Who owns your Kindle books?
We have to change the way we think about some things in the Kindle world versus the old paper world.
It requires “a bit of a mind flip”.
I’m good at those, personally, but I know not everybody is. I do tend to be able to concentrate on how I feel about something, and change my opinion 180 degrees.
This one may not be as bad as that.
As an educator, I do think that people can’t really learn the steps unless they have a unifying context for them. Well, that’s true for adults, not necessarily for kids. I always say that, if you were going to teach adeults the alphabet, it would be quite different. You’d say, “It starts with A, B, C…” and an adult would say, “Why does B come after A?” If you couldn’t answer that, they couldn’t learn it.
It’s also important for me to point out here that the unifying context does not have to be technically true. It just has to make sense. To quote something which is called both the Law of Pragmatism and the Engineer’s Law: “If it works, it’s true.”
In the paper world, we didn’t have any trouble with who owned a copy of a book we bought: we did. We could sell it, loan it, burn it, and we were responsible for that copy.
In the Kindle world, that isn’t true.
I assume some of you are expecting me to say that the publisher still owns the book, and that you are sort of leasing it.
The publisher owns the rights to the book (what the author wrote…and re-wrote, after the editor gave feedback), and only the specific rights they bought: format and market.
In the case of the paperbook, that situation is the same. What you own is a copy of the book, not the contents of the book. You can’t photocopy them and sell them to people, and you can’t make a movie out of them without getting permission (assuming it’s still under copyright protection).
In the case of the e-book from the Kindle store, what is purchased is a license for the book. That license is owned, just like the copy of the paperbook is owned.
But by whom? By you?
Nope…not in this unifying concept. It’s owned by the account.
That’s the important mental shift.
It explains a lot of things.
For example, what happens if you deregister your Kindle from an account?
You lose access to the archives for that account.
That’s because the account owns the books, not you or your Kindle.
People ask about what happens to your Kindle books when you die, and I’ve written about that. The account doesn’t die when you do…if you have someone else on your account, they continue to have access to the books.
Amazon has made it clear that it is okay to have more than one person on the account. They wouldn’t make it that if there was a husband and wife and one of them died, the other one didn’t have access to the books they’d bought together.
So, who holds the licenses for your books? The account does.
If you violated the Terms of Service, what could Amazon do? Shut down the account…they don’t do anything to you.
What happens to your access to your Kindle store books if you lose a Kindle?
The Kindle doesn’t own the licenses…the account does. You still have them, you just need a way to display them (another Kindle or a reader app).
That helps me conceptually in thinking about the Kindle and my…er, my account’s…e-books.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.