Amazon's Big Brother Response Leads To PR Nightmare for Kindle Device

Wrong Decision

From the Wall Street Journal dated July 17th:

On Thursday, some customers discovered that e-books they had bought by George Orwell had disappeared from their Kindle e-readers.

It wasn’t a scene from Orwell’s dystopian classic, “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” The customers reported on Amazon’s discussion boards that Amazon refunded them the cost of that book as well “Animal Farm,” and used its “Whispernet” wireless access to their Kindles to wipe away the e-books. Some were surprised and upset, to put it mildly.

Amazon, in all of it’s infinite wisdom, decided to remotely delete an ebook from reader’s Kindle devices because it wasn’t supposed to be sold as an Kindle ebook in the first place.

Why does this not come as a surprise to me? Because it doesn’t. Let me tell you something, I had downloaded the Kindle app for the iPhone when it was first released. Was excited thinking that I could utilize Amazon’s $9.99 pricing for hardcovers that I might possibly want to read but then I learned that I couldn’t download the ebooks as back ups.

You see, if you don’t own a Kindle device, your ebooks are stuck on your iPhone (and I’m not addressing those who have jailbroken iPhones.) As another reader told me on Twitter: You don’t own Kindle ebooks. As a reader, you are only paying for the privilege to read these ebooks. He seemed, as a Kindle user, happy with that. I wasn’t and I quit purchasing Kindle ebooks from then on.

So far it seems as if people don’t know jack shit about ebooks in how to sell them, render them and market them. No. As ebook readers, we have to mine the field that seems to be bobby-trapped with DRM, geo restrictions and copyright issues. Personally, it’s dissatisfying to see ebooks still in the fucking dark ages.

I love ebooks but it gets harder and harder to convince everyone else to embrace the format when you have a large company like Amazon pulling a big brother moment with deleting ebooks. Sigh. At this point, I just hope as an early adopter I don’t get screwed over.

All Amazon really needed to have done was made the ebook unavailable in it’s catalog. Usually if the mistake lies with the company, the consumer gets to keep the goods, no? but not in this case. Strange that. Wonder what this whole controversy will do for Amazon’s Kindle sales?


About Keishon

Voracious reader of just about everything.
This entry was posted in Avid Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Amazon's Big Brother Response Leads To PR Nightmare for Kindle Device

  1. SarahT says:

    I would love to go the ebook route, especially as I have to order most of my books online and it takes at least a week for them to arrive. Unfortunately, stories like this one scare me off. It’s a pity because ebooks should have one major selling point: convenience. With incompatible formats, DRM and geographical restrictions, publishers are making them the inconvenient option for customers. It’s almost as it’s almost as if they want to kill off the digital revolution before it even starts.

    As for geographical restrictions: Amazon is set to launch their Kindle in the UK later this year. I’m waiting to see if they make their entire Kindle catalogue available to UK customers, or if they will have a limited selection.

  2. Avid Reader says:

    SarahT: As for geo­graph­i­cal restric­tions: Ama­zon is set to launch their Kin­dle in the UK later this year. I’m wait­ing to see if they make their entire Kin­dle cat­a­logue avail­able to UK cus­tomers, or if they will have a lim­ited selec­tion.

    Do let us know Sarah and here’s hoping that all ebooks that are available in the US will be available to you guys. I just don’t get the geo restrictions on ebooks because it just means more lost sales and during a recession you would think publishers would want make their books accessible worldwide.

  3. G says:

    What I have read is that the Orwell books actually had been published without copyright permission. In the case of stolen goods, usually buyers don’t get to retain possession (think fake Gucci bags). But I think the e-book model sucks anyway.
    As for geographical restrictions, the reason is the same as time restrictions (not coming out for half the pice at the same time as HC)- these are handled in the same way as books. Books are geographically constrained by contract and rights sales. UK has it far better than Australia!

  4. Avid Reader says:

    G: What I have read is that the Orwell books actu­ally had been pub­lished with­out copy­right per­mis­sion. In the case of stolen goods, usu­ally buy­ers don’t get to retain pos­ses­sion (think fake Gucci bags). But I think the e-book model sucks any­way.

    @G: Appreciate the feedback. I don’t see it as “stealing” since the consumer was not aware that the purchase wasn’t legit. I mean Amazon is a recognized company versus some other venue [name your choice.] The fault lies with the publisher for not vetting out the submissions. Also heard that the Orwell book is in the public domain in most other countries except the US but still, Amazon should have done something else rather than delete the ebook from people’s Kindle devices. I guess they didn’t want to pay any damages for the error.

  5. Bev Stephans says:

    Every time I think I’m ready to buy an ebook reader, I read another horror story. This really takes the cake. Even if I eventually cave and buy a reader, it definitely won’t be a Kindle! I have more than enough in my TBR pile to keep me happy for awhile.

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