Monday Morning Press 11.8

Ed. I know this isn’t technically the morning. And I guess it’s almost not technically Monday. Sorry.

The 2010 Chainsaw Massacre. Doug Wilson comments on last week’s one-sided election, noting:

I have mentioned before P.J. O’Rourke’s great line that this was not so much an election as it was a restraining order. It is now appearing to be not so much a restraining order as it is a chainsaw massacre. I mean, yikes

In the spirit of reaching out, and encouraging other conservatives not to gloat, I would like to mention that I did vote for a Democrat today. True, he was unopposed, and it was for the office of coroner, but still, I did it.

Kindle book lending, for real this time. This kind of thing has been rumored for some time now, and Amazon is finally coming through. Er, sort of.

You’ll finally be able to lend books to other Kindle users, but as Geekosystem points out, it comes with some serious limitations. The most egregious, according to Robert Quigley of Geekosystem, are below (in bullets!):

  • Books can be lent for only 14 days.
  • The owner of the book cannot read it during that time (which would be kind of cool if not for the next two…)
  • Some (most?) books will not be lendable; it depends on publisher stipulations. And…
  • A book can only be lent one time, to one person.

This is interesting, considering that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has gone on-record criticizing how lame the Nook’s lending feature is. Why, Jeff?

“You can lend to one friend. One time. You can’t pick two friends, not even serially, so once you’ve loaned one book to one friend, that’s it…It is ‘Sopie’s Choice'”

Immediately following this quote, the Business Week author writes this cruelly ironic line:

We suppose that’s a fair critique, but lending once is better than not lending at all. Maybe this means down the road we can expect Kindles to have multiple lending options.

Or not.

Look, this is going to be kind of nice. One of the most enjoyable things about reading life is loaning your well-worn favorites to friends and neighbors, and getting that knowing—even smug—sense of satisfaction when they tell you how much they loved it. Amazon is taking a step in the right direction.

But the very best books are the ones you want to lend multiple times. As Kindles become more widespread, the desire to lend favorite books is going to increase, but you’re only going to get one shot. What if you’re wrong, and your mom doesn’t really like the newest Stephen King novel but your best friend would have?

Further, even if you lend the right book to the right person, what if it’s not at the right time? Perhaps your friend would love to read the book, but is working on a massive paper at the time and has to put off reading the book for a week or two. You’ve just wasted your lending option. Or suppose you lend a book like Infinite Jest. Who has time to read that in two weeks?

Hopefully the publishers warm up to the idea that exposure can increase sales, and Amazon slowly gets nudged off their mountain of gold and agrees to expand this a bit. I’m pretty new to publishing and e-commerce*, but it seems that some kind of e-book library would be a worthwhile option for a little-man e-book competitor like Barnes and Noble or Sony. The consumer would certainly benefit, and it would give people a reason to buy a device other than the Kindle or iPad.

*I know Jeff Simon reads my blog; thoughts?

Obligatory Michigan Football Thoughts. This is usually a 50 to 100-word addition to my Monday morning post, but there’s too much to say after the 67-65 Michigan win over Illinois I attended on Saturday. Sensory overload; I’ll have a thorough post up sometime tomorrow.


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