I have finally had it with Amazon.
No, I am not talking of Bezos deleting 1 star reviews of Hillary Clinton’s new book on how the Russians are to blame for her losing to Trump. Though that’s also a factor. It is firmly part of the globalist empire and the day when they start censoring more than just book reviews can’t be too far off.
I’m talking of their “reform” to the highlights system.
Here’s how things work. When you buy books from Amazon you aren’t really paying for the actual product but for “access” to it, the terms of which can be changed at will. The most famous and ironic case was the removal of copies of Orwell’s 1984 from users’ libraries back in 2009, though that was more of a kerfuffle than anything sinister.
More recently, though, they started enforcing publisher limits on the amount of notes and highlights you can export from your Highlights page. What’s even worse is that each publisher has different policies on the amount and length of highlights they allow you to export. These limits tend to be more stringent for academic works – that is, the ones were you can actually be expected to make a lot of highlights. So imagine plowing through some massive opus, making copious notes and highlights on the way, and then discovering that you only have access to the first ten of them.
Judging from my forum thread at Amazon, many people have similar complaints.
Just spent over an hour talking with six different Amazon customer service reps. Most did not even know what the Your Notes and Highlights Page was. They kept passing me higher up until I got to someone who understood the issue. I explained to him that I have thousands of dollars and hours invested in reading and highlighting Kindle books for research and teaching (I have over 1300 Kindle books), and that I can no longer access all my highlights. He said he was sorry, but this is the new system and that nothing can be done. It’s very frustrating because it always worked before, and I no longer trust the Amazon ecosystem.
Customer Support confirmed that the new system is here to stay:
I am sorry about the trouble with exporting your book highlights. Each title in the Kindle Store has limits as to how much of the content can be highlighted or exported, this is set by the author of the book. These limits may vary by title, and cannot be changed.
We don’t have a way to roll back the current reading app version for you.
Fortunately, I transfer my notes/highlights to Evernote as a matter of course whenever I finish a book, so I haven’t truly “lost” all that many notes, except in the case of a few books which I hadn’t finished reading when the new system came online.
Still, in a world where many other content access industries have either adapted (e.g. Netflix for movies, Steam for video games) or been superceded by altogether more “open” solutions (e.g. Sci Hub for scientific articles), Amazon’s boorish decision to rush headlong back into the Triassic of e-book publishing can’t be tolerated.
What makes Amazon’s new policy all the more ridiculous is that not only can many books be downloaded/pirated from sites such as Library Genesis, without any restrictive DRM attached to boot, but there are even software tools to strip the DRM off Kindle books (e.g. certain plugins for Calibre), which you can then read from open source book readers.
But this is where we – or at least, I – hit a snag. The problem is that Kindle for Android – the software that I use to read more of my ebooks on my cell phone – is genuinely good. I have yet to find an e-reader with anything close to its functionality and capabilities.
- Integrated with the web, mobile, and Kindle e-book reader versions.
- Books can be organized into collections.
- Highlights and notes can be easily accessed, including from the web, and exported.
- Very powerful navigations, with instant access to Table of Contents and a “summary view” with quick scrolling.
- Nice aesthetic/functional with many different fonts, backgrounds (white, night, aged paper, etc.).
- Access to popular highlights.
Though it has some very big, and now critical, negatives as well:
- Uses the proprietory .mobi format.
- The newly enforced restrictions on numbers and length of highlights.
If anybody has suggestions for book readers that contain most of Kindle for Android’s pluses with none of its minuses, that would be highly appreciated.
The other aspect of DeAmazoning is of course the tedious work of downloading all your Kindle books, renaming them, integrating them into your non-Kindle book library, and stripping the DRM of all of them. Not particularly looking forwards to this part, which will probably take at least a couple of evenings, but I suppose it has to be done sooner rather than later.
Again, any tips will be appreciated, and if/when I’m successfully finished with transitioning to another system, I’ll be sure to write up a guide.