In case you haven’t heard, Amazon released an e-book reader called Kindle this week. On the surface, it’s a compelling package: it can deliver books, newspapers, and a few blogs over the cell network, with no monthly charges. You buy the books, you buy the content as you want it. Battery life seems good, too.
The downside is DRM: it’s a totally closed system, so you can only buy what Amazon can sell you. John Gruber argues that there’s a related problem. Namely, you’re restricted in what you can and can’t do with the content down the road:
So the Kindle proposition is this: You pay for downloadable books that can’t be printed, can’t be shared, and can’t be displayed on any device other than Amazon’s own $400 reader — and whether they’re readable at all in the future is solely at Amazon’s discretion. That’s no way to build a library.
I’d argue that’s a minor concern. Sure the lock-in is an issue. I’d love to be able to drop in any PDF book or RSS feed and read it. But I can’t say I really care about having the books in the future. I’ve listened to my favorite albums hundreds of times, but I’ve only read my favorite books once, maybe twice.
Now, granted, I’m not the bibliophile my fiancé is. She treats books like sacred objects. So I can certainly sympathize with Gruber’s point of view. But I bet there a few people out there like me, who would gladly accept the restrictions in exchange for never again having to fill moving boxes with books.
Of course, I’m not going to buy one, so what the heck do I know?