Amazon sued for cracks in Kindle
It's their own fault(line)
An Amazon Kindle owner is angrily suing the online
bookseller marketplace, alleging that his Kindle's cracks were caused by Amazon's own supposedly protective Kindle Cover.
How angry is plaintiff Matthew Geise? About $5 million worth of angry.
Yes, Geise paid but $359 for his now-deceased Kindle 2, but he's going for bigger game. His suit, filed Tuesday in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, seeks to speak for "All individuals and entities who own or have owned an Amazon Kindle 2 or Kindle DX installed in a Kindle Cover designed by Amazon."
At issue in the class-action suit is whether the Kindle Cover, when clamped as directed onto the Kindle 2 or Kindle DX, causes the plastic body of the ebook reader to crack. Eventually.
Geise's spouse, one Alisa Brodkowitz, used her clamped Kindle "without incident for approximately 4 months," according to the complaint. Then the plot thickened.
"However, after approximately 3 months [sic]," the complaint continues, "Ms. Brodkowitz noticed that the Kindle was cracking at or near where the Kindle Cover attaches to the Kindle. The cracks grew over time. On July 6, 2009, the Kindle screen froze and the Kindle has not worked since."
An Amazon customer-service minion told Geise and Brodkowitz that the only way such cracks could appear would be if the cover were to be opened backwards. G&B didn't buy that story and took their grievance up the chain of command to a supervisor who stuck with the opening-backwards analysis.
And now the court - and a requested jury trial - is being asked to adjudicate the dispute.
Plaintiff Geise appears to have support for his claim. The complaint cites a number of forum posts that relate similar tales, among which are the following cries of distress:
- "Cover CRACKED the face of my Kindle. The design of this cover is FLAWED!!!!!"
- "This is garbage. The hinge caused a crack on the left side of my kindle, and Amazon has been horrible about helping with this issue."
- "First they told me the problem was due to 'customer use patterns.' I asked, 'You mean, like, reading?'"
The $5 million figure is merely an estimate and may be judged to be greater if the suit prevails. Specifically, the complaint requests the court to order that Amazon pay for the defective Kindle Covers and damaged Kindles, plus unspecified "treble damages," costs, and attorneys’ fees.
And in a bit of legalese that borders on the poetic, the complaint ask the court for "A declaration that Amazon must disgorge, for the benefit of the Class, all or part of its ill-gotten profits."
Perhaps Steve Jobs should buy Amazon's Jeff Bezos a pity pint and offer a bit of advice. After all, Apple has had its share of experience with such plastic-prompted pain as MacBook cracks and discoloring iPhone 3GS smartphones. ®
I think you just listed the 5 or so reasons they created the damn thing...
Books are far too cheap, ridiculously accessible, compellingly durable, and much too widely available. Plus, if you can believe it, you can *lend a book to your friend*! I mean where's the money in that? Can't let people do *that*!
Plus they have these fascinating places called "libraries" where apparently almost any fool off the street can just walk in and read a book... For free! Shocking but true!
@Michael C, "Simple Stupidity"
The allure of electronic media over hardcopy? It is *supposed* to be the longevity of the text and images, the portability of a massed collection of works, and the ease of indexing, searching, and storing all of these works.
Unfortunately, with the various "competing" formats, this is not happening in a timely manner. As well, the longevity of our data storage methods leave *a lot* to be desired. While one book may last several decades, a single CD is only "warranted" for three-seven years. I have "lost" data on CD's that were over ten years old because I trusted "archival quality" methods. Luckily I kept a hardcopy "backup".
The Kindle, et. al. are trying to capture that asthetic feel of holding a book. I believe that once we have true "digital paper" that you can flip with your hand, then we might see this truly take root. Especially if they are "touchscreen" models that allow you to zoom using your fingers (pinching, etc), and can do color (while you're wishing, why not the moon?).
Now, if we can only get the storage to be truly archival quality...
I have still yet to see the value in spending hundreds of dollars on a device for which you still need to purchase books, in Amazon's case at full retainl price though they don't actually have any material cost or disctribution cost, and that may have at best a limited lifespan. Further, they're DRMd and can not be shared as traditional books can be, it has limitations of a battery, can't be used outdoors for extended periods in summer heat, is susceptible to wear and tear, droping, liquids, and theft.
If e-books were $1-2 for editions available in paperback, and $5-6 for editions only available in hardcover (for the early adopters), and if they came on a system easily portable and sharable file format, and had guarantees in place that when a new technology comes around, all existing purchased books could be migrated free to the new format/technology, then MAYBE I'd pay $60 for an electronic reader... Still, even as a avid reader, I'm lucky to churn through 20 serious books (600-1000 pages each) a year. A device might, if i took good care of it, last 5 years, with at least one battery replacement over that time.
A book lasts my lifetime. I also tend to buy hardcovers, especially at bulk sales, so I'm typically paying $2-7 a book. 20 books a year times another 50 years is I'm lucky, times a fair average of $5 a book (excluding inflation), means $5000. If i have to replace a $150 or so device (including batteries and accessories) over that time every 5 years, then that's $1500 alone (again not including inflation). That means the electronic copies, just to be worth it for my readin habbits, need to be $3.50 max each (on average). This also assumes my above complaints that the books need to be protable, sharable, and are freely migrated to each new compatible format.
It just does not make sense!
This is besides the aesthetic appeal not only of having a real book in one's hands, which can not be beat; the potential of having the real author sign my book (several of mine are signed) dramatically adding value; the appeal of having shelves of books to show off to company and say "yes, I've read all but a few of those", and the visual aesthetics that a properly filled bookshelf brings to a room... i just do not understand the appeal of the digital book, especially with such a bulky, expensive and fragile proprietary device...
To be fair, US Class-Action Law (I am assuming that this is a class-action suit) *requires* you to pursue the maximum possible damages for each member of the class. So if there are a million members of the class and the damages amounted to $5 each, you'd sue for $5 million.