Sunday, July 19, 2009

Amazon reveals the defensible value of the Printed Book

The issue is security. Content connected to the web is resilient, findable, very hard to eliminate, but there is no certainty that what you have is what you will have. It is not like holding Paper in your hand.

That's why photo books are a growing business and independent writers want to hold the book in their hands, not merely store it on the web. It's also why improvements in education scale once they include the Print piece.

From the Aardvark Speaks
Complaining that Amazon cut the access to some e-books is like complaining that your Kindle doesn't work when there is no electric power. It's a condition that is inherent in the medium, just like "real" books are not easily searchable, bulky and take up a lot of space.
. . .
To illustrate the point that the Amazon case is anything other than an exception, here are some things that happened at The Library in conjunctions with e-books and e-journals:
  • Due to an oversight, a bill for an e-book servive was paid one day after the due date. As a result, access to about 1000 titles was denied for the entire calendar month.
  • The Library subscribed to an e-journal for a few years, then cancelled the subscription. The publisher removed access to the entire journal; the Library could no longer access even the volumes that it had paid for.
  • An e-book publisher went out of business; the Library lost access to hundreds of titles at once.
  • Sometimes, technical/connection problems occur that make hundreds of titles (they are usually bought in packages) temporary unavailable.

At the moment, there is a big uproar because Amazon removed some books from users' Kindle devices (see also [1] [2] [3]).

I quote:

This means that all the reassuring talks by Amazon that e-books are just like books, but better is a load of absolute nonsense. You're not allowed to resell them, you're not allowed to give them away, and apparently, you don't even own them, as Amazon can delete them from your Kindle at any given moment. (Thom Holwerda,

But yes, of course. Excuse me for being blunt, but only highly naive technophiles would ever believe that anything other than the above is the case.

Okay, and innocent, trusting customers. But if somebody like David Pogue seems to be genuinely surprised by this development, it must be a case of naive technophilia.
. . .


  1. I don't have that problem with my SONY eReader at all! I'm not surprised about Amazon, though - at one point I had cancelled my account with Amazon because they kept "losing" things from my "electronic locker".

  2. A question:
    does the SONY ereader have DRM in the file.
    If they do, they are subject to the same stresses.

    Because Sony has yet done it, doesn't mean that can't do it. The problem with complexity is that usually things than can happen, eventually do happen.

    The problem is not Amazon. The problem is the very nature of putting DRM around the complexity of the web. The easiest solution is to figure out another way for publishers to earn money without having to charge for having the IP.

    My bet is that it's going to be charging for the experience of getting the content now. The idea that sharing content has to be stopped is a loser going forward.