After asking the question about the Kindle, my boss showed me an
interesting article in the August 2009 issue of MaximumPC magazine
entitled, "Kindling Our Desires" by Quinn Norton. According to the
author, the Kindle code is easily hackable so Jesse Vincent created a
"user-generated update" called Savory to convert ebooks from open
formats (EPUB and PDF) to the Kindle's format. He did it because he
loves his Kindle. He doesn't know if he's allowed to do it, and he was
never able to get any kind of permission from Amazon. According to
Library Journal.com, the Howe Library called Amazon to ask about lending
the Kindle to patrons and was told, "Sure, go for it." But when the LJ
spoke to someone official, they said Amazon's policy bars lending the
Kindle. Howe and other libraries have been happily lending them out
since then, with nary a peep from Amazon. A crackdown on libraries
seems unlikely. Devices like the Kindle and the iPhone are honey pots
for hackers who love them. Per the article author, it's safer to demand
open formats, where no one can take away what you've bought or invested
In response to the requests that I share responses to my question about
Kindles, I have copied some if the responses below. I hope you find
Response from Maynard "Butch" Satsky, Randolph Air Force Base, San
These are some of the problems we identified with Kindles:
1. Each Kindle should have it's own credit card assigned. If one
credit card is assigned to multiple Kindles the titles show up on all,
usually up to 5 Kindles, of those assigned to that credit card.
2. Downloading in large concrete building with large amounts of steel
are very time intensive due to lack of signal strength (can take up to 2
hours to download one title, compared to about 3 minutes with excellent
3. Maintaining control of titles, if the credit card is left active
when the Kindle is circulated. If the credit card/Kindle assigned is
left in place you have no control over what titles are purchased or
funds. If the association is broken, nothing can be added to the Kindle
until a credit card is again assigned to the Kindle.
4. The Kindle itself takes some getting accustomed to, because of
button locations and sensitivity, at least in the earlier version we
I have not had a chance to use the newer version.
The Kindle was really designed for individual and not library use.
Response from Ed Burgess, Combined Arms Research Library (CARL), Ft.
CGSC is doing a test with a couple of sections this year. Classroom use
starts about 6 Aug. with about a hundred students. Plan is to use Sony
readers, pre-load with govt-produced material only, try out in classroom
and home use for a year. Sony is accepts most of the recognized formats
for e-books, including PDF.
We'll be loading them via the USB port, which requires the IT guys to
provide a secure PC to load from, USBs being inoperative mostly.
CGSC (and I) think the Kindle model is inappropriate for several
reasons. True, the wireless download is cool and easy. However, Kindle
uses a proprietary format. You can load other (non-Amazon) stuff on it
but only by sending it to Amazon, who converts it and sends it back to
you, and charges. Also that means, of course, that Amazon knows all
your students' reading requirements and can delete or redact them if it
so chooses. We don't know how to manage purchasing materials other than
on a person-by-person basis, and Amazon has not shown any interest in
modifying their retail business model. Kindle's main virtue is Amazon's
stunning publicity blitz.
We looked at the iRex but got a much better price on the Sony. There
are several others, not as well known. I've heard a rumor (repeat
rumor) that Sony may drop their e-reader because Kindle has grabbed the
market. Problems identified with all the readers focused on the
relative lack of functionality in the machine--no email, limited
note-taking, difficulty of loading via USB (actually that's the Army's
glitch), inability to exchange material with classmates, and backup
CARL is to receive a Sony reader for evaluation shortly. More to come,
Response from Vee Herrington, Military Intelligence Library, Ft.
We uploaded pdfs directly from our desktop to the Kindle -- didn't go
through Amazon. Worked fine.
We will be starting our study trial in August. We will probably use the
Kindle since it seems to accept pdfs. I'm still not sure though.
From: Network Operations FEDLINK [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 7:03 AM
To: Parham, Myrtis A Ms CIV USA HQDA DCS G-1
Subject: Fwd: RE: Policy on Kindle Hardware & Software Purchases
>>> "Grice, Tina" <[log in to unmask]> 7/27/2009 3:37 PM >>>
The Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies library purchased 5 Kindles
in February to see how/if they could be utilized by the faculty...not
for our fellows. A "Kindle user group" was formed to test drive the
devices and the response was positive. But we quickly realized that
purchasing downloads would present a problem. Amazon does not yet have
a process in place to set up institutional Kindle accounts. It was
very difficult to find the right people at Amazon to talk to about this
issue. Perhaps someone out there has good Amazon/Kindle account
management contact info. What we came up with is that our Resource
Management folks could to set up an account for each individual Kindle.
Then we submit a purchase request for each download...like for a print
title...and wait for approval and then the purchase would be made by RM.
That is less than ideal since it defeats the purpose of the Kindle/G3
network...instant downloads and there is also the danger of the users
downloading titles or subscriptions w/out approval. We have yet to
implement it. We are still trying to work out something w/RM to better
facilitate purchases/downloads. We haven't given up and I look forward
to hearing other experiences and possible solutions.
Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies
2058 Maluhia Rd
Honolulu HI 96815-1949
[log in to unmask]
From: FEDLIB: Federal Librarians Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
On Behalf Of Parham, Myrtis A Ms CIV USA HQDA DCS G-1
Sent: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 8:17 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Policy on Kindle Hardware & Software Purchases for Individuals
Has anyone had experience in purchasing content for government-owned
Kindles and other electronic books? I am interested in hearing your
M. Ann Parham, MLS
Librarian of the Army
HQDA, DCS, G-1
ATTN: DAPE-ZXI, Rm 2C453
300 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-0300
Voice (DSN 225) 703-695-5600
Fax (DSN 225) 703-695-6988
Army Library Program: http://www.libraries.army.mil
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