AND another thing!


So readers of this blog will already know some of this.  Kindles!  What a lovely idea.  A world of literature on the go, the future of books, an infinity of possibilities, cheap, accessible, reasonably environmental and so on and so forth; what a lovely idea the kindle is.


Columns!  It can’t do friggin’ columns!  And as readers of the Minority Council will now know, columns are really useful!  (For those who haven’t read the Minority Council, that particular notion won’t make much sense until you do… and then it really, really will…)

And now, something else to make me LOATHE kindles so far that emphatic capital letters actually seem like a perfectly rational grammatical norm!  Which is a big thing for me!

So my Dad had a kindle.  And the kindle was something bequeathed to my Mum.  It was loaded up with exciting books, all sorts of groovy stuff, and getting it transferred over to my Mum wasn’t actually that hard.  Well, I say that… I needed to create an amazon account for my Mum, and send in a copy of a death certificate to make amazon believe that all was as I said it was, but still…

However, it turns out, that while the kindle itself can be transferred without too much difficulty, the actual books on it, can’t be.  Amazon refuses.  When the owner of the kindle dies, so does the content – including books my Mum was half way through reading.  It’s a notion that just strikes some bitter, literary part of me.  Books are a fantastic gift, and more than that – they are one of the few gifts which we delight in handing down from generation to generation, the sums of our knowledge, an expression of who we were, what we enjoyed, the tales we appreciated and the lives we led.  Is that to cease?  What happens when all our books are online, when there’s no paper whatsoever, and amazon decides to wipe the bookshelves clean of every person who dies?  We live in a society where we by things that don’t exist, summoned into being out of the air… and back into the air, it seems, is where they go at the earliest opportunity, just bits of data with a passcode attached.  Am I the only one who finds this idea utterly, utterly horrific?  Give my family back my father’s books!


  1. Having puzzled through the kindle version of the Minority Council (which I loved BTW) I can fully understand the frustration with the lack of column functionality. It certainly made for so interesting reading, trying to figure out what was being said.

    But, re the Kindle and getting books off of it. It is possible with a little playing around and an application called Calibre: All the books my wife and I buy for our very seperate Kindles (and using our Amazon accounts) are nicely stored in one location on a hard drive, DRM is stripped out and the Kindle files can be easily converted to one of a number of different formats. Instructions can be found on the greater Interwebs, videos and text descriptions depending on what you find easiest.

    What would really be nice would be if Amazon didn’t lock the Kindle down so much, but that’s not going to happen any time soon I guess.

  2. Being a bookseller, I am naturally rather with you on the “I hate kindles” thing. However, I was appalled by the notion that book ownership and the right to read owned books dies with an individual. What a terribly cruel thing to learn in an already bad time of anybody’s life! If kindles are the wave of the future, then won’t the notion of passing on human literary culture from one generation to the next become passé? I mean, why write at all if your work probably is not going to outlast the current times thanks to Amazon’s greed!

    I’ll just keep selling our good old tree-eating paper products until they force us out of the building, thank you very much.

    “Course, it wouldn’t hurt to let more authors know about this little issue. Might make them less inclined to push for e-books of their works, certainly less inclined to hit Create Space and self-publish. I’ll be spreading the word out here, for damn sure! And on that, would you mind if we link this to our website? Only I don’t know how many New Mexican authors are going to just encounter it on your blog.

    Keep the great books coming!

  3. You are most certainly not the only one who finds this horrifying, for all the reasons you’ve outlined.

    I have recently been in a similar sad boat as you, and going through my father’s library, and deciding who might find the most enjoyment in his quirky collection (post-WWII British merchant shipping) was a part of the grieving process for my mother and I. The books he’d amassed were part of who he was, but also through him collating this collection of knowledge, he’d created something that could be of use to other people (who wouldn’t have to go through the same process of picking and choosing).

    It’s really terrible that we’ve gone from a society where great people left their personal libraries to found amazing institutions, to one where they just evaporate.

  4. I don’t buy e-books, though I’m happy to download free ones from the Gutenberg project and its kin. I use a Kindle for work, because an e-reader is by far the best way to cart around thousands of pages of documents that need to be referred to in unpredictable ways, but i would never buy an e-book of something that I actually wanted to have, rather than borrow.

    I like the idea that was reported recently: the Harvard Book Store (I think that’s the name) now has on-the-spot printing-and-binding services for out-of-print books that are available on-line in its shop. You go in, ask for the book and they download and print it for you on the spot. An ancient idea (goes back at least to Alexei Panshin) finally realised!

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