Authors have lost the plot in Kindle battle

Cory Doctorow says Amazon's Kindle 2 text-to-speech feature is not so much violating authors' copyright but rather basic consumer rights.

Dropping $359 (£251) on a device whose features are subject to the outcomes of ongoing negotiations to which you are not a party is, frankly, nuts. Would you buy a car if it was known that your air-conditioner and stereo system could be remotely disabled?


Because I don't buy a car primarily so I can listen to CDs. I buy it so I can get around.

The Kindle is a book reader, primarily. Text-to-speech is nice, but it's not part of the core feature set. I'm certainly unhappy that text-to-speech is going to be disabled in some books, but I bought my Kindle so I can read. I'll still be able to do that.

My car is for moving around, true - but if the A/C were remotely disabled, it's ability to be used for it's primary purpose would be greatly compromised. Sure, I could still get around (but might pass out from heat stroke, if I did so during the day, especially since modern cars are not designed to give you even outside temp air). It will, of course, still work ok at night or in the winter. For those in the south (or the midwest summers) who absolutely must use their cars in the daytime and bought one with A/C for just that purpose, then disabling the A/C would eliminate their use of the vehicle.

Similarly, disabling TTS won't prevent me from reading a book. But for those with physical restrictions or low eyesight (or kids to keep track of or busy schedules that mean TTS vastly increases their ability to "read"), disabling TTS does eliminate their ability to use the device as purchased (or at least the books on which TTS is disabled).

Any chance of a link to the full article?

Done fixed it

I think this is from his Guadrian Article.

... don't play on my computer. on in my toaster. or that I can't put aluminum foil in the microwave. or that I can't use my toaster in the shower. but I do complain thaty they don't release new albums on 8-Track tape anymore.

you know ahead of time whether the text-to-speech function is enabled before you download the book (or at least you should).

every device we've been sold since forever has been limited by future events. I was told my Ford Pinto would run for 100,000 miles. I was told my job was secure.

If Amazon invalidates a contract, and then refuses to accept returns on Kindles, then that's a consumer issue. Not that they produced a device, sold 50 of them (probably one to Cory) and then changed a feature.

All Amazon needs to do is accept returns with a full refund.

There has been so much discussion on what Amazon can do with your Kindle books, about licensing, about reselling, about everything, that if you buy a device like Kindle, you should expect that shit will happen.

The more we move to on-demand services and products and online everything, and the less we have actual crap in our hands, the more that shit will happen. Get used to it.

Similar devices will be made available that can access public library collections in the same manner that Kindle now does. With cities beginning to create city wide wifi networks access to public library digital collections should eventually follow. Many public libraries now allow access to digital materials, ebooks, music, etc which can be used for a set "loan period' and are then disabled.

As someone who has purchased two Betamax players and a HD-DVD player I can attest to the tenuous path you tread on the bleeding edge of technology. At least you can still download and read books, until that is, they change the format of the digital files and leave you with no upgrade path and therefore no viable reader or readable text files.

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