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Old 08-13-2005, 08:12 PM   #1
Colin Dunstan
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DRM on digital textbooks eased - and still they didn't learn

When Alex broke the news on Princeton University Store offering crippled electronic textbooks, he probably didn't know how much of an impact it would have on the pilot project. Skepticism arose in various follow-ups where folks showed little sympathy for the ludicrous DRM scheme used in the project ("textbook activation expires after 5 months, ..."). Now a few days later, according to C|Net, some of the DRM restrictions have been eased somewhat:

Quote:
The downloads will now last from 12 months to an unlimited time, depending on the publisher... MBS also said Friday that publishers have agreed to loosen restrictions on how much of a book could be printed and how often. That too will vary by publisher.
To coin Lenin's phrase, this is one step forward, two steps back. Textbook publishers apparently do not learn from their mistakes. Rightfully purchased e-books are ours to keep indefinitely, not just for five or twelve months. Come on, if I buy a traditional paper book, do I have to worry that it'll blow up in a cloud of smoke in a couple of months?
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Old 08-14-2005, 07:42 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin Dunstan
To coin Lenin's phrase, this is one step forward, two steps back.
Remembering back to college... (hold on, this may take a few moments 8-))

The majority of books that I bought were used for 1 class and then resold - usually for 1/2 of what I paid for them. So a book that is usable for only 1 class time that costs less is a good idea.

However....

The price is too high. If I only get 33% off, I still make out better by buying the paper one and reselling it for 50% less.

Then the DRM (yes, I know you heard this more than once or twice from me). Current DRM technologies don't lock the book to you. It locks it to a device, credit card, etc. (i.e. something that you may change). I don't have the DRM details, but let's assume it locks it to your laptop and your laptop gets drenched by beer in last night's party. So you get a new laptop. All of a sudden, you have to buy all your eBooks again - or go through alot of hassles proving that you did indeed buy what you paid for once.

Then we have the issue of the books you keep. I kept certain books from college for many years after graduating. Obviously we don't want these to expire - and would be willing to pay full price for these. But the DRM issue raises its ugly head. 10 years from now, will the reader ('cuz it will be a proprietary technology) be able to run on the OS of choice 10 years from now? (Yes, 10 years after graduating college, I still had a few text books that I used for reference.) Probably not.

I know what they want to get to. I like the idea of having all my text books in an electronic form on a device that weighs less than a single text book. I like the idea of putting an end to the bookstore shortages that always happen. I like the idea of paying less for college textbooks.

But they still aren't even close to the mark. To be closer they need to change a few things:
1. If they stay with DRM, they need to lock the book to the person. I really don't know how to solve this one.
2. Price: There is no excuse for anything over 25% of what paper books cost. None whatsoever. The user pays the price of the reader software and the device. So all we are paying for is content - which is a small part of what a paper book costs. If they stick with DRM, less than that.
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Old 08-15-2005, 01:53 PM   #3
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Add to this who point of context.

They (the publishers) are providing the substinence, while I (the enduser) am providing the capacity and storage (basically, the book ends and the binding and the paper, etc).

They want me to fork out HOW much?

This term comes to mind: Bite Me.

Rlauzon is quite correct, that financially speaking from the student's point of view, it's WAY more effective to still buy the hardcovers and resell what you don't want later on. The price, restrictions and overall hassle from these guys just aren't worth the effort.
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