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Amazon Makes Orwell Buyers Right

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Amazon Kindle owners who saw George Orwell books they purchased for their electronic book reader disappear have been offered either legitimately licensed copies of those books at no charge (refunds were made immediately), a gift certificate for $30, or a check for $30. Any annotations users had made on the removed editions would be restored, too.

Six weeks ago, Amazon caused a tremor in the digital book appliance world by using "remote self-help technology": removing from customer devices books that Amazon said were improperly sold without permission from the copyright holder. (Orwell's works are out of copyright in some countries, but not the United States.) See "Double Plus Ungoods: Amazon Unpublishes Orwell," 2009-07-19 for all the details.

In that article, I wrote in regards to what actions Amazon might have taken after the debacle, "I certainly would have tried to offer a substitute licensed copy, and probably would even have sent print editions of the books along with a gift certificate."

It's a wonder that it's taken Amazon this long to sort the situation out. Had they made this offer immediately, I suspect the firm would have reaped far more positive response.


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Comments about Amazon Makes Orwell Buyers Right
(Comments are closed.)

M. Perry  2009-09-05 10:36
How can they restore a user's comments? Is the book with comments still on the Kindle, just tagged to make it invisible? How doe they know it hasn't been overwritten by new books?

There is another possibility. When Amazon yanked the book off these Kindles in the middle of the night, did it also pull onto its servers their comments? The latter might have an innocent purpose, providing a backup for those comments. But that feature could be turned to a much darker use. In Orwell's 1984, Big Brother could use your TV to watch what you were doing. Can the Kindle tell Amazon what we are saying about the books we are reading?
Glenn Fleishman  2009-09-05 20:38
Comments are synced across Kindles and Kindle software. We rely on the privacy policy of any company we do business with; Amazon, no less than others. Those with concerns obviously shouldn't make comments (or own or use Kindle tech).

Gmail reads our mail to show ads, and I know a lot of people who have trouble with that, however automagically it works.
Shirley Kehr  2009-09-05 18:24
Well, not everyone got that offer. I bought the "Works of George Orwell" which included 1984 and Animal Farm, plus 7 other novels and 50 essays ($4.79). Today I found it was restored to my list of purchases. I was not offered a choice. Meanwhile I had already re-purchased a legitimate copy of the essays ($1.00), which I suspect were already legitimate in the collection.

I don't feel that Amazon owes me anything, but one person on the Amazon Kindle forum said she got that offer for each of the 2 books she purchased ($60 total).
Glenn Fleishman  2009-09-05 20:37
Have you contacted Amazon? It sounds like despite not feeling you're owed anything, you have some remorse of not being offered something.