There is a lot of news lately about Amazon remotely deleting Kindle books that they belatedly discovered should not have been sold (the publisher apparently did not own the rights to the works). That the works were Orwell titles adds a nearly irresistible ironic element to the story. The legalities involved seem to cover virgin territory in the copyright law which also makes the case fascinating. The purchasers have all apparently been fully refunded, however some people have complained that they annotated their version which resulted in their notes disappearing back into the same ether that the books themselves vanished into.
Amazons position seems to be “we are absolutely right in what we did, and we promise we will never, ever, ever do it again”.
But the biggest damage to the Kindle brand from the story is the discovery by many people that remotely deleting a book from their Kindle was even possible. Surprise, surprise. What the Kindle giveth the Kindle taketh away.
And that may be the biggest problem for Kindle now. When the average person “buys” a book, even an electronic one, they believe they should own it. But Amazon will either sell them one of two things:
- A physical book
- A perpetual license to display an electronic copy of a book that has been downloaded to an approved Amazon device but for which Amazon (and by extension the publisher) retains ownership and control
That difference may be too much for many readers.