Electronic books are a huge growth industry right now. But there is no uniform standard for formatting them. So you get books that can be read on an iPad that are different from what can be read on Amazon's Kindle or Barnes & Noble's Nook.
And until one of those comes to dominate the industry (not likely to happen any time soon), it's incumbent on all of them to offer the most selection possible. To that end, Amazon has been encouraging self-publishers to make their work available on Kindle. It's much easier and cheaper than getting a book printed on paper, of course.
But a lot of things can come pouring in when you open the floodgates like that. For instance, books about pedophilia. "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure" is a self-published work that had been on sale for a couple of weeks but came to broader attention this week and made Amazon the target of loud complaints and threats of boycotts. And while Amazon has taken this one down, they're likely to encounter issues at least somewhat similar to this in the future. And all the while, they have to portray themselves as having massive selection.
We talk to Eric Engelman about this. He writes the Amazon blog for the website Tech Flash, which is based in Seattle, home of Amazon.com. He fills us in on Amazon's history with this story and how they've been handling it.
We also talk to Eric Goldman. He's an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and directs the High Tech Law Institute there. He tells us that Amazon's original claim that removing the book would be censorship doesn't really hold water but that legal issues in the relatively new arena of electronic publishing are far from clear.
Also in this show, we talk about the Sprint ZTE Peel, which can turn your iPod Touch into a Sprint iPhone. Kind of.