Please Mr. Bezos, may I have some more gruel?

| Comments (4) | Gear
While I love my Kindle, it does have some annoying features. The most annoying feature, as I've mentioned before, is the lack of a touch screen. However, nearly as annoying is that while you can read books on any Kindle you own, they're completely tied to your account. Seeing as the price of Kindle books is often nearly as high as the price of the corresponding paper book, this seems like a pretty significant drawback. Now, Amazon is apparently relaxing this restriction, but only fractionally:
Second, later this year, we will be introducing lending for Kindle, a new feature that lets you loan your Kindle books to other Kindle device or Kindle app users. Each book can be lent once for a loan period of 14-days and the lender cannot read the book during the loan period. Additionally, not all e-books will be lendable - this is solely up to the publisher or rights holder, who determines which titles are enabled for lending.

Now, I'm not saying I wasn't fully aware that Kindle books weren't transferable when I bought my Kindle and willing buyer/willing seller and all that. However, with that said I will observe that this is a pretty small concession (apparently it matches the behavior of the Nook). Kindle books would be a lot more like real books if I could lend them out permanently or at least semi-permanently.1 The analogous restriction would be that only one person could have the book attached to their Kindle account at once. That's still a pretty big pile of DRM, but at least in my case it would make me a lot more willing to shell out for Kindle books.

1. Digression: The early programming language implementation, "Turbo Pascal" was distributed on a "just like a book" basis, in which you were allowed to use it on multiple computers as long as there was no chance of it being used in two places at once."

4 Comments

Like Jobs before him - Bezos is being unfairly criticized here. Its the publishers not only charging idiotic prices for content but imposing other restrictions. Take your outrage out of them.

Well, I'm not sure I'm criticizing Bezos at all. Regardless of who's fault it is, this isn't that great a deal.

With that said, I'm unconvinced that this is entirely out of Bezos's control. First, as I noted in the original post, the Nook has had lending for a year or so, so why did it take Amazon so long to bring it to the Kindle. Second, Amazon has been able to squeeze the offered prices for Kindle books down very substantially in some cases, so it's not at all clear to me they wouldn't have enough leverage to force the publishers to accept less strict lending terms.

Looks like my prediction back on August 14 is coming true, I predict future improvements to this policy that will leverage the graph.

You could totally build an FB app that tracked lendings and didn't let undesirable ones take place.

Then adds targeted based on who reads what and lends it from/to whom.

Amazon's surely in a good position to offer a Netflix type model (presuming publishers could be persuaded). Potentially that could offer benefits over existing libraries offering DRMed epub in that maybe Amazon's subscription fee might allow them to avoid pretending they only have a limited number of copies of the bits to lend.
Some books I want to keep (or at least, I expect to use them for a year or two so buying makes sense). But some I just want to read once.
I must admit I don't see quite why it hasn't happened. Presumably there's something about the numbers that means it doesn't make sense, but I have a suspicion that it's just that it doesn't make sense before anybody else does it (the current selling of ebooks at ~50% upwards of the realspace price is nicely profitable).

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