Kindle To Let You Lend Books, Just Like A Real Book… Except Not

from the just-like-a-book...-or-not dept

Apparently, Amazon is adding a feature to the Kindle that will let you “lend” books to other Kindle users. Of course, it sounds quite like the ridiculously limited lending found on the Barnes & Noble Nook ebook reader as well. You see, when you “lend” the book, you can’t read it yourself… “just like a real book.” But, um, you can only lend it to other Kindle users, just like a real book (oh, no actually). And, you can only lend it for 14 days, just like a real book (oh, no actually). And… you can only lend it out once, just like a real book (oh, no actually). It really makes me wonder how incredibly soul-deadening it must be to be a developer working on products like this where you’re focused on limiting what the technology allows.

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Comments on “Kindle To Let You Lend Books, Just Like A Real Book… Except Not”

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R. Miles (profile) says:

The answer to life.

“It really makes me wonder how incredibly soul-deadening it must be to be a developer working on products like this where you’re focused on limiting what the technology allows.”
Imagine yourself in a sealed and locked room with Barry Manilow playing on a Bose system… as sung by Roseanne in the same manner she did the National Anthem but with a nasal infection.


As with anything in this manner, one has to do what the boss says, no matter how wrong they may be.

It’s job security because in twenty minutes, it’ll change.

I said this was going to be my last job in this field and if it’s over, I’m done. My next job will have me greeting people with “Welcome to Walmart”.

Either that, or Dark Helmet’s personal helmet polisher.

jsf (profile) says:

Re: The answer to life.

As with anything in this manner, one has to do what the boss says, no matter how wrong they may be.

Which is the type of job most of us have. I’ve worked in IT for 14+ years and did 6 years of embedded systems programming before that. Other then a few minor details I don’t think I have agreed with much that my bosses have decided. But you have to pay the bills somehow.

Anonymous Coward says:

There goes another one

There’s a really big advertising push for Kindle in London right now and I read a fair number of books and thought “Oooo shiny gadget.. must have…”.

Then I looked at the book prices and thought “Well OK… a *bit* steep maybe considering it’s electronic and I don’t have a physical book and it costs nothing to produce a copy…. but at least they haven’t tried to charge anywhere near the same as a real book. Could be handy… nice.. might get me one of those”

Then I looked a bit deeper. “Hmmm loads of DRM, tied down to within an inch of it’s life, proprietary format…. no cross-compatibilty….Hmmm what if I want to read the book I bought on my smartphone instead? Well, no I think I’ll just wait for it to take off and some open source hardware with a similar screen/battery life… won’t be long and standardised formats will become popular too if it takes off. Yep don’t bother right now I’ll buy something better later”

So, yes, well done Amazon a sale lost to someone who was perfectly willing to pay for your product but won’t because you’ve made it all but unuseable in your frenzy to prevent “piracy”.

Perhaps I should be fair to Amazon… I guess it’s likely that many of the restrictions come from publishers as much as Amazon….

TheStupidOne says:

Re: There goes another one

While it is far from a perfect solution, other ereaders use the epub format which is nothing but a zip file with a bunch of html and css files. And for most ebook stores you can use a simple script to strip the DRM from epub books. Also use websites like to find free books that are uploaded by the authors themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: There goes another one

Sure if I don’t mind being naughty… but then again if I don’t it’s probably best to wait for a device that enables that better anyway.

But wouldn’t it be kind of nice to have a business model that doesn’t immediately get you thinking that way? You know…. just for the change of pace because it’s never been tried before?

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Non-wet water is sold because morons buy it

E-books, copies of which cannot be copied, but that can be lent, briefly, can be found in the goblin e-bookshop & e-library at the end of the rainbow, along with a load of other rocking horse shit.

Do yourself a favour. Don’t buy it.

  • Pay your favourite authors to write.
  • Make your own copies. Give some to friends.
  • Advise the publisher to find another job – the market for copies has ended.
  • If you want a copy printed, pay a printer to print one.
First Lieutenant Evil says:

soul-deadening to the users

It really makes me wonder how incredibly soul-deadening it must be to be a developer working on products like this where you’re focused on limiting what the technology allows.

C’mon Mike, you know we sit around at design meetings dreaming this stuff up. We only hire the most sadistic of developers. We salivate over the mere thought of bringing pain to users. The next release will have sharks with freakin laser beams. Look out copythieves, we are going to rule the world. BWAAAHAAAHAAAHAAA!!!

Overcast (profile) says:

The kindle is a great concept, but a horrid implementation.

It most certainly doesn’t offer any impressive functionality over what a real book offers – actually less.

Go figure…

A collection of bound paper is still superior to a high tech electronic device. But only because of DRM, lol

It’s a shame to see the potential of new electronics so horribly ‘caged’ by these companies. I guess it’s why I just ‘pass’ on most of them, PARTICULARLY news ones. You never know how you’ll get shafted on ‘new’ stuff.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“The kindle is a great concept, but a horrid implementation.”

The same is true of most recent tech. Blu-Ray, iOS, etc. (And I’m a Mac fanboi, so there.)

I still buy DVDs because the storage space is worth it, usually, and it’s trivial to defeat the ‘encryption’ if I want to. That’s a frakin’ SELLING POINT!

I think where we’ve run into problems is due to the hardware/software conglomerates. Sony, Apple (not so much with the music, but ye gods with the videos) etc.

C.R.Hatfield (profile) says:

Kindle To Let You Lend Books, Just Like A Real Book... Except Not

I’m ok with all parts except the “lend only once” part, the rest sounds reasonable for lending of digital data and for the few of us, who often lend out books to our friends, only for the friend to mis-place or forget we actually lent it to them? UGH, I hate that! So 14 day limit is a GOOD thing IMHO! and it only makes sense that kindles can only lend to other kindles, anything else would require 2 competing companies to work together to make their equipment work together in lending and receiving and thats not going to happen in this or any biz.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Kindle To Let You Lend Books, Just Like A Real Book... Except Not

Not to diss you or anything, but this takes the biscuit for ridiculousness. Who wants to “buy” a book that they clearly don’t own?
1) Lend only to other Kindle users. “anything else would require 2 competing companies to work together”. God forbid the publishing industry does something that increases value to their products and works in the customer’s interests.
“Hey Joe, wanna borrow this paperback? Its a bestseller”
“Hey Joe? Wanna borrow my ebook? Oh sorry, you don’t have a Kindle, you have a different reader. Sorry!”
2) 14 days? Again, its supposed to be my property (wait, it isn’t). What if its the Bible, or the Great Dune Trilogy or another 1000 page book? I’m an infamous speed reader, but it would take me more than 14 days to read a 1000 page ebook I borrowed off a friend.
3) Lending it once? So the publishing industry charges me a sale price, but then dictates what I’m allowed to do afterward? This isn’t copyright related, people have borrowed books for thousands of years.

What if I buy e-books for school? And I finished Course XYZ? If they were paper books, I could re-sell them. I’d have no use for them, and I could always use the money. But here comes the e-book, a concept that is astounding in theory but that is so bogged down in ridicoulous publisher controls that I, as a consumer, am not interested in buying. You heard me publishing industry. I do not want to buy something that comes with a great long chain!

lostalaska (profile) says:

Baby step in the right direction?

I was going to say it was a step in the right direction, but it looks more like a knee jerk reaction by them to try and address some of the issues people keep bringing up with digital books, while not actually addressing the issues.

I generally don’t buy hard covers of books unless it’s something I know I want to hold onto for a long time and will use a lot. Most of the time I buy paperbacks so looking at the prices of many of the books on kindle my thoughts are it’s still cheaper to buy the book in paperback to read it and I have the option of giving it away to a friend once I’m done reading it. So cheaper, far more versatile and I don’t have to pay a premium to read it on my “e” device. Guess I’ll check back in a few years to see if anything changes, until then I’m okay reading most of my books the old fashioned way. Plus I can act all smug on the airplane while I keep reading my book during take off.

Erin B. (user link) says:

I really enjoy my Kindle, though I dragged my heels forever getting one specifically because the DRM/price juxtaposition felt absurd. If I’m going to be so strictly limited in what I can do with the books I pay for, then a high price tag seems idiotic, especially given that the resale value is literally nonexistent.

On the flipside: reducing limitations means that the present price for ebooks seems completely reasonable for me. The last ebook I purchased was $13; presently it’s only available in hardback, which retails for $26. $13 is awfully steep for something I can read only on a finite number of devices, can’t lend out to friends, and can’t resell. $13 is, in my mind, perfectly reasonable for something I can read with all the benefits of the Kindle device, share with friends, resell, or trade away.

I don’t need my Kindle to perfectly mirror the experience of reading a book. As it stands, I prefer the Kindle: it’s easier to make notation for books I read professionally without sullying the actual pages, the adjustable text size and eye-friendly screen is a Godsend, and the ability to carry around the equivalent of a pile of books is basically a dream come true for a dyed-in-the-wool bibliophile. Part of the reason that I went ahead and bought one, finally, was because I hope that as the market expands, publishers will relax restrictions.

It’s understandable that the publishing industry is wary of “giving too much away,” — at least at the launch of this brave new idea of mainstream digital publishing — especially given the way the recording industry has been squawking about bleeding revenue because of them durn internet pirates. I just wish they’d, you know, pull their heads out of the dank stinkhole they’ve stuck them in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Honesty? Here? Surely not! Aren't you all supposed to wear eyepatches or something?

Part of the reason that I went ahead and bought one, finally, was because I hope that as the market expands, publishers will relax restrictions

Oops! Experience seems to suggest that might have been a tad of a vain hope.
Well granted as e-books become more mainstream, apps to easily convert formats and rip DRM are likely to proliferate, probably in inverse proportion to the ever more draconian laws banning you from doing so.
The publishers of course are unlikely to see that making their product unusable has anything to do with the “total lawlessness” that will ensue and rabidly deny any suggestion that if they relaxed restictions and dropped prices a bit they might actually make more money from people who actually wouldn’t mind paying for it if it was reasonable…. OK I’ll stop ranting now and put down my crystal ball.

Basically, yes I suspect your Kindle will prove a very flexible tool in due course as long as you don’t plan to remain as honest as you seem to have been so far…. or by some miracle the publishers/manufacturers notice in time that when even people who actually went and bought the thing are saying it’s a bit steep and restrictive it’s probably time for a re-think.

Rikuo (profile) says:

I have a "pile" of ebooks

On my external hard drive I have about 20GB of downloaded ebooks. PDF, .txt, .doc, you name it, I have it.
Now heres the thing. First off, they were free. Second, is that they were easily obtainable. Third, is any compatible program can read them, without having to go through publisher-laden DRM. Fourth, if I want to, I can give a copy to my friends easily, many of whom wouldn’t be able to afford to buy the relevant document in book form anyway.
Now against that, we have the mobile e-reader market. First, if I buy an e-reader, I can only read documents that are in the format that reader, well, reads. Strike one.
Second, is the cost. Not just in terms of actual money either. I’ve just checked, and Kindle e-books aren’t available in Ireland (but American Amazon does work…for some reason). Strike two and three for cost and ease of obtaining/using.
And Strike four is I can’t easily transfer any purchased e-books to a friends. I know, there are a myriad of ways, but they involve time and effort, which I wouldn’t want to go into.

So tell me, publishing industry. I, as a consumer, am getting better value simply by infringing copyright and downloading the e-books without paying. If you could somehow give me equal or better value, then yes, I would pay (I do pay for paper/hardbacks). But as it stands at the moment, I get NO value in return for my money.

Rick (profile) says:

Kindle is looking more attractive now

I rarely buy books in any format. This might cause me to start buying books for a couple of reasons.

1. If I can buy one series and share it with a friend who buys another series and shares it with me I can read two books for the price of one. If we add a third friend then 3 for 1. We all just have to be able to read these books in 14 days or less or borrow each other’s Kindles.

2. If I can get magazine and newspaper subscriptions on my kindle and also read them on my smartphone (with the Kindle App) I may subscribe to more magazines and newspapers since I can read them on my smartphone anytime I find myself stuck waiting around for something.

I was looking really hard at the Nook due to their sharing feature and their ability to read ebooks in B&N stores. With the lending feature being added to the Kindle it gives the edge to the Kindle as they have more books available. I wish Amazon had stores where I could go and read ebooks like B&N then it would be an easy choice!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 14 days is better than forever

When you look at it that way, maybe the Kindle system isn’t all bad…

Wouldn’t argue so much if it included functionality to allow me to limit how long I “loan” a book out for (though what am I loaning exactly since it doesn’t really exist as a physical entity in either place?), but don’t you think if the pubisher or whoever really feel they must include such arbitary controls, that having the providor force a “1 size fits all” solution on everyone who has paid for the product is a bit short sighted?

Dumb though I might consider it to limit the functionality of an electronic “book” to that of a physical one, I could at least see an argument but why would you from scratch built a model that has less functionality than the product it purports to replace?

In cynic-mode the only reason I can see is that it’s the publishers intent to make e-books unattractive to try and make it a “fad” and prevent the “problems” the music and film industries are having with their business models. If so that too is desperately short-sighted.

However, as they say; “Never attribute to malice what can adequately be blamed on stupidity.”, so who knows?

John says:

They should just allow transfers of the books.

Sites are cropping up to allow you to share books with strangers, so publishers will see more abuse with this system than if they just allow a resale of books.

Think of it. I could ‘give’ anyone a book. I loose it and now they have it. They can choose to give it back or give it to someone else. Just like a real book. This would allow a resale market (used books). But it will also stop people from lending to people they don’t know. If I know I get my book back 14 days later, I don’t care who I lend to.

One last thing, to help remove value from the digital book, only allow the resale 2 steps away from the original owner. So if I sell you a book used, you know you will only be able to sell it to one other person. This seems fine for you, but the last person in the chain isn’t going to pay as much. That means you aren’t going to want to pay as much either, since you know your resale will be drastically lower.

Flabbergasted says:

Do you think it's fair?

To steal??
The author of an ebook deserves consideration too – let’s face it books can be shared electronically at lightning speed and to literally 100’s at the touch of a button. Is that fair to the author?? Ebooks are priced low as it is – is it so unreasonable to restrict the sharing.
Be fair – fork over your .99 cents will ya so teh author can get his lousy .69 for you to enjoy his work.

clan says:

ebooks can be loaned for twice at most?

That’s ridiculous. One merit of eBooks is that they can be copied and transferred without restrictions. Despite of Kindle DRM, why add the 2-time restrictions to loaned items. The owner has no access to the item when it is lent out, that’s enough. Why does Amazon make even lending more inconvenience than paper books?!

Anyway, I hope you guys try borrowing books from libraries as well, though this may be not feasible for every one. There should be open libraries in your local play. Many libraries have supported eBook.

This is about how to borrow Kindle books on Kindle Fire. Hope you guys who haven’t used local libraries will benefit from it.

Christopher Michael Simpson (user link) says:

i made the pope retire with two christ churches and a tsunami

The Great Japan Earthquake and the largest Tsunami ever to hit Japan. You knew on March 11, 2011 there was a 9.0 earthquake and you personally saw that tsunami in Japan. Am I right? You saw that tsunami in Japan right? The single costliest natural disaster ever recorded in the history of time? Did you know it was going to happen? I did. I knew it was going to happen. Tell me who said “i predict a magnitude 9 earthquake” 9.0 weeks before the great japan 9.0 earthquake? I knew nobody would listen. I told world leaders in public places. I named all the cities that would be hit. i made the pope retire.

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