LULU by John Linton Roberson (c) 2012.
I Didn't Write That!
18 July 2009
  Why Not To Buy A Kindle: Because Amazon Can Erase Your Books

When you buy a real book, it's yours till you lose it, sell it, give it away or throw it away. But not in the world of Kindle. Amazon just revealed what a crappy system it is, in a way that not only is deeply ironic but that guaranteed this would get publicity. And shows the publishing industry is remarkably stupid and tone-deaf.

Because of rights issues, customers who bought certain Orwell--ORWELL!--books such as, yes, 1984, or Animal Farm, saw their Kindle copies erased remotely this week. They refunded the customers, but that's not the issue.

The issue is that Amazon and publishers still haven't figured out a way to do this that isn't greedy and doesn't make customers feel insecure about something as personal as one's library. And if you buy a book on Kindle, it's only yours till some publisher decides it should be removed from the lists. They might let something out for a short time just to boost their sales figures, then pull it, then expect you to buy it again.

This sort of sneaky, dirty, dishonest bad faith guarantees that not only will people not adopt the Kindle--I certainly have no plans to do that after reading this--but that the numerous free copies of 1984 you can easily find through the Pirate Bay or other torrent sites will continue to flourish, given that 1984 is easily available in digital, public domain form throughout most of the world.

Amazon has made readers angry. And readers of Orwell are particularly sensitive about this kind of bullshit. And Amazon's terms of service do not include the right to recall the purchase:

Amazon’s published terms of service agreement for the Kindle does not appear to give the company the right to delete purchases after they have been made. It says Amazon grants customers the right to keep a “permanent copy of the applicable digital content.”

Retailers of physical goods cannot, of course, force their way into a customer’s home to take back a purchase, no matter how bootlegged it turns out to be. Yet Amazon appears to maintain a unique tether to the digital content it sells for the Kindle.

“It illustrates how few rights you have when you buy an e-book from Amazon,” said Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer for British Telecom and an expert on computer security and commerce. “As a Kindle owner, I’m frustrated. I can’t lend people books and I can’t sell books that I’ve already read, and now it turns out that I can’t even count on still having my books tomorrow.”

Nice going, Amazon. You murdered your product just as it was starting to go mainstream., and might have been a popular Christmas gift this year.

We don't trust you now. Especially as now, we can see that this would be an excellent way to ban books, that past censors would have killed for.

I imagine this, in stupid publishers' minds, is a good thing, and they think this will protect sales of physical books. No, they're just assuring that neither they nor the authors will see a dime from digital editions, which anyone can make and download. They're showing all the greed and stupidity that we saw in the music industry that made illegal sharing prosper. This is the future. The only question is whether they want to make money from it, or die.

“If this Kindle breaks, I won’t buy a new one, that’s for sure.”
What would happen to ITunes if they did this, even once?

Don't buy the Kindle till Amazon can prove it will not do this again. Or if you must buy an e-book reader, there are others to choose from.

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