Articles Tagged: Amazon

Amazon’s Kindle Disclosure Policies Could Attract FTC Attention

Any way you look at it, the Kindle is a remarkable reading system. Amazon has managed to capture massive mainstream attention for an electronic reading device that combines seamless wireless content distribution with a purchasing process that is so transparent you’d be forgiven for not realizing you’ve actually paid money for a book.

Equally remarkable is the fact that Amazon sells DRM-restricted ebooks side-by-side with DRM-free ebooks while making no distinction between the two formats. From the consumer’s perspective there’s no way to tell which Kindle books are locked down by DRM before purchase.

Over the past week, Teleread has been orchestrating a consumer driven tagging effort to tag DRM-free books in the Kindle store. While I think the project is a brilliant use of crowdsourcing, it also reveals just how bad the problem really is. In order to accurately tag a Kindle ebook as DRM-free, Amazon customers must first buy the book, then go through a somewhat involved process to test whether or not the book is locked down. (more…)

The Authors Guild vs. Kindle 2 — Could Users Be Held Liable?

Kindle 2 shipped this week, and all over America ebook lovers are gleefully tweeting the arrival of the new reading device.

That’s all well and good, but those excited new Kindle owners may want to proceed with caution when it comes to using one of the device’s most highly publicized new features. In fact, they just might want to consult a lawyer before pressing that “read aloud” button.

The Authors Guild believes that Kindle 2’s text-to-speech (TTS) feature is an infringement of audiobook rights. In fact, the Guild contends that because of this new feature, every Kindle book sold is not only an ebook, but also an audiobook. Never mind the fact that Kindle 2’s voice has been described as sounding “oddly norwegian” or that Jeff Bezos recently joked with John Stewart that the read aloud feature sounds “a little freaky.”


When the Smell of Books Becomes the Stench of DRM

By now it should be clear that ebooks are more than just a passing fad. That digital reading revolution we’ve been hearing about for over a decade is finally starting to take shape. Amazon has sold over a half million Kindles, Sony has moved several hundred thousand digital Readers, and Stanza, the free reading app for the iPhone, has been downloaded over 1.3 million times.

As consumer adoption of digital reading devices accelerates, publishers are grappling with the impact that digital distribution will have on existing business models. It’s hard not to feel a certain sense of déjà vu as we witness yet another form of mass media completely remade in the digital era. And it’s hard not to feel just a little bit sad that publishers are making many of the same mistakes we’ve seen made in other industries — most notably by the recording industry.


Imagining an iTunes eBook Store

Update: This post was published on 1/27/09 – exactly one year to the day before Apple announced the iBookstore. For an update on what was announced, see The Day Apple Didn’t Change the World.

Confession time. I was wrong about reading ebooks on the iPhone.

When I evaluated various ereading devices a few months back, I came to the conclusion that the iPhone was not suitable for long form reading. Months later, I’ve now read several books on the iPhone and I have to admit that the experience is growing on me. In fact, I frequently find myself looking at my bookshelf and thinking, “I wish I had that book on my iPhone”.

In most cases those wishes are an impossibility because there’s no (legal) way to get the book in question onto my iPhone — or any other reading device, for that matter. In some cases, where digital editions are available, they aren’t available in a format that would work with any of the current iPhone reader applications.

There’s hope that all of this may be changing soon, as publisher interest in the iPhone/iPod Touch seems to be growing by the day. Publishers are rushing to experiment with all manner of ebook releases targeted at the iPhone.

In part, publishers are turning to the Apple platform as a way to neutralize the momentum building behind Amazon’s proprietary Kindle platform. Ironically, not long ago record labels were headed in the opposite direction, offering up their catalogs to Amazon in hopes that Amazon’s MP3 Store might neutralize some of iTunes’s momentum.


My Beer with Bezos — The Shocking Truth About The Kindle

It was the night before SXSW 2008 kicked off, and Kassia Krozser, Erik Hersman, and I were hanging out at the pre-party at the Six Lounge in Austin. Erik was explaining that the guy in the corner who looked remarkably like Jeff Bezos, actually was Jeff Bezos.

The truth is, there are a lot of guys at SXSW who look like Jeff Bezos. That might be why Bezos wasn’t attracting much attention. He blended seamlessly with the crowd of Web 2.0 geeks, and he looked absolutely in his element.

Eventually, word got out and a small but disorganized receiving line began to form around Bezos. Partygoers were eager to approach him for an autograph or photo op, but everyone seemed to be cautions about making too big a deal about it.

At some point, I realized that we were being sucked into the Bezos Vortex and were actually in line to meet the man. I remember thinking that it was not unlike waiting in line to meet Santa Claus, but better, because Amazon already has my wish list on file. I was certain that when I introduced myself, Bezos would shake my hand and say, “Yes Kirk, you’ll be getting that plasma TV for Christmas. As long as you remember to take out the trash and clean your room.”