A silly and disingenuous argument has broken out on the web over the “discovery” that Amazon.com can see the bookmarks and annotations readers create on Kindles and other devices, such as iPads, running Kindle Reader software. Of course Amazon can, and it has never made any secret of the fact.
One of the charms of Kindle is that you can view the content, including your annotations and bookmarks, on multiple devices. As Amazon says in its online Kindle help: “Annotations (bookmarks, highlights, notes, clippings) you make on a Kindle book are stored in your Kindle library on Amazon.com when your Kindle is connected to Whispernet. When you open the title on any registered device, you’ll be right where you were the last time you read and your annotations will be included.” And Amazon, of course, has access to the Kindle information stored on its own servers.
Amazon has been famous from its beginning for the way it uses information gathered from customers purchases and searches to recommend products. It has been a major factor in the company’s rise to the top of online retailers and most customers actually seem to like it.
As with any information collected be observing online behavior, whether it is by Amazon, Google, Facebook, or anyone else, the question is not whether the information exists but how it is used. So far, amazon has shown itself to be a responsible steward of the information it holds. If people don;t like Amazon publishing aggregated data of customer’s reading habits, they don’t have to use a Kindle or leave annotations and bookmarks. If they don’t like the way Amazon tracks customers’ behavior, they don’t have to shop there. But spare me the umbrage.