Right after the Kindle was released, there was a lot of talk about the DRM/licensing model it used. The subject seems to have come up again this weekend, starting with a post on Gizmodo that got referenced on Slashdot and Boing Boing. If you look through the comments on all three of these sites, you’ll see some well though out opinions, plus of course some less (perhaps) cogent ones.
I’ve loaded my Kindle up with a fair number of free (and legal) non-DRM’d ebooks from various sources. I do intend on buying some stuff from the Amazon store at some point, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Yes, I do know that I won’t really be *buying* these books, but rather just buying a license to read them on a particular device under specific conditions. I’m OK with that. I usually only read a given book once or twice, and I don’t feel the need to keep a copy of every book I’ve ever read, so I really won’t mind it if my Kindle ebook “library” disappears if I ever decide to just get rid of my Kindle. If I buy an ebook that’s really great, and I really want to keep a copy around, I’ll probably go out and buy a hard copy too.
One of the arguments that I see come up frequently is the idea that if DRM’d ebooks *completely* replace hard copy books, then various really good things about the current book economy will go away — lending books to friends, buying cheap used books, borrowing books from the library and so on. I really don’t think we need to worry about this happening any time in the near future. I think the ebook reader market is going to remain a niche market for quite a while. Even if the price comes down, it’s just not a model that’s going to appeal to most people. There are a lot of people who just don’t read enough to warrant buying any kind of dedicated device for reading. Just picking up an occasional paperback at Border’s, or the library, or the airport bookstore, is more than enough for them.
And I don’t think that the iPhone, or smartphones in general, and going to be used as ebook readers by too many people. That’s also an opinion I’ve seen tossed around a bit. I think the iPhone (or iPod Touch in my case) is great for browsing through the NY Times site and checking out a few articles, but I wouldn’t want to try and read a novel on it.
So I guess that’s my (more than) two cents on the Kindle DRM thing. I don’t know if anyone will find this post particularly useful or interesting, but I just had to get all that off my chest.