Why I don’t own a Kindle

I would love to own a Kindle. I borrowed one for a week and even bought a book. It was easy enough to read and the convenience of having dozens of books in a single object. The battery life was good and although the UI wasn’t perfect it was good at staying out of the way.

The most obvious downside is the DRM. On so many levels I cannot countenance supporting any DRM regime. Experience has shown that sooner or later everyone will get screwed by DRM. Philosophically I cannot countenance supporting or encouraging any DRM regime although pragmatically it has been impossible to be entirely free of DRM.  I also understand that Amazon is walking a tight line here.  They want to establish the market and must appease the greedy and paranoid delusional publishers and author’s guild.  Roy Blount Jr. this means you.

The other major downside was the relative fragility of the physical device. A printed book is a remarkably robust thing. It can get somewhat wet, it can sustain intense shock, it never runs out of power.  The Kindle is pretty solid but it’s  no book.

In the week that I tried the Kindle I realized that I would probably trade the relative hardware fragility for the convenience.  After all, it’s only a few hundred and if a device is damaged one can always buy another and re-download all the content. Right? It turns that the answer is a DRM infested “not so much.”  How tragic that two weaknesses join forces to undermine the product entirely.  The utter lack of transparency by Amazon about download limits is at best an embarrassed omission and at worst a bald faced deception.  Even Apple did a better job of this.  I found out a little while ago that Apple let’s you reset your device count once per year.  In this case we’re talking about authorized computers but there’s no difference  That’s really smart.  It covers all kinds of legitimate scenarios but is nowhere near enough for any practical form of abuse.