In case you didn’t notice, Amazon is making the rounds pitching their new epaper-based ebook device, the Kindle. My reaction? Amazon, you can bite me. Go back to your publishing partners and explain to them that there is no way in hell I am going to pay for a device purporting to allow me to read books that has less features than, you know, an actual book made of paper. I can’t loan my kindle books to someone else, I have to rely on Amazon maintaining the service in perpetuity because if they ever shut it down I could lose all access to my book collection, or I have to have faith that Amazon will do a one time ‘remove all DRM from all books upon shutdown of the service’, which I’ll guarantee won’t happen, in fact I’ll guarantee it’s in their contracts with the publishers that they can’t. The device also has really limited file format support, including a lack of pdf support, and to convert files to the kindle format you have to have the amazon.com website perform the conversion. Additionally, apparently some file formats can only be moved onto the device for a fee. The device lets you read blogs and other web content on it…again for a fee. Amazon may gloss all this in a ‘yeah but you get free wireless internet access to all this great stuff, and the books cost the same or less as paper ones,’ but it’s all smoke and mirrors designed to get a trojan horse DRM’d to hell print content distribution device into lots of people’s hands.
Get back to the drawing board, Amazon. In short, your DRM schemes designed to appease your publishing partners are shit, and I hope your device fails miserably as it deserves to. Anyone with half a brain should stay far, far away from this thing. Sony manufactures a similar device for less money that allows you to put whatever content you want onto the thing. It’s not perfect, and it’s missing some of the interesting features of the Kindle (get your daily newspaper automatically on the thing, shades of the Dynabook), but you don’t have to sell your soul to a DRM scheme designed by (greedy) idiots.