Sunday, July 19, 2009

Today's Perfect Irony: Big Brother (Amazon) Vanishes Your 1984

Amazon sells many copies of 1984. If you buy a book from them, and they change their mind about it, too bad for them. It is your property. That is what "property" means.

Recently Amazon created another nifty way to sell books, in the highly useful Kindle electronic book platform. They have sold many copies of 1984 in the Kindle form, as they have in other book forms. This week, though, Amazon stole back all the copies of 1984 that it had sold on Kindle.

Amazon is Big Brother. They should be ashamed of themselves. And this kind of anti-thought and anti-property theft will kill Kindle. I was going to get one. Now I will not, until they disable the "Amazon can steal all your stuff whenever it wants to" feature.


Kerri said...

I have heard many complaints about Kindle... such as you can only download books you have paid for a limited number of times (and apparently the number changes depending on the book)-- so if you have hardware issues and have to restock everything you've paid for, you'll have problems.

Anonymous said...

These books were added to our catalog using our self-service platform by a third-party who did not have the rights to the books," Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener said in an e-mail. "When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers' devices, and refunded customers."

Anonymous said...

The whole story.

Gruntled said...

Amazon says that it won't take books back again. But this still can. This seems to me like the phone company complying with illegal wiretaps, after saying they would not. This is a technology that threatens the concept of property. It needs a technological fix, not just a policy fix.

Anonymous said...

The phone company didn't know the taps were illegal. I think it was a mistake. But conspiracies make better stories.

Gruntled said...

The fact that one phone company resisted indicates to me that it would have been possible for the others to find out.

Anyway, I don't think the phone companies were involved in a conspiracy, I think they were spineless in the face of authority.

Gruntled said...


This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our "solution" to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we've received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.
With deep apology to our customers,

Jeff Bezos
Founder & CEO