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View Poll Results: What would you want in an ebook rental service?
Books from major (top 6) publishers 25 46.30%
Unlimited time with each book 22 40.74%
Reading apps for multiple platforms (not just ePUB files) 12 22.22%
Multiple books rented at once 19 35.19%
Monthly/subscription payment ($15+ per month) 22 40.74%
Payment per book rented ($5+) 9 16.67%
I wouldn't use a rental service because of DRM. 10 18.52%
I wouldn't use a rental service because I like to buy. 14 25.93%
I wouldn't use a rental service because it's too expensive. 12 22.22%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 54. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-28-2011, 10:48 PM   #1
hollyert
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Lightbulb Ebook Rental: Wished-For Features

Hi all! I'm a longtime lurker, first-time poster, and I'm doing some market research.

The premise: Audible/Netflix for ebooks (probably ePUB)

The question: What features would be most valuable if you were to rent ebooks?
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Old 05-28-2011, 11:09 PM   #2
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It would have to be really cheap. How would you keep people from just keeping copies of the book and stripping DRM (which is why publishers probably aren't interested in that model)? What is the difference for a digital book between renting and buying? Expiration dates, etc. can be edited out.
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Old 05-28-2011, 11:21 PM   #3
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Why would I pay $5 to rent a book when I could buy it for a few dollars more? I think everyone who has floated the rental idea on this forum so far has had a very skewed view of appropriate pricing for such things. I currently do pay for ebook rental (Philadelphia Library membership) and it's about $30 for the whole year! $5 per book? Hell, no! Why on earth would I do that?
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Old 05-28-2011, 11:27 PM   #4
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I thought that was what a library was... i.e., Overdrive.

If I want to read a book, I'll either check it out at Overdrive, or buy it.
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Old 05-29-2011, 12:30 AM   #5
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But for those of you who use Overdrive, aren't you also frustrated by the terrible selection and waiting lists? Most libraries with Overdrive can't afford the full subscription, which even further limits the catalog.

All the books I want to read are relatively new, from major publishers, and cost ~$12 to $14 to buy, which I can't afford, as a college student.

So, essentially: Overdrive isn't really an ideal solution. It's just the imperfect monopoly.
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Old 05-29-2011, 01:03 AM   #6
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If your library doesn't have it, ask for it. If your library can't afford it, donate money for it. Complaining about your library selections and wait times online doesn't do much good.
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Old 05-29-2011, 01:14 AM   #7
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Well, an Overdrive that you pay for would be an obvious solution since it has the DRM already to expire the book. I'd pay a buck or two to bypass the wait time, but honestly, there are probably less than 5 books a year I'd be that desperate to read, and if it's in a series and I already own the other ones, I'd probably just buy it. The only series I devoutly follow and eagerly anticipate is the JD Robb books and those usually hit the best-seller list pretty quickly and get marked down to $9.99.

If I did pay for an ebook rental service, it'd be on the level of a yearly fee, not a monthly one. The $30 I pay for the out of district Philadelphia card is fair and I get my money's worth out of it. But that's about as high as I would go, price-wise, given that I read a lot of indie and older stuff.

Might branching out a little be another solution to your problem? There is more to life than new best-sellers...
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Old 05-29-2011, 01:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by susan_cassidy View Post
How would you keep people from just keeping copies of the book and stripping DRM ...
If it's cheap enough, why would they bother? Do people routinely rip DVDs they borrow from Netflix?

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Originally Posted by ficbot View Post
Why would I pay $5 to rent a book when I could buy it for a few dollars more?
Obviously it would have to be not a per-item fee. $15 per month for, say, 3 books out at a time (return older ones to borrow more, à la Netflix), no waiting lists, good selection -- I'd pay for that.
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Old 05-29-2011, 01:21 AM   #9
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Not so concerned with "the big 5" and although I abhor DRM of any kind I really wouldn't mind paying to "rent" books so longs as it was for an unlimited time (I get sidetracked with a 4 year old and all).
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Old 05-29-2011, 07:55 AM   #10
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I use the library. I'd pay $1 to $2 per book to bypass the waiting list. I read about 2-4 books per month, some of which are free anyway, so if it was a monthly fee it would have to be much less than $8 ... Maybe $3-$5
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Old 05-29-2011, 08:11 AM   #11
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While you're doing your research, you may want to check with PUBLISHERS. The problem with the Netflix model is not getting consumers on board, it's getting the publishers on board.

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Old 05-29-2011, 12:14 PM   #12
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If it's cheap enough, why would they bother? Do people routinely rip DVDs they borrow from Netflix?
I have a friend (cough) who used to have a subscription to Netflix, and she wanted to be able to watch the movies when and how she wanted as well as reduce the amount of time waiting for the next DVD.

So, yes, she would rip the DVD and return it immediately so that she could watch the movie on her iPod at the gym and then have the next movie waiting for her when she was finished with the current one. She would still only watch the movie once and then delete it, so she considered her actions justified, but she fully realized that she was breaking the law in a victimless-sort-of-way. I can see something similar happening with ebooks.
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Old 05-29-2011, 12:21 PM   #13
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On a completely different note, am I the only one who rented audiobooks back in the day when they were mailed out on tape? I still remember the huge box of tapes I got when I listened to The Hunt for Red October.

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While you're doing your research, you may want to check with PUBLISHERS. The problem with the Netflix model is not getting consumers on board, it's getting the publishers on board.
Just googled, and those audiobook rentals are still out there, though they've obviously evolved a bit. I guess I'd say that if the rental model works for publishers of audiobooks, there's a good chance it would work for ebooks.
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Old 05-29-2011, 02:18 PM   #14
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Many people routinely strip DRM from their ebooks, so they can reread them on any device, and/or format shift them.

I often read 3 or 4 books a week, so renting 3 or 4 books a month would not be much help to me.
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Old 05-29-2011, 02:33 PM   #15
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I'm not sure that currently a rental model for e-books would work. Especially as there has been not commercial precedent with pbooks (I consider libraries non-commercial), and that means publishers will be very wary, even if you convince them that the risk of users just ripping off the DRM is low. Publishers have already been very wary of overdrive.

Personally, I would be willing to pay a very small amount (either something like 50p a book or £5 a month) to use a rental service and ONLY if it offered the top publishers and best sellers, along with a good selection of other books, soon after release. It would have to be either an unlimited checkout time/items or a substantial number to interest me as otherwise I can check out 10 e-books at a time via my library.
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