In principle, I have nothing against e-books. Much as I like the paper version I can accept that things must change. However, there are certain features I insist on and these are not all available yet:

  1. It shall not cost more than $200
  2. It must have a capacity of at least 1,000 books
  3. It must have a battery life of at least 24 hours
  4. Contrast and glare must be at least equivalent to black print on white paper
  5. It must be readable in all circumstances that paper is readable (e.g. in bright sunlight)
  6. It must also be readable at night
  7. It supports all major document formats (including Word, Open Office, PDF, ASCII)
  8. I can freely upload any document which is out of copyright in the country where I am at the time
  9. Purchasing of copyrighted documents is easy from a large range
  10. If there is DRM then there should be a standard that everyone supports
  11. Authors are compensated to at least the level they are compensated for printed works
  12. Books are at least 50% cheaper than the printed version
  13. No third party can delete documents without my consent

As you can see, there is a way to go yet. Battery technology isn’t up to it; contrast/glare/readability is getting a lot better but still isn’t as good as paper; there don’t seem to be any DRM standards yet. There are probably other requirements I haven’t listed such as the ability to search text or the ability to move my files to a different device, not necessarily produced by the company from which I bought the first device.

The proximate cause of this rant, however, is a recent action involving Amazon and Kindle. Apparently, Amazon had obtained the right to 1984 from someone who didn’t actually have those rights. So they refunded their customers and automatically deleted the documents from user’s Kindles, without even telling them.

There are two significant points here:

  1. Deleting the documents, as well as not being part of the terms of agreement, violates #13.
  2. 1984 is out of copyright in various countries; just because the US keeps extending copyright so that Disney can hang on to Mickey Mouse is no reason for the rest of the world to have to follow, thereby violating #8.

I have been told, although I find it hard to believe, that Amazon charges people for loading non-copyright material onto their Kindles. I’m prepared to accept that this is a vicious rumour.

Anyway, even if technology improves such that all the rest of my requirements are met, there is no way I am buying one of these Kindle things. Anyone who believes they have the right to delete stuff from one of my devices without my consent is never going to get a dollar out of me.

So there.

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 20th, 2009 at 2:18 pm and is filed under And furthermore.... You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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