Gear: October 2010 Archives


October 25, 2010

While I love my Kindle, it does have some annoying features. The most annoying feature, as I've mentioned before, is the lack of a touch screen. However, nearly as annoying is that while you can read books on any Kindle you own, they're completely tied to your account. Seeing as the price of Kindle books is often nearly as high as the price of the corresponding paper book, this seems like a pretty significant drawback. Now, Amazon is apparently relaxing this restriction, but only fractionally:
Second, later this year, we will be introducing lending for Kindle, a new feature that lets you loan your Kindle books to other Kindle device or Kindle app users. Each book can be lent once for a loan period of 14-days and the lender cannot read the book during the loan period. Additionally, not all e-books will be lendable - this is solely up to the publisher or rights holder, who determines which titles are enabled for lending.

Now, I'm not saying I wasn't fully aware that Kindle books weren't transferable when I bought my Kindle and willing buyer/willing seller and all that. However, with that said I will observe that this is a pretty small concession (apparently it matches the behavior of the Nook). Kindle books would be a lot more like real books if I could lend them out permanently or at least semi-permanently.1 The analogous restriction would be that only one person could have the book attached to their Kindle account at once. That's still a pretty big pile of DRM, but at least in my case it would make me a lot more willing to shell out for Kindle books.

1. Digression: The early programming language implementation, "Turbo Pascal" was distributed on a "just like a book" basis, in which you were allowed to use it on multiple computers as long as there was no chance of it being used in two places at once."