I haven’t bought a Kindle yet, and now…

I haven’t purchased a Kindle from Amazon, and given the various problems with DRM-related stumbles in how Amazon treats their own device, it’s not likely I will purchase one.

Kottke article on Kindle fiasco

The basic substance of the article is after a number of individuals purchased the Kindle versions of certain ebooks, Amazon magically deleted all the downloaded files from the Kindles of the customers. This was done due to some kind of rights dispute with the publisher, but it occurred without prior notification to the customers. Amazon refunded the money, but what does this say about the customer’s “ownership” of the product they’ve purchased, if the seller can just snatch it back, whether or not a refund is offered.

For an ebook reader to have any chance to catching on, it needs to not only be open to non-proprietary formats — in other words, you should be able to load your own .txt and .rtf and .pdf documents into it and read them, not just files you’ve purchased from a single provider — but it also needs to have a reasonable level of owner control over the content.

When you put an MP3 on your iPod, whether you ripped it from your own CD, or bought it from Apple’s iTunes store, it’s yours to keep. It never goes anywhere, and Apple doesn’t check in via some back door to make sure you haven’t loaded up, say, a bunch of mp3s you downloaded from bittorrent.

In other words, I’d say Amazon has handled their Kindle more like a Microsoft or a Sony, than like Apple. If Apple does release its own competitor to the Kindle (a larger screen iPod Touch, or iPhone, or the rumored tablet computer), Amazon will be in trouble.

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