Monday, January 28th, 2008

Kindles in libraries? Amazon says “get lost.”

Amazon prohibits libraries from lending out Kindles. It’s unclear if you can let your spouse use it.

(Hat tip Jessamyn West).

I’ve refrained from posting about the Kindle because everyone else is talking about it and I don’t have strong feelings, except on the licensing issue.

There are cultural plusses from the fact that books are objects people can sell, loan, swap and pass onto your children, and that their continued functioning does not depend on the good will and financial stability of a company. There are cultural plusses from some of the extra things Kindle could do too, but those are the things we could lose.

I’m worried that, for most people, these plusses aren’t that important. Shocked as I am by the practice, most people throw away books after they read them. But it’s only books for me. I’ve somehow managed to accept that, when my father dies, his fabulous classical music collection will go to his heirs, but my son won’t be getting my music.

Maybe this aspect of the issue won’t be noticed until people see how DRM-based solutions cut libraries out of the equation. Then again, Amazon will probably move to allow libraries to provide short-term rentals, and libraries will accept that.

What does the library of the future do? I worry it won’t do much more than aggregate rights-managed subscription services. It’s already going that way with databases and journals. Yuck.

Think I’m cantankerous? You haven’t heard David Lynch on the iPhone.

Labels: kindle


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