The BBC announces the release of Amazon Kindle e-Book reader and, though Dizzy is unimpressed, Right For Scotland is excited.
I could see myself sitting in bed reading this, or taking it on the train/bus to work. Or even putting it in the daysack for reading at the top of a Munro. And lets face it, when I seen this I honestly wanted it to give me warp engine diagnostics as well.
I agree that the concept is an alluring one, leaving aside the beautiful solidity and atmospheric inky aroma of a new book, and the feature set looks to be quite good (albeit US-only for the present).
While I like the white styling of the images I have seen of it – one can only assume that daily reading of Devils Kitchen has increased my tolerance to expensive little white boxes - this speaks to me on a much deeper spiritual level.
Actually, I don't like it's styling at all. Whilst even the earliest and chunkiest iPods looked somehow soft and welcoming, as the rest of Apple's products do, the Kindle looks unfashionably angular and... well... uncomfortable although I will concede that it is difficult to tell from a photo.
However, the biggest problem with the whole set up is that, excepting some utter catastrophe, my library will be available and in reasonable condition after I am dead. But the Kindle alternative is encapsulated nicely by Daring Fireball.
What it comes down to is that when you purchase books in Kindle’s e-book format, they’re wrapped in DRM and are in a format that no other software can read. There are no provisions for sharing books even with other Kindle owners, let alone with everyone.
With digital Kindle books, I’m not even sure they’ll be available 10 years from now. They’re only useful so long as you own Kindle-compatible hardware. What happens to these e-books if Amazon, having lost money on the endeavor, stops producing Kindle readers a few years from now? What are the odds that these files will be readable 50 years from now?
With iPods, while the iTunes Store is the only source for DRM-protected content that iPods support, you can easily fill your iPod with any popular non-DRM audio format other than WMA. Kindle supports a few other formats than its proprietary .azw, but the only way to use it for its main purpose—as a digital reader for popular mainstream books—is via its own proprietary DRM-protected format. I.e., Kindle actually is what ignorant critics have claimed regarding the iPod: a device designed to lock you in to a single provider of both hardware and digital content.
So the Kindle proposition is this: You pay for downloadable books that can’t be printed, can’t be shared, and can’t be displayed on any device other than Amazon’s own $400 reader—and whether they’re readable at all in the future is solely at Amazon’s discretion. That’s no way to build a library.
Once again, the evil that is DRM will scupper a reasonably neat little idea. DF does suggest some ways around these problems, so do go and read the whole post.
In the meantime, I think that I'll stick with my physical books, thank you very much...