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Old 05-14-2015, 11:13 AM   #1
cudaboy_71
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Question looking for advice for distributing multilicense ebooks

This seems to be a very difficult issue to research. So, I'll just ask.

I've been publishing books for years for corporate in-house training. In print, we charge a flat fee for x amount of books, plus a per/book charge beyond the base.

So, for example: a $500 fee for the first 100 books, plus $5/book after that. Super easy to manage in print. But, I need a way to do this electronically.

I've looked at KDP (Kindle), iBooks, encrypted PDF--none support this model. Someone mentioned side-loading .mobi. This may work. But, there are so many formats. I've just learned of .mobi. Maybe it's outdated? Maybe there's something better?

Also, we create the books in InDesign. It'd be nice to develop for something with a native plugin rather than have to jump through a bunch of different converters. But, that's not a deal killer. Just no sense ignoring a format that would be better in our workflow.

In the end, all that matters is:

• we can manage the sale of electronic copies with a level of DRM that supports 100 device or user loads,

and

• we can manage subsequent single license sales,

or

• we can enforce an initial minimum order of 100 copies that support single device or user loads, with single license purchase available after the initial purchase.

I've developed websites that handle digital downloads. So, if none of the consumer-level book sites--amazon, apple, etc support this model, I may just be looking for a file format that supports this level of DRM for sideload.

thanks for any advice.
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Old 05-14-2015, 11:59 AM   #2
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If you are going to sell digital books, you need to support both major formats, Kindle (mobi) and ePub (everything else). However, the DRM only supports a number of simultaneous users, not a finite number of users, for Kindle. I don't knoe how the Adobe DRM for ePub works. Plus, you'd have to contract with Adobe to use their DRM, unless you sell through Kobo or something. And, of course, to use Amazon DRM, you have to sell through Amazon, and I don't know how that could work with a variable number of licenses. Maybe sell a different ASIN for different number of licenses?

No one in the world of ebooks is going to buy a book in some strange format.

It doesn't sound to me as if your sales model is very well-suited to the world of ebooks.
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Old 05-14-2015, 12:28 PM   #3
cudaboy_71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by susan_cassidy View Post
If you are going to sell digital books, you need to support both major formats, Kindle (mobi) and ePub (everything else).
not necessarily true. I'm not trying to take over the world. I just need to service my customer base, which is perfectly fine using iPads and purchasing a download from wherever we tell them to.

They are bound by law to have the training. I've provided the work in print for years. *They* have requested the move to digital. If they request other formats, I can accommodate. But, it's not like I'm losing customers because I only support a certain file type at this time.

Quote:
However, the DRM only supports a number of simultaneous users, not a finite number of users, for Kindle.
this actually sounds like a road to a working solution. So, you're saying I can upload a file valid for 100 simultaneous users of Customer A for $500 (following my example), and if they come back 6 months later, I can retract the first file and upload a new file supporting 110 users for $50?

My only issue with that is what prevents customer B from coming in and only paying the $50 and have a 110 user license that is shared with Company A?

Is there a way to set files as 'private' or 'invitation only'? (like a private video on youtube...you can only view it if you're provided the link, and on the list of approved viewers)

Quote:
I don't knoe how the Adobe DRM for ePub works. Plus, you'd have to contract with Adobe to use their DRM, unless you sell through Kobo or something.
all new words to me. I do know that I looked in to Adobe Content Server and it's $10K plus transaction fees. That's be tough to recoup at my volume.

Quote:
And, of course, to use Amazon DRM, you have to sell through Amazon, and I don't know how that could work with a variable number of licenses. Maybe sell a different ASIN for different number of licenses?
yes, I think that is what would happen. There's just a lot of questions I still have about who these license holders are allowed to be.

Quote:
No one in the world of ebooks is going to buy a book in some strange format.
They will if we tell them to. It just has to work ;-)

Quote:
It doesn't sound to me as if your sales model is very well-suited to the world of ebooks.
maybe. maybe not. that's why I'm asking. But, it doesn't seem that much of a stretch to have an e-model support a viable print model.
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Old 05-14-2015, 03:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cudaboy_71 View Post
this actually sounds like a road to a working solution. So, you're saying I can upload a file valid for 100 simultaneous users of Customer A for $500 (following my example), and if they come back 6 months later, I can retract the first file and upload a new file supporting 110 users for $50?

My only issue with that is what prevents customer B from coming in and only paying the $50 and have a 110 user license that is shared with Company A?

Is there a way to set files as 'private' or 'invitation only'? (like a private video on youtube...you can only view it if you're provided the link, and on the list of approved viewers)
Actually, DRM is managed by the Content Server authorizing a list of license keys, and a license key can AIUI permit a given number of simultaneous devices to use it. For instance, Adobe DRM allows 6 mobile devices and 6 desktop instances of ADE to access an ebook on the same ACSM license file.
Amazon supposedly can allow the publisher/author to specify a max number of simultaneous devices that a given purchaser can use at once.


I suppose you could sell the books to a corporate Amazon account and have all their employees access the books through the same account. But you wouldn't be able to upgrade their simultaneous use numbers. You could use different ASINs for that, but I am wondering how you'd transfer them over. I don't believe Amazon has any infrastructure for discounting a title depending on whether you bought another product.
(I wish they did, that would get rid of those boxed-set ebooks and allow you to buy bundles of separate books.)

Or sell them x number of licenses through your private Adobe Content Server. Then, since you control usage, you can charge them however you much for bundles of licenses, and discounts on new ones, etc... all things that you cannot do while the Content Server is managed by a disinterested party like e.g. Kobo or B&N.

Quote:
all new words to me. I do know that I looked in to Adobe Content Server and it's $10K plus transaction fees. That's be tough to recoup at my volume.
That is the price you pay for having someone else invest their time in developing a DRM solution.

Quote:
maybe. maybe not. that's why I'm asking. But, it doesn't seem that much of a stretch to have an e-model support a viable print model.
I would say it is the other way around. The world of ebooks is not very well suited to your sales model... which is a pity, because it should.
All it would take is having the right infrastructure developed. But nobody has set up the right infrastructure to allow a publisher to dole out ebook licenses privately. It would have niche appeal, specifically to people who want to sell bulk licenses... a very corporate thing.



Hey, maybe this is something you could start.
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Old 05-14-2015, 03:30 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by susan_cassidy View Post
No one in the world of ebooks is going to buy a book in some strange format.
Some people do, all the time. There are a dozen little pointless apps out there that sell BPH books which can only be read in-app. And people actually buy from them.

And if you can pull the wool over the eyes of consumers like that, you can definitely tell corporate customers "you want my niche product? Buy it through this app".



That is what I think the only viable solution may be. Some bespoke app which handles DRM in an internal mechanism. Not dependent on Adobe DRM.
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Old 05-20-2015, 07:19 PM   #6
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One other (clumsy) solution springs to mind - if whatever ebook store you use supports voucher codes, and the price per extra book was higher than the bundle price, you could provide voucher codes for a discount.
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