I just thought the Kindle was yet another limp lifeless death throe from the digital book monster. That mutant creature that was never fully born and yet cannot seem to fully die. Then I read this:

The Future of Reading (A Play in Six Acts)


Act I: The act of buying

When someone buys a book, they are also buying the right to resell that
book, to loan it out, or to even give it away if they want. Everyone understands this.

Jeff Bezos, Open letter to Author’s Guild, 2002

You may not sell, rent, lease, distribute, broadcast, sublicense or
otherwise assign any rights to the Digital Content or any portion of it to any third party, and you may not remove any proprietary notices or labels on the Digital Content. In addition, you may not, and you will not encourage, assist or authorize any other person to, bypass, modify, defeat or circumvent security features that protect the Digital Content.

Amazon, Kindle Terms of Service, 2007

Act V: The act of remembering

Another possible change: with connected books, the tether between the
author and the book is still active after purchase. Errata can be corrected instantly. Updates, no problem.

Newsweek, The Future of Reading

Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.

George Orwell, “1984″, Book One, Chapter 3



Act I is real and frames the problem in a way that I think really cuts to the heart of the problem not only with digital books, but with digital media in general (Movies, music, etc).

Can anyone out there truely say that they don't believe that owning a book makes it a piece of your property? Is a book a piece of property that can be sold, loaned, read aloud, destroyed, defaced, idolized, and most important of all smelled according to the laws of property where you live.

Smell is the biggest reason I won't buy an ebook anytime soon, but mabye I'm a total geek. Not that you aren't allowed to smell your kindle as much as you want, but who would want to? Mmmm...the smell of fresh molded ABS, warm circuit boards and hand grime, sounds...mmm...great. At least the hand grime on old books is converted to that wonderful musty smell as the natural process of slow decay takes it's course.

I am curious what the Kindle terms of service really mean about reading aloud from it or if that is addressed. As you may know performance of copyrighted music is illegal without paying royalties. Is this also true of poetry or prose from a copyrighted book? After all, many say that poetry is made for performance, not quiet reading. Is the situation different if you read from a Kindle at an open mic night or if you read from a book you purchased? In the case of music it doesn't matter if you have a piece of published music you purchased in front of you or not, the performance is still illegal.

Anyone out there know the answer? I don't feel like digging through the minutia of the DMCA right now. The phrase, "soley for your personal, non-commercial use" sounds alot like the wording used to justify teh BMI and ASCAP rolyalties for public performance and public broadcast of CD's in small coffeehouses to me.

Here is what the terms of service say:

Use of Digital Content. Upon your payment of the applicable fees set by Amazon, Amazon grants you the non-exclusive right to keep a permanent copy of the applicable Digital Content and to view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times, solely on the Device or as authorized by Amazon as part of the Service and solely for your personal, non-commercial use. Digital Content will be deemed licensed to you by Amazon under this Agreement unless otherwise expressly provided by Amazon.

Amazon, Kindle Terms of Service, 2007.


Act V is just plain scary and given the penchant for revisionism among not only dictators but our own leaders and extremists on both sides a very real future threat. Heck, it happens now in text books it's just harder to do. Digital media would just make it easy similar to how digital voting without paper records makes election tampering easy.

Thanks diveintomark.org for the content and onegoodmove.org for the tip.