Monday, July 20, 2009

Not Counting On The Kindle

I'm a reader and I've always lived in a world of books.

I've got bookshelves overflowing and I've even got 51 books stacked up on the dresser next to my bed, including the the 4 books that I'm currently perusing; "Vermeer A View of Delft" by Anthony Baily, "Art and Culture" by Clement Greenberg, "The Complete Shorter Fiction" by Anthony Trollope and "Royal Blood" by Bertram Fields.

I'm used to being able to pick up a book, read a few chapters, set it down for a week... or a year, and then go back to it.

From time to time I've considered stepping into the 21st Century and actually buying a Kindle but after decades of reading I've become addicted to the weight and feel of actual books.

And now, after reading about the remote erasing of books by Amazon from Kindle, I'm happy that I'm stuck in my 20th Century reading habits.
From Jack Balken via Instapundit

With ordinary hardcover books, once your purchase a copy, you keep it, and you can do pretty much whatever you want with it, including marking it up, cutting it into parts or selling it to someone else. This is because of the combination of the first sale doctrine in copyright law and the fact that the book is a physical copy. Because it is a physical copy, nobody would think that the publisher of the book would have a rights to enter your house and remove the book.

But when you purchase and ebook, what you really purchase is merely a license to to store an electronic copy on the Kindle's hard drive... As a result you may not have the rights to do things to an ebook that you think you can.

For Centuries, we have understood, or rather believed that owning books came with certain rights, including the right to keep what we purchase and use it, mark it up and sell it in any way we like.

We were free to purchase books and keep them in our homes, without telling anybody what we were reading, or indeed what page we had last looked at.

Amazon's Kindle system upends all these expectations.
Amazon knows what books you have on your Kindle and in theory, it can even know what book you are currently reading, and even the last page that you read on each of the books that you own.

It can delete books, modify books or add books, all without your permission. It can change features of the Kindle at will.

In upending our assumptions about our freedoms to read books in private and use them as we see fit, Amazon threatens many of the basic freedoms to read we have come to expect in the physical world. If we want to preserve these freedoms we will have to reform copyright law, and privacy law to control the new intermediaries that can control us at a distance.

As the Instapundit says, there is just something creepy about all of this.
Especially when you consider the irony...
The books that were remotely erased were "1984" and "Animal Farm" by George Orwell.
Big Brother indeed.
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Jill said...

Wow! I'm so glad you posted this. I've been going back and forth about the kindle. I read so much. I was thinking that it would relieve so much weight of all the books I bring when we travel. I do Have you heard of it? It's just like netflix, but for books. The only downside is that you have to wait for the book to come out in paperback...but I have so many in my "to read" pile by my bed, this isn't really a problem!

Belle de Ville said...

Jill, like you I have way too many books to read but I love the site. I'm going to favorite it!
And definitely no Kindle for me.

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