I am ill this week so I’m sleeping more, thinking less intensely and writing much less. I don’t know why but that seems to have resulted in my thinking a lot more than usual about Amazon.com. This is one of my favorite companies in many ways. Not that I’m a fanboy. And I know about some of their politically incorrect excesses. Still, I use their services a good deal, including not only their retail presence but also Amazon S3.
The multiplicity of reader apps available for the Kindle format which is Amazon’s proprietary design for reading materials is fundamentally a good idea. I read Kindle books (and PDFs for that matter) on a Mac desktop, a Chromebook netbook, an iPhone 5, and a Kindle Fire HD tablet. While the interfaces vary somewhat from platform to platform, I seem able to adjust to those for the most part.
But one aspect of the different functionality of these apps really bugs me. About half of my reading is non-fiction. I use Kindle books to quote from other writers’ works on my blog, in my many articles, lessons, classes and ebooks that I write, and in private discussions with friends over email. The question of whether you can copy from the contents of a Kindle eBook isn’t consistent. Most surprisingly, there is no way, as far as I can tell at least, to copy text from a Kindle eBook when I’m reading it on my Kindle tablet. Now that seems to me to be just silly. If I choose their hardware platform, I can’t copy-paste a tidbit for another editorial use.
I understand, particularly as an author, limiting the amount of copying a reader can do from a given title. And it makes sense to me to limit the size of any one clip based on what might constitute fair use under copyright laws. But on the Kindle — and only on the Kindle hardware — the fact that I cannot copy any content at all makes no sense.
So, hey, Amazon! How about opening up that capability to those of us who use your systems to read your books? Whaddyasay? It just seems fair, doesn’t it?