Cory Doctorow’s Kindle Hypocrisy

Cory Doctorow, one of the few bloggers who didn’t return emails during my Kindle investigations, has posted his thoughts on the Kindle at Boing Boing. Doctorow says that he won’t be buying it because “it spies on you, it has DRM…, it prevents you from selling or lending your books, and the terms of service are nearly as abusive as the Amazon Unbox terms….”

Well, that’s all fine and dandy. But it still doesn’t explain why Boing Boing is listed as one of the Kindle blogs. It would appear that Doctorow prefers profit over principle. If Doctorow truly wanted the information to be free, then why did he sign on for Kindle in the first place? Based on all the evidence dredged up, it appears that the participants had at least nine months to say yes for this thing. In one case, a blogger was able to negotiate a private agreement. Further, Boing Boing was in a very close position to determine information, seeing as how John Battelle, the founder and chairman of Federated Media, is also the “band manager” for Boing Boing. So it’s not as if Doctorow didn’t have rampant opportunity to examine the Kindle’s specs, much less negotiate an airtight agreement.

Further, Doctorow remains conspicuously silent about Amazon stealing content from other blogs and distributing it and selling it without permission from bloggers. You have to wonder how Doctorow would feel if the roles were reversed or if he weren’t collecting a small sum of cash. While it’s true that Doctorow hasn’t shrieked, “Thanks Amazon for all the cash!,” I still find his “contrarian” post diffident and supremely hypocritical.

doctorowtattoo.jpgA true activist stands by his principles. For the record, a few major publishers have offered me considerable money to advertise on Segundo, with the proviso that I only interview their authors. One even suggested that I could download leftover audio snippets of authors from their digital archive and I could edit my questions in. I found this to be quite unsavory, and I politely declined these offers.

Doctorow is clearly a technological enthusiast, and it saddens me that he would rather use his position in the blogosphere to uphold corporate hypocrisy. It seems that Boing Boing isn’t about looking out for the little guy. It’s about looking out for Number One.

(Thanks, Christopher, for the head’s up.)


  1. If you check out galley cat, their blog is being sold without their knowledge or return of profit. Actually sound like Amazon is scraping and reselling copyrighted content without permission.

  2. Glad I could help out Ed. I noticed at Neil Gaiman’s blog that he likes the Kindle but thinks it’s overpriced. He was a tester of the product months ago. In his own words: “For me it’s closer to CDs and iPods. If I’m at home, my iPod tends to sit, half-forgotten, in a pocket or a bag. It’s easier to grab a CD and put it on, and I like looking at the packaging, the audio quality is (or feels) better, and the listening experience is different and probably closer to what the artist hoped for. The iPod is, for me, for the road, and I couldn’t survive without it.

    I don’t see that there’s a DRM problem — there’s nothing stopping you either reading books on someone else’s Kindle or putting non-rights-managed stuff on your own. I don’t think everyone has a right to digitally copy and distribute books they bought to others, any more than I think they have a right to, say, photocopy and distribute my books, or to print their own copies and sell or give them away.”

    And then throws in a parenthetical pertaining to Cory Doctorow: “(Cory Doctorow isn’t releasing the individual issues of the comics adaptations he’s currently doing under Creative Commons, because the publisher feared it would upset retailers but will be releasing the graphic novel collection as Creative Commons. Fair enough).”

  3. “One even suggested that I could download leftover audio snippets of authors from their digital archive and I could edit my questions in.”

    That would be a whole different show, but it could be hilarious.

  4. Doctorow has built a career on hypocrisy: he makes a living preaching the gospel of free content, but everyone with access to bookscan knows that his books don’t sell. He’s the Creflo Dollar of publishing.

  5. While Cory is a co-editor at bOINGbOING, it really isn’t fair to call it “his blog.” Cory isn’t a founder of bOINGbOING, which was a print ‘zine before it was an online blog, and Cory had no association with it. He was asked to fill in for one of the founders for a time, and was asked to stay on. While Cory certainly uses bOINGbOING as a forum for his ideas, his personal blog is at his own site, which ISN’T available as a Kindle blog.

    And I really don’t see anything curious about his alleged silence about blogs allegedly being sold by Amazon without their editor’s permission. No one can speak to everything. Can I assume you approve of everything in the world you don’t say anything about?

    As to his books not selling, Cory is a New York Times best selling author. If that’s your definition of an author who doesn’t sell, well, then a lot of authors would like to not sell that well.

    You look amazingly like a pot…

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