June 22, 2009

Amazon's DRM policy — or lack thereof — is fault of publishers, says Amazon tech support


Jeff Bezos, making James Joyce cry

Jeff Bezos, making James Joyce cry

A scathing report on Gizmodo by Jack Loftus attacks Amazon.com for a “ridiculous” DRM policy whereby people who have bought ebooks for their Kindles and Kindle apps on other devices such as iPhones “have no idea how many times they can download a book, nor can they easily know how many devices can be used to read said book.” 

According to Loftus, even Amazon itself doesn’t know — tech support people there say it’s up to the publisher. Loftus points to another angry report, on Gear Diary, where Dan Cohen says he called Kindle tech support to find out how to download ebooks he’d purchased to another device: 

“How do I find out how many times I can download any given book?” I asked. He replied, “I don’t think you can. That’s entirely up to the publisher and I don’t think we always know.”

I pressed — “You mean when you go to buy the book it doesn’t say ‘this book can be downloaded this number of times’ even though that limitation is there?” To which he replied, “No, I’m very sorry it doesn’t.”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.