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Old 07-13-2008, 01:51 AM   #1
PressEnter
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ebooks, buying it in paper and worrying about it

Here's a question: I got a sony reader a couple of weeks back and it's great. Just great. I love it, but I love my paper books too. I love them both in the way a 19th Century landscape artist would love this new invention called 'the camera' if he was sensible about it.

I want to support the format by buying, say, ebooks. But what I really want - and what a lot of you seem to want too - is to buy the physical book so we can stick it on our shelves, but read it either entirely or in part on an ereader. I was about to buy an ebook for (surprisingly) quite a bit less than it would have cost me new in paperback, thereby doing my bit to support the ebook market.

Then I realised I could download it off mIRC for free, but purchase the hardback for literally pennies second-hand from Amazon at an even greater saving.

That way I would have the book both in paper and in electronic form, for really not very much at all: yet the hardback would be second-hand, meaning the publishers nor the author would presumably see a penny of the money from my purchase.

Is it more morally right to just buy the ebook, something I can't loan out to friends (none of whom have ebook readers), despite the fact that a substantial portion of my existing paper collection is also second-hand? Or am I the only one who worries about these things?
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Old 07-13-2008, 04:32 AM   #2
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i work hard to spread my reading dollars between ebooks and paper, and between booksonboard and fictionwise as well as local brick and mortar books stores and amazon. i like the idea of supporting them all

it isn't that hard since a lot of the books i love - like michelle west's books and the modesty blaise and peter whimsey novels - aren't available in an e-format yet anyway.
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Old 07-13-2008, 06:10 AM   #3
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Or am I the only one who worries about these things?
far from it. i think a lot of people at least think about these things, and probably it keeps at least a few of them up at night.

i also tend to think about this sort of question, but as basschick says a lot of the books i want to read aren't yet available in e-format. (including the Lord Peter Wimsey series, yes).

in France this dilemma is somewhat less pronounced, since publishers here are still shuffling their feet over ebooks for the most part, which is really frustrating ; we have the possibility to read ebooks, but we have no ebooks to read. (ok, we have a few. but really not as many as english speakers.)

for example, there's a new book out by an author i really love, Fred Vargas. "Great !" i thought to myself, "i'll get it in e-version !" heh, think again : not available. i wrote to the publisher about this but so far i've gotten no reply.

so yesterday i bought it in paper (without even waiting for the less expensive next printing, or trying to get it at the library !). and i admit that as i was in my small, privately-owned, friendly local bookshop just 2 streets from my house, i felt a little twinge about wishing that i could get all those books in digital formats, and was glad to be buying something to support them.

on the other hand, i still wish i could have that book in e-version.

however i for one absolutely don't want every single book i own in paper, on the contrary ; some specific ones yes, but in fact i'm trying to get rid of as many old paperbacks as i can as i find them in digital format. my appartment is tiny, and i just don't know where to put them anymore.
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Old 07-13-2008, 08:29 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by PressEnter View Post
Here's a question: I got a sony reader a couple of weeks back and it's great. Just great. I love it, but I love my paper books too. I love them both in the way a 19th Century landscape artist would love this new invention called 'the camera' if he was sensible about it.

I want to support the format by buying, say, ebooks. But what I really want - and what a lot of you seem to want too - is to buy the physical book so we can stick it on our shelves, but read it either entirely or in part on an ereader. I was about to buy an ebook for (surprisingly) quite a bit less than it would have cost me new in paperback, thereby doing my bit to support the ebook market.

Then I realised I could download it off mIRC for free, but purchase the hardback for literally pennies second-hand from Amazon at an even greater saving.

That way I would have the book both in paper and in electronic form, for really not very much at all: yet the hardback would be second-hand, meaning the publishers nor the author would presumably see a penny of the money from my purchase.

Is it more morally right to just buy the ebook, something I can't loan out to friends (none of whom have ebook readers), despite the fact that a substantial portion of my existing paper collection is also second-hand? Or am I the only one who worries about these things?
It's not even morally justifiable as the author make NO money at all. The only way to possibly morally justify this is to purchase the pBook brand new where the author gets paid. What you are doing is buying second-hand and then stealing the eBook. Now what you could do that would be a really good idea is to purchase the pBook second hand and also purchase the eBook. That way you have the pBook and the eBook and the author gets paid for the eBook and it helps eBook sales and the more that happens, the better it is for eBooks overall.
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Old 07-13-2008, 09:51 AM   #5
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I think there needs to be a little clarification on this particular issue. If I for instance buy a second hand book and also download a copy of it, is it any more stealing than if I simply buy a second hand book? That is, at which point does it become stealing, and how and why is it any more stealing than the purchase of a second hand book which you at least pay money for (and which money may be used by the person receiving it to buy more books themselves)?

Perhaps money was exchanged for the book, but perhaps it (say) was given me by a friend who didn't want it any more. Am I then stealing that book? But how can that be the case, if the publishing industry quite literally relies (at least in terms of fiction) on people doing precisely that?

Taken at face, many things we do can be called 'stealing'. Mix-tapes, and I'm sure many other things. We've all watched a movie in a friend's house. Are we stealing the movie? And so forth.

Picture this: you're sitting in your house with a book you just got second-hand. You read it. This is a common and accepted practice, and even Jeff Bezos claimed second-hand books were a good and even necessary part of the industry when he introduced the Amazon marketplace. A person who buys a book (as he said) has the right to sell that copy on and make a profit the publisher never sees.

Now say that your computer is to one side of you and you know you can read that very same book in your hands instantly off the screen. Physical second-hand copy, paid for with money: and an electronic version right there on the screen.

Say also that perhaps you're a student, or someone otherwise of limited means (hence buying second hand). If you read it off the screen and it's wrong, then doesn't that imply we should also cease buying second hand books?

I think there are some very interesting philosophical questions worth asking, especially in the light of the experience of the music industry.

It has been suggested elsewhere that rather than being detrimental to the music industry, online file-sharing actually kept that industry out of a slump it would invariably have fallen into long before, if file-sharers hadn't suddenly had access to a wealth of material they might otherwise never have heard. We're at a point where the technology increasingly available within a related industry - ie e-ink and book publishing - is casting a very bright light on some of the things we've taken for granted up until now - like loaning books, borrowing books or buying them second-hand. For instance - is it possible the increased availability of electronic texts, whether or not they're paid for, will create a boost in the publishing industry in the way that it has been claimed the music industry was boosted by online file-sharing?

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Old 07-13-2008, 10:09 AM   #6
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i think these are all valid questions and you're right to be thinking about them. they've been discussed here before, and surely will be again... there is not really a black and white answer so far, i think, since people tend to amalgamate these questions with copyright infringement questions and both ethically and legally opinions diverge quite radically sometimes.

personally, i consider format shifting to fall under fair use (that is, if i have a cd, and i want to listen to it on my mp3 player, then i see no harm in ripping it to do just that). given that, if i've bought a book in paper which i would like to have in digital format, i think it would be perfectly reasonably to scan the book and create an e version. now, where the arguments tend to get rather more tortuous, is whether this can be extended to downloading a book instead of spending the time and effort to make the scan yourself. personally, i tend to believe it can, *particularly* so if the book is not available as an ebook, which is the case for many many books. others disagree, and feel that if you want the same content in a different format, you should pay for it twice.

for the moment, i think it really comes down to what you can legally do in whatever country you live in and also what you consider to be morally acceptable. i hope that when ebooks start to become more mainstream, we'll find satisfactory answers to all these questions (which hopefully will include the availability of all titles as ebooks).

there have been a few threads recently discussing the difference between content and container, and discussing possible new models for the publishing industry. i'll see if i can dig them up.

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Old 07-13-2008, 10:12 AM   #7
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here's one you might find interesting :
Paper books to come with free e-copies?
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Old 07-13-2008, 10:26 AM   #8
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Thanks Zelda.

It should be said I just purchase the aforementioned book I wanted from booksonboard.com - and only after I'd paid for it was told I couldn't download it unless I have internet explorer. And ereader.

I have a mac laptop. I feel like punching somebody. Hard.
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Old 07-13-2008, 10:28 AM   #9
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Thanks Zelda.

It should be said I just purchase the aforementioned book I wanted from booksonboard.com - and only after I'd paid for it was told I couldn't download it unless I have internet explorer. And ereader.

I have a mac laptop. I feel like punching somebody. Hard.
ooh. i'm sorry for you, i would feel like that too. i was pretty annoyed when i learned that myself, and i *do* have ie, i just prefer to stay as far away from it as possible. have you tried contacting them, to see whether there is any way to be refunded / switch to a format you could have access to ?

(and people wonder why so many people download files on file-sharing sites...)
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Old 07-13-2008, 10:40 AM   #10
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I did send them a very stiff email requesting either a mobipocket version or a refund, yes. I await their reply with considerable interest.
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Old 07-13-2008, 10:46 AM   #11
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let us know what they say.
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Old 07-13-2008, 01:04 PM   #12
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Here's a question: I got a sony reader a couple of weeks back and it's great. Just great. I love it, but I love my paper books too. I love them both in the way a 19th Century landscape artist would love this new invention called 'the camera' if he was sensible about it.

I want to support the format by buying, say, ebooks. But what I really want - and what a lot of you seem to want too - is to buy the physical book so we can stick it on our shelves, but read it either entirely or in part on an ereader. I was about to buy an ebook for (surprisingly) quite a bit less than it would have cost me new in paperback, thereby doing my bit to support the ebook market.

Then I realised I could download it off mIRC for free, but purchase the hardback for literally pennies second-hand from Amazon at an even greater saving.

That way I would have the book both in paper and in electronic form, for really not very much at all: yet the hardback would be second-hand, meaning the publishers nor the author would presumably see a penny of the money from my purchase.

Is it more morally right to just buy the ebook, something I can't loan out to friends (none of whom have ebook readers), despite the fact that a substantial portion of my existing paper collection is also second-hand? Or am I the only one who worries about these things?

Morals are an entirely subjective matter. The law, however, is a more objective limit on your rights to do certain things. With physical books, the author and the publisher make their profit the first time the book is sold. The rights of use transfer with the original purchaser. It is legal to purchase books second hand. That's why there are second hand bookstores.

It is, however, illegal to download materials still in copyright from a file sharing site that does not employ DRM and does not pay the appropriate fees to the publisher and author. Assuming that your book is not public domain or otherwise free of copyrights, then downloading it from mIRC is quite illegal.

I am one of those people who has quite enough pbooks. I have an entire library full of them .... that I must dust and otherwise just take up space. I don't care if I ever purchase another pbook. However, if you like to have both, then purchase the pbook secondhand and buy the ebook from a reputable source.
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Old 07-13-2008, 01:09 PM   #13
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here's one you might find interesting :
Paper books to come with free e-copies?
Yes, I suggested this quite a while ago on this forum.

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Old 07-13-2008, 01:19 PM   #14
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Is it more morally right to just buy the ebook, something I can't loan out to friends (none of whom have ebook readers), despite the fact that a substantial portion of my existing paper collection is also second-hand? Or am I the only one who worries about these things?
There's morality and legality... and many times the twain don't meet.

Case in point... When Deathly Hollows came out I bought 5 copies... one for each member of the family, plus the Audiobook CD set. (Yes my fam are Harry Potter lovers.)

I knew it would not be available as an eBook thanks to JK Rawling thinking it would be pirated (guess what, it was pirated anyway).

Anyhow... am I "moral" right to download the pirated ebook version of that book since I bought 5 hardcovers and 1 audio version of it. Sure... I wouldn't fret none, and I did buy it too.

But, legally I'm sure I would still have been in violation of the copyright.

Now, if I scanned to book and made my own electronic form of it? I'm not sure if that is legal or not since it wouldn't really have been "only for archival purposes". But, morally I wouldn't see a problem with it.

I think this is one of the main problems publishers and authors have with eBooks. With paper books I'm pretty sure it has been upheld that they can be sold after use. Of course, the publisher/author get no money for this sale. But, at least you know that each printing of the book can only be read by one person at a time. Also, while it isn't much work to by a used copy of most books these days they usually don't cost that much less than a new copy... and face it, most peole like shinny new better than dingy used.

But, eBooks are very easy to transfer/sell used. (Even if you legitamately deleted your copy when you "sold" it.) The "used" file is just as pristine and new as the new file. It is very easy to use... why not save 20% when it is just as good as new?

This is why if the publishers want to change the rules and you pay per read or per person or whatever they really need to adjust the price. It may actually work better in the long run. Imagine if every person that reads that Harry Potter book that get passed around a family/office/whatever had to pay say $5 to read it.

Anyway... here I am posting to another thread that never ends. Why do I do it?

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Old 07-13-2008, 10:12 PM   #15
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Booksonboard.com were very good, actually, about switching formats, so I could download the mobipocket version.

Which I apparently am now unable to load on my sony 500 because it's riddled with DRM.

I tried downloading something called mobidedrm, but I don't know what to do with it (on my mac laptop). I do have calibre, but that's how I found out I couldn't put it on.
And nobody mention anything about 'command lines' or I'm out of here. To me, 'command lines' are what people shout at each other in Apocalypse Now or The Longest Day, and I'm happy in my ignorance. Is there any goddamned way to get the book I legally paid for to work on my Sony reader?

Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable. Do you know what this kind of lack of technological foresight reminds me of? That old, old law that required a man holding a warning flag to walk in front of any and every automobile in case someone got run over; in other words, something so overwhelmingly idiotic as to make the jaw drop.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, DRM is the best advert file-sharing ever had.
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