The Kindle and DRM

I have completely fallen in love with my Kindle.  I’ve now read over 50 books on it and have another 50 or so queued up.  I’ve been reading exclusively on my Kindle when I travel (I no longer carry books with me), although I do read from the infinite pile of books in my house when I’m home.  As a mega-reader, Amazon has completely nailed it.

However, I have one problem with the Kindle.  DRM. 

I view the Kindle as a pure substitute for a book.  The way a book works is that I can read it and – when I’m done – I can give it to Amy to read.  She can then give it to a friend of her’s to read.  Or put it on her bookshelf.

I can’t do this with the Kindle.  I can read the book.  I can put it on my bookshelf.  But I can’t give it to Amy.

Now, I don’t have a problem with the fact that I can’t copy a book and have it simultaneously on two Kindles.  However, Amazon has already solved for this – it lets me store my books on either my Kindle or in my Amazon account.  So, I’m one small step away from "sharing" my book with Amy where she could then download it and read it on her Kindle.  At this moment in time, she’d have it on her Kindle but I wouldn’t have it on my Kindle.

That’s how books work.  That’s how the Kindle could work.  I’d even be satisfied with having a limit on the number of people that I could share a book with (at least two; less than five) and would be ok with a permanent association between a few Kindles.  Remember – share means that we can’t read it at the same time.

It makes no sense to me that I can physically give Amy my Kindle to read a book on, but can’t transfer the book to her to read on her Kindle.  Oh – so very close.

  • http://www.b-eye-network.com/blogs/rogers Shawn Rogers

    I couldn't agree more I have read 15 titles so far and the only two things i don't like is the inability to share and I find the table of contents hard to use and to determine books I have already completed.

  • http://gregcohn.com/blog Greg Cohn

    Yep – the Kindle is awesome, unexpectedly so. But the absence of any social dimension whatsoever is a real miss. I want to tag stuff in delicious, highlight and share, recommend articles, review things I've just read on my blog, etc.

  • Keith Martin

    Why not just have both devices under the same account. I believe that Amazon will allow five devices per Amazon account. That is how I currently deal with this issue – you can name each device and have the books on both devices at the same time..

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      That solves part of the problem, but doesn't really do what I want. Amy and I have very different book purchasing behavior so sharing an account doesn't really work. But – it's closer.

  • Chris M

    As Keith stated above, put them both on the same account. This is the way my wife and I do it. We share books across our Kindles all the time.

  • Keith Martin

    I don't think that DRM is the real problem here. What I mean is that it is inconvenient not to be able to “lend” your book to someone else for a short period of time but you need to weigh this out with the fact that some idiot would buy a single copy of the book and post it to Pirates Bay three minutes after it was released.

    I am for DRM as it protects the people who spend time writing the books. If the artist does not make money – how can we expect them to survive in between books? If they have to work full time jobs because they are not making enough writing – then we won't see as many books – if any – from that author.

    The only issue with DRM is what happens when the people who issue the work with DRM go out of the business (Google Video and some of the “Plays for Windows” vendors…)

    There has to be some amount of protection offered to the people who created the work considering that without it – it would be posted minutes after the release costing the artists and the companies that release it real money (and I am not talking the RIAA and their b/s numbers….)

    k

    • Steve Bergstein

      I think that Brad's point is that he should be able to transfer a book from his Kindle to his Amazon account and then transfer it from the Amazon account to Amy's Kindle (at which point it would no longer be available in his Amazon account). This would protect the author and allow Brad reasonable freedom with the copy of the book he “owns” or licenses.

      My library does basically just this with audiobooks. I can checkout an audiobook for a limited amount of time and listen to it on my DRM-capable MP3 player. Durng this time, no one else my check the book out of the library. Eventually, my checkout expires and my ability to use the book ends but a new library patron can check it out.

      • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

        Yup – you got it.

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      I agree that the fundamental issue isn't DRM – it's the lack of the ability to share on a limited basis. This seems like it should be able to be built into the DRM algorithm.

  • Keith Martin

    I agree with Brad (doesn't everyone…) on being able to check out/check in. You can do this with the physical product and you should be able to do it with the e-version.

    I just wanted to put my 2 cents in on DRM – because I feel that sometimes we overlook the advantages we are getting even with the current state of DRM.

    Like Brad, I used to pack an extra suitcase with books that I wanted to read on my vacation. With the current state of air travel – and the associated fees – who wants to do this. The rocketbook – then the Sony eReader and now the Kindle has made that unnecessary.

    I am very happy with the kindle and the selection of books. I think that Jeff Bezos would love to hear about the check in/check out process (next time Brad sees him…) and maybe a few improvements to the button placement…

    Keith

  • http://waytooearly.vc Howard morgan

    Of course you can go to Manybooks.net and get thousands of free non DRMed books for your Kindle. Else use the same account, which Amazon at least created to allow families to share. Of course, Barry Eisler would like us both to buy the next book.

  • Jim Pollock

    From one angle, it all boils down to a pricing issue. We loan or give away books because we can and there is no way to keep us from doing it. The price of a book has evolved to reflect that multi-reader model. Now that there is technology to enforce virtually whatever model you want to implement (single reader, limited readers, simultaneous readers, unlimited readers) it would be interesting to try the rent/own pricing. $12 to own the book and let limited number of people read it (same as paper for all intent and purpose) or $4 for a single person checkout. Maybe even limited to a month. At the right price, Brad would buy/rent the books he wants and Amy would take his recommendations and rent the ones she wants to. Maybe even generating more total revenue than the current somewhat expensive single view.

    I'm often surprised (especially with the DRM technologies that exist) why there isn't more playing with media pricing model. In music, one executive, Sandy Pearlman, wants the price of music to drop to a dime-a-song and $1 per album. He thinks it would then be a no brainer for everyone to buy lots of music legitimately. Why screw around with MP3 downloads from suspect sources when you can get legit high quality for a dime. Or just buy the whole album for $1. I haven't seen any legit source even test such models.

    Jim

  • Keith Martin

    Brad – I am confused about something.

    Why wouldn't having both devices on the same account work for you? When you purchase the book on-line – you can select which device the book gets downloaded to. It is not like you would have books that you don't want on your device…

    Or is it that you are worried that selecting those books on your Amazon account will mess up the suggestions for you?

    k

    • Joe Van Overberghe

      Why would he want to share his account with someone else. Amy isn't necessarily even related to him, she may be a friend, a co-worker, or someone off the street who showed an interest in reading the book. In those instances sharing an account is nearly impossible. And then Amy giving it to her friend to read would also be totally impossible.

  • Keith Martin

    Amy is related to him….

    I guess I understand the general issue – I still don't really understand why it is an issue for Brad to have both kindle devices linked to a single amazon account…

    k

  • Dimitri Dadiomov

    YOU CAN GIVE IT TO AMY.

    My dad has a Kindle and I have a Kindle and you can share your “bookshelf” so any book he buys, I can download, and vice versa. See about linking Kindles. I think you can do it for up to 5 or something like that.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/greg_cohn5428 greg_cohn5428

    Yep – the Kindle is awesome, unexpectedly so. But the absence of any social dimension whatsoever is a real miss. I want to tag stuff in delicious, highlight and share, recommend articles, review things I've just read on my blog, etc.

  • Keith Martin

    I don't think that DRM is the real problem here. What I mean is that it is inconvenient not to be able to "lend" your book to someone else for a short period of time but you need to weigh this out with the fact that some idiot would buy a single copy of the book and post it to Pirates Bay three minutes after it was released.

    I am for DRM as it protects the people who spend time writing the books. If the artist does not make money – how can we expect them to survive in between books? If they have to work full time jobs because they are not making enough writing – then we won't see as many books – if any – from that author.

    The only issue with DRM is what happens when the people who issue the work with DRM go out of the business (Google Video and some of the "Plays for Windows" vendors…)

    There has to be some amount of protection offered to the people who created the work considering that without it – it would be posted minutes after the release costing the artists and the companies that release it real money (and I am not talking the RIAA and their b/s numbers….)

    k

  • Shawn Rogers

    I couldn't agree more I have read 15 titles so far and the only two things i don't like is the inability to share and I find the table of contents hard to use and to determine books I have already completed.

  • Keith Martin

    Why not just have both devices under the same account. I believe that Amazon will allow five devices per Amazon account. That is how I currently deal with this issue – you can name each device and have the books on both devices at the same time..

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    That solves part of the problem, but doesn't really do what I want. Amy and I have very different book purchasing behavior so sharing an account doesn't really work. But – it's closer.

  • Chris M

    As Keith stated above, put them both on the same account. This is the way my wife and I do it. We share books across our Kindles all the time.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    I agree that the fundamental issue isn't DRM – it's the lack of the ability to share on a limited basis. This seems like it should be able to be built into the DRM algorithm.

  • Jim Pollock

    From one angle, it all boils down to a pricing issue. We loan or give away books because we can and there is no way to keep us from doing it. The price of a book has evolved to reflect that multi-reader model. Now that there is technology to enforce virtually whatever model you want to implement (single reader, limited readers, simultaneous readers, unlimited readers) it would be interesting to try the rent/own pricing. $12 to own the book and let limited number of people read it (same as paper for all intent and purpose) or $4 for a single person checkout. Maybe even limited to a month. At the right price, Brad would buy/rent the books he wants and Amy would take his recommendations and rent the ones she wants to. Maybe even generating more total revenue than the current somewhat expensive single view.

    I'm often surprised (especially with the DRM technologies that exist) why there isn't more playing with media pricing model. In music, one executive, Sandy Pearlman, wants the price of music to drop to a dime-a-song and $1 per album. He thinks it would then be a no brainer for everyone to buy lots of music legitimately. Why screw around with MP3 downloads from suspect sources when you can get legit high quality for a dime. Or just buy the whole album for $1. I haven't seen any legit source even test such models.

    Jim

  • Keith Martin

    I agree with Brad (doesn't everyone…) on being able to check out/check in. You can do this with the physical product and you should be able to do it with the e-version.

    I just wanted to put my 2 cents in on DRM – because I feel that sometimes we overlook the advantages we are getting even with the current state of DRM.

    Like Brad, I used to pack an extra suitcase with books that I wanted to read on my vacation. With the current state of air travel – and the associated fees – who wants to do this. The rocketbook – then the Sony eReader and now the Kindle has made that unnecessary.

    I am very happy with the kindle and the selection of books. I think that Jeff Bezos would love to hear about the check in/check out process (next time Brad sees him…) and maybe a few improvements to the button placement…

    Keith

  • Howard morgan

    Of course you can go to Manybooks.net and get thousands of free non DRMed books for your Kindle. Else use the same account, which Amazon at least created to allow families to share. Of course, Barry Eisler would like us both to buy the next book.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    Yup – you got it.

  • Keith Martin

    Amy is related to him….

    I guess I understand the general issue – I still don't really understand why it is an issue for Brad to have both kindle devices linked to a single amazon account…

    k

  • Dimitri Dadiomov

    YOU CAN GIVE IT TO AMY.

    My dad has a Kindle and I have a Kindle and you can share your "bookshelf" so any book he buys, I can download, and vice versa. See about linking Kindles. I think you can do it for up to 5 or something like that.

  • Keith Martin

    Brad – I am confused about something.

    Why wouldn't having both devices on the same account work for you? When you purchase the book on-line – you can select which device the book gets downloaded to. It is not like you would have books that you don't want on your device…

    Or is it that you are worried that selecting those books on your Amazon account will mess up the suggestions for you?

    k

  • Joe Van Overberghe

    Why would he want to share his account with someone else. Amy isn't necessarily even related to him, she may be a friend, a co-worker, or someone off the street who showed an interest in reading the book. In those instances sharing an account is nearly impossible. And then Amy giving it to her friend to read would also be totally impossible.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/steve_bergs2127 steve_bergs2127

    I think that Brad's point is that he should be able to transfer a book from his Kindle to his Amazon account and then transfer it from the Amazon account to Amy's Kindle (at which point it would no longer be available in his Amazon account). This would protect the author and allow Brad reasonable freedom with the copy of the book he "owns" or licenses.

    My library does basically just this with audiobooks. I can checkout an audiobook for a limited amount of time and listen to it on my DRM-capable MP3 player. Durng this time, no one else my check the book out of the library. Eventually, my checkout expires and my ability to use the book ends but a new library patron can check it out.

  • http://www.whenwomenwerewarriors.com/ Catherine M. Wilson

    Doesn't sharing an Amazon account also mean sharing a credit card? I can see how that would work between family members, but I don't give even my closest friends my credit card number.

    Catherine M. Wilson

    http://www.whenwomenwerewarriors.com/
    http://www.catherine-m-wilson.com/

  • Keith Martin

    I just wanted to update everyone. Now that I have multiple kindle devices (original, 2 and DX – with multiple ipods (touch and iphone) – the ugly DRM monster has raised its head. I am unable to download books more than 3, 4 or 5 times (set by the publisher). I called Amazon and I told them that this is underhanded – that when you search for DRM on their Kindle site – they never mention anything about this limitation.

    Where this hurts is when you replace devices (like defective ones). The book will always download to the device that purchased it – but not to others once you pass the limit. So if you replace a device or a device is defective – you are beat..

    On the the phone with Amazon for the past hour trying to fix this issue…

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

      I haven’t run into this yet but I expect I will soon as I’m on Kindle #4.

  • Stefen Roebke

    Just the option to "Gift" one of your books to another kindle account would be cool. You lose the rights to download it, and the other user gains it. Simple, easy, no need for any change in File formats or kindle firmware.

    I don't see a need to limit the number of times the book can be gifted. In the world of used books, a book can be _sold_ and _resold_ any number of times with no money seen by the publisher or author. If its gifted, its just like giving a book you no longer will read to a friend.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

    I completely agree. I expect Sony and/or some of the other electronic book publishers that are starting to emerge will put pressure on this.

  • marcel

    I own a Kindle, but I don`t like that I do not really own the book and can do what I want. and if I want to be able to read my book in the future I remain dependent on a third party: Amazon. Similar situation with music already happened, people spent money for buying music, but were not able to play anymore after a year.
    Everybody says that DRM is necessary to protect the writers, but is this not the same situation as with music?. Pricing of “Kindle books” imho is very high considering the fact that distribution is easy and printing is not required. What will happen if pricing drops to let's say avg $5 per book and no DRM. I expect the turnover will be huge and the majority of people with just buy it legally.
    In Europe there have been a few websites which offered music for very low prices, they were shut down due to legal action of the record companies, but the sold a lot of music.
    The majority of people are willing to pay, but but probably not too mushc for something you do not really own after buying.

  • marcel

    I own a Kindle, but I don`t like that I do not really own the book and can do what I want. and if I want to be able to read my book in the future I remain dependent on a third party: Amazon. Similar situation with music already happened, people spent money for buying music, but were not able to play anymore after a year.
    Everybody says that DRM is necessary to protect the writers, but is this not the same situation as with music?. Pricing of "Kindle books" imho is very high considering the fact that distribution is easy and printing is not required. What will happen if pricing drops to let's say avg $5 per book and no DRM. I expect the turnover will be huge and the majority of people with just buy it legally.
    In Europe there have been a few websites which offered music for very low prices, they were shut down due to legal action of the record companies, but the sold a lot of music.
    The majority of people are willing to pay, but but probably not too mushc for something you do not really own after buying.