As promised, here is my follow-on post to yesterday’s thoughts on eBooks. In fact, this post covers the issue that vexes me the most. This is something that I feel needs to be resolved. If it was resolved today, there would be a large number of happy users. If it was resolved today, I’d go out and buy eReaders for my family tonight.
The Reread Dilemma
I find that there are two different types of book readers out there. There are the average/casual reader that will read a book once and rarely pick it up again. They may read a lot or a little, but they rarely revisit a book. There are always books that are the exception, but as a rule, this reading group follows this trend. My wife, an regular reader, falls into this group.
Then there are the more hardcore readers. These people consume entire authors and genres. I am like this. When you follow authors, you realize that you want to reread books frequently. An author may revisit characters years after introducing them. Sometimes, this makes me want to read the book that created the universe. Sometimes I want to reread an entire series. Take the stack of books to the right as a series I plan to reread (not for the 1st time) by November when the final book is released.
This is why I like to own the books that I read because I never know which books I will reread in the future, when they may be hard to find. I also enjoy sharing those stories with people. I look forward to the day when my kids start to consume my books.
Let’s look at this from the eBook perspective. The current Kindle book model supports the second type of reader easily. You always have the book. You couldn’t give it away if you tried. Forget being the first type of readers and gifting books to libraries or lending them to friends. You get the books and you have them forever to reread.
That is fine with me, though I would like to be able to lend them for longer periods.
The two problems are that the first group don’t readily fit into the eBook paradigm yet. They may buy an eReader, but the are more likely to buy reader apps for their tablets or receive an eReader as a gift. They will want to lend/give eBooks to others and will find that they can’t. More importantly, they’ll realize that their friends can’t lend their books either, so that ecosystem will suffer.
The other problem is my current book collection. I have a lot of books, many that I know I will reread. Some are large hardbacks, perfect for a reader. What do I do about those?
What I want is for my reader app to be able to retrieve my books digitally. I should be able to scan the ISBN on my book and retrieve my book. That way I could have copies of my existing books to read and reread.
- Scan the ISBN number. This must be a live picture from the camera and not a stored image.
- The reader application will determine if the book is available electronically and notify the user.
- To retrieve the book, a second scan would need to be taken showing the ISBN number marked through with a marker. This must also be a live picture and not a stored image.
- The book is then added to the reader application’s inventory. The user could be charged a nominal fee, say $1-2, for the transfer.
Heck, I’d be happy to go into Barnes and Noble to have them do it to help them protect against fraud. They could simple stamp the inside cover for future reference.
While many people, like myself, might be hesitant to deface a book, the ability to gain a digital copy inexpensively would be worth it for many books. This defacement is the one flaw from the book owner perspective. Many books in my inventory are first editions. For a vast majority of my books that doesn’t really matter as they aren’t collector items. For a couple of books that is an issue, but one I could deal with on an individual basis.
While there would a few ways around this process, it would require multiple copies of the book. As you cannot resell eBooks, abuse would be limited as the gains would also be limited. Almost the same as copying an old cassette tape or digitizing a CD multiple times. Even if you could “give” those eBooks to people, it will be limited as there is limited profit in it as books aren’t exactly high-priced items.
One must also remember that there will also be a bootleg book market with or without this solution.
I already know about 13 books, pictured above, that I would make me go buy a Kindle and digitize today if this capability existed. No hesitation. I’d then start buying eBooks instead of paper for many books. Let me tell you, that is a lot of money that would go to Amazon that doesn’t go to them now.
Let’s put it this way…I’ve been known to earn back the cost of the annual Barnes and Noble membership fee in one day. That is money that isn’t going to Amazon. That is also money that Barnes and Nobles would like to keep.
So let’s see some innovation. The tech is there. It would work with readers on tablets and phones now. Let’s get a move-on people.