martes, julio 21, 2009

Una crítica descalificadora de Kindle

Rockford Lhotka publica una crítica de Kindle, el lector de libros electrónicos de Amazon, que cuestiona severamente el modelo de negocio de la empresa para este producto.
Sólo hace unos pocos días discutíamos con un colega acerca de su utilidad, exclusivamente desde el punto de vista técnico, comparándolo con la lectura de un libro "físico", es decir, en papel: si era suficientemente transportable, si era cómodo para hacer anotaciones o fichas técnicas, si era capaz de soportar condiciones ambientales duras, etc.
Sin embargo, Lhotka agrega otra dimensión al asunto, y sin duda la más importante. Es la diferencia que va de hablar sobre el producto, a tener uno e intentar usarlo.
Su crítica está centrada en la propiedad del libro.

I like to share books. My wife and I have a respectable library in our home, and we’re constantly loaning books to friends. And borrowing books in return – it is a great way to interact socially and share common interests.

The Kindle entirely destroys the concept of book sharing. With a real book I spend $8-$25 to get something I can read and share with friends. With the Kindle I pay the same price, but only I can read the result. All I can do is tell my friends it was good, or not.

As a content creator, I suppose I should be cheering on the idea of books that can’t be shared, but I’m afraid I’m a reader first, and author second, and this is a really serious drawback for me. To the point that, since getting the Kindle, I’ve purchased a couple paper books because I know I’ll want to share them. Obviously I didn’t waste the money to buy them on the Kindle too, as that seems rather silly to me, so there I was back to lugging around paper books on the airplane.

The other major problem I have with the Kindle is the same one I have with buying music online.

While Amazon (and music vendors) portray the transaction as a “purchase”, it is really a “lease”.

I’ve lost several CDs worth of music over the years, as a music vendor went out of business and their licenses expired and the music I “bought” was rendered unplayable. I’ve long since decided that I’ll never buy DRM “protected” music. Such a “purchase” is a hoax – a total scam. Personally I think it should be illegal to portray it as a purchase transaction (false advertising or whatever), but I guess we live in a laissez-faire enough world that it is up to each of us to get ripped of a few times before we rebel against the dishonest corporate entities.

I hadn’t really thought about the Kindle being in the same category until I read this recent article. It turns out that Amazon can yank your license to read a book if they desire. And of course it is true that if Amazon folds, or gets bored with the Kindle idea, that all the books I “purchased” will disappear.

With music I’ve been paying a monthly fee to the Zune service to lease access to all the music they have. And that makes me reasonably happy, because it is an honest, up-front transaction that is what it says it is. I get access to amazing amounts of music as long as I keep paying my lease. If I stop paying, or if the Zune service goes away, the music disappears. This makes me happy overall, and I view this as a reasonably value.

Maybe Amazon should do this with the Kindle too. Be more honest and up-front about the nature of the transaction and the relationship. Charge a monthly fee for access to their entire online library of books, and have the books disappear off the device if/when I stop paying the monthly fee.

Of course this still doesn’t solve the problem where I can’t share books I “purchase” with my friends, I still don’t know of a good solution to this issue.

Luego, consultando Wikipedia, encontré que esta crítica ya estaba desarrollada allí. Deberíamos tener la gimnasia de hacer una pasada por ella con cada asunto en estudio...
Other criticisms involve the business model behind Amazon's entire implementation and distribution of e-books.[33][40] Amazon recently introduced a software application allowing Kindle books to be read on an iPhone (or iPod Touch).[41] Due to Amazon's DRM policies, there is no right of first sale with the e-books. Amazon states they are licensed, not purchased. The e-books are bound to the Kindle, and users must repurchase e-books after downloading the e-book past an undisclosed limit, or being banned from Amazon Kindle/e-book platform for too many returns, preventing use of already purchased e-books with the account.[42][43]

File format and DRM

Amazon owns Mobipocket[45][46], and the Kindle AZW file format and DRM[47][48]. scheme are almost identical to the Mobipocket file format and DRM scheme, yet Kindle is not able to read DRM-protected Mobipocket books without resorting to third-party conversions tools. This situation has led to great frustration for Kindle users

Remote content removal

On July 17, 2009, withdrew certain Kindle titles, including Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, from sale, refunded the cost to those who had purchased them, and remotely deleted these titles from purchasers' devices after discovering that the publisher lacked rights to publish the titles in question.[49] Notes and annotations for the books made by users on their devices were also deleted.[50] The move prompted outcry and comparisons to Nineteen Eighty-Four itself. Some critics also argued that the deletion violated the Kindle's Terms of Service, which states in part:[51]

"Upon your payment of the applicable fees set by Amazon, Amazon grants you the non-exclusive right to keep a permanent copy of the applicable Digital Content and to view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times, solely on the Device or as authorized by Amazon as part of the Service and solely for your personal, non-commercial use."

Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener stated that the company is "… changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers' devices in these circumstances."[52]

Es decir, no sólo sería imposible compartir un libro, sino que también el Gran Hermano te quitaría el producto, si por alguna razón le pareciera pertinente.
Se trata de una extensión extrema al medio portador, de las políticas de protección de los derechos de autor. ¿Prosperarán estos criterios? Creo que no más allá de un nicho reducido...En algún momento, la pretensión de hacer dinero con el conocimiento deberá retornar a un punto de equilibrio tan suficiente como el que permitió a la industria prosperar desde Gutenberg. Y aquí no hablamos de los derechos de los autores. En definitiva, el conflicto alcanzó publicidad a partir de un incidente con Orwell, muerto en 1950. Aún sería controversial definir s¡ sus herederos recibirían beneficios.

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