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Why I Won’t Own a Kindle

No matter what my stepmother says about how awesome it is, a Kindle will not darken my door until certain issues are resolved.  Namely (h/t):

Having learned all this, I went along and had a closer look at the current Kindle License Agreement. There is some simply petrifying stuff on there. For starters, you don’t “own” Kindle books, you’re basically renting them.

Unless otherwise specified, Digital Content is licensed, not sold, to you by the Content Provider.

They can change the software on you whenever they like:

Automatic Updates. In order to keep your Software up-to-date, Amazon may automatically provide your Kindle or Other Device with updates/upgrades to the Software.

That is how a totalitarian state would go about confiscating books, if they wanted to. There is nothing in this agreement to stop Amazon from modifying the Kindle software to make it impossible for you to read any of your own files on the device. Such a step is not actually forbidden to them by this agreement; they are under no obligation to protect any data you might be storing on there. That’s not to say that there aren’t laws at least in some states that might allow you to sue for damages; I’m just saying, there isn’t any promise made by Amazon to protect your data or preserve its readability.

They can also change the terms of the deal or simply shut down Kindle service entirely, anytime they like:

Changes to Service. We may modify, suspend, or discontinue the Service, in whole or in part, at any time.

Or they might decide to shut your account down:

Termination. Your rights under this Agreement will automatically terminate if you fail to comply with any term of this Agreement. In case of such termination, you must cease all use of the Software, and Amazon may immediately revoke your access to the Service or to Digital Content without refund of any fees. Amazon’s failure to insist upon or enforce your strict compliance with this Agreement will not constitute a waiver of any of its rights.

Keep in mind these are your books that you bought or collected. Can you imagine a bookseller or publisher asserting rights over the contents of your bookshelves in your house? That’s basically what we’re talking about, here. 

There’s much more at the link.  Sticking with paper, thank you so very much, at least until giving money to an enterprise for a book means I get to keep the damned thing no matter what.

Comments

  1. Lyle says

    Use real books, they are a proven technology that can be taken anywhere and do not need batteries. Yes they take up space, but if you are done with them you can resell them if you like. Ban E-Books!

  2. says

    If you needed any additional reasons to not own one, those are some great points. Sadly, most people don't really consider these things relevant, or they poo-poo any suggestions that they would ever see any consequences.Personally, I prefer the look of books lines on my shelves, and in leaner economic times (like today) I am proud to rely on my local library.

  3. says

    In some ways, the idea of being able to take lots of reading material with me in one small package is wonderful. But content that might disappear isn't worth paying for, in my opinion.People who want to publish electronically can use PDF or some other open format. Until that becomes common practice, I'm not going to be owning a Kindle, or a kindle-like alternative, either.

  4. Karen says

    When I buy a book, it isn't *licensed* to me, it's mine. Mine to read multiple times, then give away or sell, or even to start a fire with. (Not that I've read any book bad enough to use as fuel, but you get the idea.) Until electronic books are as securely mine, I'll stick to paper.

  5. says

    The battle here isn't e-books vs. paper books, it's DRM vs. us.Earlier this week, Harena's 13-y.o. accidentally left a book at school that he needed for his homework — Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.Google Books offered to sell me a hard copy (prices starting at $8.50, WTF?) — no help; I needed it that evening. They have apparently digitized the whole book, but of course you can only access part of it — in this case, the introduction and the covers… presumably because of copyright restrictions. No option to pay through the nose, even, to access it through their site.This book was published 73 years ago, people. The author frickin' died 42 years ago — almost as long as I've been around. Under US copyright law prior to 1976 (as near as I can determine — the rules are very confusing), the copyright would have expired 15 years ago. I haven't yet heard a good argument for copyright getting longer — especially retroactively.So I turned to my trusty Demonoid, and promptly found a non-DRM copy… along with about 100 other "great" books (many of which I already have in hard copy, and will continue to treasure in that form). Torrents can be slow, but this one took about 10 minutes.Meanwhile, Demonoid informs me that "In the United States, a new law proposal called The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) was introduced last week, and there will be a hearing in front of the Judiciary Committee this Thursday."If passed, this law will allow the government, under the command of the media companies, to censor the internet as they see fit, like China and Iran do, with the difference that the sites they decide to censor will be completely removed from the internet and not just in the US." … with a link to this article and this petition.I signed it, of course.

  6. says

    real books are the only books — everything else is just digital media and digital media is great for listening to songs or reading articles online … but a book should be a thing you hold in your hands and can feel how heavy it is while using your hand to turn the page.