Considering a Kindle

I’m considering the purchase of an Amazon Kindle 2. I like reading books but books a’re big and bulky which doesn’t fit very well with my current nomadic lifestyle. I’ve spoken to a few people who recommend the Kindle.

However, I just read this. Amazon has allowed publishers to restrict whether a book can be read aloud on the Kindle or not. There is no basis for this in law, but Amazon has conceded all the same.

I’m typically a hardliner on issues like this. I boycott all Apple products because of the company’s proprietary lock-in practices. I use Ubuntu GNU/Linux because it includes software freedoms not available on proprietary operating systems.

Is there a Kindle competitor out there? Is the same range of books available?

Before I make a purchase I want to find out if I can load books onto the Kindle via Ubuntu. The Kindle includes a cell phone wireless component that allows internet access, but only in the US. So outside of the US I need another way to load books. If that requires Windows or Mac then I won’t buy the Kindle.

Then I’d also like to research the selection of books that is available. I’m hoping that the type of non-fiction books I typically read are readily available on the Kindle, otherwise, again, no point getting one.

Do you have a Kindle? Do you use Ubuntu? Any feedback?

7 thoughts on “Considering a Kindle

  1. >Is there a Kindle competitor out there?

    Yeah, there are. I’m not interested in using the kindle for that very reason; I’m not interested in supporting a company that does DRM.

    (I’m actually probably going to hold out for one on which I can do disk encryption; don’t especially want people looking at what I’m reading when I’m crossing the border.

    Ah, well. Maybe if I got a dev version of the irex digital reader or the much sexier-looking txtr, which is coming out sometime this year – there, that’s a couple examples.)

    >Is the same range of books available?

    No, not at all. Using outliers as an example, it is available in various paper formats, audio download (for substantially more), and kindle. I don’t know of any place that sells it in an open format.

    I can’t even find a text version on the torrent sites, really; this would be an acceptable solution for me, I’m done trying to be ethical with these people. If they don’t conform to my ethic of open formats, I’m not going to conform to their ethic of unrelenting copyright.

    • @mc: Arg. I was all set to buy one, now you’ve got me thinking, is this the iPod all over again? I wonder how the Kindle compares, from a freedom point of view, to purchasing a physical book. Books don’t have DRM, but they’re intrinsically difficult to copy.

      Thanks for your input mc, food for thought.

  2. The only solution I can come up with is having somebody back home with an automatic book scanner scan the physical books for you, and then give you the electronic copy. This is expensive, not very linux-friendly, and treading on a gray area of copyright. But it’s the only ethical solution I can come up with.

    The irex has an active dev community and is probably my best bet for disk encryption, but it still requires the nasty encumberment of the above to have access to the number of books the kindle does.

    What kinds of books do you read? I’m not sure the discussion pertaining to availability of titles has been fair to all contenders.

  3. I think it’s funny that you’re letting such silly things inhibit your enjoyment of something as simple as books. It seems you’re so caught up in your ethics that you’re missing out on a whole world of cool stuff and I think it’s not only sad but sort of pathetic.

    But whatever. I hope you and your anal retentive self serving ethics have big muscles to carry around all those books. :)

  4. @mc: I read mainly non fiction books relating to business, spirituality, psychology, and other topics. A mixture of new and some public domain stuff.

    I still haven’t resolved the question of whether I’m willing to buy a DRM device or not.

  5. Eh, I consider DRM to be one of the more significant ethical problems in my industry. We don’t have a lot of ethical problems, so if it seems like squabbling over nothing, maybe it’s just because we’re so ethically near-perfect already. ;)

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