Brad Feld

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The Kindle and DRM

Sep 02, 2008

I have completely fallen in love with my Kindle.  I’ve now read over 50 books on it and have another 50 or so queued up.  I’ve been reading exclusively on my Kindle when I travel (I no longer carry books with me), although I do read from the infinite pile of books in my house when I’m home.  As a mega-reader, Amazon has completely nailed it.

However, I have one problem with the Kindle.  DRM. 

I view the Kindle as a pure substitute for a book.  The way a book works is that I can read it and – when I’m done – I can give it to Amy to read.  She can then give it to a friend of her’s to read.  Or put it on her bookshelf.

I can’t do this with the Kindle.  I can read the book.  I can put it on my bookshelf.  But I can’t give it to Amy.

Now, I don’t have a problem with the fact that I can’t copy a book and have it simultaneously on two Kindles.  However, Amazon has already solved for this – it lets me store my books on either my Kindle or in my Amazon account.  So, I’m one small step away from "sharing" my book with Amy where she could then download it and read it on her Kindle.  At this moment in time, she’d have it on her Kindle but I wouldn’t have it on my Kindle.

That’s how books work.  That’s how the Kindle could work.  I’d even be satisfied with having a limit on the number of people that I could share a book with (at least two; less than five) and would be ok with a permanent association between a few Kindles.  Remember – share means that we can’t read it at the same time.

It makes no sense to me that I can physically give Amy my Kindle to read a book on, but can’t transfer the book to her to read on her Kindle.  Oh – so very close.