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Noted News and Opinion, June 23, 2009

A few of the postings and articles that crossed the wires worth reading today:

Kindle Myths, Misinformation responds to yesterday’s GearDiary posting about Amazon download limits. Frankly, defending Amazon could become a full time job for a large team of people, and it appears to be iReaderReview’s gig. More power to them. However, when I sent a query to Amazon PR about the download limit story, I got no response, and “no comment” isn’t a barrier to reporting claims by a customer who has spoken to customer service and documented his inability to download Kindle titles. iReaderReview claims the accusation has been retracted (“Number of downloads is not restricted. Even the person who started this rumor is admitting as much now.”), but provides no pointer to the retraction. In fact, as explained in my previous posting, Dan Cohen published a clarification that makes clear limits do exist—he has been told by Amazon employees that a title may not be downloaded to an undisclosed number of devices. This, apparently, after several ass-covering fibs, like “the server failed.”

If you are going to make a statement, such as “the person who started this rumor is admitting as much now,” you should back it up with a link. If you exaggerate, you should rethink why you write, because it’s not helpful to spread disinformation. The article goes on with some valid points and a lot of keyboard diarrhea about claims, many fabricated from the writer’s agenda, against Amazon. Let Amazon defend itself, report the truth to the best of your ability, Switch11 (the writer at iReaderReview). Moreover, drop the questions of Amazon’s being “evil,” because no one can make a factual statement about a company’s moral and ethical condition—it will always be a matter of opinion until people die because of willful indifference. Not going to happen with Kindle issues. TeleRead, summarizing several of the things about which Amazon should be criticized, agrees that the iReaderReview article is a misplaced screed.

If Switch11 is an Amazon employee writing, and we can’t know because we don’t have a name to check (“Hello, Amazon, does ‘Switch11′ work there?”), the company should put a muzzle on them until they learn to stick to the factual truth and leave customers to discuss their experiences freely.

Rob Pegoraro of The Washington Post reviewed the Kindle DX this past Sunday. He finds it wanting, despite its strengths, because of price and some of the restrictions it introduces because of limited support for non-Amazon formats and DRM. His observation about the amount of storage in the DX, “how many books do most people need to carry at once,” is shortsighted. If we’d said that a PC would one day ship with a Terabyte of storage in 1990, it would have sounded crazy, but we find ways to fill all the memory we can get.

Teleread finds a Sony Reader app that lets users customize the device. Paul Biba points to a cool tool, PRSCustomizer.

There is a ton of e-book information and plentiful links to related reading at The Know Something Project.

GalleyCat points to NPR’s call for best beach books of all time, which will be featured online and on-air on July 30.

ReadWriteWeb writes about its discussion with iRex CEO Hans Bron, who is talking about the company’s focus on the business-to-business and professional markets. They talk about the DR 1000‘s note-taking capabilities, iRex’s announcement it is working on color readers, and the missed opportunities by iRex because it does not have an e-book store.

I think the challenges iRex face include: Lowering the price of its devices, especially the Wacom-enabled products; Providing better note organization (I don’t agree that handwritten notes are “easier” than typing on a Kindle, as ReadWriteWeb argues—both are hard to use; Keeping its customers focused on current product, rather than trying to compete on future versions, such as a color e-reader, because it freezes buyers considering what they offer today.

The Mirror has video of the Cool-er eBook device. No review, just a walkthrough of the device features to music. Gizmodo had a review of the $250 Cool-er in May.

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2 comments to Noted News and Opinion, June 23, 2009

  • abhi

    wow – thanks for attacking me personally.

    Dan Cohen claimed that there was a limit to the number of downloads.
    There isn’t.

    He hasn’t updated his original post to reflect the fact that there is no limit on how many times you can download a book to one of up to 6 devices.

    Here’s the clarification from the geardiary guy – http://www.geardiary.com/2009/06/21/kindlegate-confusion-abounds-regarding-kindle-download-policy/#more-34458

    Its at the very end.

    *** Here’s the bottomline
    According to the last customer representative spoke to…

    You are able to redownload your books an unlimited number of times to any specific device.

    Any one time the books can be on a finite number of devices. In most cases that means you can have the same book on six different devices.

    ***
    Note that he has not updated his original post. And hidden this in another post.

    Let’s stick to his original claim i.e. downloads are restricted and you’ll lose your books, and that claim is nonsense.

    Your lack of courtesy is impressive.

  • Wow, thanks for not taking what you dish out. Don’t lecture people about courtesy while posting the things you do.

    Here is what the Amazon email to Dan Cohen said:

    Publishers choose whether they apply DRM to their content and thus determine how many copies of each title can be downloaded to different Kindle devices at the same time. There is no limit on the number of times a title can be downloaded, only limits on the number of simultaneous devices.

    That is clear: there are limits and those limits are on the number of devices. You are splitting hairs on the question of number of copies to a single device. Cohen is correct that there is a substantial uncertainty associated with the question of “limits.”

    There is no retraction of the question on limits to make. Would you quote the passage you feel is a retraction? The article you point to doesn’t have a retraction.

    As for your assertion that six devices is enough for anyone, I would disagree. Do you disagree with either of the suggestions I made in the posting today, that users should be able to zero out their devices so they can add a new device if they pass the limit and that it doesn’t make sense to set low limits, which might prevent a family of seven from sharing a Kindle account?

    Again, your posting was an attack, one of several on “anti-Amazon” people, which is silly and unethical, since you are attacking people who are simply trying to make a device they love better.

    Get out of the kitchen if you can’t take the heat you dial up.

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