Previous Blog Entry Next Blog Entry

Bless me, O Biblioblogosphere, for I have sinned.

I have betrayed the trust of my librarian people by *gasp* loving my Kindle like I am told I would love a child if I had any interest in being a parent, which I don’t.  But I do have an interest in reading digital content on a sleek, affordable, and easy-to-use device.  Thus the Kindle.

In true geek fashion I recorded my Kindle unboxing (complete with Space Invader wall clings in the background).

Let me tell you why I love my Kindle so.  But before I gush like a schoolgirl in love with Edward Cullen, let me tell you that I feel guilty for loving it.  I boycott the Kindle as a librarian but love it as a consumer.

  • Stellar User Interface Design: The Kindle has a gorgeous form factor.  It’s easy to hold in your hands — light, smooth, and perfectly sized for my hands anyway.  The user interface is easy and intuitive, end of story.
  • Smooth Content Delivery: The simplicity and speed of getting content is amazing.  I’ve been using the Kindle app on my Android phone for months now, and it literally takes you 5 seconds to buy and start reading a book from the Kindle Store. How long does it take to start reading a library eBook from the point you decide to download it? On the Kindle itself it’s just as easy.
  • Cross-Device Content Delivery: Amazon was brilliant in being the distributor for the device, the content itself, and the interface/software used to access the content. But they were doubly brilliant in offering the content & interface on other devices through Kindle Reading apps, so you can use your desktop, laptop, iPhone, iPad, Android phone, etc. to access the Kindle universe of eBooks.  The Kindle device itself is secondary…they really covered their bases.
  • Seamless Syncing: Amazon’s Whispersync technology syncs up your library and where you left off in your books without you having to do anything. Not having to think is good, yeah?  Steve Krug would be proud.
  • Public Domain Title Access: You can get free public domain titles onto your Kindle through free eBook sites like Project Gutenberg, all linked to with instructions from the Kindle website.

Now that we’ve covered the pros, here’s why I detest the Kindle as a librarian:

  • No Access to Library-owned eBooks (for shame): As you probably know, the Kindle is the only eReader devices that doesn’t allow library digital content onto it.  The nook, Sony Reader, the sad little kobo, and even the iPad all allow library digital content.  Amazon would rather only sell you their stuff.  In the case of eBooks, Amazon does not support the standard EPUB format.  It only allows for content that is in one of its approved formats: their proprietary DRM-format (.azw), plain text files (.txt), unprotected (read: no DRM) Mobipocket files (.mobi or .prc), unprotected (read: no DRM) PDF files (.pdf), and this odd and not-often-used Topaz format (.tpz). There are programs (like Calibre) that can convert non-DRMed EPUB files into unprotected Mobipocket files so they can go on your Kindle.  And since there are scripts you can run to convert DRM-ed EPUB files into non-DRMed EPUB files, you can indeed get these books on your Kindle…but illegally unfortunately.  The fact that Amazon doesn’t allow library-owned eBooks onto its devices is a travesty.  It’s wrong on every level.  But Amazon has no real motivation to open it up.  They make money from selling people books.  If people could get those same books on their Kindles for free and without paying Amazon, just by logging in with a library card number, Amazon is going to lose some business.  And losing business for the sake of looking like you love libraries is sadly not a winning proposition in our society.  Here are some straight-forward instructions to help you get around the idiotic DRM rules and get some library eBooks (MOBI only) onto your Kindle.  This does clearly violate Kindle’s terms of service, the library eBook vendor’s terms of service, and even copyright law.  But you know what?  All you’re doing is accessing an eBook your library owns and wants to check out to you on a device of your choosing.  Goddess forbid we can actually provide content that isn’t device-exclusionary!  So you know what?  Go for it.
  • No Sharing or Selling (err, legally): Update: You can now share selected titles (none of the 13 on my device now, sadly), share a title once with another Kindle or Kindle app user for 14 days, and only U.S. residents can share their titles). As with almost all consumer-purchased eBooks, Amazon’s Kindle eBooks forbid the transfer of the book to any other user or to a different (non-Amazon) device.  This is a violation of the First-Sale Doctrine which guarantees someone like an individual or a library to share the book once it’s purchased, loan it out, or sell it.  None of us can do this with eBooks or other digital media like movies and music.  It’s wrong and many people find ways around it because, frankly, the Kindle was not that hard to crack.

Perhaps someday I will make peace with the fact that the Kindle universe makes me happy.  Perhaps someday Amazon will allow digital content from libraries onto its devices, will accept industry standards, and stop being an inbred walled garden of capitalist greed.  But I’m not holding my breath.

“Why I am a library traitor and love the Kindle”

  1. Bobbi Says:

    I love my Kindle too! For many of the same reasons you do. I read so much nonfiction I love the highlighting options. Also don’t forget about the Free for a Limited Time books – I’ve gotten some great stuff out of there.

  2. Bobbi Says:

    oh and you can use it for speaking too!

  3. PC Sweeney Says:

    That doesn’t make you a traitor. It means the library failed to provide access in a better way. Its our fault, not yours :)

  4. Winnie Says:

    I had a nice young man in Chapters in Vancouver do a lengthy demo of their e-reader, Kobo. One of the things he said was that I should download the software to my computer (or iPod or something) and look at the store/library for things I read. His point was that the whole reason for having an e-reader is the huge library you can hold in your hand. If you spend ~$150 and can only find five books you want to read it is a waste of time. Glad you love your Kindle and I’m glad we have a choice.

  5. Michael Sauers Says:

    @PCSweeney Considering ePub is the standard and library books work on practically everything BUT the Kindle, I’d say it’s Amazon’s fault/problem, not ours. (This of course completely ignores the Hell that is DRM anyway.)

  6. Jussi Keinonen Says:

    A Finn here popping in via TeleRead.

    I’m curious as to what you feel like about the libraries future in the ebook era. After all print is digitized, surely there is no more a need to fund libraries at all as they’ve existed, and all that is needed is just one national library with a handful of people to deliver the content?

  7. John Says:

    I love the Kindle I received as a gift for Christmas. I have been reading more than normal and think the trend will continue. No guilt from me even though I’m a librarian. Print will always be around too – the best of both worlds!

  8. Jimmy the Geek Says:

    I do a lot of testing of devices for use here at the library, and I’ve gotta say that Amazon’s proprietary lockdown is why we never even considered using it here. I haven’t even tested one! But with programs like the NetLibrary and KY Libraries Unbound and their use of open standards like ePub, there’s no reason to. Like Winnie, I’m also glad we have a choice.

    Our results? We went with the nook and the iPad, even though iPad stuff has to be dragged through iTunes or a 3rd-party app. The iPad is far more useful as a multi-dimensional product since its purpose is that of a Personal Entertainment Device, so being used as an eReader fits right in.

  9. Tweets that mention Why I am a library traitor and love the Kindle | Librarian in Black Blog – Sarah Houghton-Jan -- Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bobbi Newman, WPL Reference Div, Library Girl, Simon Barron and others. Simon Barron said: Excellent post-Christmas post RT @thelib: "Why I am a library traitor and love the Kindle" – [...]

  10. Sarah Says:

    @Jussi Keinonen: I don’t know that a national library model would work in the U.S. We can barely get state-level collaborations going in the smaller states! For example, there are no state-wide held digital subscriptions in California. Some are held by smaller consortia, but the companies make more money by selling everything to us separately, so I think it would be hard to convince them to pursue a national model. I do agree, however, that as we move more digital, libraries need to re-think their spending priorities. But we need to solve digital copyright and DRM issues first, agree on open standards, and find a way to deliver all content to all devices… Until that happens, libraries need to walk this thin line between physical & digital services. A question back at you, too: Your comment seems to indicate that libraries are -only- their collections. Do you see the future of libraries as discarding all of the other services we provide (literacy programs, programs/events, reference and research services, technology access, etc.)?

  11. Andrew loves his fireman’s outfit (1) Says:

    [...] Why I am a library traitor and love the Kindle | Librarian in Black Blog – Sarah Houghton-Jan [...]

  12. Barbara Henry Says:

    You say: “Here are some straight-forward instructions to help you get around the idiotic DRM rules and get library eBooks onto your Kindle. This does clearly violate Kindle’s terms of service, the library eBook vendor’s terms of service, and even copyright law. But you know what? All you’re doing is accessing an eBook your library owns and wants to check out to you on a device of your choosing. Goddess forbid we can actually provide content that isn’t device-exclusionary! So you know what? Go for it.”

    I am amazed that a librarian is encouraging this. Maybe I come from a different generation. Instead why don’t you organize people to change the law rather than break the copyright/DRM law. Seems to me you should be going after Amazon. Sure all this is technically possible. Lots of things are. And it is also possible that I can do any thing I want. Like rip off anything I choose. I want a DVD movie, just copy and take it because my library owns it. I want to copy a whole book, just do it. I want to walk into my local library and rip off a printed book, I can do it just because there are all kinds of laws that says I shouldn’t. Wow. I do an ebooks class for patrons. This issue comes up. I explain the law. It is a restrictive law. It is part of the copyright law. It is possible to do this technically. I do not encourage or provide instructions for doing it.

  13. Sarah Says:

    Barbara, you ask a fair question. But before you get all judgey consider the following things I have done and am doing:

    1) I have written to Amazon as a private citizen and as a librarian alerting them to the problems and asking them to change policy.
    2) I have been working with individuals and organizations of librarians (some national) that are working to lobby to change copyright law and to work with publishers & content vendors like Amazon to change their terms of service.
    3) I am now a member of ALA’s newly formed eBooks Taskforce, which has been charged with changing the organization’s lobbying and work on digital licensing and content.
    4) I write about this issue a lot and share stories and resources about copyright implications for digital content, trying to raise the level of awareness for librarians, educators, publishers, and consumers.

    Also, to clarify, I am *not* telling people to steal content as you seem to imply in your comment (read what I wrote again). I’m telling them that if their public library owns a copy of a book, and that book’s file works on every other device except the one that they choose to own, I do not feel any moral qualms at all about saying that (in my private, Sarah opinion) it’s fine by me if they break the DRM on that title in order to read it on the device of their choosing. If they then share that file with 10,000 other people, that’s not cool at all. I actually don’t endorse file sharing. But to read a copy of a library-owned book just for yourself? Go right ahead.

    However, I would not in my professional capacity representing a city & library tell people to violate copyright. I would not post the above on our library’s website. But as Sarah the librarian, hell yes I’m saying it. The law is ridiculous, has not caught up with technology, with formats, or with the insane fragmentation that has occurred in the marketplace. And until people do start violating the law publicly, the law’s applicability to libraries (and individual companies’ ToS applicability) is tested in court, this ridiculous crap will continue. And that’s just plain stupid. So yes, violate away. Think of it as civil disobedience from the internet generation.

    I think the libraries that are lending Kindles with books on them are inviting a lawsuit, and we’ll see what happens if that occurs. We need a lawsuit like that to stimulate the law to be re-examined and changed. I know my city’s legal department would never have approved such a move. Sadly, I don’t think Amazon wants to sue a library. If they did sue the library, their ToS’s legality would be called into question, as would digital copyright law, and more than likely they would lose. And that just might negatively affect their business model and ability to make a zillion dollars off of consumers. Not much, according to experts looking at libraries’ share of the market, but that doesn’t matter. Because if the DMCA is challenged, then a whole bunch of people making money have to change their way of doing business — not just Amazon. And if content providers and publishers and device makers start hating Amazon, then they’ve got other problems…all started because they decided to sue a library. Still, I think an “Amazon vs. Anytown Public Library” lawsuit is necessary unless lawmakers finally get off their duffs and help the law catch up to current realities.

  14. Barbara Henry Says:

    Thank you very much for expanding, explaining and clarifying your various comments and positions. Not all of us know who you are or what you advocate.

  15. Sarah Says:

    I wouldn’t expect you to know who I am or what I advocate Barbara. Of course not :) You had assumed that I *wasn’t* doing things to advocate for legal change, so I wanted to make it clear that I *was* indeed doing those very things. Because those things are important, and important to me personally. And thanks to people like you caring and asking questions, hopefully they’ll become important to even more people.

  16. Charity Says:

    The instructions you linked to look like they only work with mobipocket files and do not strip the DRM.

    James Jensen (author of the script) writes on that page:

    “This program does not (and never will) modify the DRM on a MobiPocket file. It doesn’t “unlock” the file to be used in any way that it was not intended to be used.”

    He also writes:

    “Unfortunately, this program cannot convert a DRM-protected ePub book, since ePub is an entirely different format (whereas the Kindle uses the MobiPocket format natively). I don’t believe there are any programs that can make this conversion while maintaining the DRM properties of the original file. There may be a way to make the conversion by stripping the DRM from the file first, but since that would be illegal I cannot condone or aid such a thing. “

  17. Charity Says:

    I am not advocating for or against illegally stripping DRM, just pointing out that the link you provided may not be what people would assume ^_^

  18. Sarah Says:

    @Charity: The instructions do only work with Mobipocket files, you’re right. But I never said they stripped DRM. I said they “help you get around the idiotic DRM rules.” Slight difference.

    And yes, sadly stripping DRM off of other formats (WMA & EPUB, for example) is painful to do and requires some serious tech know-how, as well as knowing where to look for the instructions as most people (Mr. Jenson, as you quote him, as an example) are afraid to post those instructions as they fear lawsuits from the companies affected by that DRM-protection. But there are places to look. Tons of them. If you’re a library person, think of the keywords you would use to find such information and go at it. You’ll find it soon enough.

  19. DMcCunney Says:

    @Barbara: “I am amazed that a librarian is encouraging this.”

    I’m not. First, copyright law and DRM aren’t at all the same thing. DRM is a misguided attempt to safeguard rights, and not directly connected with any rights at all. I could take a public domain book from Project Gutenberg, remove the PG boilerplate, package it for the Kindle, and put it up for sale on Amazon, and apply DRM when I did it. It’s been done.

    You don’t prevent piracy with DRM. No DRM scheme I’m aware of has lasted longer than about a day after public release before someone cracked it, and once one copy of whatever it is is liberated, the horse is out of the barn. Theft has been a problem as long as there has been commerce, but somehow, we survive. People are willing to pay for value. All you really do is annoy your legitimate customers by making them jump through hoops and assuming they are thieves. You prosper by *providing* value, pricing appropriately, and making it as easy as possible for the customer to give you money. Efforts spent applying DRM and attempting to prevent theft are far better spent on reaching new customers and letting them know you and your products exist.

    Second, DRM can be applied for different reasons. The usual take is that DRM is intended to prevent piracy. In the case of Amazon, I don’t believe that’s the motive.

    Amazon is the world’s largest catalog retailer. Retailing is a low margin business, where you may make pennies on a dollar of sales. So you try to get as many dollars of sales as possible to make those pennies on. To do that, you do your best to grow and attain a bigger market share, and attaining market share underlies what Amazon is doing.

    eBooks are a natural for Amazon. The infrastructure is already in place to display the items in the catalog and take the order. Adding immediate fulfillment via download was relatively trivial, and ebooks don’t have warehousing or distribution costs. For Amazon, what’s not to like?

    Amazon wants to be your *sole source* of purchased ebooks, and everything they do revolves around that. Start by using the Mobipocket (who Amazon bought) ebook format, instead of the increasingly standard ePub format. Issue a dedicated reader (the Kindle) which only supports Mobi format (save for the Kindle DX, which adds PDF to the mix). Then fiddle with the DRM code Mobipocket uses, so that you can’t read a DRM protected Mobi title purchased from someone other than Amazon without stripping the DRM. Amazon uses DRM as part of an attempt to lock you into them as the vendor. Want to *buy* a DRM protected eBook? Gotta buy from Amazon, unless you’re technically adept and can strip the DRM from someone else’s offering and side load it on your Kindle.

    Amazon offers huge selection, competitive pricing, good service, and incredible convenience, so most Kindle users don’t see this as an imposition, but it’s still vendor lock-in.

    I don’t own a Kindle, nor want one. I need color support, and want to get an ebook once, and read it on whatever I happen to have at hand. I won’t buy content with DRM protection, and refuse to be locked into a particular vendor. I also need a device that does other things beside display ebooks. My viewer of choice is a PDA, which goes with me everywhere. It performs all normal PDA functions, plus views photos and displays video, plays MP3s, has software for viewing/editing Word docs and Excel spreadsheets, a very good word processor that works splendidly with a folding keyboard, databases on a number of different topics, several programming languages…and oh, yes, it plays games. Viewing ebooks is about half its purpose in life, with about 4,000 volumes all told, and I can read pretty much everything *except* ePub. No problem, there: if it isn’t DRM protected, I can convert ePub to something I can read. I can’t get books from the library with it, but hardly need to.

  20. Charity Says:

    Oops, my bad, just noticed that you did say MOBI only up there. I can’t speak for other libraries, but most of our Overdrive titles are ePub or PDF.

  21. Sarah Says:

    @Dennis: Genius! Well-said and well-argued.

    @Charity: Interesting! Our library has a fairly significant number of MOBI books in our collection (908 as of today) with Overdrive (another vendor who wants to be a sole-source provider for eBooks, only this time for libraries–and they do it nearly the same way Amazon does with consumers). I know the MOBI format was falling out of favor for a while as PDAs phased out and smart phones phased in, but now I’m wondering if we’ll see a resurgence as eReaders take hold….hmmm…

  22. Jennifer Says:

    I, too, adore my Kindle and am a librarian (a Canadian one at that!). Your comment about the Kobo made me chuckle as I can’t bring myself to get one even though it and the Sony are the ones readily available here that allow you to download books from your library. I have a Sony, too, but much prefer my Kindle–the feel, the type, its readability, and the ease of downloading books from Amazon. Unfortunately, whenever a patron asks about ereaders at the library, I have to recommend the Sony or Kobo because these people want to download books from NetLibrary or Overdrive, not Amazon. In any case, I have a love affair with my Kindle, too, and I’m actually kind of proud to admit it! :)

  23. Barbara Henry Says:

    I am relieved that a professional librarian would not advocate illegal practices on the library website where they are employed–just in their personal blog, Phew! that is good to know. I had “assumed” that your blog was part of what you do at your library. Thanks for correcting my assumptions.

  24. Barbara Henry Says:

    I have another question. You say: “They [Amazon] make money from selling people books. If people could get those same books on their Kindles for free and without paying Amazon, just by logging in with a library card number, Amazon is going to lose some business. And losing business for the sake of looking like you love libraries is sadly not a winning proposition in our society.”

    Do you really think that library ebook borrowing would make a significant dent in Kindle ebook sales? I wonder if it makes a big loss for B&N Nook, Kobo or Sony? Anyone know? Also, libraries loan out far more printed books and DVDs than they do ebooks and Amazon sells printed books and DVDs, but there seems to be no concern there. Why the big concern with the ebook format? Money, yes, but perhaps more ego–Jeff Bezos caving to ePub.

  25. Library Kahuna Says:

    Bobbi sold me on the Kindle and I love it…all guilt and traitor feelings assuaged. I use it primarily for classics and fiction and I love the free downloads of public domain classics. I am taking it to Europe with me next week…all those books at my command while traveling. I’ll never give up books but this is a nice companion.

  26. Chad Says:

    Right there with you – I love my Kindle as a personal user, and detest it as a librarian for the same reasons. The tug-of-war is never ending!

  27. Jussi Keinonen Says:

    @Sarah: I actually didn’t know about the U.S. library system with state-level entities. But now that it was brought up, in the long run I guess you’d only need one net library for all English speaking countries, including the UK, Australia, NZ, Ireland, Canada etc. set up in the auction winning service location. In that way I feel ebooks are just as big a threat for jobs as they are for bookstores, if not more.

    And, as you ask, it’s interesting to see what physical libraries could offer instead. I’m afraid most of the current excellent services available can also be done to a level online and P2P. It would be a kind of a “piracy” too, I guess. Most libraries, like bookstores, can be changed to serve another purpose. Bookstores made to flower shops, libraries to… maybe some kind of community meeting halls? For the latter, it’s more challenging because I would guess tax money is tighter and it would be difficult to think of something as valuable as the current libraries we have had.

  28. Jussi Keinonen Says:

    PS. By “piracy” I meant that the answers for “What should I read after Stieg Larsson (Ilkka Remes, IMO, but you don’t have that in English yet)?” can be copied everywhere.

  29. Miranda Doyle Says:

    After researching all of these issues, I bought a nook about three months ago. I love it. I borrow all of my ebooks from the public library free of charge, and can’t see much of a downside to choosing the nook over the Kindle. For the Kindle lovers — why is yours better? :)

  30. Pam Hill Says:

    As a librarian, I also LOVE my Kindle. I did wait a while to get mine (although not as long as you). And I love it more every time I read a new book on it.
    I realize that we can’t checkout library e-books on it, but librarians are finding ways to use the Kindle in the library. Have you read Buffy Hamilton’s posts about how she is checking out Kindle to her students? It’s very intriguing. She’s working on getting Nooks also. So, maybe we can’t benefit as Kindle owners, but people are getting creative with ebooks in education in other ways! :)

  31. chris Says:

    I particularly love how the kindle phones home, with your location every 5 minutes or so.

  32. Gary Says:

    I, too, am a librarian who loves his Kindle. I’ve found that, while it’s wonderful to advocate the Nook, or the Sony eReader, or another reader that supports ePub and therefore allows a patron to borrow eBooks from the library, the fact of the matter is that those loaning systems are incredibly problematic. As someone who assists patrons regularly in getting their eReaders working with Overdrive, I can tell you that it’s not a straightforward process by any stretch of the imagination and the initial setup struggles turn a lot of people off. And the poor people trying to transfer content from a Mac are left out in the cold more often than not. It’s just absolutely beyond the average user to get this working.

    There’s a pretty serious flaw in your argument when you say “all you are doing is accessing an eBook your library owns…” Your library doesn’t *own* the eBook, it licenses it. This is an important distinction. And if it ever went to trial, I think the library or the patron would lose. Indeed, the entire “license vs. ownership” issue has gone to trial, recently, and the first-sale doctrine was found to be wanting. Read up on Vernor v. Autodesk Inc. While the case had to do with reselling software, not eBooks, it seems to me that there are plenty of parallels to eBooks that make your argument incredibly problematic.

    The real problem isn’t with Amazon, or Overdrive, or any of the vendors. The problem is with the publishers, who just plain don’t like the idea of sharing books, eBooks or otherwise. They want a cut every time someone reads the books and that’s why we have to jump through all these ridiculous hoops to get to content. The music industry fought the digital revolution too, but we’re starting to see some progress on that front. I think the book industry will come around too, in time.

    Just my two cents.

  33. Gary Says:

    I can’t believe I used the phrase “incredibly problematic” twice in a single post. Sorry about the repetition.

  34. Jessica Says:

    I have both a Kindle and Nook, and I have to say I much prefer my Kindle. Physically the nook is heavier and bottom heavy, thanks to the color lcd screen under the e-ink, so it always feels a little unbalanced in my hands. I do really like being able to turn pages using the touch screen, but that is mostly because I find the Nook page turn buttons to be in not quite the right spot for my hands and they take a little too much effort to push (also one of mine squeaks).

    I also find the Kindle menus much easier for navigation than the touch screen of the Nook – I feel like it takes several extra steps on my nook to do the same thing as on the Kindle, like looking up a word – in the Kindle that is integrated right into the reading experience, while on the nook, it takes you out of the text to a new screen.

    While I like being able to check out library books, the initial set up was incredibly painful, and I know what I am doing tech wise. I can’t imagine how awful it must be for the average library patron. Adobe Digital Editions is now my least favorite software ever. While I don’t mind being on a waiting list for the titles I want, too often the books I want aren’t even available for checkout digitally thanks to publishers like Macmillan which will sell their books on Amazon but not allow them to be wrapped up in all the piles of DRM that Overdrive and ADE require.

  35. Sarah Says:

    @Barbara: No, I don’t think that libraries will ever make a big dent in sales for Amazon. I think the difference between the lack of concern about physical titles and the ridiculous concern about digital titles is due to the feeling that it’s easier to get a digital title than a physical one. For example, if you can get a library card online and then from that point forward get most/all of your books for free through Amazon through a library subscription, then you’d buy a lot less. Even if the library has the same physical titles today, it’s still more of a hassle for you to go there, pick them up, and return them… I have heard publishers argue repeatedly that “digital just makes it too easy to get things from the library for free.” For them, that’s a negative. For us at the library, just take the word “too” out of the statement, and it’s the key reason libraries are happy to move to digital formats.

    @Gary: Actually, our library actually does own most of the titles in our eBook collections. The licensing vs. ownership models are really important to understand, but we purchase the titles outright and license the access to the platform (e.g. Overdrive). But if we ceased our Overdrive subscription, we would still own and have access to the digital titles. We would just have to create a way to present & lend them ourselves.

  36. Joykenn Says:

    I love my kindle also! Instant gratification is great and I buy a lot of ebooks. I resent not being able to download and read library books on ny Kindle. I am NOT A THIEF! I will NOT share an ebook or post it or do any other dubious, illegal and unethical thing like that. Why Kindle doesn’t realize that only my worry that I’ll be stuck with books that I can’t read on another device is keeping my pocketbook in good shape. Frankly I’m a sucker for those promotions where they give me the first book in the series. Usually I wind up with another few books on my Kindle –sigh. I really really want to buy some of my favoriet print book series in eformat. Looseup Amazon! A tough encryption lockdown just guarantees som techy person will REALLY enjoy cracking it. Give it up!

  37. Joykenn Says:

    Sorry about the typos, but phones aren’t the greatest blogging devices!

  38. Barbara Henry Says:

    @Dennis: Is not the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) part of US copyright law? I always thought it was. But then I am not lawyer and maybe do not understand what it is. It goes back to 1998 passage by Senate and signed into law by Clinton making it a crime to produce and disseminate technology, devices, or services intended to get around DRM that control access to copyrighted works even if no actual infringement of copyright itself. October 12, 1998 by a unanimous vote in the United States Senate and signed into law by President Bill Clinton on October 28, 1998, It amended Title 17 of the United States Code to extend the reach of copyright. So it sounds like an extension or addition to the copyright law. But then I am no lawyer so I don’t really understand.

    @others: Overdrive and Adobe need to come up with easier authentication for devices so they can use DRM easier. If Kindle could do epub DRM, Kindle users would be going through the same muck as everyone else. It is not the devices fault. I own a nook and I had no problem setting up with ADE and Overdrive. Getting activated and using my library’s ebook collection was not the immense tech feat as often made out to be. And I know many others who have done similarly including patrons. Yes, there are no doubt problems as with any technology but I find in helping users that if they follow the instructions step by step there usually is no problem. We need to do a better job of library/patron instruction perhaps and library staff training so our staff is prepared to help. That is not always the case in small and mid-size libraries in our system.

  39. Lauren Says:

    I like the idea of voting with my feet. I disagree with how Amazon locks up it’s the kindle, so I decided on a color nook instead. I’ve been loving it because I’ve got my library books on it (and let’s be honest I’m reading mostly Regancies anyway) and my 2 year old daughter has already figured out how to read picture books on it. And the magazines are awesome. It’s definitely more expensive than the others but I think it was worth it for the extra functionality.

  40. eBooks and EReaders: There Can Be Only One | Librarian by Day Says:

    [...] recent post - Why I am a library traitor and love the Kindle got me thinking – WHY is she a library traitor? I know I know, but hear me [...]

  41. willem Says:

    I’m afraid this just strengthens my belief that ultimately libraries have no future in a digital age, just as Tim Spalding of has long argued.

    Amazon has no interest in library lending, for them it is a net positive that their competitors allow lending and not themselves.

  42. Maria S Says:

    I’m madly searching the Internets and our online databases, but perhaps you know off the bat: Now that Amazon has a lending feature, is it possible for libraries to purchase and loan lendable ebooks for their Kindle-loving patrons? Also, must the library purchase a kindle to be able to loan Amazon ebooks?

  43. Sarah Says:

    @MariaS: No – this does not make it allowable for libraries to lend things on Kindles. Kindle’s Terms of Service is very clear, and allowing person-to-person 14 day lending does not create a model for libraries to use. A library cannot legally lend Amazon eBooks, on a Kindle or off of a Kindle (e.g. asking users to use a Kindle app on some other device). Amazon has stated that publicly to the press. That being said, I want a library to buy a whole mess of Kindles & lend them out with books on them, openly flaunting the library’s disregarding of the Kindle Terms of Service and see what happens. To dare Amazon to sue a library to test the legality of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Copyright allowances and exemptions libraries get with physical items (but not yet with digital items), and really test the law to get some actual decisions about what libraries can and can’t do. The easiest way to say it is this: We have the -right- to lend digital books, but not the ability.

  44. The easily distracted should not buy eReaders. | Life:Merging Says:

    [...] smarter than me): Closed Stacks – What an eReader Can’t Do Librarian in Black – Why I am a library traitor… Go To Hellman – 2010 Summary: Libraries are Still [...]

  45. Emily Lloyd Says:

    I’m with Lauren, voting with feet. I have a Nook (not color) and love it. And I don’t give my money to Amazon (or link to them–when I mention a title on my blog, I link to Powells or the publisher) , for a number of reasons, including their treatment of small presses and the 1984 Kindle fiasco.

  46. Barbara Henry Says:

    Yet another reason to choose Kindle and not feel guilty.

    Barnes & Noble ebook return policy:

    Items That Cannot Be Returned
    We are unable to accept returns for NOOKbooks, magazines, downloadable PDFs for SparkNotes and Quamut products, gift cards, and shrink-wrapped items that have been opened. Please note: Once purchased, NOOKbooks cannot be refunded.

    Amazon ebook return policy:

    Returning Kindle Content

    Any content you purchase for Kindle from the Kindle Store is eligible for return and refund if we receive your request within 7 days of the date of purchase. Once a refund is issued, you will no longer have access to the item. To request a refund and return, click the Customer Service button in the Contact Us box in the right-hand column of this page to reach us via phone or e-mail. Please make sure to include the title of the item you wish to return in your request.

  47. Barbara Henry Says:

    I am with Lauren and Emily Lloyd and four librarians in my local library system who went for the NookColor this Christmas. However, that does not mean I love B&N as a model, i.e. my post about ebook return policies. Also my concern about the special B&N DRM wrapper on their ebooks that currently makes nookbooks unusable on other ePub readers who will not recognize it. Our local library systems here in upstate NY are working with Barnes & Noble to set up a LEGAL model for circulating nooks with content. I like the idea of partnering to make changes, rather than facing off in a court of law. Let some other library try that one — like the Library of Congress! Our local B&N stories are also hosting free workshops for nook owners to learn how to download ebooks from their local library. That I like.

  48. Barbara Henry Says:

    @willen: see what Library Renewal is doing at

  49. bob Says:

    I honestly cannot comprehend how eager you all are at the ever hastening end of our profession.

    Libraries are, in fact, their collections. The few literacy programs and book groups a library provides won’t keep a public library open if you remove the physical collection, certainly not in the face of the savings potential to budget cutting governments.

    Anyone who thinks students today actually know how to do more than use Google hasn’t spent much time with undergrads. So, academic librarians will likely have a job in a different form as experts on the information resources in their fields.

    Public libraries will not survive the internet. Enjoy buying ‘books’ on your kindles though. At least until the unemployment checks run out.

  50. Matt Imrie Says:

    Hi Sarah

    awesome post – purchased my kindle today based partly on what you have said (also looked at other views & reviews). In your response to @Gary you mentioned that your library owns most of the e-books it holds, can you please send me some info on how your service did that as in my Lib Service there is a massive discussion about e-books, overdrive and legal issues relating to ownership and lending.

    Thank you

  51. Jessica Says:

    @Matt: Sarah, I am also curious about your library owning your collection of eBooks. My understanding was the eBooks were similar to software, where you are actually just purchasing a license.

  52. Sarah Houghton-Jan (Librarian in Black) Says:

    @Matt & @Jessica: Most eBook vendors only let you license content and the interface/platform. Others, like Overdrive, let you actually buy the titles and you’re licensing the interface/platform. A way to figure this out is: do you just pay a flat fee yearly for your eBook product? Or do you pay a small flat fee + do title selection and pay by title too? The former is a licensing model, while the latter is an ownership model (though you’d have to create your own interface and lending system if you stopped paying the yearly fee).

  53. Peggy Says:

    Like many of the commenters here, I have a Kindle and I love it. Carry it around with me all the time. The only e-reader I haven’t been able to get my hands on is the Nook, but I have to say that in spite of the restriction of only shopping on Amazon (and the few websites with free content you mentioned) I probably wouldn’t buy a different device. The Kindle feels good in my hands and is so quick to load a book up, unlike most of the other devices I’ve had a play with.

    I guess the thing that drives me crazy about all of this is the idea that these companies are trying to lock you down to them. I know, I know, it’s business, profits, loyalty blah blah. But the reality is that in buying a physical book, consumers don’t just utilise the one retailer (well, I don’t anyway) because not all retailers necessarily carry the same stock, new and older. I guess the dream for many of us is for a comfortable light efficient reader that can borrow from the library, as well as let you purchase from any vendor out there.

    I’m hoping it will happen before I am able to ride my flying pig to work.

  54. gous Says:

    So not even librarians can be bothered to push readers that support them? No wonder the future of libraries look bleak. Here is the best article I’ve seen as to why Amazon has not, is not, and will not support library lending,

  55. How I learned to stop worrying and love the Kindle · Hidden Peanuts Says:

    [...] Sarah, I feel like a bit of a library traitor in admitting all this. But, things I really like about my [...]

  56. Megg Says:

    I think you’ve convinced me that I can get a Kindle. Thanks for helping me NOT feel like a traitor :) Now the important question is…gray or white???

  57. KindleLuver Says:

    I’ve checked out library books and read them on my Kindle without breaking the DRM. Read Tip #3 at to find out how!

  58. Links: Kindle « Nicola Hill, MS Says:

    [...] in Black: Kindle The Librarian in Black unveils her new Kindle 3, and has a much more sophisticated discussion than I [...]

  59. bob Says:

    “Perhaps someday Amazon will allow digital content from libraries onto its devices, will accept industry standards, and stop being an inbred walled garden of capitalist greed. But I’m not holding my breath.”

    As long as people keep buying their product, they have absolutely no reason to change their practices.

    You are the architects of your own downfall and you are paying for the privilege.

  60. Thoughts from the “librarian in black” « the kindlings Says:

    [...] Comments RSS feed LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  61. Elizabeth Bartholomew Says:

    Hi Sarah,
    I’m glad you like your kindle. I have a sony ereader and I just wanted to let you know that it does all the things a kindle does, plus I’m able to access ebooks from the public library legally. ;) Content delivery is easy, I can download epubs and pdf files from google, overdrive, or the sony ereader store with no problems at all. Happy reading!

  62. Nook in Libraries Says:

    [...] Why I am a library traitor and love the Kindle | Librarian in Black Blog – Sarah Houghton-Jan [...]

  63. buy kindle Says:

    Excellent weblog here! Additionally your web site loads up very fast! What host are you the usage of? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I want my site loaded up as fast as yours lol

Leave a Reply

LiB's simple ground rules for comments:

  1. No spam, personal attacks, or rude or intolerant comments.
  2. Comments need to actually relate to the blog post topic.