Saturday, November 24, 2007

Daring Fireball: DUM:

After chewing it over all day, I’ve concluded that Amazon’s Kindle is going to flop. Or at least I hope it does.

What it comes down to is that when you purchase books in Kindle’s e-book format, they’re wrapped in DRM and are in a format that no other software can read. There are no provisions for sharing books even with other Kindle owners, let alone with everyone.

Barring physical catastrophe, I expect that the real books I own — the ones printed on paper — will remain in good condition long after I am dead. With digital Kindle books, I’m not even sure they’ll be available 10 years from now. They’re only useful so long as you own Kindle-compatible hardware. What happens to these e-books if Amazon, having lost money on the endeavor, stops producing Kindle readers a few years from now? What are the odds that these files will be readable 50 years from now?

With DRM-protected audio from iTunes, there’s a reasonable out: You can burn your audio to DRM-free AIFF files on CD. You can also share Apple’s DRM-protected audio and video with a limited number of family and friends. With DRM-protected Kindle books, you’re stuck. The only way to lend a friend a Kindle book is to lend them your Kindle reader. “Unshareable books” sounds downright oppressive to my ears.