The guardian’s series on internet freedoms (or otherwise) continues today with an article by Richard Stallman on the kindle and ebook publishing. Stallman makes a point I’d missed in my own commentary on the kindle when he says:
“Many other habits that readers are accustomed to are not allowed for ebooks. With the Amazon Kindle, for instance, you’re not allowed to buy a book anonymously. Kindle books are typically available from Amazon only, and Amazon doesn’t accept cash so users must identify themselves. Thus Amazon knows exactly which books each user has read. In a country like Britain, where you can be prosecuted for possessing a forbidden book, this is more than hypothetically Orwellian.”
One obvious way around this is not to buy ebooks from Amazon (or anyone else). The only books on my kindle are those out of copyright which I have downloaded from sites such as project gutenberg or other sites listed on portals such as ireaderreview. Of course you have to be careful that you do not add such books to your personal document archive or Amazon will helpfully copy and list them in your “kindle library”.
And I still haven’t really used my kindle except when on holiday.
(Note that Richard Stallman’s article is Copyright 2012 Richard Stallman under a Creative Commons Attribution Noderivatives 3.0 license)