[Web4lib] Kindle vs. Accessibility

Tim Spalding tim at librarything.com
Fri May 15 19:09:07 EDT 2009

> I was saying that the reality is that no digital media file can be fully protected, and that anything that can be pirated, will be pirated.

But to what degree and with what effect? Pop music is pirated with
abandon. Is this the general case?

How about software? Some software is pirated, and some isn't. No real
company in a country with a functioning legal system pirates business
software anymore. The penalties and legal costs are astronomical. Sure
students sometimes pirate Quark and Photoshop—when not being offered
essentially free versions—and nobody really cares, because they're
learning the software so they can go work in the design departments of
companies that would *never* pirate the software. I see no signs
whatsoever that the "because it can, it will" is affecting business

What about audiobooks? Still pretty minimal. Audiobooks are specialty
items for older, richer, busier people. Old people have more to lose
from turning their basement into a copyright infringement lab. Richer
people can afford to buy things. And busy people don't waste their
time trolling through the much larger sea of pop music looking for the
14 CDs of "Eat, Pray, Love," which might turn out to be fetish-porn on
disk 12.

You can multiply these examples over and over. Different industries
and technologies are and will have different digital fates. "Anything
that can be pirated, will be pirated" is trivially true. But if you
add "often" or "to important effect" it's not a factual statement.
It's a religious one.

>>You are quite wrong on the Amazonfail thing.
> I don't believe that the amazonfail incident was a specific attack on
> the GLBT community, if you are referring to that.  There are still a lot
> of folks in that segment who see it that way, though, since Amazon has
> done such a poor job of PR with the whole incident.

No question.

> Things never would have spiraled out of control like they did if Amazon had simply taken
> the time to do decent PR work.  What it DID demonstrate is that Amazon
> manipulates its own sales data and ranking system to the point that it
> is almost meaningless.

I suspect that they do. But the actual incident appears to show
nothing of the sort. It shows that French people are bad at editing

> It shows that the company works to make it more
> difficult in the general search to locate "adult" materials, however
> they choose to define that.  I do consider that to be a poor business
> practice, and incredibly bad PR.
> My point with the ebooks is that DRM-style controls are not what the
> public wants, and they will fight against them, as they have with music
> and movies.  Piracy isn't the only factor - people also vote with their
> wallets, both in terms of which ebooks AND which readers they purchase.
> The Kindle came out of the gate crippled, in many ways (not just audio
> reading feature).  That's a bad sign, and is one reason that there is so
> much attention being focused on the Sony device.

What?! I want a DRM-free ebook to succeed as much as you, but "So much
attention focused on the Sony device"? Among *whom*? Here are three
charts that *prove* you are wrong—Google, Blobpulse, Trendopedia. In
every attention metric I can find the Kindle is *destroying* the Sony


> Amazon is working hard to build the type of proprietary system with
> ebooks that Apple has favored for so long in all its products.  There is
> a reason that Apple has never regained the market share it used to have
> - locking users into proprietary formats and trying to control their
> access to the things they have purchased is not a good long-term
> business strategy.

You are aware that the iPod has 70% market share, right? Again,
sometimes models work in one market and not in another.


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