Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Novel Approach to eBooks

Moggs Tigerpaw wrote this post recently with her thoughts on eBooks and eBook readers a while ago but it got lost in the shuffle. I received a Kindle for Christmas so I will have a few thoughts of my own which I will post a little later in the week.

A previous post I did and more especially the comments on it made me think...

We were discussing “electronic books” and “readers” like the Kindle. Then I had a thought.

When I buy a real book in a bookstore I take home something that is my property. I can keep it, or lend it to someone, or sell it and get some of my money back to maybe buy another book. The words are part of the book.

I can go to a secondhand bookstore and browse for something that may have been out of print for years.

If it is still in copyright then I can’t copy all or part of it without the owner’s permission, but I become the owner and can give or sell it. I can make a little dedication inside the front cover if it is a gift.

It is not the same with a Kindle. You might own the electronic gadget that is the Kindle, but not the words in it, a bit like a book with blank pages. What’s more, as best as I can tell, you can’t lend the words to someone else because of digital rights management, you can’t sell them either, or buy them second hand and get any money back. Unless you sell the Kindle too.

Some novels I only want to read once, but someone else might like to read it. Some are old favourites.

You can’t lend to someone or even give the ‘digital books’ to charity as things stand. All you really have bought is permission to display the words on the screen of your personal kindle. You downloaded a file.

I wonder how will that all work with libraries? Charity/goodwill stores? What will happen to all those wonderful second hand book stores.

Will schools have to pay for a new text book for every student instead of recycling them to the next class intake each year? Corporate licences?

Could you still buy a particular book as a gift or would it be more like iTunes where you basically buy a prepaid store card. Half the fun is finding and buying a particular book for a particular person as a gift.

It seems to me there need to be some thinking.. some changes in the law behind copyright and licences maybe. It seems to me that books may still be better value for some time to come until those changes develop. Or else Lending a book to your friend might be illegal file sharing and you could end up in court.

What about keeping reasonable backups?

Until Digital books can be treated more like the real thing legally I think I will be slightly uncomfortable with them. Second life allows for that sort of thing. You can buy clothes and items that you can give or sell to other people but not copy.

Also the only equipment you need to read a real paper book is the book, a light source your eyes and the ‘software’ in your brain. I worry some what we might loose if we only look at what we might gain without asking questions and insisting on answers.


jmb said...

Very interesting post Miss Moggs and thought provoking.

I will not be giving up my books anytime soon but I do love the "toys" so I am having fun with my Kindle.

jams o donnell said...

Jusr t got a Kindle myself. Despite liking the idea of beingable to carry around a huge number of books in a slim piece of electronics, I can't see myself not buying real, tangible paper books any time soon.

Janice Thomson said...

There's something about the feel of a book in one's hands...the smell of paper, the decorative cover, perhaps the gold embossed title, the touch of leather etc etc. Nevertheless with such a shortage of trees I think the digital era is something to consider.

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

There is one obvious really big plus to a reader like the kindle. You can pack a small library in it and it only weighs a few pounds.

I can see the advantage to that, with holiday reading and flight weight limits. But I am not sure it outweighs ^_^ some of the points I mentioned.

Do they need batteries, or can they run from a solar cell? I am really interested in what people think of them once they have used one for a bit.