The World O' Crap Archive

Welcome to the Collected World O' Crap, a comprehensive library of posts from the original Salon Blog, and our successor site, (2006 to 2010).

Current posts can be found here.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Amazon Puts The Firemen From Fahrenheit 451 Out Of Work

Via Wil Wheaton’s Twitter feed (, we get this newsabout the latest developments in digital book burning:
This morning, hundreds of Amazon Kindle owners awoke to discover that books by a certain famous author had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid for—thought they owned.
But no, apparently the publisher changed its mind about offering an electronic edition, and apparently Amazon, whose business lives and dies by publisher happiness, caved. It electronically deleted all books by this author from people’s Kindles and credited their accounts for the price.
This is ugly for all kinds of reasons. Amazon says that this sort of thing is “rare,” but that it can happen at all is unsettling; we’ve been taught to believe that e-books are, you know, just like books, only better. Already, we’ve learned that they’re not really like books, in that once we’re finished reading them, we can’t resell or even donate them. But now we learn that all sales may not even be final.
As one of my readers noted, it’s like Barnes & Noble sneaking into our homes in the middle of the night, taking some books that we’ve been reading off our nightstands, and leaving us a check on the coffee table.
You want to know the best part? The juicy, plump, dripping irony?
The author who was the victim of this Big Brotherish plot was none other than George Orwell. And the books were “1984” and “Animal Farm.”
Yes, well, if ever a publisher needed to actually read his author’s books…
I don’t quite believe that in a battle between retailer and publisher,Amazon is the party which lacks leverage.  Still, I guess it was inevitable; just as they’ve made book buying ruinously easy, Amazon has now made book banning both effortless and instantaneous.  You don’t even have to light a match anymore, let alone dispatch firemen to hose down an unlucky bibliophile’s library with kerosene; all you have to do is hit Enter.
I bought a Kindle after I injured my back, and it’s a pleasant traveling companion.  Apparently, however, if I want to keep the books I buy for it I have no option but to memorize and recite them to myself as I wander around in the snow.  Thanks, Jeff Bezos.
Endgadget has more from Amazon:
Drew Herdener,’s Director of Communications, pinged us directly with the following comment, and now things are starting to make a lot more sense. Seems as if the books were added initially by an outfit that didn’t have the rights to the material.
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. 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. We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers’ devices in these circumstances.
So, Amazon confesses to breaking into its customers’ Kindles and secretly activating the Memory Hole option, but they’re really sorry and promise never, ever to do it again, and you can totally trust them to resist enabling that previously unmentioned protocol that will cause your Kindle to self-destruct like those tape recorders at the beginning ofMission: Impossible.
That’s good enough for me.
Posted by scott on July 17th, 2009

No comments:

Post a Comment