direct-download mp3 format, but there is a price difference - Audible is definitely cheaper...

...as long as your device can play their stupid (imho) proprietary format.
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Old 05-18-2011, 12:26 PM   #55
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I think it likely that you'll see a BUNCH of different subscription models thrown at you over the next few years, from an all-you-can read model featuring only books on the deep back list to a premium model that would include bestsellers. The good thing about the Internet is that eventually you'll see everything, if there is a demand for all that model.
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Old 05-18-2011, 12:43 PM   #56
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I think it likely that you'll see a BUNCH of different subscription models thrown at you over the next few years, from an all-you-can read model featuring only books on the deep back list to a premium model that would include bestsellers. The good thing about the Internet is that eventually you'll see everything, if there is a demand for all that model.
Well...maybe. I mean, I hope so. But as Elfwreck has very intelligently pointed out, it's more complicated than that. In terms of "back list" items, I'm having a hard enough time buying what I want to read now (because of abandonware issues). And in terms of bestsellers, good luck finding Rowling at the local elibrary, eh?

Over the next few years, it's unclear whether the authors and publishers will FINALLY drag themselves into this century, or if they're going to keep kicking and screaming and whining about their buggy-whip formats. And if the books we would want to subscribe to read aren't available in ebook format, they're not going to be available in subscription format.

A subscription campaign for reading that offers a selection comparable to, say, the Free Library of Philadelphia is going to have to offer their selection at or less than said FLoP. And that's not a very profitable model.

And a subscription campaign for buying is going to have to offer a discount beyond what Amazon, B&N, Kobo, etc. offers, and at least for Agency books, I don't reckon that's possible.

In short, it's a good idea, but FAR from a foregone conclusion, I think.
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Old 05-18-2011, 12:48 PM   #57
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Audible uses a special proprietary format called .aa, rather than my preferred format of .mp3. They claim that their aa format is better because the Audible playing devices support bookmarking, clearer playback, etc, but to my mind it's really just to lock you in to their formatting as a repeat customer. (Not to mention that my Cowon player already has a bookmarking option for my mp3 files.)

A lot of music players (including my Cowon player) support the aa format, and they have a player app for Android devices (and probably iPxxx), but I don't LIKE the aa format. There's not a particularly easy way to convert the format to another - without bringing up The Subject That Cannot Be Rationally Discussed, it's basically a 3-step process to convert from aa to mp3 and those steps involve older-not-easily-available versions of certain software programs plus a hefty time investment on your part.

B&N has started selling most Audible books in a direct-download mp3 format, but there is a price difference - Audible is definitely cheaper...

...as long as your device can play their stupid (imho) proprietary format.
I see -- thanks. My intent would be to play them on my Android phone, so that wouldn't be an issue, I guess. I was considering whether or not I'd want a copy on CD, so that I could play them in the car without connecting the phone or calling up the app, but it sounds like it wouldn't be worth the conversion.

Still thinking. It's always good to know if there are any limitations or unexpected hangups.
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Old 05-18-2011, 01:01 PM   #58
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Well...maybe. I mean, I hope so. But as Elfwreck has very intelligently pointed out, it's more complicated than that. In terms of "back list" items, I'm having a hard enough time buying what I want to read now (because of abandonware issues). And in terms of bestsellers, good luck finding Rowling at the local elibrary, eh?

Over the next few years, it's unclear whether the authors and publishers will FINALLY drag themselves into this century, or if they're going to keep kicking and screaming and whining about their buggy-whip formats. And if the books we would want to subscribe to read aren't available in ebook format, they're not going to be available in subscription format.

A subscription campaign for reading that offers a selection comparable to, say, the Free Library of Philadelphia is going to have to offer their selection at or less than said FLoP. And that's not a very profitable model.

And a subscription campaign for buying is going to have to offer a discount beyond what Amazon, B&N, Kobo, etc. offers, and at least for Agency books, I don't reckon that's possible.

In short, it's a good idea, but FAR from a foregone conclusion, I think.
Audible has a subscription model that works NOW.
Analog/Isaac Asimov's has an electronic subscription model that works NOW.
Baen has has a subscription model that works NOW
There are a bunch of magazines that offer electronic subscriptions through Itunes and elsewhere.
Just looking at those existing models and ignoring the Netflix movies-video model, its pretty clear that ebook subscription models have a future. The only question is which model will be most attractive to the public.
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Old 05-18-2011, 01:37 PM   #59
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I see -- thanks. My intent would be to play them on my Android phone, so that wouldn't be an issue, I guess. I was considering whether or not I'd want a copy on CD, so that I could play them in the car without connecting the phone or calling up the app, but it sounds like it wouldn't be worth the conversion.

Still thinking. It's always good to know if there are any limitations or unexpected hangups.
Audible allows you to convert a downloaded .aa file to an audio CD, so this part isn't an issue (although it's probably better to just connect up the phone so you can start up on the phone where you left off again in the car).

And of course it is trivial to rip an audio CD into MP3 format without any drm stripping software. However an average audiobook might use up 10 CDs, so it's pretty cumbersome to do on a regular basis.
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Old 05-18-2011, 07:22 PM   #60
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They have them, they are called libraries.

They started as subscription only, but then moved to a subscribe at gunpoint model (ie, tax funded, whether you use it or not).
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