Kindle Buyers Beware

Via Josh Marshall, I see that Chris Walters confirms everyone’s worst fears about Amazon’s Kindle:

Amazon recently banned a customer for making what they considered too many returns, and when they did this they also disabled his Kindle account, although the returns were never related to Kindle purchases. So what happens when your Kindle account is taken away? Your Kindle still works, and the books you already bought for it will work, but you can’t download those books ever again (better have made a backup on your PC!), you can’t receive your magazine, blog, or newspaper subscriptions on it anymore, you can’t email documents to Amazon to have them converted and sent to your Kindle, and you can’t buy any new books for the device. That $360 device only works so long as Amazon decides it will work.

That’s the nasty thing about DRM—it prevents you from really owning things you’ve purchased.

Quite so.

Now, to be fair, I have no idea what this guy’s backstory is.   My wife and I (mostly the former) buy a ton of merchandise using Amazon Prime and return a not insigificant amount of it for one reason or another without them batting an eye.  So, it’s possible that he was indeed gaming their system.  Still, a lot of power to give to one company.

Photo by Flickr user Scurzuzu, used under Creative Commons license.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Triumph says:

    This is the reason to go open-source as much as possible.

    My main beef with the Kindle is its inability to read .pdf files!

    Given the fact that .pdf is the one of the most ubiquitous type of electronic document files, it is pretty lame that they not include that functionality.

    I recognize that the Kindle’s appeal is its screen and rendering of words; but there is really no reason that in 21st century America we can’t have a decent portable .pdf reader!

  2. another matt says:

    Actually, I am guessing that the real appeal of a Kindle is the convenience of being able to connect directly to Amazon’s site and download books. Otherwise, I would assume users would opt for the less expensive Sony Librie which seems to be more PDF friendly.