Imagine turning on your Kindle to find your library empty. It could happen. An email exchange between a Norwegian customer and online retailer Amazon shows that Amazon could indeed shut down your account and erase your purchases. And the company doesn’t have to explain its actions.
“If the retailer, in this case Amazon, thinks you’re a crook, they will throw you out and take away everything that you bought,” Martin Bekkelund wrote on his blog, recounting friend Linn’s exchange with Amazon. When her account was closed, she wrote to Amazon to find out why, only to be told her account had been “directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies.” In a subsequent email, Amazon wished her luck in finding another retailer.
“With DRM (Digital Rights Management), you don’t buy and own books, you merely rent them for as long as the retailer finds it convenient,” Bekkelund said.
While such action may be rare, the chance — no matter how small — that you could lose a valuable investment in e-books may send folks looking for protection.
A number of commenters on Bekkelund’s blog referred to using DRM removal software that strips DRM code from Kindle e-books and then converts them into ePub files, which can be stored on an external drive in case of emergency.
However, any software that strips DRM is illegal in the U.S. under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Because Amazon builds DRM into every Kindle book, you must have an Amazon account to open a Kindle book. The same holds true for Barnes & Noble Nook and Apple e-books. Amazon’s terms of service agreement states that Amazon reserves the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders at its discretion. Apple says it can terminate your account for violation of terms and preclude access to the app, which means you wouldn’t be able to read your e-books. However, Barnes & Noble’s agreement appears to be more generous: The Nook’s agreement says that termination of your account will not “affect your right to view digital content that you have already lawfully acquired and downloaded to your Nook.”
Earlier this month, it appeared that a solution was available. BookShout founder Jason Illian announced a new feature for his social reading app that would allow users to import copies of some ebooks they had purchased from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The Dallas-based startup signed agreements with several large publishers, including Random House, HarperCollins, and Macmillan and Wiley.
Once the app verified your purchase by logging into Amazon and Barnes & Noble with your credentials, it could download the publisher’s copy of a book to your Bookshout account, assuming your book was published by one of BookShout’s partners.
While the service is legal, Illiam acknowledged that it might not sit well with Amazon and Barnes & Noble (BookShout is not integrated with Apple iBooks.). Indeed, as of this writing, Bookshout’s import service has been “temporarily disabled.”
There really is no practical way to make a copy of your digital library if you purchase your books through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Apple. However, for the vast majority of people, the convenience of a limitless supply of reading material on a portable device outweighs the very small risk of having their account closed by mistake.
And beginning this week, you have another device option — the iPad mini, which begins shipping on Nov. 2. Prices start at $329 for a WiFi 16GB model. The display resolution and 10-hour battery life is the same as the iPad 2. With that in mind, budget shoppers should be on the lookout for a big price drop on the iPad 2 over the Black Friday weekend. DealNews is predicting a $299 iPad 2 promotion.
Ogden-based TopTenREVIEWS.com guides consumers by comparing products in the world of technology, including electronics, software and Web services. Have a question for TopTenREVIEWS? Email Leslie Meredith at email@example.com.