Kindle vs lumber at podcamp

The estimable Len Edgerly who produces a weekly podcast on all things Kindle ran a podcamp session called, "Will the Kindle save reading?" in which a group discussed the pros and cons of Kindle reading compared to paper book reading, and touched on some issues of intellectual property and digital rights management. I'm not sure if any progress on the question of saving reading was made, but I learned some interesting things that I'll attempt to relate.

I learned that blog owners can add their blogs to Amazon's store for download to Kindles.  People can pay to have blogs downloaded to their Kindles, and Amazon will kick 30% back to the blogger.  So far as I can see, the only benefit to the user of this arrangement is that the blogs will be available on the device even when a network connection is not present, but since they can be viewed free through a browser or RSS reader, I was pretty confused by the value prop.

I went to kindlepublishing.amazon.com to check this out and got sort of stuck at the scary terms and conditions, but I suppose this is another distribution channel for bloggers.  And at least for now, when the number of blogs in Amazon's catalog is on the small side, you might get some incremental revenue and readers.  For me, this part was a dealbreaker, "You grant to us, throughout the term of this Agreement, a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide right and license to distribute Publications as described in this Agreement..."

Book defenders in the group cited differences in the physical experience that were not necessarily deal-breakers, but definitely comfort-reducers when reading on a Kindle: in a paper book, you can immediately see how far into the book you are and easily flip ahead to see how far to the next chapter.  Another reader noted that she always reached for the upper right corner of the Kindle to "turn the page." Somebody else pointed out the disconcerting "flash" when the Kindle turns a page.  Some said this was a necessary side effect of the e-ink technology, but I actually think it's a design choice that maybe needs revisiting.

The group also covered some ground on the Kindle Orwell kerfuffle, which I also wrote about not too long ago.  But what I thought was most interesting - and Amazon execs would be smart to listen in - was the desire among bibliophiles (and authors and booksellers, both present) for some of the sharable and giftable qualities of paper books to translate to Kindle.

Apparently, you can't buy a Kindle book for another user.  You can give a gift card, but the crowd thought that a poor substitute for giving a particular meaningful book to a friend.  I would love to see the ability not only to give a Kindle edition to a friend (either "fresh" from the store, or to transfer a book from your library to a friend's like you can take a book of your shelf and give it away) but also to "inscribe" that gift the way some people do paper books.  Edgerly related a story where he met an author (was it Clay Shirky?) and asked him to "autograph" his Kindle copy of his book by making an annotation.  Since the annotation was typed and could have been anybody, Edgerly shot a video of the author "signing" the digital book.

When (and I saw when, not if) the Kindle gets a touchscreen, I hope this autograph/inscription feature gets included or added on.  The latter of course will be only if (and I don't say when) Amazon opens the Kindle to third-party or user-created applications.

You can listen to much of the podcamp session at the Kindle Chronicles here.

3 Responses

  1. Thanks for participating in the Podcamp session, David, and for taking the time to post this thoughtful account of the proceedings. And yes, it was Clay Shirky who gave me the digital autograph. I think the only other, admittedly slight, advantage of subscribing to someone's blog is that when they upload a new post I see it immediately on my Kindle home screen. This saves a few steps compared with subscribing via RSS feed on the Kindle.
    • Readers, Len also wrote me a nice email, which I'll quote here and then comment on. <blockquote>David, I've been thinking about the line you quoted from the Amazon TOS for blogs. On the one hand, it seems reasonable that I would be granting a right and license to distribute my blog without restrictions, because that's the purpose of making my blog available on that platform. But I wonder if you are seeing a risk that I've missed. For instance, if someone wanted to publish my blog (I just saw Julia and Juliet last night, which maybe got me thinking about this). Would my granting of these rights to Amazon preclude publishing I might want to do later. It does not seem that I am giving away my rights to my writing. I'd be interested in more of what led you to find that language "a dealbreaker." </blockquote> Thanks again, Len, for an interesting session at podcamp. To the best of my knowledge, the "<strong>non-exclusive</strong>" part means that we grant Amazon the right to distribute our blog without impairing our right to give others that right or to retain it ourselves. So we could then sign a similar agreement with somebody else as long as that agreement is not exclusive. What tripped my wire was the "<em><strong>irrevocable</strong></em>" part. It looks to my un-JD'd eye that this word means that I can never undo what this agreement does. If one day I decide that I want to sell my blog in a different store or take it off the market entirely, it appears to me that this wording would allow Amazon to keep distributing it anyway. Weighed against the possibility of double-digit annual earnings, I figured that risk was too high. Maybe I'm missing the boat, time will tell.
  2. [...] Jeff Cutler – Foot Fetish, Podcamp Boston 4 #pcb4, PCB Who’s Who in Whosville, & Podcamp Boston 4 – Special Session – The Future of Work Chris Brogan – Seeds in a Wild Garden Christopher Penn – Breaking the shackles on your potential at pcb4 Gradon Tripp – Post pcb4 wrap-up: what a difference a year makes Guido Stein – Notes from PCB4 Aneta Hall – Best Tweets of pcb4 day 1 & Day 2 at pcb4 Skip Bensley – The Visual Suspects at pcb4 Todd Randolph – In Defense of Talking to Strangers David Cutler – Our PodCamp Boston Session "City 2.0" David Weineke – PCB4 Social Media Is Changing Chris Abraham – Reputation Dismorphism TechNewsMadeSimple – How to start podcasting, Is social media worth it?, Web video future…, Writing in social media, Social media & education, Web optimization, & Best equipt. for video podcast Critt Jarvis – Video Podcast Dan Hermes – Podcasting Getting Started Doug Haslam – PCB4 Aging Gracefully Jamie Pappas – Clever Marketing by Garifusion During pcb4 Jeff Rutherford – Social Media Self Consciousness Peg Mulligan – PCB4 new media social media conference/ Stuart Foster – 33 Ways to Drive Blog Traffic Tony Loftis – What I Saw at PCB4 Richard Reed – Arts and Crafts (Inaugural Podcast!) Uncommon Bostonian – Day 1 of pcb4 & Day 2 of pcb4 Adam Pieniazek – Ungoals for pcb4 Henri Codolfing – Battledecks and Pecha Kucha at Podcamp Jeremy Meyers – The story is the results so don’t try to tell it yourself & Don’t be sexy, be good. Good is sexy. Len Edgerly – Odds and ends from PCB4 & TKC Extra Will the Kindle Save Reading Matthew Grant – PCB4: my me too thoughts and reflections Mike Proulx – Notes from PCB4 Beth Dunn – Exhibit A Kevin Mullins – PodCamp Boston – Social Media and Social Networking Amanda MacArthur – Notes & quotes from PCB4 Michael Lawson – What I learned on my summer vacation (#pcb4) PK Shiu – Can we separate our online personal & professional lives? Charles Seymour – Short Stories and Marketing Lessons To Rocket Your Sales (scroll to #26) Dan Ronken – My 3 Takeaways from PCB4 Kimberly Reynolds – PCB4 Mojo Discovered Anew Paul Monaco – It’s Your Podcamp Jonathon Bloom – Had a great time at PodCamp Boston 4 Mélanie Millett – Podcamp Boston et les outils d’écoute en ligne Stacy Crosby – #pcb4 – Podcamp Boston = WOW! Steve Robins – Podcamp Boston Redux Georgiana Cohen – Podcamp Boston David Karp – Kindle vs lumber at podcamp [...]
  3. VA
    Thanks for participating in the Podcamp session, David, and for taking the time to post this thoughtful account of the proceedings. And yes, it was Clay Shirky who gave me the digital autograph. I think the only other, admittedly slight, advantage of subscribing to someone's blog is that when they upload a new post I see it immediately on my Kindle home screen. This saves a few steps compared with subscribing via RSS feed on the Kindle.
  4. [...] example) and came up with a sharing feature that’s more like what we do with paper books.  As I’ve blogged before, I think lending and sharing paper books is a viral part of both readin....  With a Nook, you (the Nooker?) can loan an ebook to a fellow Nook owner (The Nookee?) for two [...]

Leave a comment