Friday, July 17, 2009

Amazon goes 1984 on 1984


An interesting thing happened with some Kindle store versions of Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm. They disappeared. There's a lot of speculation whether the books were illegally pirated, or exactly what the situation is, and it's muddied by the fact that other editions of the books are still for sale in the Kindle store. They may, in fact, have had perfectly legitimate reasons for pulling that edition from the store. Amazon, of course, said nothing. They emailed owners that there were 'problems with the book(s).' That's all they said.

Then Amazon reached out and deleted the books from everyone's Kindle, with a full refund.

So to anyone who's listening, DON'T BUY A KINDLE OR KINDLE BOOKS UNTIL AMAZON RECOGNIZES THAT WHEN WE BUY A BOOK IT'S OURS. They don't have to archive it forever if it's not legit. They don't have to keep selling it. The terms of service on the Kindle publishing system already clearly state that those of us who put material up for the Kindle indemnify Amazon for any license infringements. That's all fine. But taking books back like this is NOT fine. As long as this mechanism exists, the potential for its misuse exists, and if e-books are ever to take their place beside real books as a source of literature and ideas, then we must be able to trust that when a book is bought, it stays bought. Revised editions can be sent, provided the original is not deleted. But touching the library in my kindle is the same as touching the library in my house, and I will object strenuously. And if they want to kick my blog off their site for objecting strenuously into their RSS feed, so be it.


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