After spending our most recent vacation with my in-laws (two of whom, my mother-in-law and brother-in-law own Kindles) I’d made up my mind that a refurbished Kindle might make a nice present, perhaps for my 33rd birthday or Christmas.

Then a funny thing happened. Amazon got all “Big Brother” with two books by the George Orwell (naturally), Animal Farm and 1984.

You can imagine what happened next:

Lots of folks up in arms.
Tons of “isn’t it ironic” tweets.
Folks (me included) thinking about switching their allegiances to Sony’s eBook reader.

Then the truth came out, stranger than fiction as it always seems to be. Turns out the real culprit in this crime were the publishers who told Amazon they had the rights to sell the book digitally when they did not, in fact, have those rights.

So Amazon’s actions actually protected well-established, prior-art-style copyright as most folks know it?

This isn’t some gigantic bait-and-switch that amounts to theft of a users’ property?

The entire concept of DRM & internet-enabled device/software/media management hasn’t just been dealt a deathblow (Don’t tell the RIAA)?

Yes and no.

In the short term, it’s not good for eBooks which have been exposed as nothing more than portable book-renting kiosks.

In the long term it’s good for Amazon, which keeps the relationship with publishers and (some) customers who see them vigorously defending copyright.

For me: I don’t want any part of a remote-controlled, technology-crippled, tether-bound money pit.

Unless, of course, I could distribute my blog there.

In which case, sign me up. 😉

What do you think about Kindle? Own one? Still want one (despite this news)?

I see digital distribution/engagement/consumption as a forgone conclusion, I just don’t know if I’m willing to tie myself to Amazon & the Kindle just yet.

2 thoughts on “Kindling

  1. I own one (got it as a gift a few months ago) and this news didn’t bother me at all (once I heard about the real reason).

    It’s a similar risk you take when you buy anything that you don’t host on your own computer or bookshelf. (Actually, I’m curious what happens if you bought 1984, downloaded the file to your desktop and then tried to put it back on the Kindle….) Remember what happens when music services pull the plug?

    Anywho, I’m not buying my big reference books and sticking them on there. Those are bought and destined to live on a shelf in an office with lots of mahogany. I’m buying magazines and novels and I rarely re-read them. Of course, I’m also catching up on old books I missed when they were hot off the presses, so they’re cheap. Or I’m reading the classics and all the works in the public-domain that are free.

    Despite getting it as a gift, I’d recommend it for the convenience. In addition to getting digital versions for a cheaper price than the dead-tree version, I can have umpteen books with me at any time. If I’ve read them all and I’m stuck in an airport, I can buy another book right there. If I want to read the news but not sit at my desk through lunch, I can go outside and read the WSJ on it. I’ve paid for convenience and comfort (I hate trying to hold the last 50 pages of a 600-page paperback open. Or put it on a desk to read while I eat or rest my arms) and I’m getting my money’s worth.

    I’m a realist and I realize that one day my Kindle will die and I can either buy a new one (or a compatible one) or just let the books expire. Since I’ve currently got boxes of books waiting to go to friends and/or a library and/or the trash heap, I don’t think I’ll miss them when that time comes.

  2. Despite all my protestations and rambling nonsense, I’ll likely get one within the next 18 months. I’d prefer to get one on the cheap – maybe something refurbished or an older model at a reduced price once something newer is out there.

    Also, I’m going to make good use of Project Gutenberg. I could use more (read: any) free classical literature in my life.

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