So plenty has already been said about this, but we’re going to weigh in too because it’s just so ridiculous. Amazon began remotely deleting books from Kindles this morning. Illegal books? Nope. Perfectly legal versions of George Orwell’s “1984” and “Animal Farm”, purchased through Amazon.
Why? Well, apparently the publisher changed their minds about having digital versions of the books available for the Kindle, reports David Pogue. Okay, that’s up to them — from this point forward. But those who already paid for the books, own them. In a word, this is bullshit.
Seriously, why doesn’t Amazon just come into our houses and burn the print copies as well while they’re at it?
This remote deletion issue is an increasingly interesting one. Last year, Apple CEO Steve Jobs confirmed that the company has a remote “kill switch” to remove apps from your device if it thinks that is necessary. To the best of my knowledge, they have yet to use such functionality, and would only do so if there was a malicious app out there that was actually causing harm to iPhones. They have not even used it to kill some poor taste apps that were quickly removed from the App Store, like Baby Shaker.
That sounds reasonable. What Amazon is doing, is not. Yes, they credit your account with the money you paid for the book, but I don’t want the money. I want the book, which I legally bought. And this follows its poor choice in making certain app makers remove their apps from the App Store that call their APIs in ways they don’t like — that is to say, on mobile devices. Laughable.
Pogue and our own CrunchGear have it right in pointing out the parallels between a move like this and Orwell’s own novels that are being removed. “And of course the fact that this happened to 1984, of all books, makes this even more surreal,” write Gizmodo.
Big Brother is in your Kindle. Watching.
Update: As commenter Edward Virtually notes, this action is likely within Amazon’s legal rights. I think that’s pretty obvious or there is no way they would have done it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not complete and utter bullshit too. Everyone who hears about this and has a Kindle will now think twice about buying a book on there. Legal BS aside, this is Amazon shooting themselves in the foot here. Big time.
Update 2: Amazon has admitted how stupid this was, and says it won’t do so in the future. But InformationWeek is reporting that the FTC may be interested in looking at Amazon’s shady actions.