The Kindle Swindle

Jeff Bezos, CEO of - Photo by O'Reilly at Flickr

. Tag the Kindle and Kindle ebooks on Amazon.

The Amazon kindle provides convenience, but at the cost of freedom. When you purchase a kindle, you must agree to use the Digital Restriction Management (DRM) system. Since all of the Kindle ebooks you purchase from Amazon are in their proprietary DRM format, you are also promising to not share them with friends. And, because you promise to not circumvent the DRM, there is no way to move them to another device or a computer. You are locked into the Kindle and you are locked into Amazon. If you try to move them to a new ebook reader or a computer, Amazon can end your service and remove access to the books you have already purchased.

It seems that Amazon only cares to oppose DRM when they can profit from it, such as when they advertise their MP3's as "Play Anywhere, DRM-Free Downloads." The same is not true for Kindle ebooks. Perhaps if they were honest they would advertise their ebooks as "Play Only Here, DRM-Laden Kindle Ebooks."

Many people will accept the restrictions that come with the Kindle, but, they should know that their decision won't only effect just themselves. If enough people accept the DRM on ebooks, there will be no incentive in the future for Amazon, or anybody else to offer non-DRM ebooks. We are threatened by the market establishing a new cultural precedence in which books become bound to our devices, unable to be shared, and unable to be moved over to a new device or competing system. We must reject DRM on ebooks and we must reject the Kindle. Please help us in letting people know that the Kindle it is nothing more than a swindle.

Mark Pilgrim, author of Dive into Python, paints a lucid picture of the Future of Reading through a series of quotations. It starts out with one from the CEO of, Jeff Bezos (see image above), from an open letter he wrote to the Author's Guild in 2002:

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.

This is juxtaposed next to the Kindle's Term of Service, which states,

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.

And Mark finishes his "Play" with the termination clause in the Kindle Terms of Service that states:

Your rights under this Agreement will automatically terminate without notice from Amazon if you fail to comply with any term of this Agreement. In case of such termination, you must cease all use of the Software and Amazon may immediately revoke your access to the Service or to Digital Content without notice to you and without refund of any fees.

When you agree to this Terms of Service, you are locked in to the Kindle, and you must promise to never try to escape. This is why we have decided to rename the Kindle, the Swindle, and we invite you all to join us in tagging the Kindle and all of the the Kindle ebooks on with the phrase "Kindle Swindle."