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Amazon Lawsuit Shows He Who Lives by the Pixel, Dies by the Pixel


For book-lovers, Kindle is several notches below evil incarnate.

A 17-year-old Michigan kid has a novel excuse for not getting his homework in on time: Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle ate his book report.

Justin Gawronski is a contemporary kid, so he got an attorney to press his claim against in Federal Court.

Mixing high-tech and lawyers suggests the old ways are best: Pen, paper, and the family dog have served generations of slackers admirably.

Gawronski, an advanced-placement student, said his notes lost all relevance when Amazon deleted electronic copies of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four from his Kindle during a copyright dispute.

The kid says he used the electronic book reader's note function to make comments and annotations as he read the book, when -- zap! -- the text of the novel disappeared, thanks to the Thought Police at Amazon. This left him with comments referring only to empty disc space.

Had the kid been a student of history, he might have used a typewriter to complete his assignment. He could have taken this tack:

"In 1984, George Orwell's dystopian novel, government censors destroy all copies of news or books that contradict Big Brother by tossing them down the "memory hole" -- a chute to an incinerator. Today, Big Brother's apostles do this remotely, one of the wonders of the digital age.

", masquerading as an online retailer based in the Pacific Northwest, is in fact a dastardly, rapacious, and conniving destroyer of goodness and light, not to mention my homework…"

For book-lovers, Kindle is several notches below evil incarnate. But the devil may win this struggle.

Electronic distribution of books cuts costs for publishers and retailers, but will rob future generations of one of the great pleasures in life -- wandering the stacks in a bookstore.

It's time to stand astride this Internet thing and yell, "Stop!"

As symbolic gestures go, that's a doozy. Alas, electronic books appear to be taking off. Barnes & Noble (BKS), the nation's largest bookstore chain by revenue, recently announced a free application that will allows users to read e-books on Research In Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry.

Sony (SNE) also offers an e-book reader and recently struck a deal with Google (GOOG) to give readers free access to about 500,000 titles in the public domain that Google has digitized. Apple's (AAPL) iPhone also offers applications for e-books, so it will be impossible for lovers of black ink on a white page to slay the e-book monster.

The conspiracy widens: Last Christmas, Oprah Winfrey flexed her marketing muscle on her nationally televised show by proclaiming Kindle her "favorite new gadget."

As for young Justin and his snarling shyster, here's betting the hard-hitting lawsuit is filed the old fashioned way -- on paper.

It's all right there in Matthew 26:52: Live by the pixel, die by the pixel.
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