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Old 08-05-2005, 05:21 PM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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Princeton University goes digital - the wrong way

We admire Princeton not only for its beautiful campus and its myriad of creative minds, but also for its courage to embrace new technologies. Starting in the fall semester, the school will offer digital textbooks to its students in partnership with Missouri-based MBS Textbook Exchange Inc and various textbook publishers. The student only needs to pick up a barcoded textbook card (see attached screenshot), activate it at the cash register for usually 33 percent less than the new-book price, and go online for a one-time download of the textbook in PDF format.

Alas, the e-books are encoded in DRM which pretty much spoils the potential success of this pilot project:
  • Textbook is locked to the computer where you downloaded it from;
  • Copying and burning to CD is prohibited;
  • Printing is limited to small passages;
  • Unless otherwise stated, textbook activation expires after 5 months (*gasp*);
  • Activated textbooks are not returnable;
  • Buyback is not possible.

If this hasn't scared you off already, click here to read the rest in the press release.
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Old 08-05-2005, 05:28 PM   #2
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Um, so keeping a "collection" of your college text books (which I do, even after 12 years) ... itsn't a possibility if you do the digital route via this method.

That sucks. I'd not participate. I do NOT like to waste my time and money, and that is exactly what this is. What brainiac thought of this plan?! Why the heck aren't they living here on earth with the rest of us, so they can get a CLUE!
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Old 08-06-2005, 09:04 PM   #3
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This is a joke, isn't it? Why would anyone sane in his mind (especially at Princeton U) spent ANY money on a product that expires in five months?? This doesn't make sense. You get more back by selling used textbooks than you save by buying the electronic editions.

Silly people.
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Old 08-06-2005, 11:47 PM   #4
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Crack that sucker

You paid for the use of the book. The fact that there are all of these stipulations is crazy. I would just crack the pdf. PDF encryption is a joke now a days anyways.
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Old 08-07-2005, 07:22 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Haze
You paid for the use of the book. The fact that there are all of these stipulations is crazy. I would just crack the pdf. PDF encryption is a joke now a days anyways.
That would be the best under fair use. However, if the files are protected with some 3rd party security plug-in such as FileOpen (FOPN_fLock), it won't be that easy to crack the PDF.
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Old 08-08-2005, 05:59 AM   #6
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With all the things they are doing wrong in regard to DRM, this pilot project reads like a sly campaign by someone who is against e-books.
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Old 08-08-2005, 07:16 PM   #7
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Small update I found via Freedom to Tinker:

It's the Princeton University Store, a bookstore that is located on the edge of the campus but is not affiliated with the University, who will be the entity offering DRMed textbooks.

Not that it would make a big difference in regard to how these textbooks are introduced (DRM), but at least it puts Princeton's name into a better picture again

More: http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/?p=881
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Old 08-10-2005, 02:47 PM   #8
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It's on Slashdot now:

http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/08/10/008228
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Old 08-10-2005, 05:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Alas, the e-books are encoded in DRM which pretty much spoils the potential success of this pilot project:

* Textbook is locked to the computer where you downloaded it from;
* Copying and burning to CD is prohibited;
* Printing is limited to small passages;
* Unless otherwise stated, textbook activation expires after 5 months (*gasp*);
* Activated textbooks are not returnable;
* Buyback is not possible.
just to clarify a bit:

1) drm was requested by the publishers for protection of their intellectual property. these publishers were invited to participate in the pilot program developed by mbs.

2) yes, the textbook will be locked to a single computer. that software, however, does allow for backups and unlimited printing (with a few exceptions). also, in the case of crashes, technical support will be available for those that have purchased these ebooks to allow for a second download.

3) yes, drm will prevent copying to secondary saving devices or tools as requested by the publishers.

4) the five month activation only applies to specific books which are being discontinued and no longer published. some ebooks, at the publishers request again, are set to a minimum of 5 months activation.

5) true, ebooks will not be returnable.

6) again, yes, no buybacks. think about it for a second. if you decide to purchase a book for full price at $50.00, that's what you pay. the ebook would only run you $33.50. if you're short on cash, that seems like a good option. you can use the $16.50 for food or whatever you like. at the end of the semester, you'd be lucky to get 50% of what you paid anyway, and sure, there are bookstores that offer that. still, for most students, you get anywhere from 25-50% of the full purchased price. some, people lose some money, others benefit from it.

i think what most people are forgetting is that students have a choice now. for those that have the laptops and prefer ebooks, well, you have the choice to buy ebooks instead at a much lower cost. if you prefer to buy the actual book, well, go right ahead, they will still be there.
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Old 08-10-2005, 06:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered
i think what most people are forgetting is that students have a choice now. for those that have the laptops and prefer ebooks, well, you have the choice to buy ebooks instead at a much lower cost. if you prefer to buy the actual book, well, go right ahead, they will still be there.
True they've got a choice and the fact that e-books are even considered is the best aspect of the pilot program!

Alas, for the remaining points, I just don't understand why it shouldn't be possible to sell an e-book once you don't need it anymore. After all, I paid for the book, it is my property, and shouldn't I be able to decide whether to sell it or not?
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Old 08-12-2005, 10:25 AM   #11
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i think people need to take it into perspective that this is just the pilot program. what this means is that they are in the process of testing the program and everything that encompasses it. tad, i think you have a valid point and am anxious to see the results of this pilot.
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Old 08-12-2005, 03:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered
just to clarify a bit:

1) drm was requested by the publishers for protection of their intellectual property. these publishers were invited to participate in the pilot program developed by mbs.

2) yes, the textbook will be locked to a single computer. that software, however, does allow for backups and unlimited printing (with a few exceptions). also, in the case of crashes, technical support will be available for those that have purchased these ebooks to allow for a second download.

3) yes, drm will prevent copying to secondary saving devices or tools as requested by the publishers.

4) the five month activation only applies to specific books which are being discontinued and no longer published. some ebooks, at the publishers request again, are set to a minimum of 5 months activation.

5) true, ebooks will not be returnable.

6) again, yes, no buybacks. think about it for a second. if you decide to purchase a book for full price at $50.00, that's what you pay. the ebook would only run you $33.50. if you're short on cash, that seems like a good option. you can use the $16.50 for food or whatever you like. at the end of the semester, you'd be lucky to get 50% of what you paid anyway, and sure, there are bookstores that offer that. still, for most students, you get anywhere from 25-50% of the full purchased price. some, people lose some money, others benefit from it.

i think what most people are forgetting is that students have a choice now. for those that have the laptops and prefer ebooks, well, you have the choice to buy ebooks instead at a much lower cost. if you prefer to buy the actual book, well, go right ahead, they will still be there.

Yes. True, a lot of the stuff put in here are the things requested by the PUBLISHERS. I also understand that it's a PILOT program. Frankly, I'd give them my feedback and tell 'em to stick it back in the printing press. I'd stick with the Hardcover paper books since I don't have to worry about the doggone crap DRM restrictions.

Let me make an enduser point here: AS A CUSTOMER, it is NOT MY JOB to work with a HELP Desk. Doing so takes MY VALUABLE time away from doing other things in my life. As such, Anything that means that the only way out of a bad situation is to call a help desk is to be avoided. In the case of the DRM scheme above, these kids have way too much other stuff to do (studying, etc) to have to deal with the crap ebooks limiting them to only (1) one computer, (2) one download, (3) Only being able to keep/use the ebook for 5 months (as per request of publisher).

As I've mentioned before, I've kept 75% of my hard cover books from when I went through College. I have found them on occassion to come in handy STILL! Why on God's Green Earth would I want to take AWAY THAT VALUABLE RESOURCE?!?!?!?!?!?!? This is just mind numbingly stupid as far as Restrictions (DRM) go!

/walks off the soapbox/
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Old 08-12-2005, 10:06 PM   #13
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As a student once myself, I know how much to value the benefit of having access to my old school textbooks. I actually keep a few of them at my work place, where I can lookup important topics whenever I need to refresh my minds. So now publishers want to take this away from students by creating this b-i-z-a-r-r-e DRM scheme?

Based on what reasoning do electronic textbooks have to expire after a certain time?
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Old 09-03-2005, 07:12 PM   #14
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Dailypenn paper has a follow-up to this story:
http://www.dailypennsylvanian.com/vn.../43163c51c22f2

Quote:
"I will not plan on buying any kind of electronic textbook." Johnson [a Princeton sophomore] said. She disagrees with MBS' policy of restricting textbook material after the completion of the course. "If you pay for it, it should be yours. That's information open to you, especially if you're buying books for your major."

Likewise, some Penn students do not seem to be heartbroken about the lack of e-books at Penn.
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Old 07-01-2008, 03:55 PM   #15
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So... Any news about the results of this "pilot" program?

Did they conclude that students don't like eBooks?
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