Gnus of the Whirled – Amazon vs. Mobileread

Mobileread, a seller of eBooks, announced on one of its user forums that it received a nasty notice from book giant Amazon. Apparently, someone on the user forum posted a bit of hacking software that allowed Amazon Kindle users to purchase books from vendors other than Amazon – like Mobileread. Amazon invoked the Digial Millenignu2um Copyright Act to get the hack taken down. Mobileread, of course, complied and went on to post a notice on the forum saying they would remove any customer content that directly linked to information regarding hacking the Kindle.

As an Information Technology guy and a writer, I’m amazed that there are already hacks for the Kindle. Then again, I’m not. We’ve seen this all before in the world of digital music. It doesn’t take too many Google Searches to find software to do all sorts of things the manufacturer/retailer doesn’t want you to do.

In a broader sense, this episode stirs up a bunch of questions. Who really owns their eReader – the customer or the manufacturer? Which books can eReader owners buy? Will eReader owners someday demand wider access? Beyond that, fellow writers, I have a greater concern. Just how safe is my Great American Novel when it’s in electronic format? If there are hacks to the Kindle that allow various and sundry access to competing marketplaces, there will be hacks to allow unscrupulous eBook buyers to pass around their eBooks for free — making writing for a living a dying art.