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Old 06-06-2008, 03:23 PM   #16
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ah. yes, then he has ALMOST everything right. didn't notice that detail...
Welllll, to be fair a lot of the books are specifically about doing things on Macintosh systems. While I suppose it would be nice to read it in Mobipocket on your Blackberry, it's probably more practical to have it on your Mac so you can try things out.

The other reason they do it is because the books can be dynamically updated. You gotta admit that's a pretty cool feature.
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Old 06-06-2008, 05:16 PM   #17
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Giving your customers what they want at a reasonable price? What kind of silly business model is that?

The problem is that people don't value ebooks so you can't just give people everything they want, they won't respect you in the morning. It's important to work a bit. Go through a lengthy registration process with terms and conditions. Enter mysterious codes into the web site. Tell people this is how it works and if you don't like it take a hike. When I see messages like "sorry you're not authorized to open this" or "sorry could not contact the authorization server" my eyes like up. Now this must be a book worthy of reading.
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Old 06-06-2008, 05:27 PM   #18
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Or, it's just playing hard-to-get, enticing you to spend all that time and money, making you go through multiple screens and expose your personal data, then refusing to give you access to what you paid for...

...uh...

...were we talking about e-books?
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Old 06-06-2008, 08:26 PM   #19
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Too bad all his books are only published in PDF.
That's probably what kills the pirate market stone dead, right there. Most people will look at that and go "yeah, right". To be usable you first have to convert the book to a decent format, making it nigh on impossible to track pirate copies.

That said, there are sites that scan and build pdfs-of-images of stuff like readers digest, and that continues to amaze me.
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Old 06-06-2008, 09:13 PM   #20
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Many people think that a stolen copy is a lost sale, when many pirates are just collectors and would not have purchased the copy under any circumstance. I know someone who downloaded 300 CDs worth of MP3 music. He not only would not have bought them, he COULD not have bought them. I am sure he has not listened to them all either. I don't know how anyone would calculate the "lost revenue" from something that wouldn't have generated any revenue in the first place because no one knows which copies were a lost opportunity. Even if we adopt "Social DRM", that part will be stripped out and on the net before the ink in dry. I also think we need to refuse to buy any book that doesn't absolutely state up front whether is is crippled with DRM or not. Sort of like marking our food as non-GMO, no?
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Old 06-06-2008, 10:02 PM   #21
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That's probably what kills the pirate market stone dead, right there. Most people will look at that and go "yeah, right". To be usable you first have to convert the book to a decent format, making it nigh on impossible to track pirate copies.
I don't think most people are as picky as this as you're assuming, particularly about technical books, where diagrams and placement of text elements may be significant. I think their piracy rates are not affected much by the fact their books are in PDF.
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Old 06-07-2008, 02:52 AM   #22
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Many people think that a stolen copy is a lost sale, when many pirates are just collectors and would not have purchased the copy under any circumstance. I know someone who downloaded 300 CDs worth of MP3 music. He not only would not have bought them, he COULD not have bought them. I am sure he has not listened to them all either. I don't know how anyone would calculate the "lost revenue" from something that wouldn't have generated any revenue in the first place because no one knows which copies were a lost opportunity. Even if we adopt "Social DRM", that part will be stripped out and on the net before the ink in dry. I also think we need to refuse to buy any book that doesn't absolutely state up front whether is is crippled with DRM or not. Sort of like marking our food as non-GMO, no?
I totally agree. Folks get so concerned with keeping these people from having the content for free (even though they likely never use it) that they punish all the people who are happy to pay a reasonable price and do a reasonable amount of work for it. With books they seem to be trying to either recoup imaginary losses or possibly just discourage ebooks altogether with exorbitant prices. The more they charge, the more likely customers that are ethically malleable about the whole thing will just download and use the price gouging as an excuse. Look at Baen's. They have a geeky client base who know full well how to get stuff off the darknets yet they manage to sell books at a reasonable price, DRM-free without theft being a big issue. If they think charging too much will keep ebooks from becoming common, they've got their heads in the sand. It will happen whether they want it to or not. The only question is where their publishing house will be.
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Old 06-07-2008, 09:50 AM   #23
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I totally agree. Folks get so concerned with keeping these people from having the content for free (even though they likely never use it) that they punish all the people who are happy to pay a reasonable price and do a reasonable amount of work for it.
True... but this is business nature, the idea being to shame the thieves for ruining the ride for everyone, and simultaneously to encourage honest people to "blow the whistle" on violators, so they can be dealt with... all the while requiring no special effort on their behalf.

It reminds me of some frustrating moments on our Metro subway: Occasionally, a car can get so stuffed with people that the operators cannot close the doors. Verbal warnings are issued by the driver, including: "If this car cannot be secured, this entire train will be taken out of service."

With a warning like that, you'd think the people on the train might take action to tell crowders to get off. Yet despite the warning, people continue to press in, and people already in do not force them back out as they need to... with the result that the car is declared out of service, everyone on every car must exit, and the train leaves (becoming an absolutely empty car for the next stop).

And now people from that emptied train... including those who boarded early, and did not contribute to the problem... must crowd onto the next train, like the rest of the ne'er-do-wells.

For businesses, knee-jerk reactions to small threats is considered the easy way to deal with the problem. A tougher way would be to station guards at every car, with the authority to block boardres and even yank crowders out, so the car can function. But no one likes to see guards... they'd like to see everything function as it should, on its own, in their nice little idealized world. So the lazy business lets them have what they want, and you get over-reaction to small threats.

In most transactions, consumer cooperation is as important as seller cooperation. Consumers have to agree to abide the seller's rules, and not to make it easy for others to steal from the seller (and ruin the ride). That often means putting up with some security, or becoming part of the security... not aiding thieves.

The e-book industry is having a hard time hitting that security point, because the bulk of e-book consumers want no security, and they do not want to "rat out" darknet users or cooperate with steps that would hinder the darknet's efficiency. Historically, markets like this can't function, because the seller eventually gives up and goes away (usually to a more reasonable market).

the iTunes system demonstrates a system where consumers, accepting some security (DRM), have allowed a seller to prosper, while keeping the damage done by thieves to a perceived minimum. That's why we keep coming back to it as an example, and it's a good one. It takes realistic market forces into account, and applies security at an effective level to ensure satisfied customers and profitable business.

When e-book customers decide the security applied by sellers is acceptable to them, they will buy, and sellers will not lose so much sleep over perceived or actual losses.

(Came out a bit long, didn't it? Thus endeth the Saturday morning lecture.)
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Old 06-07-2008, 10:27 AM   #24
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Quote:
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When e-book customers decide the security applied by sellers is acceptable to them, they will buy, and sellers will not lose so much sleep over perceived or actual losses.
One cannot "buy" a "secure" eBook. I thought we'd been over this many, many times.

The "security" you are talking about is not against pirates - they scoff at the security. The only thing that a "secure" eBook is secured against is unauthorized use by customers.

The vendor controls what the customer can/cannot do with the eBook and if the customer wants to do something that is legal but unapproved, he can't. This means that the most the customer gets from paying money for a "secure" eBook is a very limited license to read the eBook for a limited period of time.

Buyers will not go for this. So long as sellers feel the need to "secure" their eBooks, eBook piracy will continue.

Did I mention that Cory Doctorow's latest book - Little Brother - which is available under a Creative Commons license, free of charge, as an eBook - is now in its second printing and is now in its fourth week on the New York Times Bestseller list?
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Old 06-07-2008, 11:04 AM   #25
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One cannot "buy" a "secure" eBook. I thought we'd been over this many, many times.
Don't start... The "security" I'm talking about can be as simple as a buyer registration. And it does not have to limit an owner's ability to cross-convert to other formats or limit the number of devices you can use.

I think we're all aware of how much you loathe even the minimalist security used by iTunes and similar sites... but the fact of the matter is, iTunes demonstrates how an effective balance between security, customer satisfaction and sales can be struck. So don't act as if the task is impossible or doomed to failure. That's ignoring the realities of the situation.

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The vendor controls what the customer can/cannot do with the eBook and if the customer wants to do something that is legal but unapproved, he can't.
This is actually common to many markets and products (cellphones, automobiles, software, cable TV), but it hasn't stopped people from buying and using them, because--and this is key--they see how the advantages of having the product outweigh the disadvantages of going without. Many products are bought and sold daily that satisfy that simple equation. Even with security, e-books could also satisfy that equation.
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Old 06-07-2008, 12:58 PM   #26
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This is actually common to many markets and products (cellphones, automobiles, software, cable TV), but it hasn't stopped people from buying and using them, because--and this is key--they see how the advantages of having the product outweigh the disadvantages of going without. Many products are bought and sold daily that satisfy that simple equation. Even with security, e-books could also satisfy that equation.
When print books do not have those disadvantages, why would people switch to e-books? Adding hurdles to adoption a new product that is not in that much demand...
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Old 06-07-2008, 01:01 PM   #27
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When print books do not have those disadvantages, why would people switch to e-books?
Personally, as I've said before on a number of occasions, because of their saving in storage space. I'd happily pay the same price for an eBook as for a paperback due to the simple fact that the eBook using none of my valued (and restricted) storage space.
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Old 06-07-2008, 01:48 PM   #28
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Personally, as I've said before on a number of occasions, because of their saving in storage space. I'd happily pay the same price for an eBook as for a paperback due to the simple fact that the eBook using none of my valued (and restricted) storage space.
But you said you rented most books to read and throw away so why do storage space matter?
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Old 06-07-2008, 01:50 PM   #29
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Personally, as I've said before on a number of occasions, because of their saving in storage space. I'd happily pay the same price for an eBook as for a paperback due to the simple fact that the eBook using none of my valued (and restricted) storage space.
Sure - there are people who appreciate a lot what e-books offer, and sometimes you pay more for convenience in a way or another, but my point is general - why would millions of people switch?

Or, maybe even more to the point, why put more hurdles in front of them?
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Old 06-07-2008, 03:26 PM   #30
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http://news.cnet.com/8301-13556_3-9961850-61.html
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