A model for ebooks

March 12, 2010 at 11:41 am | Posted in books, technology | 1 Comment
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I’ve been thinking (thanks, Virgil) about a financial model for ebooks. Maybe ebooks can be rented.

I agree that ebooks will not completely replace physical books. For me, if a book is so good, so important to me that I want to *own* it, I want a physical copy. If I just want to read a book once, I’m fine with it being an ebook.

That got me thinking. I can basically rank books into three categories. There are books I want to read to try out, but not invest much if anything to do so. There are books I know I will want to come back to, quote from, and read again. Then there are books that I love, that really speak to me, that have changed me, and that I will come back to again and again and want to share with people.

For the last kind, I want a physical copy. I want to be able to take it with me anywhere and read regardless of whether a battery is charged or whether I have internet access. The second kind would be fine as an ebook, but I’d want to have some assurance of access. I think I’d want to store it locally, not on someone else’s server in a cloud somewhere. I’d also want to be able to make annotations.

But what about the first one? Maybe I could pay to have access to an ebook for a dollar (or five, or whatever) per week or so, then the access “goes away.” I don’t know how the logistics would work, someone else can figure that out. But I know I’d be much more willing to pay money to try brand new books or books by new (to me) authors if the initial investment were much lower. Otherwise I’d just wait until the physical copy were in the library or the electronic copy were available via the Guttenberg project. And by then I’d have forgotten about it. Even if I didn’t forget about it, if I did it that way I wouldn’t be financially supporting the author when the author most needs it, when they’re alive and trying to make a living by writing.

I can see it now, I’ve got a weekend free, or spring break, or some other stretch of time available. I want to read something outside my known sphere. I pick up my kindle/ipad and browse through recommendations based on my preferences, or based on a similar thing I liked — Pandora-style. Then I pay some relatively low price to try something new. If I really like it, I’ll buy “permanent access.” If not, I won’t have wasted much, and the author gets a little bit of compensation. If I love it, I get a physical copy.

Another way this can work (I think this is done for some books) is you get the first few chapters for free, then pay for the rest. That could work in conjunction with this business model, or as a separate model. I’m not sure.

People have probably already thought of these things. I’m just thinking out loud.

Update: Thanks to Mike O’Connell for pointing me to this fantastic interview with Toni Weisskopf of Baen books about ebooks and associated business models.

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Math is Delicious!

August 13, 2008 at 11:47 am | Posted in books, comics, life, math, motorcycles, technology | 6 Comments

Check out Questionable Content, one of my favorite webcomics. It’s about a bunch of 20somethings centered around a coffee shop. I’m currently wearing this t-shirt. There are others here. Good geeky stuff.

In the meantime, I’m doing math a lot these days. The REU inspired me to get this paper that I’ve been procrasti- … er, working on, out. And for a week and a half now I’ve been incredibly productive! Talk about taking the bull by the horns and running with your nose to the wheel! It’s been great, and it looks like I’m going to meet my self-imposed deadline of getting this paper presentable, at least to a couple of colleagues to look over, and without qualifiers like, “Ignore the formatting errors in chapter three,” or, “I know the proof in the Hermitian case needs work.” This is going to be a no-qualifiers, one edit away from submission to a journal, state of done-ness.

This makes me very happy. It almost makes me not mind so much that my motorcycle’s been in the shop for a week and a half. I think I’ll call them. They said a part was on order last week, and that it’d take several days to get, so it’s not totally unexpected that it has taken this long, but I’m getting antsy.

What else is going on? Jenny’s tummy is unhappy, so neither of us got much sleep last night. My poor sweetie. 😦 She’s been doing lots of riding on her bike, though. Good for her! She’s taking it slow, practicing on the college campus after hours and on local residential roads. She’s concentrating on having excellent control, and building experience, and therefore confidence, little by little. We can’t wait til we can ride together, each on our own bike!

One and a half weeks until classes start. There was a recent issue with one of my textbooks. One company bought the textbook I was using from another company and raised the price by over 60% from the last edition. Then they had the nerve to ship us hardcover copies of the old edition, and were charging the inflated price! I sent one of the nastiest emails I’ve every sent, and it looks like it’s being taken care of at no cost to us. We’re getting the new editions, and my textbook manager won’t have to have our bookstore pay to send the old copies back. If it all works out, I’ll have no ill feelings about the publisher. I may not use this book again at this price (it’s a bit late to change at this point), but we’ll have to see.

Now I’m off to a clicker demo. “Clickers” are used for ConcepTests, classroom voting and such, and the college is evaluating several systems from various vendors. I use them regularly. I don’t recall if I’ve posted any entries about them. There’s lots of info online if you want to google “clickers,” or “conceptests.” Ta-ta!

Uncle Joe

March 26, 2008 at 7:20 am | Posted in books, religion | 10 Comments

I’ve been doing a bit of pleasure reading this spring break, and I came across this piece of wisdom from Uncle Joe.

“[In] mythology — if you have a mythology in which the metaphor for the mystery is the father, you are going to have a different set of signals from what you would have if the metaphor for the wisdom and mystery of the world were the mother. And they are two perfectly good metaphors. Neither one is a fact. These are metaphors. It is as though the universe were my father. It is as though the universe were my mother. Jesus says, ‘No one gets to the father but by me.’ The father that he was talking about was the biblical father. It might be that you can get to the father only by way of Jesus. On the other hand, suppose you are going by way of the mother. There you might prefer Kali, and the hymns to the goddess, and so forth. That is simply another way to get to the mystery of your life. You must understand that each religion is a kind of software that has its own set of signals and will work.”

— Joseph Campbell, The Power Of Myth

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