As everyone probably knows, Amazon made a big stink recently with the launch of its ebook reader the Kindle (and the associated ebook store). I’m on a mailing list for authors who distribute on podiobooks.com, and the Kindle set that normally very quiet mailing list on fire. Everyone seemed to have a very strong opinion.
Now, I haven’t seen a Kindle, so I can’t comment on the use of the thing, though I know others who can. But I can talk about ebook readers in general from my own particular perspective.
I think it’s a pretty good guess the I am the target audience for this device. I love to read, and even though I’m quite fond of dead tree books, my lifestyle requires that I limit my physical media. I’ve been reading books primarily onscreen for a few years now, starting with pdf file on my laptop and most recently using Plucker on my old Palm Tungsten C.
I recently was looking into purchasing ebooks from the eReader store, and even though there are several titles I desperately want to read, I stopped short. It’s not the cost – they are reasonably priced compared to a paperback (particularly since I live in Canada, and book pricing here is insane). The problem is the DRM.
I’m convinced that my Palm device is dying, and I’ll probably have to replace it with something. I donâ€™t know what I’m replacing it with, but whatever it is, I want the books I already have to be able to be used with the new device. DRM means that I’m locked to a particular device or reader, and I’m not willing to buy multiple copies of a book just to be able to read it wherever I want.
And that’s the main problem with the Kindle and Amazon’s ebook store (and other products like it). In a world where even the iTunes Music Store realizes that people donâ€™t want their media locked to a product or device, ebooks that are crippled this way are just uninteresting to me. I’ll go to the library for books that I can’t get electronically, and stick to independents authors and public domain works that I can get in the formats I want. And that, my friends, is why the Kindle and ebook DRM sucks for authors. Because those are lost sales.
Oh yeah, and $400 for an ebook reader? You’ve got to be kidding.