Time for Kindle to go open source

Amid all the hubbub over the launch of the new Amazon Kindle two words are notably absent.Open source.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

Amid all the hubbub over the launch of the new Amazon Kindle (at the Morgan Library in New York, 10 AM, be there and tell me what happened) two words are notably absent.

Open source. (Picture from Amazon via C|Net.)

There's a tantalizing hint in word that Kindle technology will be ported to the open source Android, but so far Amazon seems to think it's going to be the Apple of eBooks, not the Google.

Be the Google.

While Apple made a ton of money selling iPods, the big bucks here are in the blades, not the razors. They're in the books, not the players.

The only way this works is if the technology becomes as ubiquitous as, well, books. It should work inside any device you have, any device you want, any device you can imagine, or what anyone else can imagine. If it's stuck in this squarish, plainish, plastic case it's not going to fulfill its potential.

That potential is to unlock the book's business model, its ease of use, and its sales, for the online market. Even if the Kindle has sold 500,000 units, as rumors suggest, it has yet to reach the mass market.

My wife, a book fanatic, says she's not going to an eBook until our library stocks the files, and in fact that should be possible. We know about how many times a book can circulate, so we know the actual cost to the library of circulating a book. If Amazon can just get below that figure authors can get paid for circulation at a free library, and libraries can save money on transport.

It should not be hard to do. Just set the files to "blow up" after a certain period of time. And have the master copies uploaded before you send another download. Hoarding books should prove silly once the price comes down, and the price can come way down through the mass market.

While publishers fear losing that $30/copy price point, writers know they only get a fraction of that money. If we can get more without losing readers we will be happy. And if I can get this blog onto a reader and get paid more for my work I will be happy too.

All this is possible if Amazon can open source the Kindle technology. Drop the upfront cost of using an eBook, build business models that work, and you will make more money. So will I.

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