Friday, February 12, 2010

Why A Free Kindle Is Still Too Expensive…

TechCrunch is reporting that Amazon is considering the possibilities of giving a free Kindle to every Amazon Prime subscriber. kindle They're even going so far as to consider the implications of multi-year deprecation on the loss which handing out the hardware at no cost would create.

Now, I love eBooks. Especially ever since I got a droid. I love the convenience of carrying around a library in my pocket. And in truth, I was excited about the Kindle when I first heard about it, just like I was excited about the Nook when I first heard about it.

But there are things about both of these devices that make them no-go, in my opinion. What I don't like here is DRM and closed file format standards.

Let's look at some of the fun things that DRM and closed file format have done for us:

And those are just the things I found with five minutes of searching.

But it gets worse. See, the Kindle uses the Kindle Format for its eBooks. These file formats are DRM'd up the wazoo, and the only device that they can be read upon are those that Amazon thinks are worth developing software for.

Basically, this means that the books that you "buy" (read rent) from Amazon for the Kindle will only remain usable as long as Amazon remains a viable company, and willing to allow you to view them.

Of course, this gets even worse when you consider that thanks to the insane laws in this country regarding DRM one cannot media shift these files.

For an example of this, let's look at DVDs and Linux. If you run a Linux desktop or laptop, then there is not a legal way for you to view a movie that you have purchased. Sure, it's a minor issue to circumnavigate the CSS DRM system utilized by DVDs, but doing so, brings you into conflict with the copyright law, despite the fact that

  1. It is easily broken, and therefore no true protection
  2. Should be considered fair use (i.e. attempting to view your copy of the movie)

Think on that, and apply it to these Kindle books.

I use my Droid as an eBook reader, and the software I use for it supports ePub format (an open standard). Now, if I purchased an eBook through the Amazon Kindle eBook store, I would be unable to read it on my preferred eBook reader hardware/software combination. 

Additionally, because the Kindle does not support ePub, then I would be unable to actually read those eBooks I do own.

At no point do I want the content I purchased to be locked to a piece of hardware. I don't want to have to purchase the same reader every time just in order to retain the "right" to read the books that I purchased. The fact that I purchased the book should be enough to prove that I have the right to read them on any device I own.

And that's why, even if it is free, an Amazon Kindle is still too expensive.

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