A failure for Amazon

kindlefeeder.com is a service for Amazon Kindle owners that lets you aggregate your favorite feeds and have them delivered to your Kindle in a convenient, easy-to-navigate format. You can also have your feeds delivered to your Kindle automatically on a schedule.

While most of the Amazon-related news these days is about the next-generation Kindle that everyone expects to be announced on February 9th, there are still things going on with the old version.

The mere fact that kindlefeeder.com exists and is not a part of Amazon means that Amazon isn’t meeting all the needs and desires of their customers.  That’s okay, and to be expected.  They can’t think of everything.

But the fact that the site owner is now afraid that what he’s done (make the Kindle more valuable by providing additional services for it) is actually against Amazon’s terms of service means that Amazon probably did think of this, and decided they didn’t want people doing it.

This insistence on controlling every word that goes onto your Kindle is the main reason I didn’t buy one, and won’t buy generation two unless it stops.  It means that Amazon hasn’t figured out how to properly monetize the Kindle.  In general, the company is pretty open with how you use their services – they try to help people sell their stuff in the Amazon marketplace, they provide online storage and processing power for people to purchase, as well as numerous other things.  These services are very open because Amazon knows how to charge you.  Each gigabyte of data you send or store using their service has a calculable price.

But the money is much fuzzier with the Kindle, and so it’s much more restricted.  In the long run, this is a mistake.  Basing your business on preventing people from doing what they want with your device will always limit your market.  You may make more money now, but you leave so much potential on the table.

Link: kindlefeeder.com – RSS and Atom Feed Subscriptions For Your Amazon Kindle, via MakeUseOf.com – Cool Websites and Tools (#258)

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Two minus two is not five, either

The new offline Follett Digital Reader will become available for downloading and installation on customers’ computers on February 9. Users will be alerted and directed to the Follett eBook Web site, www.follettebooks.com/readersupport for the installation. The new Follett Digital Reader will replace the Adobe technology customers currently use to download and read a Follett eBook.

Instead of using PDF format, which is proprietary but ubiquitous, Follett Digital Resources will force customers to use software that only works on Windows and Mac.  And this comes at a time when Linux is becoming more and more user-friendly, and when schools  are realizing that they can save a lot of money by skipping expensive operating systems and using free ones.

So in response, to “protect publisher content”, Follett is forcing a new proprietary format, even for books that schools thought they had already purchased.  As of March 2nd, your collection will be “transitioned” to the new format, like it or not.

The company claims that this “increas[es] the value of the Follett eBooks in a library’s collection”.  This is strange math.  They’ve taken something that can be used on virtually any platform and made it only available on recent versions of OSX and Windows.  It is difficult to see how this increases the value to the customer.

It clearly increases the value to the publisher, who can now collect money for every usage of the content, and certainly they have the right to do that.  But it would be nice if they could come out and say that rather than pretending that this change is intended to better serve the customers.

Article:  Follett Digital Resources Introduces ”Education-Friendly” eBook Reader.

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