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Outlawed by Amazon DRM
October 22, 2012 1:40 PM   Subscribe

Outlawed by Amazon DRM: A couple of days ago, my friend Linn sent me an e-mail, very frustrated: Amazon just closed her account and wiped her Kindle. Without notice. Without explanation. Leaving her without recourse. [via]

Obligatory: How to strip Amazon Kindle DRM and backup your Kindle purchases.
posted by AceRock (98 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
The link is getting hammered, cached version.
posted by enn at 1:44 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Via Hacker News: Amazon didn't actually wipe the Kindle, but it seems they did delete the account.

That said, I'm surprised that Amazon still hasn't made a public apology.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:44 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the AWS service outage is related in some way?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:45 PM on October 22, 2012


Per Twitter: Her Kindle was not remote-wiped. It was broken due to unrelated circumstance, rendering the local copies of her books inaccessible until she got a new one and re-downloaded them, and her account was deleted before she could do that.

So still bad, but not quite as Orwellian.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:48 PM on October 22, 2012


A couple of days ago, Guy Montag came to my house and burned all of my books.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 1:48 PM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


How to strip Amazon Kindle DRM

Or you could just pirate - which is equally illegal, but easier.
posted by Egg Shen at 1:48 PM on October 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


And they wonder why we question the "five strikes" thing the ISPs are gonna start doing.
posted by symbioid at 1:49 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Cory Doctorows take on this:
My guess is that Amazon has the capability to wipe any file from any Kindle, and likely also has the ability to read any file on any Kindle. I'd further speculate that the policy violation that Linn stands accused of is using a friend's UK address to buy Amazon UK English Kindle books from Norway. This is a symptom of Amazon's -- and every single other ebook retailer's -- hopelessness at managing "open territory" for ebooks.

"Open territory" is a publishing term describing places where no publisher holds exclusive retail rights. In English-language book-contracts, it's almost always the case that countries where English isn't the native or official language are "open territory," meaning that if a writer sells her English language rights in Canada and the US to Macmillan, and her UK/Australia/NZ/South African rights to Penguin, both Penguin and Macmillan are legally allowed to sell competing English print and electronic editions in Norway, Rwanda, India, China, and Russia.

However, the universal approach taken by ebook retailers to "open territory" is to pretend that it doesn't exist. If no publisher is registered as the exclusive provider of an edition in a given country, the ebook retailers just refuse to sell to people in those countries.

posted by Lanark at 1:50 PM on October 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Linn lives in Norway
As such, your Amazon.co.uk account has been closed and any open orders have been cancelled.
I hate to be that guy, but I think there is more to this story.
posted by Nik_Doof at 1:51 PM on October 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Well, I guess I will stick to hardback books after all.


At the second hand bookstore my daughter works at. The one owned by Books-a Million....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:52 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hate to be that guy, but I think there is more to this story.

I wouldn't be surprised. Amazon's "we're not going to tell you what we think you did" stance is still less than encouraging.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:52 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I hate to be that guy, but I think there is more to this story

What do you think it is? Since there isn't an Amazon.no (or whatever that would be), isn't it common for Norwegians to shop from one of the other Amazons?
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:53 PM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Remember, kids, DRM is a just a harmless eccentricity of the publishing industry that only cranky neckbeards worry about and it will never affect you unless you are writing your own drivers for your PDP-10 or maybe if you are a terrorist. Nothing to worry about!
posted by enn at 1:54 PM on October 22, 2012 [23 favorites]


That's a seriously douchey message from Amazon. "Related" to a previously blocked account? What does that mean? We don't know, because they won't explain.
posted by rtha at 1:57 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I remember when Pages in Toronto closed down and a couple hundred trade paperbacks vanished from my shelves. E-book readers are awesome!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:58 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think there is more to this story...

I can't think of a "more to this story" that would make it OK for a huge corporation, not even a government, to remove reading material from a private citizen without any due process.
posted by DU at 1:59 PM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


And me and all the other Luddites are raising our second-hand books in one hand and our quill pens in the other and shouting "FINALLY WE DON'T LOOK SO WEIRD!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:59 PM on October 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


Remember, kids, DRM is a just a harmless eccentricity of the publishing industry that only cranky neckbeards worry about

Also, kids, digital books are the wave of the future. No one wants to fill their house with yucky old paper books.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:00 PM on October 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


This kind of thing is why I regard e-books as well, temporary. I've had enough companies I bought from shut down that well, if I want a book to be a keeper, I don't buy an electronic version (unless I can't get it any other way).

But yeah, there is some weird shit going on here and we'll apparently never know what. What the hell?
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:01 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


paper books got bed bugs
but ebooks got e-bugs
i am afrightened of the old and the new
posted by TwelveTwo at 2:01 PM on October 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


I can't think of a "more to this story" that would make it OK for a huge corporation, not government, to remove reading material from a private citizen without any due process.

I'm pretty sure there's something in the EULA for Kindle which makes it perfectly fine.

Remember -- Kindle purchases aren't purchases. They are licenses to access the material. As such, you never actually own anything you spend money on in that marketplace, and licenses can be rescinded at any time.
posted by hippybear at 2:01 PM on October 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


This kind of thing is why I regard e-books as well, temporary.

Only if you buy them. If you pirate them you don't have to worry about this crap.
posted by enn at 2:02 PM on October 22, 2012 [22 favorites]


I can't think of a "more to this story" that would make it OK for a huge corporation, not even a government, to remove reading material from a private citizen without any due process.

What's alleged in b1tr0t's link is that the "more to this story" is that no such thing happened.
posted by grouse at 2:02 PM on October 22, 2012


Her money is gone and now she doesn't have the content she paid for. That's why this is bad.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:02 PM on October 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


I was all set to jump all over this but now I'm not sure what to make of it. In any case, Amazon's refusal to provide details, even though the user agreement says they don't have to, is definitely a dick move on their part.
posted by tommasz at 2:03 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Denial of goods and services is A Thing, at least in the UK, and Linn should keep following up on that line. Saying that you can no longer be a customer on vague and washy grounds is enough to get you lawyered.
posted by Jehan at 2:03 PM on October 22, 2012


This is why I'll never buy drmed books that are linked to a specific vendor/hardware pairing. Ever. I'm happy to buy books if I get to own what I bought. I refuse to buy licenses to read a book that someone has the right to take away from me at a whim.

And I say that as a very happy owner of a nook, I just don't buy books from B&N (I bought a nook because it was much simpler to bypass the ecosystem when using a non kindle.)
posted by aspo at 2:04 PM on October 22, 2012


She should ask around; I hear some other Swedes have figured out a better way to get ebooks than giving Amazon (and the publishing industry in general) business that it clearly doesn't want very badly.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:05 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


The arrogant stonewalling and lack of useful response from Amazon is what is so maddening. It's a "guilty because we say so" response, with a deaf ear to any sort of constructive resolution.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:05 PM on October 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


More details about this via the twitter user b1tr0t linked to earlier: http://blogs.computerworlduk.com/simon-says/2012/10/rights-you-have-no-right-to-your-ebooks/index.htm
posted by Vorteks at 2:12 PM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Interesting conversation with my brother-in-law the other day: he adores his new Kindle Fire, showed off all its wonderful ways, and asked me when I'm upgrading from my battered old Kobo. I explained that I prefer to buy books, not just a licence to read them. And he looks at me with a cocked head and furrowed brow, like "Whut?"

He honestly had no idea of the difference, and was convinced he was buying actual books. I suspect there are a lot of Kindle owners out there who believe the same thing.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 2:13 PM on October 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


Her money is gone and now she doesn't have the content she paid for. That's why this is bad.

It is bad, but it is not "Amazon reached through the tubes and took the stuff off her Kindle" bad. It is "her Kindle broke but Amazon is being a buttmunch and not giving her a second chance to get her stuff back" bad (still bad, but not "Big Brother/1984" bad).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:15 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kadin2048: I hear some other Swedes have figured out a better way to get ebooks than giving Amazon (and the publishing industry in general) business that it clearly doesn't want very badly.

It's not a matter of the publishing industry or Amazon not wanting part of some market, it's probably more a matter that it's a hassle to get formally set up there for one reason or another. As Lanark quoted from Cory Doctorow: [T]he universal approach taken by ebook retailers to "open territory" is to pretend that it doesn't exist. If no publisher is registered as the exclusive provider of an edition in a given country, the ebook retailers just refuse to sell to people in those countries.

In other words, Amazon doesn't like it when people who live in "open territory" try to purchase region-locked content. At least, that's what it seems, and we won't really know everything until someone with actual information can clarify what "previously blocked account" was involved, if Linn has only had the one Amazon account through the co.uk domain.

From Vorteks link, she has her Kindle replaced but sent to a UK address (by Amazon's own request), probably further mucking up the NO/UK locality issue. And from that link, it appears that Linn's primary Kindle was a second-hand device, replaced twice by Amazon, but possibly still associated in some way with the original owner. This original owner might have had the "previously blocked account" mentioned by the Amazon staff person.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:18 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sounds like a licensing gap that caught up to her. Amazon does not operate in Norway and the books she purchased were probably not licensed outside of the U.K. By having her Kindle repaired she inadvertently brought attention to her situation. I'm sure it's common but it's against Amazon's rules and probably the publishers'.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:19 PM on October 22, 2012


I suggest everyone on Metafilter memorize a book, just in case this "Kindle Fire" thing isn't just a cutesy joke.
posted by chavenet at 2:19 PM on October 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: It is "her Kindle broke but Amazon is being a buttmunch and not giving her a second chance to get her stuff back" bad (still bad, but not "Big Brother/1984" bad).

Yeah, that was a different Amazon fuckup, when they actually deleted Kindle-purchased copies of 1984.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:20 PM on October 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


In the words of the late, great, Maurice Sendak (on e-books), "Fuck them is what I say! I hate those ebooks! They can not be the future! They may well be. I will be dead. I won't give a shit."

He could not reflect my sentiment more exactly.
posted by Et3rnalCynic at 2:22 PM on October 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


A first world problem to be sure, but it is kind of depressing to think about the extent to which Amazon has wormed its way into my life, with everything dependent upon an account that they can shut down for reasons they aren't required to divulge.

When I was a marketplace seller on Amazon, I read quite a few scary stories of sellers whose accounts were suspended out of the blue, with no warning, effectively crippling their primary means of income. In many cases they couldn't get even as much as a reason for the suspension from Amazon, much less have any recourse, or way to resolve the issue.

Not Orwellian, perhaps, but certainly Kafkaesque.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 2:29 PM on October 22, 2012


Just pirate the stuff, if you really feel bad, buy it but still pirate it to get good quality product.
posted by zouhair at 2:30 PM on October 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


2bucksplus: "Sounds like a licensing gap that caught up to her. Amazon does not operate in Norway and the books she purchased were probably not licensed outside of the U.K. By having her Kindle repaired she inadvertently brought attention to her situation. I'm sure it's common but it's against Amazon's rules and probably the publishers'."

Man, what an idiotic system. We'd be up in Seattle with torches and pitchforks if media we bought in California didn't work in Nevada, but for some reason Europeans just put up with it.
posted by mullingitover at 2:33 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


We'd be up in Seattle with torches and pitchforks if media we bought in California didn't work in Nevada, but for some reason Europeans just put up with it.

They also have to show their passports when going between Norway and the UK. It's almost as if they were separate countries rather than political subdivisions of one country.
posted by grouse at 2:39 PM on October 22, 2012 [19 favorites]


If you read the Kindle Store’s terms of use, it spells out in very certain language that when it comes to Kindle, it is not in the business of selling you books:
Kindle Content is licensed, not sold, to you by the Content Provider. ... Your rights under this Agreement will automatically terminate if you fail to comply with any term of this Agreement. In case of such termination, you must cease all use of the Kindle Store and the Kindle Content, and Amazon may immediately revoke your access to the Kindle Store and the Kindle Content without refund of any fees.
What you don’t own, you don’t control. And anything protected by DRM is fundamentally not yours.

posted by Egg Shen at 2:40 PM on October 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Buy DRM-free when you can, illegally strip the DRM off when you can't, and back up everything.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:44 PM on October 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


They also have to show their passports when going between Norway and the UK. It's almost as if they were separate countries rather than political subdivisions of one country.

While appreciating your point, at the same time if you buy a physical book in the UK and bring it to Norway a) they don't take it off you at the border and b) you can still turn the pages at any time you want without the bookseller having the right to turn up at your house and take it away from you because you shouldn't have brought it out of the country. You could even sell or lend that book to someone else without the bookseller having any right to yank it from you.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:45 PM on October 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


We'd be up in Seattle with torches and pitchforks if media we bought in California didn't work in Nevada, but for some reason Europeans just put up with it.

They also have to show their passports when going between Norway and the UK. It's almost as if they were separate countries rather than political subdivisions of one country.


And just to be clear -- Norway is not a member state of the European Union.
posted by hippybear at 2:50 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


And just to be clear -- Norway is not a member state of the European Union.
But it is a member of the EEA. Which brings us back to the question of whether the UK and Norway can be considered separate markets. No business should be able to stop somebody buying in one country and using in another.
posted by Jehan at 2:55 PM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


She bought a used Kindle, the previous owners pulled some shenanigans and Amazon UK account and that banned account is still linked to the Kindle She's being punished for basically buying someone's bricked Kindle and Amazon is too lazy to clear up the mistaken identity.

Lets this be a warning to those who buy used electronics that require accounts. You might be getting a good deal because the seller is upgrading, or because they ran afoul with the TOS and need to turn a quick buck for bricked items.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 2:57 PM on October 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


They also have to show their passports when going between Norway and the UK. It's almost as if they were separate countries rather than political subdivisions of one country.

Even if the UK is not a Schengen Area, both Norway and UK are European Economic Areas and submit to EU trade laws, with exceptions for markets unrelated to electronic books. I'm not sure having to show a passport is relevant to the economic (and legal) questions that may be at hand.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:02 PM on October 22, 2012


Jehan: But it is a member of the EEA. Which brings us back to the question of whether the UK and Norway can be considered separate markets. No business should be able to stop somebody buying in one country and using in another.

Blazecock Pileon: Even if the UK is not a Schengen Area, both Norway and UK are European Economic Areas and submit to EU trade laws, with exceptions for markets unrelated to electronic books.

This document about electronic media from May of this year has things to say about digital rights and such, and makes it pretty clear that rights are granted per country, not economic region. I'm guessing that the way things work is, living in France means you can't buy books which don't have publication rights in France. Going to the UK and buying a physical book and carrying it back is different from buying a UK book in France for various reasons. Exactly how all this works is beyond me, as I am not educated in matters of publication rights. (For instance, I have no idea if you can special order a UK book through a French bookseller to purchase as an import. And I especially have no idea how these things spill over into ebook purchases.)

The grey area, referred to earlier in the comments as open territory, is that Amazon currently only officially does Kindle business in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Germany, and has plans to launch in Spain and Italy. I guess if you live in the EEA and not in one of those countries, you're pretty much SOL if you want a Kindle and should probably avoid getting one.
posted by hippybear at 3:25 PM on October 22, 2012


I've taken a hard-line anti-DRM stance in many threads. This sort of outcome is why.

Meanwhile, I've been happily reading Zoo City from the non-DRM-ed Humble Indie Bundle on my iRiver... I like e-readers just fine for plain text e-books (I like the reading experience better, in general, than I like mass-market sized paperbacks.)
posted by Zed at 3:32 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


chavenet: I suggest everyone on Metafilter memorize a book, just in case this "Kindle Fire" thing isn't just a cutesy joke.

And then we can have old-fashioned recitals! And meetups to transcribe our memorized past into illuminated tomes!
posted by filthy light thief at 3:32 PM on October 22, 2012


filthy light thief: "chavenet: I suggest everyone on Metafilter memorize a book, just in case this "Kindle Fire" thing isn't just a cutesy joke.

And then we can have old-fashioned recitals! And meetups to transcribe our memorized past into illuminated tomes!
"

I call dibs on Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea." Who's gonna take Tolstoy's "War and Peace?"
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 3:40 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sure glad this has raised the opportunity for people to once again tell us how much they hate e-readers and love paper books.
posted by markr at 3:52 PM on October 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


filthy light thief: "From Vorteks link, she has her Kindle replaced but sent to a UK address (by Amazon's own request), probably further mucking up the NO/UK locality issue. And from that link, it appears that Linn's primary Kindle was a second-hand device, replaced twice by Amazon, but possibly still associated in some way with the original owner. This original owner might have had the "previously blocked account" mentioned by the Amazon staff person."

This seems to be the most relevant detail. It isn't so much about international licensing, but more a case of mistaken identity. Somewhere in Amazon's system Linn's Kindle is still associated with the account of its original owner, in addition to her own. The original owner got in trouble with Amazon somehow, and they responded by closing both accounts. Then the situation is compounded by Amazon's total lack of customer service.

It doesn't look like they have a procedure for changing the association between Kindle ID numbers and Amazon accounts, or if they do it doesn't work that well.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:58 PM on October 22, 2012


chavenet, I have already done it! Behold:

In the great green room
there was a telephone
and a red balloon

and a picture of
the cow jumping over the moon
posted by Mister_A at 4:11 PM on October 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


There are a lot of problems going on here, but the most immediate problem is Amazon's ridiculous treatment of their customer. Even without DRM this situation could easily arise; customer doesn't keep backups because Amazon does it for you and lets you re-download and sync between your devices. When the device breaks and Amazon kills the account and refuses to take responsibility or acknowledge a problem, the customer is in the same terrible situation with or without the DRM. Amazon should get a big huge black eye for how this has gone down, and I for one will no longer experience warm fuzzies when I hear about an interesting new book and within 60 seconds have begun reading it.

That said, DRM puts you in a bind, because there's no way to secure your books against device failure once Amazon decides to treat you as the enemy. I think I'm going to go looking for ways to unlock the books that I've bought so far.

Living in a different country is no excuse to treat customers this way, either. If Amazon gladly takes a person's money, they have a responsibility to do more here.
posted by Llama-Lime at 4:12 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm sure glad this has raised the opportunity for people to once again tell us how much they hate e-readers and love paper books.

I love paper books and my e-reader, which I fill with DRM-stripped epubs. pdf's and cbr's from my hard drive.

It isn't so much about international licensing, but more a case of mistaken identity.

Well, we just don't get to know, do we? It's like trying to find out the charges against Josef K
posted by tyllwin at 4:13 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


It seems her account has been re-activated.

Your e-tailer overlords are capricious, mercurial, and act in mysterious ways.

Deal with it.
posted by bashos_frog at 4:18 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Regionality is a motherfucker, and digital content erases a lot of the easy get around for that.

On the other hand, isn't this just "whoops, my Steam account got frozen for totally violating the TOS, everyone please pity me" but somehow everyone is making a fuss because it's ebooks?
posted by Artw at 4:25 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems her account has been re-activated.

The system works! HAMBURGER
posted by grouse at 4:25 PM on October 22, 2012


It seems her account has been re-activated.

Ha! Complete with "whoops I have customer services five minutes to sort the situation out and then they did" per half of all Steam rants.
posted by Artw at 4:26 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sure glad this has raised the opportunity for Cory Doctorow people to once again tell us how much they hate capitalism e-readers and love paper books.

The minute I saw all this grar, I knew there was nothing to it.

She bought a used Kindle, the previous owners pulled some shenanigans and Amazon UK account and that banned account is still linked to the Kindle She's being punished for basically buying someone's bricked Kindle and Amazon is too lazy to clear up the mistaken identity.

That was my first thought too. Was this not completely obvious from the emails she got from Amazon?
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:29 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm one of those crazy people with thousands of books; some of which are hundreds of years old. My darling husband, a man whom I love more than chocolate, keeps trying to convert me to ebooks.

The last time, I went over and got one of my Cervantes volumes and opened up to the printers impression and said, "Ok, this book was printed before America was a country, and we can still read it. Very carefully, and I'd really prefer you not touch it without gloves, but it can still be read, yes?"

Then I went into my office and got a zip disk, a 5.25 floppy, and a 3.5 floppy, and I said, "The oldest one of these is from about 20 years ago. None of them can be read on any of our hardware."

I'll stick to print, for the most part, rather than trust words I love to a corporation I don't.
posted by dejah420 at 4:30 PM on October 22, 2012 [21 favorites]


On the other hand, isn't this just "whoops, my Steam account got frozen for totally violating the TOS, everyone please pity me" but somehow everyone is making a fuss because it's ebooks?

It's more "my account got disabled and all I am entitled to know is that they can't tell me why but I should believe that there is a really good reason", surely?

Also, what happens if you have a US Kindle account, move, say, to the UK, buy a new Kindle there under a UK account, and try to load your old e-books onto that? Is that a possible thing if you have left the DRM intact?
posted by lesbiassparrow at 4:30 PM on October 22, 2012


I don't know about this story but having moved from the UK to America resulted in my wife and I losing all of the ebooks we had previously bought on our Sony reader when we changed the address and absolutely zero response from the sony bookstore.

We could have kept our books by keeping our eReader as a UK device but we would not have been able to buy any new books ever because of IP georestriction. Or we could lose our books in order to buy new books.

Were we ever told this at the point of ereader purchase, book purchase, or tech supported advice to set the eReaders settings? Nope. Have they responed to our repeated queries regarding the loss? Nope.

You either own your devices completely or not at all.
posted by srboisvert at 4:31 PM on October 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Is there a way to use a Kindle without having an account registered with Amazon? In other words, if they disable your account, can you still access the content that you have copied to it directly?
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 4:32 PM on October 22, 2012


Amen to you, Dejah420, and now I will be forever jealous of what I imagine is in the rest of your library.
posted by bashos_frog at 4:41 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is there a way to use a Kindle without having an account registered with Amazon?

Pretty much not - they come out of the box asking you to connect to the account. I'm sure there's some way of rooting it.

In other words, if they disable your account, can you still access the content that you have copied to it directly?

For the fire at least it's a simple file system and easy to get into - getting stuff you've side loaded onto it off is super simple. Not sure how non-DRM books you've bought from them are handled. The DRM stuff they want to keep you away from, of course, but ive heard that's pretty simple to defeat.
posted by Artw at 4:47 PM on October 22, 2012


> It doesn't look like they have a procedure for changing the association between Kindle ID numbers and Amazon accounts, or if they do it doesn't work that well.

Must be the latter. I recently bought two Kindle 2s from eBay and registered them with my amazon.com account. Works just like the new Kindle I bought. I also borrowed a friend's Kindle touch, registered it to my account to load test books on and I was able to download books I'd previously bought as well as read books that were on the device locally before I changed its account association.

Amazon might not sell physical goods to Norway, but according to this and this, it does sell eBooks to Norway.

Kindle books do not necessarily have DRM. If the publisher uploads in Word .doc/.docx or .html, they don't. If the publisher uploads a .mobi, they have the option of turning on (shitty) DRM. This is for Kindle Direct Publishing, but if they offer non-DRM to plebes, why wouldn't they offer it to Holtzbrinck?

> A first world problem to be sure

Bullshit. Electronic delivery has the possibility of bringing the world's knowledge to the underserved cheaper and faster than paper books ever could. Keeping your extra books (that won't fit on your 1GB or 2GB race-to-the-bottom-cheap device) in the cloud because you don't have a PC to back them up on makes a lot of sense if your cloud account doesn't get killed by a faceless deaf wall of a corp.
posted by morganw at 4:47 PM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


So they're licensing ebooks the same way they license DVDs with country codes? Seriously? That's ridiculous. This nonsense is why piracy is such an attractive option. Piracy solves all these problems. No DRM. No Bullshit. A file you can take anywhere and do with what you please.

I can't think of many other markets where the black-market option is actually a higher quality and more desirable product for the consumer...bur DRM really makes that the case in this situation.
posted by jnnla at 4:51 PM on October 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


The last time, I went over and got one of my Cervantes volumes and opened up to the printers impression and said, "Ok, this book was printed before America was a country, and we can still read it. Very carefully, and I'd really prefer you not touch it without gloves, but it can still be read, yes?"

Is all of our books beyond a certain age being enormously rare and delicate and unreadable except by a select few something we should be aiming for? Can't we do better than that? Certainly zip disks being obsolete hasn't prevented Cervantes being available in electronic form from places like this and archive.org.
posted by markr at 5:14 PM on October 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


While it isn't DRM-free, I'd like to recommend Kobo to anyone who's outside of Kindle (and Nook)'s "legal areas" or whatever. My purchases on Kobo here in Singapore stayed with me when I went to UK and when I purchased ebooks there. I could even do this (purchasing, that is) in Indonesia. Didn't associate any credit cards; it's all through paypal (so it didn't matter even if I switched credit cards).

They don't make it too obvious, but all their ePub's have that Adobe Digital Editions-related DRM, so even if you close a Kobo account, your purchases are still retrievable.

I mean, seriously: no reason to stick with Kindle's nonsense. There are options.
posted by the cydonian at 5:52 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


In other words, if they disable your account, can you still access the content that you have copied to it directly?

Yes. Books that you don't buy through Amazon are just files on the device and Amazon doesn't mess with them. (They also don't get backed up to your Amazon account, so they will be lost if the device is stolen or broken, unlike Amazon-purchased books.)
posted by enn at 6:57 PM on October 22, 2012


I have more books than my local library. They are backed up on triplicate on my own hardrives; not to mention my cloud storage. All free btw. Eat it Cervantes.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:14 PM on October 22, 2012


In other words, if they disable your account, can you still access the content that you have copied to it directly?

All the Kindle models that I've used expose themselves to a PC as a USB Mass Storage Class device when plugged in. You can copy all the files off directly that way.

Of course, most of the books you buy through Amazon's store are encrypted. Not all, but most. So you need to use a DRM stripper to back them up effectively; if you just make copies of the file, you risk having a bunch of data that's useless without the key. (I guess you could back them up anyway and figure the DRM-stripping part out if you ever need the backups, but that strikes me as a poor plan. Might as well strip them when you copy 'em.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:34 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


i think the physicality and personal property aspect of paper books have encouraged certain possessive/hoarding instincts wrt ebooks that don't make sense given 'the environment' we find ourselves in. pretty much everything ever published as an ebook will remain available until the sun burns out, downloadable for free or nominal cost, and findable with two seconds on google.

right now that mostly means piracy, but it also means there's no value in even hanging on to the couple hundred kilobyte files once they're read. any book you bought from amazon or torrented from wherever is both disposable and instantly replaceable, whether this very moment or twenty years from now.

paper was more of a restriction to books and information in general than basically any drm scheme devisable by man.
posted by Ictus at 11:04 PM on October 22, 2012


pretty much everything ever published as an ebook will remain available until the sun burns out, downloadable for free or nominal cost, and findable with two seconds on google.

This is an impressively optimistic view of the world. And the internet.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:11 PM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I often read on my back in bed. With paper or hard back books, I tend to drop them on my face when they become unbalanced and I start getting sleepy. My Nook Tablet is lighter and much less painful to drop on my face.

Also, the lit screen is a ton easier to read on in the dark, and my Nook never loses my page.

And I have a digital library with more books than a person can read in a lifetime.

So yes, ereaders do have their perks.

Just be a pirate and plunder the booty.
posted by Malice at 11:43 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


pretty much everything ever published as an ebook will remain available until the sun burns out, downloadable for free or nominal cost, and findable with two seconds on google.

Wait, lesbiasparrow already said I was going to say. I’m always amazed that people have this sort of faith in systems.
posted by bongo_x at 11:51 PM on October 22, 2012


Killer quote "I prefer to buy books, not just a licence to read them."

I'm going to use that a lot.
posted by DanCall at 1:43 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


FWIW, Amazon does ship physical goods like books to Norway, both from the US and UK e-tailer. I've got shelves full to prove it.
posted by Harald74 at 1:46 AM on October 23, 2012


FWIW, Amazon does ship physical goods like books to Norway, both from the US and UK e-tailer.

Amazon UK will also happily ship physical goods explicitly labeled "for sale in the U.K. and Ireland only" (like some DVDs are) to a US address paying with a US credit card too. But digital files are impossible to purchase under the same circumstances in my experience.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:23 AM on October 23, 2012


Heck, it's not even possible to download the free, public domain texts available on amazon.com if you're registered with an amazon.co.uk address....
posted by MartinWisse at 3:41 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


We've created a monster (Amazon). Are we responsible enough to right this grave mistake?
posted by Goofyy at 3:55 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


right now that mostly means piracy, but it also means there's no value in even hanging on to the couple hundred kilobyte files once they're read. any book you bought from amazon or torrented from wherever is both disposable and instantly replaceable, whether this very moment or twenty years from now.

On the other hand, my ebook library can be saved on a 10$ flash drive a few times over, so I'm not sure why I would bother deleting books I've read and won't reread.
posted by jeather at 5:08 AM on October 23, 2012


A first world problem to be sure...

Actually, this really isn't a first world problem at all. I'm currently working with schools in western Kenya; textbooks for a year (if the families could actually afford them) run about $100 in secondary schools. For comparison, standard teacher's income (good pay!) is about $350-400 a month; people really just don't have the money to pay for the books for the most part.

Now compare: A Kindle costs $70. If you're clever in the ways of asian sourcing, you could probably source them for $40 or $50 a pop. Make a nation-wide deal with the publishers and you could get the actual books on the cheap, since printing costs will be out of the way. And voila: you're able to give every kid in the country a full four years' worth of textbooks for the price of one year's supply, or maybe even less. Furthermore, students will have access to lots and lots of non-required reading. Currently piles of money are still being committed to importing paper books to build libraries in Africa; instead we should be setting up e-reader centers with thousands of books preloaded on each. The cost would be lower and the utility would be greater.

E-books, if they were working reasonably, would be revolutionary for the developing world. Let's hope we can get there.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:10 AM on October 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


(And by the way, once you've brought prices down to $100 over four years of school, you can do things like have a payment plan across the four years. $25 is pretty close to what Kenyans actually pay for a portion of the required reading; turn it into a $30/year payment plan (to help with lost/broken devices, etc) and you're pretty close to a wholly self-sustained program.)
posted by kaibutsu at 5:12 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


pretty much everything ever published as an ebook will remain available until the sun burns out

Spoken like someone barely old enough to remember zip drives.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:59 AM on October 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


While it's true you'd have to jump through some hoops to use an actual zip disk today or a standard floppy, or increasingly, a non-SATA HDD, every file that I put on one and moved along to newer media is still readable.

(This is where you go "apparently you've never heard of bit rot" and I go "And you've never heard of silverfish" and then we neck.)
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:24 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


> Is all of our books beyond a certain age being enormously rare and delicate and unreadable except by a select few something we should be aiming for?

I have a book that's over 500 years old (Quintus Curtius, De rebus gestis Alexandri Magni regis Macedonum: Liber tertius, Philippus Giunta, Florentia, 1507) that's in fine shape, not delicate at all; I keep it on the shelf with the others and pull it down when I feel like immersing myself in some Renaissance Latin printing. It's in a lot better shape than many of my twentieth-century paperbacks. So no, it's not true that "all of our books beyond a certain age" are "enormously rare and delicate and unreadable."

> Who's gonna take Tolstoy's "War and Peace?"

Me, but I'm warning you, it's gonna be in Russian.

Also, I love my Kindle, and I love my 5,000 paper books. Weird, huh?
posted by languagehat at 6:36 AM on October 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


I often read on my back in bed. With paper or hard back books, I tend to drop them on my face when they become unbalanced and I start getting sleepy. My Nook Tablet is lighter and much less painful to drop on my face.
Yeah, pretty much this. I just started in on the paper verson of 2666 and I'm pretty much kicking myself now for not getting the e version instead.
posted by e1c at 7:13 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I often read on my back in bed. With paper or hard back books, I tend to drop them on my face when they become unbalanced and I start getting sleepy. My Nook Tablet is lighter and much less painful to drop on my face.

Bed is among the only places I don't read ebooks, only paper or hardbacks. This is because I tend to fall asleep reading, and I prefer to have a $5 paperback drop onto the floor than my iPad.
posted by chavenet at 8:17 AM on October 23, 2012


and I prefer to have a $5 paperback drop onto the floor than my iPad.

Well I have a pretty nice sized bed and though I get sleepy, I don't actually fall asleep while reading, I put the book away before then. But, if I did, it'd probably just end up beside me. I also have a really awesome case for it that makes it look like a journal/book. I fold the "front cover" back just like a book except I don't have to worry about bending the spine or having to read the bent page.

Anyway, it does fall on the floor from time to time but the case and screen cover keeps it very protected.

I love reading so much.
posted by Malice at 8:28 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have plenty of data that previously resided on zip disks.

Of course, what I am going to do with my Macromedia Director files if I ever want to open them is another question.
posted by Artw at 8:52 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sometimes, if gingerbeer is out past my bedtime, she comes home to find me asleep in bed with my kindle (used to be my phone) still in my hand, and cats on my legs.

Even given all the drawbacks of ebooks and ereaders, I love my kindle with an unreasonable kind of love. I'll never entirely give up hard copy books, and I do keep backups of my (stripped-of-drm) ebooks, but having the luxury of traveling around with many many many books on one small device is just fantastic.
posted by rtha at 8:54 AM on October 23, 2012


Yeah, I'm definitely one of the "love both my paper books and my Kindle" group. Particularly in the last couple of years, when I've been doing a great deal of traveling back and forth between two countries, being able to carry multiple books around on my Kindle has been wonderful. I still enjoy the act of reading more when it's with a paper book, but there are many, many books that I would simply be unable to access in the UAE and/or Pakistan if I didn't have a means to read them electronically.

I'm a little reluctant to laud ebooks as the great replacement for the developing world, simply because of the infrastructure issues that electronic media and devices present. Many, many people do not have regular enough access to electrical power for e-libraries to be scalable. It's possible that the cost for maintainable infrastructure and the ebook readers and the ebooks combined would be less than establishing libraries of paper books. It seems like that shouldn't be the case, though.
posted by bardophile at 9:04 AM on October 23, 2012


I can imagine a wind up charger would charge the cheapest reader. If we are talking about school and developing countries, I'm sure one can be thrown in with the schoolbooks package and still be cheaper than material textbooks.
posted by Malice at 11:57 AM on October 23, 2012


Getting into OLPC territory there.

TBH I'm not sure to what extent an Amoxin style cloud-based solution makes sense without being placed in a very well established network infrastructure.
posted by Artw at 12:07 PM on October 23, 2012


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