Tagkindle

Regional licensing is still a bitch

R

Today I tried to buy an ebook. I’m a big fan of the Kindle and buy ebooks all the time. So I wanted to buy a digital copy of Lawrence Lessig‘s Republic, Lost on institutional corruption (which ironically is responsible for the mess I’m about to describe). I was surprised to find it only as hardcover and audio book on Amazon.com – and tweeted as much.

Nicely enough, Mr. Lessig got back to me personally, asking where I was accessing Amazon from. Turns out that even though my Kindle is connected to Amazon.com (ie. Amazon US, not Germany) the Kindle version just wouldn’t show up.

Intrigued by his pointer, I fired up a VPN to get a US-based IP address, but still no luck. In the end I noticed that my Kindle was set to “Region Europe”. Digging into the Kindle settings, I managed to switch it to the US by putting in a postal address I used to live at.

Let’s recap. To buy a digital book I had to…

  • register my Kindle with the US version of Amazon
  • fake an IP address through a VPN service
  • switch the Kindle settings to the US by way of an old postal address

All that to spend some money on a book that would have been cheaper and much, much easier to pirate.

Now, call me old-fashioned, but that’s not how it’s supposed to work.

Readmill launches, rocks, makes Kindle Highlights useful

R

I love my Kindle. It’s a fantastic device for reading. For anything else, it’s ridiculously bad. The device comes with a keyboard and connects to the interwebs, yet trying to share quotes from the Kindle with the web at large is a pain.

Amazon implemented a feature called “Highlights“. Yet, it’s not entirely clear what they are for, and they’re awkward at best. Fred Wilson described how he hacks around the Kindle’s limitations. My friend Martin shared his Kindle woes. (Speaking of feature requests: As Martin pointed out, currently Amazon only lets you share highlights from books bought through Amazon; any document you transferred to your Kindle in another way won’t do. Change that, please, Amazon?) There’s many of us who would love to use Highlights, if it got just a little more love from Amazon than it currently does.

Enter Readmill, which officially launched today. (Congrats, guys – fantastic job!) And here’s a way to get the Kindle Highlights to where they belong: a reading community.

Today we take Readmill, tomorrow the world! Kidding. But once your quotes are inside Readmill, they actually become useful, both for use within Readmill and to export it from there to other places via the Readmill API and integration of other services like Tumblr. ‘s good! Go sign up.