Rose and I both have an Amazon account and after I bought her a Kindle I signed her up for the Amazon Prime membership which, among other things, allows her to borrow certain books for free. Around the same time I put the Kindle program on my tablet computer and linked it to her account. I just thought it would be easier and more efficient if we just had one library.
For anyone who does not know how it works, Amazon remembers all of your kindle purchases and keeps them for you “in the cloud.” When I purchase a kindle e-book, it goes to my (technically Rose’s) virtual library. I can then download the new purchase to my device, whether it be the Kindle, my tablet, my desktop computer or even my phone. To do this, all these devices must be registered to the same account.
If I end up with too many books on a certain device, I can remove some of them and still bring them back in the future if I want to. Another nice feature is that I can read a book on the kindle, then later pick up where I left off on my Android phone.
Here is where it can get confusing. A Kindle e-book is not like a regular book in more ways than one. Besides the obvious, you can’t sell a book when you finish reading it. You can’t even give it away. The best you can do is let someone borrow it for two weeks, but even then, that option must be allowed by the author or publisher. I don’t know all the details but I believe you do not purchase a book but it is more like you buy the right to read it.
I wonder what happens to that right when you die. Does it disappear or does it go to your next-of-kin? Can you leave your rights to someone in your will? Sure, anyone with your username and password can have access to them but what if your benefactor does not know it? Can they petition Amazon for your library?
What I am really curious about is what happens when a couple gets divorced and the one who’s name the account is under changes the password? I have a good marriage and I don’t have to worry about this but many people do not. I am not a lawyer but I believe anything purchased during a marriage is community property so when the assets are divided up in a divorce the e-books should be part of that division but there seems to be no way to do that.
Technology has changed our lives so much these last couple of decades and the laws that were made for a non-digital society just don’t always apply anymore.I guess for now, in cases like this, we need someone like Judge Solomon to threaten to cut our Kindles in half. What do you think?