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Old 02-07-2007, 01:16 PM   #1
JHeavner
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Subscription model for content

I'm not sure if this has been discussed before but I'm surprised that the Connect Store is "selling" ebooks vs "renting" them. First off, with DRM the idea that we'll be able to access and read our purchases forever seems highly unlikely. Hardware will change, licenses will be lost, and owned content will disappear. The bigger issue is the usage model. I would never purchase an album with the intent of listening to it once but that's exactly what I intend to do with most of the books I purchase. So why not build an all-you-can-eat model where users can download as many books as they want for a monthly fee and just use that marvelous DRM to expire the content after a period of time? Personally I would find it more palatable to read 5 books a month for $15 (and never read them again) than to read 1 book for $15 (but know that it's mine to read as long as I have my reader and the DRM gods smile upon me).
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Old 02-07-2007, 01:56 PM   #2
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They tried renting with Librie. Apparently, it didn't work too well (though they still sell time-limited books on Timebooktown, they're slightly cheaper than unlimited).
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Old 02-07-2007, 01:58 PM   #3
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That's more or less the model that they tried with the Librié (you bought paid for stuff, and it disappeared after 60 days). Of course with the Librié it wasn't a monthly "all you can eat" it was a bi-monthly "buy it again bi-monthly" approach.

It ... wasn't well received.

I don't think I'd go for even the looser variation you've outlined, speaking for myself -- I do too much re-reading.
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Old 02-07-2007, 02:29 PM   #4
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There will always be books that I want to "own" so I can reread. I think my issue is that I don't consider the eInk experience to be as visceral as a traditional hardcover book. I've also discovered that I don't retain information read from my Reader as well as I do from printed media. On the flip side, I find myself more tolerant of material that I might not normally read (and perhaps that's the novelty of the device). Obviously my experiences don't mimic everyone's but my mind goes towards disposable media with this thing. If Sony offered a large library for a monthly fee I could experiment with more authors or not feel obligated to finish something I'm not interested in. Let's face it, even if I had 10,000 books available, the number of titles I can read in a given period doesn't change. I liken it to Napster. I pay $14.95 a month to listen to as much as I can stand. Obviously I can't listen to everything (nor would I want to) but it's a model I'd be more comfortable with until questions like format and DRM and hardware are answered.
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Old 02-07-2007, 03:14 PM   #5
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I enjoyed reading some of the excerpts that were originally loaded on the Reader. I wonder if Sony could make excerpts available - say at 2-3 dollars, deductible from the purchase price if you decide to buy the book. I agree with JHeavner about not needing permanent access to everything you read. I work in a library (at a computer terminal all day), so p-books are in abundance. I find the Reader so much easier on tired eyes than paper. I had been listening to audiobooks before, but found that retention was a problem.
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Old 02-07-2007, 03:44 PM   #6
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There are a number of video clubs and on-line music groups that operate that way. I have avoided them all. For me that is not a viable option.
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Old 02-08-2007, 06:59 AM   #7
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The idea can work - they just need to set the right price point.

Firstly, you should still be able to buy the books outright. Some books I WANT to own and read again at my leisure.

As for "renting", it should work more like a public library. A monthly/annual fee (that shouldn't be exorbitant) and you can "borrow" a book for up to 3 weeks. You can borrow 5 books at once and can borrow more when you "return" them out (i.e., authenticated deletion from your player). Just like at a real library, there are limited number of copies so that for "popular" books, you will have to either wait in a queue (or buy it).

With DRM, the books will automatically "expire" after three weeks so even if you don't "return" them they are no longer readable on your reader (and available again in the "library").

If they get publishers on-board to make a "global" library, the Sony Reader will sell itself.

Regards.
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Old 02-08-2007, 01:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vitualis
As for "renting", it should work more like a public library. A monthly/annual fee (that shouldn't be exorbitant) and you can "borrow" a book for up to 3 weeks. You can borrow 5 books at once and can borrow more when you "return" them out (i.e., authenticated deletion from your player). Just like at a real library, there are limited number of copies so that for "popular" books, you will have to either wait in a queue (or buy it).
That's a good idea. Some book publishers actually do this already, have an online book shelf of which you have a certain amount of "slots". Once you put a book in a slot is has to stay there for a certain amount of time, before you can clear the slot. Of course most of these are for PC reading, not off line. Examples are like O'Riley's Safari and Books24x7 ... Of course, these are more reference oriented and the months about about $40 a month rather than 10/15.

But, I haven't seen any places like this for Fiction books.

BOb
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Old 02-08-2007, 07:09 PM   #9
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Heheh, seems like several people beat me to the punch with the ref to the Librie's failed DRM expiration policy. There is no way that I would ever pay for digital content that expires after a given period, not when I've been used to owning books, magazines, CD's, and DVD's all my life (not including tapes, floppies, VHS, ad nausium...). That is one of the main reasons that the Librie did not take off as expected here in Japan, not to mention Sony's perpetual lack of product for sale - Come on Sony, do better sales forecasting and you'll get less complaints. I talk to many people over here and some have never even heard of the Librie, even when I stopped by Akihabara (supposed Tech-Mecca of the world), none of the shops had even heard of it (Ach!). What does that tell you about marketing?

Anyway, I totally agree with the sample chapters of books; i.e., exerpts, as being good marketing tools. The one issue I take with the previously mentioned suggestion is about charging for it; it should be free for the first chapter or two (depending on the size of the book). Since there is virtually no over head in extracting a brief sampling of a book, no fee should be incurred. I can usually tell if I will like a book or author after the first couple of chapters, which will decide if I'll continue reading it or in this case, want to make the purchase. An excpert should not be so far into the book that you are lost or that it will ruin the story for you in the longrun.

I also like the library concept. Perhaps some day our local libraries, that we support with tax dollars paid whether we use it or not, will support digital content for portable devices. It took them a while, but they eventually moved to CD audiobooks, so maybe this isn't too far into the future.

I think ultimately the issue is with expiration of content and loaner programs is that the publishers are still concerned with the strength of their DRM, which they should be, as it's only a matter of time before its hacked, cracked, or owned by those pesky kids with too much time on their hands.
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Old 02-09-2007, 10:46 AM   #10
JHeavner
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I used to hold on to magazines until I moved and had to haul hundreds of pounds of paper to the dumpster. There's no way I would keep any of that now. The thing is, as long as you're paying your subscription, your content doesn't have to expire. If you need to reference a periodical you read three years ago you just download it again. The idea of the consumer maintaining space, either physically or virtually, to store media/content is illogical. The basic usage pattern, for me, is I know I want to watch a program, listen to a song, read a book and I want access to that media no matter where I am or what I'm doing. I guess I could schlep it around with me but I'd much rather let someone else handle the storage and I just take what I need and when I need. The simple fact is that under our current system, none of us own any of the content (unless we've created it ourselves). Even if you have a physical book in your possession you are just licensing the use of it. Granted, none of the distribution models I've seen thus far are that great but they do continue to improve. I just don't understand why I'd want to pay for something to "own" it on a medium that won't exist in 5-10 years. In 25 years does anyone really expect to have a book purchased from the Connect Store in a still readable format? It's yours, you paid for it, but unless you have a piece of hardware that still supports it (and Sony is a leader is long-lasting formats) you are out of luck. I know people that have DVD collections they paid over $10,000 to attain. In 10 years they are going to have the equivalent of a bunch of 8-tracks cassettes. With the rate of technological change we need to figure out a distribution model that works, not hang on to outdated methodologies.
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