LISNews linked to this article about a Kindle user having her Kindle account closed without warning and her Kindle remotely wiped for some alleged account offense, an offense so serious that her Kindle account was restored as soon as anyone published the story on the Internet.
The alleged violation that apparently wasn’t a violation had something to do with ebook sales rights in various parts of the world and…I didn’t really follow it that carefully. If you buy a Kindle and start using it in Norway, you should expect crazy things to happen.
If you want your Kindle account syncing well, you should just come over the good old U.S. of A. We may rank 38th worldwide in life expectancy, but we’re #1 in total healthcare expenditure per capita. (I can hear the chanting now, “#1! #1!) Our literacy rate is pretty darned good, too, at least for the time being.
This debacle is an indication of the problems anyone faces when “licensing” ebooks rather than being able to buy them, whether it’s a Norwegian with a Kindle book or an American Library with Overdrive.
What I found more interesting were the comments, which seemed to be from a very savvy group of ebook readers. They included very specific suggestions on how to evade Big Brother Amazon.
- Don’t sync your Kindle to your account via wifi. Keep the Kindle in airplane mode and Amazon can’t wipe it.
- Download your ebooks to a computer.
- Then use one of various programs to remove the DRM. I searched some of the suggested stuff and it turned out to be pretty easy to do.
- Then load your books on the Kindle.
That’s it, and you sacrifice a little convenience for more security and actual ownership of your files. The same strategy works for the Nook as well, it seems.
This is the comment that made me feel the most frustrated, by someone trying to move books he bought from Kobo to his new Kindle:
I know you’re not supposed to, and to do so I’d have to break DRM, etc, but I paid for these books dammit, and I’m going to move them. After spending two days wrestling with ADE, Kobo, calibre, and various other programs and scripts to remove the DRM from my Kobo epubs, I finally said screw it and headed over to pirate bay. In 10 minutes I had all the books I had paid for on Kobo in a format without DRM suitable for my new Kindle.
I didn’t want to pirate the books, I’m quite happy paying the authors for their work…. All that DRM did was make it hard for me (someone who was trying to do things the right way) to get the content I had already paid for.
I haven’t had this particular experience, because I’m still testing the waters on my first dedicated ebook reader, but I’m already wary about paying for any content that I can’t then move to some different device should one come along.
Now it turns out I don’t have to, since there are workarounds. The workarounds might be illegal, but any law that keeps people from moving books they paid for from one device to another is a perverse law anyway and no one is going to pay attention to it.
Plus, if Random House is right that we own ebooks we pay for, then moving them to another device isn’t really illegal. Sharing them with others might be, but that’s a completely different scenario.
Unfortunately, that’s the scenario for libraries. They can’t workaround the problems because they want to publicly share their books with other people.
Once again, I can’t help but conclude that library ebooks as they’re currently restricted is a bad investment for libraries. They would be a bad investment for individuals if the restrictions weren’t so easy to bypass, but libraries are stuck until something better comes along.