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Old 09-16-2011, 01:48 PM   #46
Ben Thornton
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If you've ever rented a movie from iTunes or watched a movie from the Netflix streaming service, or listened to streaming music from Pandora or Spotify, you'll find that these consumer experiences are quite enjoyable and very convenient. Generally, when people raise objections to this idea, they bring up boundary situations like "Suppose I have to go hiking in the wilderness or be on safari in deepest Africa, then how will I get to stream my ebooks."
Of course, 90 per cent of the time, people do their reading at home , where wifi is handy. For when you have to go on the road, download and buy or rent options will still be available.
Also , too, with the latest iteration of HTML, you can start reading online and continue reading offline if you so choose .

AS for time limits, if you have ever borrowed books from the library, you have dealt with this issue. You just renew the books if you aren't finished. Of course, in a for-payment rental scheme, it will cost you. You'll have to decide whether you should just go ahead and buy that 1000 page blockbuster for $14.99 or rent it, knowing you might have to pay for two or more rental periods to complete it.
I've watched plenty of stuff on-line, and have often had spotty performance, and occasionally lose the ability to stream video mid-broadcast which can be annoying. Not all wifi is created equal, and I often travel by train, so I don't need esoteric situations like gong to the sahara to imagine poor network performance. I find time limits annoying, because I often read several books at once, returning to a book I started months before when I feel like it. So for me, rental and online models are not so good. Obviously, if enough people like them, they could do well - so we'll see.
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Old 09-16-2011, 02:03 PM   #47
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It's not an impossible situation--everyone would like ebook subscriptions to be available, and that's a strong motivator to find terms that authors, publishers, distributors and readers all agree to--but it's an entirely *new* economic and technological model in an industry that's known for "this is how it's always been done" contracts and digging in its heels to avoid new technology for as long as it possibly can.
Glad you agree its possible: I never said it was going to be quick or easy. It's going to be one gigantic lawyer-fest before everything is set up, I'm sure.

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The hard limits:
Readers will pay maybe $10-15/month for content. Whether that's a limited pool ("up to three books per month for $10/month") or an unlimited all-you-can-read from the basic catalog, or some kind of crossover, doesn't matter. The sweet spot for subscribe-to-entertainment is between $5 and $20 a month, and for $20 they'd have to provide a side of dancing boys and chats with pornstars. Which some MMORPGs can offer; ebook publishers can't.
The current Netflix top rate is three DVDS at any time, plus $8 for streaming. They are having a tough time keeping subscribers with that, so I agree with you. somewhere in the $8-20 range.
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While the number of cloud-based devices is going up, I don't think it's high enough yet to support a business model that's going to have a high number of technical & legal setup problems. (Notice how Apple is *not* releasing any iBookstore sales numbers?)

I like the idea of ebook subscriptions; I don't see a way to make it work like Netflix or Pandora.
I'm sure that authors , publishers, and content distributors are going to fight it out about how the pie will be divided. It was ever thus, yet somehow, rental and cloud-based subscription services for movies and music were set up and the various problems with customer service and technology were overcome.

My guess is that a cloud-based book subscription service will not be exactly like Pandora or Netflix, any more than Pandora and Netflix are exactly like each other. There is a successful model for e-books out there, just like there are ones for other digital media. The trick will be to find the right model and it probably won't be the first one rolled oout to the public.
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Old 09-16-2011, 02:23 PM   #48
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My guess is that a cloud-based book subscription service will not be exactly like Pandora or Netflix, any more than Pandora and Netflix are exactly like each other. There is a successful model for e-books out there, just like there are ones for other digital media. The trick will be to find the right model and it probably won't be the first one rolled oout to the public.
Maybe some smaller publishing houses could experiment with it-offer a collection of books from new and upcoming authors every month for a fixed subscription.

The issue for me personally is that I'm pretty selective about my reading tastes-much more so than music, games, or other entertainment, where I don't mind dabbling in new stuff on a regular basis.
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Old 09-16-2011, 02:45 PM   #49
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If you've ever rented a movie from iTunes or watched a movie from the Netflix streaming service, or listened to streaming music from Pandora or Spotify, you'll find that these consumer experiences are quite enjoyable and very convenient.
Of course, all that content is in good digital condition to start with. The number of returns for "this digital recording is full of skips and mispronounced words" are really very low.

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Generally, when people raise objections to this idea, they bring up boundary situations like "Suppose I have to go hiking in the wilderness or be on safari in deepest Africa, then how will I get to stream my ebooks."
Because books, unlike music & movies, are common things to bring on vacation to low-tech settings. "I want it to work on a boat five miles from shore" is a very reasonable request for literary content; music evolved as a more social phenomenon, and it's only recently that it's been divorced from bulky machinery or a requirement to find actual *people* to make the music. Books, OTOH, have been available as a solitary, away-from-everyone pursuit for five hundred years.

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Of course, 90 per cent of the time, people do their reading at home, where wifi is handy.
I read a substantial portion every day on the train on the way to work, including through the transbay tunnel. No wifi, and 3g is sporadic. While I'm not a potential customer for this (no wifi on my ereaders, and I don't do Amazon ebooks), I see plenty of iPads, iPhones and Kindles on my trips to and from work; cloud-only ebooks won't work for them.
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Old 09-16-2011, 05:55 PM   #50
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My husband bought a fancy blu-ray player that also provides a direct stream from Amazon Prime, and he can't understand why I stick with my Blockbuster disks that come in the mail.

Well, let's see. His Amazon Prime stuff takes way too long to load (even with hi-speed internet and a line connection), he can't seem to pause/fast-forward easily, and as far as I can tell...

no streaming video service offers closed captions for the hard of hearing.

Grr.

So, hmm. What were we talking about? I can't remember, but I'd be careful not to claim that Netflix/Amazon/whatever is the be-all, end-all for all/most/many consumers. It's a nice setup for some, but that's a far cry from some of the hyperbole here. "these consumer experiences are quite enjoyable and very convenient," indeed.
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Old 09-16-2011, 07:10 PM   #51
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Maybe some smaller publishing houses could experiment with it-offer a collection of books from new and upcoming authors every month for a fixed subscription.

The issue for me personally is that I'm pretty selective about my reading tastes-much more so than music, games, or other entertainment, where I don't mind dabbling in new stuff on a regular basis.
I do think that it will begin with smaller publishing houses and maybe certain lines in the major houses. I also think that we might see the download and rent model first then the streaming model-like the movies. It may well take several years as well.
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Old 09-16-2011, 07:42 PM   #52
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Does good connections not being available create problems for streaming models? All together now: OF COOOOOOUURSE!

I responded to that already , but since three people missed it, let me repeat my response in bold letters:

For when you have to go on the road, download and buy or rent options will still be available.
Also , too, with the latest iteration of HTML, you can start reading online and continue reading offline if you so choose .


The point is the streaming model would not be the sole, perfect, and universal model-it's another option. I enjoy movies several different ways:

* I watch it in theaters
* I watch it on cable TV
* I watch them on rented DVDS
* I watch them downloaded or streamed on my iPad

None of these are perfect in all circumstances, and I could easily point to the disadvantages of one of these options. The point is that different options work best in different circumstances.

This is really about bringing the same options to book reading as already exist in movies. You'll have choices: you can try the streamed books option.
If you are away from the wi-fi and are riding the subway, pick a book that you have downloaded and bought/rented
If your Kindle runs out of juice, you'll have to pick up a DTB

Options are good.
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Old 09-24-2011, 10:38 PM   #53
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The plot thickens.
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Old 09-24-2011, 10:46 PM   #54
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This rental model will never fly. The major publishers won't go for it and in this case I can see why and agree with them. It's not being done to cause a hassle to the public. It's just bad business.
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Old 09-25-2011, 02:19 PM   #55
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no streaming video service offers closed captions for the hard of hearing.

Grr.
I agree. I am hearing impaired and get frustrated by not having CC available. Even my husband who does not have hearing problems has trouble with hearing/understanding sometimes. The background music is way too loud sometimes.

Carol
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Old 09-25-2011, 03:54 PM   #56
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I agree. I am hearing impaired and get frustrated by not having CC available. Even my husband who does not have hearing problems has trouble with hearing/understanding sometimes. The background music is way too loud sometimes.

Carol
YES!! Oh my gosh, yes. The music drowns out the dialogue SO much. I can't count how often Husband (who doesn't read the subtitles) will turn to me and say "what did they say?"

And that's not getting into the trouble with accents. I wish I hadn't seen "The Help" in theaters because I'm going to have to rent it anyway to cut through half of the Southern Belle dialects.
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Old 09-25-2011, 05:38 PM   #57
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no streaming video service offers closed captions for the hard of hearing.
Netflix's goal is 80% of all streaming content to have subtitles/cc by the end of this year.
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Old 09-25-2011, 07:56 PM   #58
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Netflix's goal is 80% of all streaming content to have subtitles/cc by the end of this year.
Hey, thank you! If they get there, we may just switch over.
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Old 09-25-2011, 08:14 PM   #59
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YES!! Oh my gosh, yes. The music drowns out the dialogue SO much. I can't count how often Husband (who doesn't read the subtitles) will turn to me and say "what did they say?"

And that's not getting into the trouble with accents. I wish I hadn't seen "The Help" in theaters because I'm going to have to rent it anyway to cut through half of the Southern Belle dialects.
We got hooked on some UK detective shows, Inspector Frost and Inspector Lewis. While I love the English accent, when they started to talk fast we had a hard time understanding them. CC would have been nice.

Carol
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Old 09-25-2011, 08:18 PM   #60
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Netflix's goal is 80% of all streaming content to have subtitles/cc by the end of this year.
Thanks for that. We subscribe to Netflix.

Carol
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