How an e-book is like a treadmill at the gym

January 17, 2019

How an e-book is like a treadmill at the gym

Note: this is a re-post of an article which originally appeared in this blog on 2013/04/29. I am scheduled for major surgery on January 17th, and I don’t know how quickly I’ll be able to write after that. So, to keep the content going, I am pre-scheduling posts. It’s possible conditions have changed since I wrote it, but I’ll try to lightly edit these when that’s necessary for clarity. 

I see a lot of confusion about what it means when you “buy an e-book” in the Kindle store (or from many other online e-tailers).

Some people think it should be the same as when you buy a physical copy of a p-book (paperbook).

Others say, “You are only renting it.”

Neither one really describes the situation very well.

What you buy (which you own, in the same way you own that p-book copy) is a license to read the book, under certain specific conditions to which you agree when you buy that license.

Let’s try a different analogy.

Suppose you get a gym membership.

You then have the right to go in and use a treadmill.

It’s not a specific treadmill…you may even be able to use your “license” at any one of a number of gyms in the same chain.

You pay…the gym’s responsibility is to have a treadmill you can use.

If the treadmills are all down on one day, you can probably get a pro-rated discount on your gym membership that month.

Now, in that situation, would you expect to be able to sell the treadmill to your neighbor?

No, because you don’t own the treadmill…you own the right to use it.

Are you renting the treadmill?

No, that would suggest you take home a specific individual treadmill for a set amount of time. If it has a scratch on it, you are stuck with that scratched one (although you might be able to exchange it).

You are buying the right to use a treadmill at the gym.

To make this analogy work, we need to make the model a bit different from what you most commonly see at a gym.

Most people pay an annual membership, or a monthly membership, and then they don’t pay per machine.

The annual membership is the equivalent of Amazon Prime. Just on the e-book part of it, you don’t pay for each e-book you use from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. [2019 update: Prime Reading instead of the KOLL] You pay an annual fee (which has significant other benefits…shipping, and Prime videos), and then you get to “use” up to one book a month. [2019 update: the terms are much more generous under Prime Reading]

People chafe at that one book limit: the gym doesn’t say you can only use the treadmill once a month (although it might not be available to you at, say, two in the morning).

Prime streaming video works more like your typical gym…unlimited use of the resources (machines/videos) that are in the gym for an annual fee.

However, the e-book system outside of Prime is different.

You pay a licensing fee for an individual book, and then you have access to that one as much as you want. You can think of it as a lifetime gym membership for that one type of machine…you don’t pay $100 a month for the gym, you pay $10 for a lifetime membership for treadmills.

In this analogy, a specific book (say, The Hunger Games) is like the whole class of treadmills…each type of machine (elliptical, stair stepper) is a different “title”.

Do you own the right to read The Hunger Games when you “buy it” in the Kindle store?

Yes.

Not just to one copy of The Hunger Games…that’s one of the big advantages of e-book licensing. If you bought a treadmill, brought it home, and then through your own negligence, broke it, you are out of luck on it. That copy is yours, and your responsibility.

If you are at the gym and break the treadmill, you can just move to another treadmill.

There are, of course, also disadvantages of e-books compared to p-books.

As I mentioned above, you can’t sell the treadmill you use at the gym to somebody else.

The gym can also determine what rights you have to share your use. They might allow you to bring a guest to the gym on a “day pass”, but might only allow you to do that with that specific individual one time (if you brought Steve Rogers in once as a guest, you can’t use your guest privilege with Steve Rogers again).

They might also say you can only use your guest privileges once…that’s similar to the lending systems we have with e-books with some e-tailers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble) where you can only lend an e-book once ever.

We also get the equivalent of a family membership at the gym. Typically, up to six devices can license the same e-book at the same time for one download price. You can think of that as your “family membership” letting you bring up to six people to the gym on the same day for your monthly fee. The licensing is actually better than the gym, since the gym typically makes you specify people who are the family members, and the Kindle store licensing doesn’t care who has devices on your account, or if those people are constantly changing.

Not only can’t you sell the treadmill you use, you can’t sell your rights to use the treadmill to somebody else. The gym controls access to the treadmill. You can’t pay $100 a month to use the gym, and then turn around and have somebody pay you $50 for your rights to the gym that month. Your gym card probably has your picture on it, and identifies you as the person who bought the rights.

That’s like DRM (Digital Rights Management).

This analogy also holds up with the question of what happens to your e-books if Amazon goes out of business at some point (knock virtual wood). 😉

It would be like what would happen if you had that lifetime membership to your gym, and it went out of business.

You wouldn’t have access to your books/the treadmills.

It’s possible another gym would honor your card, and then get you to renew with them in some way…somebody could buy the assets of an Amazon that went under, although it would be a big undertaking.

I’m pretty confident that Amazon is going to be around for some time, although of course, I can’t guarantee that.

When you buy an e-book in the Kindle store, you buy the right to read the book, not a copy of the book. You aren’t renting the right to read it (which would suggest there was a limited timeframe). You own the right, not a copy.

You agree to the Terms of Use, just as you would agree to the gym’s rules (no gum, and wipe down the machine after you use it).

I hope that helps clarify it a bit. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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I’m having major surgery on Thursday, January 17th

January 16, 2019

I’m having major surgery on Thursday, January 17th

I’m scheduled to have surgery in the morning of Thursday, January 17th. My left hip is being replaced, using a direct anterior approach with a HANA table. If you don’t know what the latter is…well, you can see videos on it pretty easily, but I wouldn’t do it if you are squeamish. 😉 I’m fine with all of that, and I’m not concerned about the surgery…I’m probably at bigger risk on the road to the hospital than the surgery itself presents.

There is a risk, of course, and I’ve used this as a specific impetus to get things in order…increasing my life insurance, refreshing my will, doing donations of books, that sort of thing. Nothing I shouldn’t have done before. I’m surprisingly comfortable donating the books: I had always imagined they would be donated after I died, but that would be a giant burden to my survivors…and we might as well get the tax write-off now.

So, how does this affect you?

Even if things go as well as the odds would say (I think I’m in relatively good shape for the surgery, but my arthritis is particularly bad…I’m at the highest level), I doubt I’ll be able to write right away.

They do think I’ll get home the same day…I’ve worked with medical people for a very long time, and quite legitimately, people who can do so heal better at home than in the hospital.

However, everything I hear says they’ll really want me on serious pain medicine at first. As a quirk, I don’t feel pain very much generally, so I don’t tend to take as much pain medicine as most people. People who have had this done, though, tell me I really should take it for as long as they say (3 days? A week? I don’t know yet).

I may not be able to write under its influence…and if I tried, I can’t be sure about what I’d say. 😉 It might also really change my sleep patterns.

To prepare for that, I’m going to schedule posts for each of the days of the week after the surgery. That will be in addition to the Bookish Birthday posts, which I’ll also schedule. They’ll probably all be reposts, but I think you’ll find that interesting…sort of a “best of” series.

Just wanted to give you the heads up. I’m actually hoping that, after recovery (they figure seven weeks before I can get back to my day job…that’s average), I’ll be back to doing more narrative writing in this blog. I haven’t been able to get around much, which you would think would give me more time, but the reduced function…complicates my “activities of daily living” considerably.

During the aftercare period, I’ll probably have quite a bit of physical therapy. Our adult kid and Significant Other are also going to come visit for about a week. Even so, I think there’s a chance I’ll be able to write quite a bit before I can get back to work…here’s hoping!

Thanks to all of you! I’ve been writing this blog for more than nine years now, and I’ve really enjoyed the intellectual exchange with you. Everyone of you that I’ve helped in some way has really made this all worthwhile!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

Happy bookish birthdays (January 16) to…

January 16, 2019

Happy bookish birthdays (January 16) to…

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

Happy bookish birthdays (January 15) to…

January 15, 2019

Happy bookish birthdays (January 15) to…

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

Happy bookish birthdays (January 14) to…

January 14, 2019

Happy bookish birthdays (January 14) to…

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

Happy bookish birthdays (January 13) to…

January 13, 2019

Happy bookish birthdays (January 13) to…

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

Amazon introduces IMDb Freedive ad-supported videos…but Prime Video loses some content

January 12, 2019

Amazon introduces IMDb Freedive ad-supported videos…but Prime Video loses some content

Amazon has recently introduced

IMDb Freedive

This is a fascinating development, and a real step into a new market!

IMDb (Internet Movie Database) is a site that I probably use daily, and have done so for many years. It is, in my opinion, the best movie (and TV) reference site on the web. I use it as a measure…”I wish I had an IMDb for books/commercials/and so on”.

Amazon bought it in 1998 (it had launched in 1990). At the time, we could see interesting possibilities for it. Some people were concerned that Amazon might commercialize it in a different way, or filter it (to drive people to Amazon). However, my experience is that when Amazon buys a company, it is often buying the philosophy and leadership of that company, not just the assets. It was some time before Amazon’s presence was even easily detectable on the site. That has changed, with links to Prime Videos, for example, but it isn’t overwhelming.

I believe it was January 11th (yesterday) that IMDb Freedive was launched, offering ad-supported movies (some well-known and recent) and TV series (some with strong fandom) for free viewing.

Why did they do this?

Well, one reason is undoubtedly to sell more of the

Fire TV family (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

While you can watch IFd (that’s my new abbreviation for it…I figured I’d follow the IMDb precedent of making the last letter small and the last part of a compound word) on a computer, I’m sure the majority of people will want to watch on media streamers. Just as Roku has content which leads people to purchase that device, this may lead to the same thing happening for Fire TV devices.

Is the content tempting?

Yes!

At launch, it includes:

Movies

  • Awakenings
  • Foxcatcher
  • Memento
  • Monster
  • Junebug
  • Look Who’s Talking
  • Lords of Dogtown
  • Johnny Mnemonic
  • Short Circuit
  • Drive
  • The Mask of Zorro
  • The Fisher King

Just for movies, that means there are recent movies, Oscar-nominated movies, geek-friendly movies, cult classics…there don’t appear to be a ton of them (I’ve only listed a few), but free, right? That’s if you are okay with ads.

TV

  • Fringe
  • Heroes
  • The Bachelor
  • Without a Trace
  • Caprica
  • Kitchen Nightmares
  • Warehouse 13
  • Giligan’s Island
  • Dallas (the original)
  • Lexx
  • The Rifleman

While these aren’t the type of current shows you can see on Hulu, they can challenge the some of the older content you can see there, on Netflix, and on the similarly ad-supported Tubi.

I do use Tubi, and I think they may be the most immediately challenged of the streaming services by this development.

The ad experience isn’t bad, and is also similar to Tubi. They seem to have been reasonably careful about where a movie cuts to a commercial (actually, usually more than one). The ads are current: the Clark series were the pest control employee encounters supernatural creatures, for example.

I would love to see a more sophisticated discovery method, but that’s been true for me for Prime Video as well. For example, I want to just be able to see all titles listed alphabetically…seems like that would be as easy as ABC. 😉

Speaking of Prime Video, that is the one significant negative to the launch of IFd that I’ve found.

I went to watch Gilligan’s Island on it, partially to test it out…weirdly, it didn’t automatically want me to start with the first episode, but it let me switch to that. That could be because I’ve binged it on Prime before, though…maybe it was picking up where I left off.

However…

I couldn’t find a way to switch it back to Prime…watching with commercials was the only choice I was being given.

I wanted to confirm what that seemed to indicate; that some videos had left Prime and migrated to IFd, taking something away from Prime members.

I used Amazon’s very nice chat help, and here’s how that went:


Me: IMDb Freedive is certainly interesting! I do have a question: there are videos (like Gilligan’s Island) which I have watched on Prime. When I find them now, they only give me a choice for watching on IMDb Freedive with ads. Is there a way to select to watch them with Prime still, or is watching them with ads the only choice now?
You are now connected to [Amazon rep] from Amazon.com
[Amazon rep]: Hello, my name is [Amazon rep]. I’m here to help you today.
Me: Great!
[Amazon rep]: Bufo, I am sorry the IMDb Freedive titles contain advertisements that run during playback of a title.
These advertisements cannot be skipped with your Prime subscription.
However, I’ve forwarded your message to our IMDb Freedive business team.
We’re constantly working to improve our digital video experience.
Me: Okay, just to confirm: some videos have been removed from Prime Video and added to IMDb Freedive instead?
[Amazon rep]: Yes, you’re right.
It’s upto the content owners agreement.
Me: Thanks! I appreciate the prompt and concise response.
[Amazon rep]: You are very welcome. Can I help you anything else?
Me: No, that’s it! I’m going to share that information with other people, and I’m sure they’ll find it helpful.
[Amazon rep]: Thank you for contacting Amazon and wish you a great day! Take care, bye!​


It makes sense that it is up to the rights’ holders as to which service has their content…I suppose it’s possible that some companies will make it available both ways, but I’m sure this was part of how Amazon got the content for IFd: “You already have it available through Prime…you can put it into IMDb Freedive, and get a share of ad revenue.”

This seems somewhat unusual to me: Amazon usually really wants to promote

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

membership…that appears to be the economic driver of their consumer retail business (at least from the customer end). This, hypothetically, makes that a bit less attractive…but I suspect very few Prime members will realize it, and I’d be confident that almost no one would drop Prime over having to watch ads (ad-supported Kindles and Fires have usually been more popular than their full-price equivalents, but then you were getting a discount. We aren’t going to get a Prime discount because of this, although if it’s very successful, I suppose it might slow the need for Amazon to raise Prime prices).

On the other hand, this makes the Fire TV family of Amazon devices considerably more attractive…and since they have Alexa, it may be a way to get Alexa into more lives, a key Amazon strategy.

Definitely an interesting move!

What do you think? Had you discovered IMDb Freedive already (there was a banner ad on our Fire TV Cube)? Were you aware of IMDb? How do you feel about ad-supported video? Do you think this content will get more people to buy Fire TVs? If you are a Prime member, does it concern you at all? If you don’t have a Fire TV, will this get you to check out IMDb on a computer or mobile device? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

 

Happy bookish birthdays (January 12) to…

January 12, 2019

Happy bookish birthdays (January 12) to…

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

Happy bookish birthdays (January 11) to…

January 11, 2019

Happy bookish birthdays (January 11) to…

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

Happy bookish birthdays (January 10) to…

January 10, 2019

Happy bookish birthdays (January 10) to…

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog


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