Mack - three sets of questions. 1) does it allow you to back it up? What happens if you lose the kindle? Have you lost your entire library and all your notes? 2) is Kindle a logject? That is it records what you read, what you annotated, etc and then communicates that information back to Amazon? Some fairly useful info could be gathered that would supplement the tracking of buying/browsing. 3) can you, like a paper book, pass the book on to anyone else?
1) Amazon does have an automatic backup feature for the Kindle. Here is what the manual says:
Automatic Backup will backup your last location read, all of your notes, and bookmarks you make to Amazon.com on any of your purchased content. If you delete an item from your Kindle or your Kindle is lost, stolen, or damaged, you can automatically restore your annotations, bookmarks, and the last location you read by downloading the item from the Manage Your Kindle page on Amazon.com.
You still have to have wireless turned on and choose "Sync & Check for Items" in order to perform the backup so I guess you can say that it is semi-automatic.
Also, when you plug the Kindle into a PCs USB port it becomes another mass storage device. It has a Documents folder containing the books and My Clippings file. Since you can download Kindle books to your PC then transfer them to the Kindle, there is no reason why you can't back them up to a PC. A responder on the Kindle discussion list told me they do this and I will as well.
Here is a screenshot of the documents folder as it appears on a PC.
The My Clippings file is a text document which means that you can open it in Word, Notepad, Wordpad, OpenOffice, copy and past bits of it to another file, etc. A friend sent me a newspaper article by highlighting it then copying it from My clippings to an email message.
This is an example of an annotation from My clippings.
2) Amazon certainly know what one is reading. I get Kindle reading suggestions based on my purchasing/browsing habits and the "people who bought this also purchased this." I started getting them before I received my Kindle. Now, does Amazon do anything with the annotations when they are stored on Amazon? I haven't seen anything that indicates that they make use of information in the annotations.
3) No, you can't pass a Kindle book on to someone else. DRM rears its ugly head.