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|KeyWORDS: Vol. 1, Issue 2, MAR 08|
Photo: Jason Puckett
Jason Puckett, instruction program developer on the research and instructional services team, is a self-described “diehard gadget geek and bookworm.”
“I can’t wait for the day when I can carry a few dozen books around with me in a simple, easy-to-read device the size of a paperback,” he recently wrote to KeyWords.
Despite being gung-ho for gadgets, Jason says he isn’t sure the Kindle book-reading device previewed in the February KeyWords has long-term staying power; he doesn’t think it will, or should, be the tool we’ll all ultimately adopt for this purpose. Here, Jason addresses some of the deeper questions about the Kindle device that librarians are debating right now, in terms of Kindle’s potential effect on libraries’ and their patrons use of the device.
• • •
The Kindle only allows use of e-books purchased from Amazon, period. Using a Kindle means you’re agreeing to buy all your e-books from a single source for as long as you use the device. If a better e-book reader comes along and you jump ship from Amazon to the competition’s device, or if Amazon goes out of the e-reader business entirely, any content you’ve bought for the Kindle becomes useless.
Those expensive e-books to which the library already subscribes? You’ll never be able to read those on a Kindle in its current form. That includes PDFs, by the way, the de facto standard and the format in which most of our electronic content is delivered. Let that sink in for a moment – the device Amazon means to revolutionize e-book reading doesn’t work with PDFs.
Kindles do allow transfer of non-Amazon files in text or Word format, but Amazon charges for every transfer of a file to the Kindle. In other words, it costs Kindle owners money every time they transfer their own files from one device to another. Even those free public domain e-books available via Project Gutenberg can only be transferred to the device for a fee (admittedly a small one).
Books purchased for the Kindle are also tied to a single device. This sounds like a circulation nightmare to me. If a library loaded ten books onto each Kindle it owned, that would render nine other e-books inaccessible each time one is checked out.
“The [Kindle] Device Software will provide Amazon with data about your Device and its interaction with the Service … and information related to the content on your Device and your use of it (such as automatic bookmarking of the last page read and content deletions from the Device).”
In other words, Amazon will be tracking readers’ usage in ways that libraries would never dream of doing – down to what page of what book they’re on.
For the e-book to
succeed, it must be platform-agnostic and portable. Our users will demand
devices that can use content from multiple sources, and content that
can be used how and where they want it. A device that ties users to
one content provider, or a vendor that only sells content for one device,
will ultimately fail. Look at the recent abandonment of DRM-locked music
by the major RIAA record labels – and Amazon’s own music
store – to see which way the wind blows.
|--Jason Puckett, instruction program developer, research and instructional services|
Emory University © 2008
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