Analysis of IT news

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Amazon, the Kindle 2 and eBooks

Amazon's release of the Kindle 2 has generated quite some much-needed excitement in this tough economic times - especially among members of the struggling printed press.

But eBooks are still in their infancy and are hitting the very same problems the music industry has hit. Except it hasn't fixed the problems yet.

1) Forced bundles (nagazines and newspapers only)

Remember how several music majors were initially reluctant to sell individual songs and wanted only to sell a whole album? They forgot the reason why album exist is physical constraints of the hard media. There is no rationale not to sell individual tracks separately but greed (the "creativity" argument is just BS).

And guess what? We see the same thing with electronic newspapers. The Internet got us used to ready a few articles from a wide variety of magazines, but eBooks still force us to buy the whole magazine. If you had to purchase all the magazines where you read just a few articles from the Internet it would add up significantly.

What should be done here? My thought would be a plan a bit like cell phone plans. Instead of a quota of minutes people would purchase quotas of words worth of articles. Easy, and you don't have to wonder whether you want to purchase an article.

2) Proprietary standards

Perhaps the biggest battle between music enthusiasts and music majors was over DRM. For years the music industry had been clinging to sell copy-protected music - never mind people can easily illegally download any music they want and *choose* to legally buy songs. It's only after years of failures - and the desire to sell songs for the iPod without going through Apple - that the music industry reluctantly agreed to sell unprotected songs. This tremendously helped online music sales as the consumer now isn't tied to their MP3 player.

Once again, the printed edition hasn't gone over the same fear and clings to its own DRM. As a result, if you want to migrate from, say, a Kindle to a Plastic Logic a few years down the road, you must also part with all your electronic purchases.

For this, the publishing industry will need to suck it up and let go of this stupid DRM. No Digital Right Management system has ever prevented anybody from making illicit copies.


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