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I am looking for components to build a digital library who lends people epub (ebooks) for about a week. It's like a digital version of the offline old public library.

Now I have found several flash (pdf) file streaming solutions. But that would require an active internet link. And like the public library, you are able to take your books to the beach or pool on holiday abroad where you have no connection.

So streaming is no option. The other file restriction method I have found was DRM, but that would require a really expensive license of Adobe Content Server 4 which is not suitable for my little hobby project. But it seems that adobe content server and Adobe Digital Editions is the only option at the moment. Or are there open source alternatives?

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An Open Source DRM manager is a total oxymoron. –  invert Jul 11 '12 at 10:06
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The only way you can enforce a lending period is by having something out of the control of the lender. Either a mother ship or a DRM. –  user1249 Jul 11 '12 at 10:14
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OT, but reminds me of this sign outside a bookshop I saw in a buzzfeed. –  invert Jul 11 '12 at 11:10
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An open source DRM system is not an oxymoron, it would actually be useful. Just because the system protecting the book is open source, doesn't mean the book has to be open source. Also, having the source code to the DRM system doesn't make it insecure. –  Ian Jul 11 '12 at 11:39
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Maybe you could start by using free content, like from Project Gutenberg, Wiki Books and similar sources. Your job then would be more finding and sorting out useful books (some Wiki Books are quite incomplete). –  thorsten müller Jul 11 '12 at 13:00

3 Answers 3

I don't know of an implementation, but this isn't as crazy or implossible as some may think -- the key is that you should NOT be doing DRM, instead you are implementing lending policies.

You would need to have your own manager that allows you to browse and download the books and also removes it when appropriate, optionally your own reader. The ideal situation is probably something for the iOS.

As long as you drop the idea of stopping people from getting around the system, and focus on implementing it assuming no hostile action, it should be technically straightforward.

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If you assuming no hostile action, you can just write into the licence "do not use outside the allowed time.". You should always assume users are evil and hostile regarding restrictions. –  user1063963 Sep 12 '12 at 8:41
    
It takes no hostile action to forget to do something, or to put off doing something. We rarely make something entirely new, mainly we just facilitate doing something old in an easier, more efficient manner. That's what this would do. Do not use outside the allowed time is pretty much what libraries currently do -- they have fines, but typically the only consequences of not paying is that they won't lend to you anymore. Enforced usage restrictions are generally flawed, none more so than those on media (music, video, print). –  jmoreno Sep 12 '12 at 14:53

You can consider some kind of encryption of the book files, provide an application for decrypt which requires a decrypt-key, the key should be valid only a for the given time period.

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Some books such as detective novels lost most of there interest once the reader knows the ending. Moreover often the literary quality is too low to justify to read it a second time.

A non-technical solution in this case would be to force the reader to discover the end during the limited lend time by asking a question about the story (or simply copy the two last sentences). If the reader answers too late, maybe he can be "banned" during a period proportional to the delay.

Some minuses :

  • You have to sell the idea to the writers that their books are protected by the low quality,
  • What if the reader don't want to finish the book because he don't like it or don't

have enough time ?

(Note: only half serious concept)

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