BIG BROTHER IS DELETING YOU
David Pogue on his New York Times blog wrote today about a disturbing situation regarding Amazon, the Kindle and George Orwell: due to some sort of problem with its U.S. publisher, Amazon zapped the previously purchased e-book from the Kindles of its purchasers, apparently crediting their accounts in the process.
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.
Why Amazon couldn’t have gone for the customer-friendly solution of allowing previously purchased copies to live while killing the e-book from its site I don’t know. Regardless, it’s a real public relations disaster for a platform that is on the verge of mainstream penetration. (The irony that this happened to Orwell’s tale of dystopian future in which our thoughts are controlled is too rich for bloggers like me not to post.) The comments thread is filling up with people saying they’ve decided not to purchase one because of this while while a couple of people have posted workarounds for those looking to safeguard their content from the digital thought police of the future.