Share a Book on a Nook and Help Ruin Publishing

Last week the big news in publishing was the launch of the Nook, Barnes & Noble’s new e-reader.  Such a homey name for such a tech-y product. I suppose that it’s supposed to make readers feel more comfortable, curling up in bed with it. We have seen here predictions from Forrester that once readership reaches a critical mass, there will be the usual lemming-like rush to buy them.  Although e-readers are being touted as this holiday’s “must-have” gift concept, it is unlikely that the tipping point will come this year, or even next.  It will probably come when e-readers replace textbooks.  The Barnes & Noble product has many advantages over the Kindle. And one of them is that ability to share books.  You will recall that Amazon made pretty sure that the DRM of its e-books would not allow for such a radical thing as book-sharing. Granted, the sharing on the Nook is quite controlled, and many publishers are not participating in this, in fact the very idea strikes horror in the hearts of some publishing execs. Said one, according to medialoper, “if publishers agree to lending then every ebook offer now and in the future will come with this consumer feature. Over time, I’m concerned that lending won’t grow the market and in fact could hurt it.” This kind of thinking did very well for the music industry, didn’t it? And besides, isn’t one of the great joys of reading the ability to share what you just read, even with the chance that the book you lent will never come back to you?  I’m not sure that lending e-books is any more of a threat to the publishing industry than lending a book was.  However, book lending was out of the control of the publisher – once a consumer bought something, they could do what they liked with it.  It’s a more interesting concept to me that the publisher should feel that they own the rights to who gets to read.

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