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Amazon Makes Orwell Buyers Right

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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