Amazon today exposed the downside of an always-on, cloud-connected e-book platform. Ironically enough, the e-tailing giant yanked George Orwell’s “1984” and “Animal Farm” published by MobileReference from customers’ Kindles.
That’s right, someone flipped the kill-switch from Amazon HQ and every Kindle within Whispernet’s coverage area found their digital copies of the books deleted.
Customers were refunded, so they were made monetarily whole, but there are lingering concerns that a person’s collection of digital literature can fall prey to the machinations (or whims) of publishers. Granted, there’s a lot we don’t know about what prompted this move and, for now, Amazon is taking the vague route toward an explanation. (There are other versions available for purchase.)
As much as eco-conscious geeks long for the end of dead-tree books, here’s one situation in which paper prospers. Short of a publisher dispatching someone to your home to reclaim a book off your shelf, there’s little they can do to reclaim their published work. They have to bite the bullet and learn from their error or business hiccup.
And let’s not dismiss the intrusiveness and just plain creepiness of a corporation–imagine a government–that can reach into your devices and excise books or data that they deem you shouldn’t have in your possession, whatever the reason.
Let’s hope this is the first and last time this happens. As it stands, my desire for a Kindle is somewhat diminished after this episode.
Update: It looks like the e-books that were pulled were unauthorized.