- "This ain't no library, kid."
One example cited in the patent application was of a customer who paid $1 to preview a book by Stephen King. After deciding to buy the book, the customer would then pay $1 less on another book of his. Alternatively, if the customer decided to preview enough Stephen King novels such that he or she had paid the equivalent of Amazon's discounted price for a King hardcover title, that book would, in effect, be free for the customer.
Patents often don't actually come to anything, and let's hope for Amazon's sake that this is one of those times. Ms. Weinman floats the theory that Amazon is planning this in response to publishers who fear that pirates are abusing the preview feature in order to read books for free. This sounds like a good theory to me (as far as I'm concerned, any theory that involves the words "publishers," "technology," and "fear" is probably going to be right).
And it's completely ridiculous. Are publishers going to create a device that will keep people from reading entire books while sitting in comfy chairs at bookstores, too? The kinds of people who will take the time and effort to read a book for free using Amazon's preview feature are not the kinds of people who will buy the books anyway. They will take what they can get for free. If Amazon enacts this paid preview system, all it will do is cut—maybe deeply cut—into Amazon's profit margin.