ebook Vendors Are Doing It all Wrong

ebook vendors have it all wrong. Everyone is selling books the old
fashioned way, one book at a time with newer “hardback” books being
more expensive. QUIT SELLING BOOKS! Adopt the Netflix model for heaven
sake. Let me pay $15 a month for x number of ebooks at a time.

I read a lot of books, 2-3 a week on average. I read a lot of library books because 2-3 books a week is an expensive habit and if I bought them all it would eat into my food, clothing and shelter addictions. I read some ebooks, mostly with ereader, and would like to read more that way. I love the portability when I’m on the road but ebooks are essentially the same price as regular books so that expensive habit is still a problem. We’ll leave the economics of why that makes no sense alone for now.

The big ebook vendors in my mind are Sony and Amazon, both focused on proprietary devices, the Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle respectively, along with a host of multi-device vendors. Of those, I find ereader to be the best by far. ereader is striving to be on any platform they can, including the iPhone which is another reason I include them here.

With Netflix, a movie is consumed in roughly 2 hours. Netflix works because the cost of shipping is low for DVD’s. It wouldn’t work with bulky cassette tapes. Other folks have adopted this model for physical books but the shipping costs make it prohibitively expensive for both the vendor and the end user. Shipping costs are eliminated for ebooks.

There are very few books that I want to read that I can consume in 2 hours. So the hold period for books should be even longer than it is for DVD’s. All the vendors need is a mechanism to check out and return books.

The beauty of this is that the Digital Rights Management is already in place for ebooks and no one is complaining about it. After all, I might loan a physical book to a friend but I wouldn’t cut up the book,  put it on the copier and make a copy so my friend can have one. Buy you’re own freakin’ book. We already think about books differently than we do music or video so publishers get lots of protection on this one already.

The beauty of ereader’s DRM is that is uses the credit card number used at purchase to unlock the book. You might share that with your spouse but you’re sure not putting it on the internet!

Sony and Amazon are taking the Apple route, proprietary device with an “app store”. ereader and others are taking a more device generic approach but they are still selling books. I will consume considerably more ebooks when I can rent them, not buy them.