Earlier in the month, I posted about how Amazon is actively making it more difficult to remove DRM from Kindle ebooks, but I kind of brushed over the main cause of the change that also highlights a bigger problem with ebooks in general.
Basically, Amazon is now requiring Kindle for PC and Mac users to install an update in order to download and read any new Kindle ebooks published as of January 3rd, 2023.
On the surface that might not sound like a big deal—after all, having to install software updates is a common practice in today’s world, but there’s more to it than that.
When do the forced updates end? What if Amazon starts requiring mandatory software updates for Kindle ereaders to be able to download newer ebooks?
Ultimately, it’s not a good sign for ebook buyers and some view it as just another way for Amazon to impose control over content purchased from them.
The reason the Kindle for PC and Mac applications have to be updated is because they’ve made it so newer ebooks can only be downloaded in Amazon’s KFX format instead of Amazon’s older Kindle formats.
Changing formats and enhancing DRM schemes is going to be the norm moving forward in the ebook world. Twenty years from now, how will ebooks be treated in both respects? With digital media, things are constantly changing. Just because you can download your purchased ebooks now doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to download them in ten or twenty years.
If you buy a paper book you’ll have no problem reading it decades from now, provided it’s kept in good condition, but with ebooks and digital content in general no one really knows how accessible they’re going to be in the future when everything requires new updates and new hardware and new apps.
Think about it. Without warning Amazon or any other ebook company can suddenly require an update before letting users downloading purchased ebooks. That’s already totally normal and accepted practice. What other changes will they impose in the future? When you buy an ebook you think it’s going to last forever because it can’t rot away like a paper book, but ebooks are subject to an entirely different set of rules, most of which benefit big businesses over consumers.
I appreciate your critical commentary here on DRM. It’s often overlooked given Kindle’s dominant market position, but even Amazon isn’t forever.
Not only that, but there is no guarantee that in 10 or 20 years the company you bought the e-books from will still be in business. A long time ago when I got my first real, color tablet I bought some e-comics from a company called Graphicly. (That was before Comixology became so popular.) A few years later it went out of business. I was not allowed to make unencrypted backups. When their servers went down their Android app and PC program ceased functioning. Thankfully, I did not buy that many.
Ken of NJ says
Can you still sideload newly published (post 1/23/2023), purchased books onto a kindle or does the kindle also need to be online?
Kindle owners can still sideload purchased ebooks, but Amazon just made a change earlier this month that makes it so people can no longer sideload Kindle Unlimited ebooks.
Thus driving more people to engage in piracy and DRM stripping just in order to keep access to books they’ve purchased.
Klaus Yde says
I have given up on my Kindle and bought a Kobo. And I havent one second regretted it 😅
If only Kobo would allow emailing books and/or backing them up with notes in the cloud.
The only feature that is still making me keep my Kindle.
Richard Kelnhofer says
Unfortunately, Amazon also pushes exclusive deals so that an author’s books are ONLY available through Kindle. A number of authors I follow have done this, so I have to maintain a Kindle account.
Personally, I think this situation should be illegal. Amazon Kindle should be treated as a “Bookstore”, not as a “Publisher” – publishers may have exclusive authors, but bookstores should be able to sell books from any publisher.
Sue Crane says
I’ve also found that the books I want to sideload many of which are actually documents won’t download the corresponding cover, nor when I search can I sort my results in the order I want. I used to be able to see them in list order which would solve the issue of not being able to see the screen. All the covers that do download are fuzzy and I can’t find a way to change the resolution either.
No answers from Amazon of course, so doesn’t seem as if they want to fix anything.
Everything they’ve been doing is actively pushing us to buy from them and nothing else is supported.
I may just have to sport the extra and buy a kobo because I’m sick of Amazon trying to call of the shots.
If anyone has a workaround for their latest rubbish that’s made a total mockery of my calibre library, I’d be more than happy to hear it.
I bought a Paperwhite Signature edition (on sale locally) a week back, to replace the 2017 Oasis I’ve been using. I was planning to sell or pass on the Oasis, but I’m going to have to hang onto it because I discovered that when I download the book for the Paperwhite, Calibre can’t remove the DRM. But if I download the book for my (still registered) Oasis, then it can remove the DRM.
Since I like to have a DRM free backup in case I ever want to switch readers etc, my plan is to hang onto the Oasis and hope they don’t prevent me from downloading for it any time soon.
You probably haven’t entered the serial number of your new Paperwhite in the plugin settings.,
Hmm. I’d completely forgotten that was a thing. I’ll have a look and hopefully it will work. Thanks!
I’m blind and remove the DRM so I can print out my Kindle books in Braille. Now I can’t use Kindle for PC anymore, Im going to have to buy a totally unusable physical Kindle device to me, puts its serial into calibre, just to do what I could already have done in software.
Hopefully the e-ink kindles will still support the USB download option so I can get at the old .azw format for a long time to come!