Posted on November 20, 2007 in DRM, Kindle, Rubbish by Brian RoweComments Off

Kindle, Amazon’s new portable digital book reader, is a case study in how not to make an ebook reader.

Here are the problems:
1. Kindle has DRM backed up by abusive contract terms – “You may not sell, rent, lease, distribute, broadcast, sublicense or otherwise assign any rights to the Digital Content or any portion of it to any third party, and you may not remove any proprietary notices or labels on the Digital Content. In addition, you may not, and you will not encourage, assist or authorize any other person to, bypass, modify, defeat or circumvent security features that protect the Digital Content.”

2. Kindle violates your privacy – “The Device Software will provide Amazon with data about your Device and its interaction with the Service (such as available memory, up-time, log files and signal strength) and information related to the content on your Device and your use of it (such as automatic bookmarking of the last page read and content deletions from the Device). Annotations, bookmarks, notes, highlights, or similar markings you make in your Device are backed up through the Service.”

3. If you use Kindle in a way Amazon does not allow, like circumventing DRM to exercise Fair Use rights, you will lose your books and the software to read them – “Your rights under this Agreement will automatically terminate without notice from Amazon 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 notice to you and without refund of any fees.”

4. Kindle charges you to access free content. – Blog subscriptions cost $2 a month. However, you can browse directly to the blog using the “Basic Web” browser?. So they are charging $2 to use RSS.

5. Kindle does not support 99% of major formats – NO PDF, NO DOC, NO RTF, NO JPEG, Although it will convert some of these for $. 10 each through a slow email process.

I am not sure I could design a book reader this bad if I tried. The best suggestion I have read for people who are thinking about buying a Kindle is from Kevin Marks:

“If you have $400 to spend on a small gadget to read outdoors on, buy yourself an OLPC and give one away to a child elsewhere too .”