Let’s get straight to the bad news: although Amazon did answer my questions, their answers included “we’re working on that,” “I don’t know,” and “I don’t know (but it’s the publishers’ fault).” To be fair to the “Kindle Specialist” I spoke with this morning, he has promised to talk to the Kindle marketing department—why marketing? these are DRM issues!—and get back to me with better answers. Until then, this is what the average consumer can expect from a Kindle ebook license.
Later this month, Sony will start selling a $199 ebook reader through Walmart and other retailers ($100 less than the Kindle). They’re also dropping the price of new releases to $9.99, which is what Amazon sells ebook licenses for. [Consumer Reports]
I was never much for writing in books in school, though I did use Post-Its frequently. Which is a precursor to leaving digital notes in a Kindle edition of the book. A Michigan high school student is one of the parties in a class action suit against Amazon because in deleting the unauthorized MobileReference edition of 1984, the company effectively ate his homework.
The ebook “war” is a race to the bottom, apparently, with Barnes & Noble trying to out-do Amazon on DRM stupidity. A reader emailed B&N customer service to point out that their “free books” offer consists of 5 public domain titles that are no longer protected under copyright, yet are still locked down with digital rights management (DRM). Their response? “For copyright protection purposes, these files are encrypted and cannot be converted or printed.”
Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired and author of The Long Tail, has published a new book that looks at something of interest to Consumerist: the trend of content and services to slide toward free, especially in the digital world. It’s pretty light reading and an interesting look at economics in the digital marketplace in particular—and for now, at least, it’s available in multiple formats for free.
So you’ve got a Kindle, and you have books on it, and you want to keep those books—no matter what Amazon or a publisher decides you deserve in the future. Your legal options are limited, but you do have some.
Everyone keeps reporting it, so we feel like we should also mention it here: Amazon has dropped the price on its normal-sized Kindle to $299. [Consumer Reports]
Dan, the Kindle owner who last week found that some of the books he’d purchased were no longer available to download due to unspecified limitations set by the publisher, spoke to more Amazon reps on Sunday. They clarified the DRM policy. Well, sort of.
Amazon Kindle Books Can Only Be Downloaded A Limited Number Of Times, And No You Cannot Find Out That Limit Before You Hit It
[The CSR said] that there is always a limit to the number of times you can download a given book. Sometimes, he said, it’s five or six times but at other times it may only be once or twice. And, here’s the kicker folks, once you reach the cap you need to repurchase the book if you want to download it again.
Amazon recently banned a customer for making what they considered too many returns, and when they did this they also disabled his Kindle account, although the returns were never related to Kindle purchases. So what happens when your Kindle account is taken away? Your Kindle still works, and the books you already bought for it will work, but you can’t download those books ever again (better have made a backup on your PC!), you can’t receive your magazine, blog, or newspaper subscriptions on it anymore, you can’t email documents to Amazon to have them converted and sent to your Kindle, and you can’t buy any new books for the device. That $360 device only works so long as Amazon decides it will work.
It’s been a little over a year since Amazon released the Kindle, and now publishers are finally getting the chance to set their own pricing on ebook editions. The result has been a slow creep in pricing on some titles—in some cases to levels above the price of a paper edition of the same book—for a digital edition that you can’t resell, give away to someone else, or read on any other device. Kindle owners have started to notice, and now some of them are complaining that Amazon overpromised the $9.99 bookstore concept to move Kindles.
The Red Tape Chronicles details a credit card scam where an ebook company fraudulently charges consumers for ebooks they never ordered. Oddly, when you find the company’s hidden “customer service” number, they’re very quick to issue refunds. Using eBooks is clever, too. That way, if they’re raided, the only inventory they will have to show are a few digital files It’s almost like they know how to just skirt on the edge of the law… hmm…chin scratch….