Saturday, April 12, 2014

You Don't Own the E-Books on Your Kindle

Joel Johnson over at NBC News told me something that I didn't know about my Kindle account this week. I don't own the ebooks I buy there. You just license them and if Amazon decides to take that Kindle account away, your books disappear.

In an odd moment or two I have had thoughts of the Twilight Zone episode where the last human left on earth is so happy that he has lived and that he is left with a gigantic library and nothing but time to read in. As soon as he sits down to read, he breaks his glasses.  Of course he's the last man left, so there isn't anyone to make him new glasses. The Amazon meltdown equivalent would be if the system crashed in some catastrophic destruction of technology and all this information we've stored on computers - including books would be lost to mankind. 

Or Amazon could just decide to change the terms of the book licenses. Or close your account. Which they probably won't do because it doesn't make sense. Until it some day it does. 

I buy books both on paper and screen. If it's reference or travel books or novels by my favorite authors, I go for paper. Most everything else I get in electronic form. Ebooks are easy to read on the road and I don't have as many piles of books lying around the house, I still have piles mind you, but not as many. I know the paper to ebook paradigm shift is well in motion. I just have one more thing contemplate that I don't particularly like now. 

If you haven't already, you might want to go take a look at Joel's article.


  1. I actually did know this, and on ebooks I think I might want to read again for some reason (but I don't care enough about to pay for a paper copy) I actually download them to my computer as well as my Kindle. This way should Amazon disappear one day, I have the files and can break the encryption to read them if necessary.