William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Amazon remotely deletes legitimately purchased books from Kindles

Ari Schwartz sends along this link, from Gizmodo.

Amazon [was] bending to the wishes of a publisher and deleting every single legitimately-purchased copy of 1984 and Animal Farm from all Kindles remotely…the publisher changed its mind about having electronic versions of Orwell’s books. So Amazon removed them from the store and in the process remotely deleted the books from the Kindles of anyone who bought them…Amazon says this is a “rarity”.

Apparently, Amazon was oblivious to the irony.

Some of us warned you

Update: 21 July Slate article on the subject.

Update: 22 July A.E. Hotchner has the depressing job of asking that Hemingway’s A Movable Feast should not be edited, wily nilly, by his heirs. Apparently, a grandson, who owns the copyright, doesn’t care for parts of the prose. So Scribner is issuing an “update.” Look for Amazon to replace all the copies on people’s Kindles with the new version.

9 Comments

  1. Remotely deleted? Ah well, you win. Kindle sucks. Amazon sucks.

    The Dark Ages are returning. Hand-written books by monks in secret chambers may be the only hope for archiving human knowledge as the world slips tragically into authoritarian-mandated superstition and brute ignorance. I’m stockpiling quills and papyrus.

  2. Shocked! Shocked! You mean one could pay for something to read on a teeny-weeny screen but wouldn’t have ‘owned’ it? Never saw that scam coming. Hmmmmm. Is the franchise still open to sell “art” viewable over the internet? Need to improve my cash flow situation.

  3. Pointed, can this be true?

  4. Briggs

    July 18, 2009 at 5:45 am

    Joy, it is. Look at the bottom of the article and there are links to, among other places, the New York Times, which also report the story.

  5. If they can delete any book on your kindle, then they can also secretly make alterations to any book you have on the device. Perhaps at the whim of government.

    In the future we may all be able to enjoy wonderful world of Newspeak.

    “War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength.”

  6. We might add “Technology is Unfriendly”

  7. Larry Sheldon

    July 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Cross one gaudy trinket off my wish list.

    Not really on any wishlist of mine–I’m till getting used to buying “paperbacked” books.

  8. No mention of a refund, seems to me there is a case to be made for theft or consumer fraud, here

  9. As much as I can appreciate the irony…..

    The books 1984 and Animal Farm were never released by the publisher for access through Kindle. Those people who paid for access to them (unknowingly) purchased illegal copies. When Amazon found out the listing for these books was not legitimate they were forced to recall (and yes, issue refunds).

    If the publisher simply didn’t want to continue offering the titels, everyone would still have access to the titles they purchased, but no new access would be sold.

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