I received one as a gift for Christmas, and while I am still awaiting its arrival, I’ve done a good bit of reading about the device. Overall, it sounds like a great device but like any 1st/2nd generation product, the nook should be expected to have its share of imperfections and unfinished features.
One of these unfinished features is the nook’s ability to lend out books, but only temporarily, to other Nook users. According to the clarification from B&N as stated on the nook blog nookTalk (on Twitter as @nookTalk, “the books you buy for your nook can only be loaned out ONCE for fourteen days.” This “one-lend-only-and-just-for-14-days” feature, in my mind, makes this feature more hype than substance. How often do you borrow a book from a friend and return it 14 days later? And how often have you lent out a book multiple times to various friends you have who you think should read the book, or read enough of it to be interested in purchasing it themselves? How frustrating would it be to only have the ability to lend the book out one time, and never again?
Admittedly, the nook’s ability to lend books at all is better than the Amazon Kindle’s lack of a lending feature. And I imagine there’s plenty of business, partner/copyright, and technology issues at play here that prevented a more relaxed lending feature at this time, but here is my question: why not allow the process of lending an e-book to occur in essentially the same way as the lending of physical books works?
Here are my specific suggestions on how to loosen up the technology to better emulate real-life book lending, while also (somewhat) protecting content creators’ copyrights, their royalties, and the publisher’s/distributors’ revenues. These suggestions could be implemented by any of the e-book / e-reader companies:
- Extend the time limit of lending. This is an obvious problem; I would propose they extend the time limit at least to 60 or 90 days, but preferably to something closer to 6 months. This only makes sense, as a physical book lent out can sometimes stay gone for a while.
- Do not allow the owner of the e-book to read it while it is “lent out”. This may be disappointing to e-book users, but it does accurately match what happens with physical books and thereby provides some protection to content providers’ copyright and distribution concerns.
- Implement automatic reversion of the reading rights. As a way of preventing the scenario we have all experienced where you lend a book to someone, but it turns out to be a gift to them (because they never return it!), the devices would ideally revoke reading rights to the book on the lender’s device/account after the lending time limit is up, and return those reading rights to the e-book owner. Update: I heard from @nookTalk shortly after publishing this post that this feature “should work” currently. Thanks for the info!
- Allow for upgrades / “full license” purchase of ebooks to remove or relax restrictions – Apple has already done a similar thing with their music, often offering a non-protected version of songs on iTunes for $1.29 instead of the standard $0.99 per song price, for example. So, an e-book that normally sells for $9.99 could sell for, say, $14.99 in an unprotected format that might have relaxed lending restrictions (even longer lending, lending to more than 2 or 3 people and simultaneous access to the book yourself, etc.) This would calm the critics and ensure that people could have more flexibility if they paid more for the e-book– probably something closer to the cost of what the physical book would cost in the store.
- Implement a “lending friends” list – Thankfully, my understanding is that the nook does allow multiple accounts (I’m not sure of how many, but I am sure it’s comparable to the Kindle’s 6 account limit) to have access to the same books. This should assuage any concerns about members of the same household being able to access each other’s books. But my LENDING friends list that I suggest essentially works the same way, except that the list of accounts can be larger and is used for the lending feature only, not for unlimited normal access to your library. This again would somewhat of a limiting feature to users, but would be a mitigating protection for B&N and publishers. If you, for example, can only lend any of your books to someone on a list of 10 different for example, this will limit the odds that lending will be so easy as for some to avoid purchasing books altogether.
I am hopeful — and confident — that as the e-book technology improves and technology creators, authors, and publishers come to grips with the radical changes that will be coming to their industry with the rise of e-books, there will also be an eventual improvement and standardization of features such as e-book lending across all devices. Hopefully these suggestions here will help to kick-start the discussion.
No, I haven’t either.
But the AT&T network has been strangled by the iPhone recently.
I’ve started a blog posting entitled “My junky phone – savings or a symbol?” that I really need to finish – but in light of all the press in recent days about iPhone’s service problems, I’m glad I waited… BUT I couldn’t wait to pass THIS on to you all out there, several of whom I know have iPhones.
Despite TechCrunch having reported on this issue months ago, the rest of the media is starting to catch on… the AT&T cellular network is being bogged down by the intense data demands of the typical iPhone user, leading to slowdowns for many users.
You’ll notice in the ZDNet article below the author blames Apple for the problem– but, I assure you that Apple is not happy about this, regardless of whether the blame is rightly theirs or not. I also think this bad press about the iPhone’s slowness, even if it is not systemwide, pretty much assures that other carries will have the iPhone available soon. Although, it’s a tightrope Apple and the cell companies must walk. Making the device available to other carries will help spread out the cellular network load to other carriers, and yet it is also going to increase the total absolute load on cell networks, as people will be rushing to get the iPhone with their existing provider, that they were leery of leaving for AT&T.
Coverage of this issue the last few days includes these articles:
Wall Street Journal: AT&T Gets a Fuzzy Signal on Apple’s iPhone
Also.. NY Times March ’09 article: 3G Phones Exposing Networks’ Last-Gen Technology
According to this article in the NY Times yesterday, some “experts worry that the recovery may be weak, stymied by consumers’ reluctance to spend.” Oh no! We’ve got to go spend our money!
Some of the reasons why consumers are slowing their spending from the irrational highs of recent years is described in the article by Moodys.com chief economist Mark Zandi:
“Lower-income households can’t borrow, and higher-income households no longer feel wealthy,” Mr. Zandi added. “There’s still a lot of debt out there. It throws a pall over the potential for a strong recovery. The economy is going to struggle.”
Mark Zandi is describing a return to rationality among American consumers–and I couldn’t be happier. In fact, if the lower-income don’t borrow–because they can’t–and save their money instead, and if higher-income households don’t spend all they make (and save their money instead), I believe this will lead to a more stable economy over the long-run. This may not appease everyone–Cash for Clunkers, for example, was designed to stimulate spending quickly in the short-run, as some economists are convinced that is the greater need.
So, to appease those with a short-run mentality, and to excite the technology lovers out there such as myself who have not yet taken the “plunge” into the world of Apple technology bliss, I propose the first-ever iStimulus. The government will give a purchaser a $100 tax credit for every Apple device they buy – an iPod, iTouch, and yes– especially the iPhone.
This stimulus will do several things for the economy:
1) It will push me over the edge and let me whip out my debit card for the new iPhone activation fee, knowing that $100 of it isn’t all my money – it’s from the government, and so society will gladly share in the cost of my new technology purchase in the form of taxes to cover the iStimulus program.
2) As a result, I can feel good about buying something I don’t completely need. Yes, I literally do have the cash to go buy one and yes, I may or may not really need it, but the government wants me to spend–and it wants me to be a good American citizen–so it has given me an incentive to do so now.
3) It will give Apple more reasons to boast of their strong recent success. It doesn’t matter that they recently sold their 40 millionth iPod/iTouch device; this will get them closer to that 100 million mark! Yes, we may indeed create a mini-technology bubble that will eventually burst, but we can worry about that later…
In all seriousness, the one positive thing about such a stimulus is that at least for once we would be investing money into a company with a future!! And granted, there is nothing wrong with buying “wants”. But, in my opinion, when you lie to yourself and call it a need, or when you finance those wants through personal credit and the backs of society in the form of government incentives, we will find ourselves creating yet another spending bubble that we and our children will be paying for in the form of higher taxes and slower economic growth in the future.
I have personally experienced no benefit from any of the recent stimulus programs; so I say launch an iStimulus program so that more of us can feel good about this devastating economic path that the current administration and the conventional economic wisdom of the day is leading us down.
UPDATE: You may wish to read the related posting about a proposed “WiiStimulus” by clicking here.
According to an article in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal, Minneapolis-based Target is partnering with iTunes to promote music on iTunes.
I think this is a fairly interesting development, as Target begins to leverage its brand outside of the brick-and-mortar space. Sure, target.com has been a favorite destination for women (and men!) for years now — and yet, it’s not yet often that you see a traditional retailer join forces online with another online company to encourage purchases that otherwise COULD have come through them (via physical cd’s through their website or in their stores).
This clearly demonstrates Target’s commitment to change with the times, and acknowledges the fact that cd sales are quickly dropping away. It is widely known, in fact, that Apple surpassed Wal-Mart in 2008 as the largest music retailer in the United States.
It is astounding to me, however, that Target is to my knowledge the first major retailer to take the obvious step to partner with the leader in online music sales. A trip to the music section of Best Buy’s website promotes the revamped Napster heavily– and who can blame them, when they paid $121 million to buy Napster last year? Of course, they do sell iTunes gift cards online, although this is virtually pointless except when buying them for a gift — who wants to pull out our credit card, buy an iTunes gift card at BestBuy.com, wait for it to come in the mail, then go to the iTunes store and wip out the gift card and enter the card number?
Barnes & Noble has recently gotten wise on the rise of e-books and jumped on the bandwagon by launching their own e-book store at the same time they launched a Blackberry and iPhone reader app — as well as indicating they will be selling a reader device very soon. This, of course, in response to Amazon’s Kindle device and in realization of the virtual disappearance of physical books, for the most part, coming upon us in the very near future.
Target is wise to take a similar strategy with music — they are getting a piece of the online music action before it can take a bigger piece out of their sales.