I purchased a Kindle in the US. I wasn’t an early adopter – but it was an early Kindle DX. I loved it. I get almost any book I want and the font size is whatever I want. A Kindle is the obvious gift for a reader getting on in years or slack in eyesight…
My Kindle screen has failed – or “distorted” to use the language in the Amazon emails. This appears to be a frequent problem and Amazon has a policy of replacing screen-defunct devices on a no-questions asked basis. Or so I thought…
This is critical. I have purchased about 40 books on my Kindle – and in a few years I suspect it would be 400 books. And they can only be read on a Kindle because the Kindle is not an open-standard. I can’t go read them on a competitors reader. And if my reader fails to read my books I have to get ANOTHER KINDLE. I am stuck in the land-of-Amazon for all eternity – unable to move my library to any competitor format.
That is the glue that binds Amazon’s business strategy – its as anti-competitive as Microsoft’s glue with operating systems. It is a reason I might consider buying Amazon stock despite its lofty price – customer lock of that sort is hard to obtain.
This “glue” however relies on everyone having goodwill towards Amazon because you would not buy a Kindle if you expected Amazon to rip you off in the future. Amazon can’t make their business strategy work if people think that Kindles are fragile and that you will be forced to fork out $400 every couple of years to replace the reader. They really can’t make this strategy work if the screens fail and the customer service sucks. Goodwill is critical.
Alas my goodwill towards Amazon is evaporating. My Kindle is a US model – and was purchased in the US. I need it replaced and Amazon will not send the replacement to me in Australia (though they say they will send it to the US). I offered to pay additional postage even – but no dice. My entire library is useless.
If I could take the library to another reader. I would – but it is digital rights locked. If I could have my time again and buy another reader – any other reader – I would. But alas I am stuck because my library is stuck.
So – in desperation – and because I cannot live without my books I just purchased another Kindle which I hope they will send to me and which I hope will not prove as fragile as the last.
And I have almost no recourse. I can’t find jurisdiction to sue them in Australia – and so hey – I might have to learn my way around the Washington State petty claims court. Maybe I will just write the whole thing off as a bad experience. (But if any reader has ever filed anything in small-claims in Washington State send me an email…)
But I have a recommendation. If you travel a lot – and if you worry about digital rights and electronic readers DO NOT BUY A KINDLE. If you buy one you will be forced to buy another and another and another. This is like heroin for readers – fun when you get the first hit – but after a while it is a drag and eventually it will leave you a washed-out Amazon victim.
PS. This is an investment blog and my complaint does not preclude owning Amazon shares – dealing heroin with legal protection can be highly profitable. And that is I suspect where Amazon is going…