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Amazon deletes Kindle books, vows never again

updated 08:30 pm EDT, Fri July 17, 2009

Amazon Dels Kindle Books

Amazon found itself in controversy on Friday when it deleted Kindle books on accounts based on the demands of publishers, according to an update from David Pogue. The New York Times journalist says that "hundreds" of users, who had ironically purchased Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm, noticed the removal this morning after the publisher MobileReference decided to back out of offering digital versions of the books and pressured Amazon into removing the titles. While MobileReference hasn't commented on the deletion, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has said the editions themselves were unofficial versions of work it has rights to publish itself and couldn't legally stay on the store.

The online retailer automatically compensated the buyers with the download and has added that the event has made it change its infrastructure to prevent a repeat incident. Books already downloaded should remain in place for the future.

"We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers' devices," the company said.

The move underscores one of the concerns of Amazon's copy protection system for the Kindle. As access to books is inherently tied to customers' accounts and is made available through a connection which is always on by default, it gives the firm near-complete control over access to titles as well as their features. Amazon has faced extra pressure from publishers in the past as it was asked and ultimately had agreed to selectively disable text-to-speech on books when the authors want to reserve spoken versions for separate audiobooks.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Constable Odo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    If this had happened

    on the iPhone/iPod Touch mobile platform, people would have been in an uproar calling Apple some n*** company. Amazon did what it had to do and even though it might have been a harsh solution to some purchasers, it absolutely had to go down this way. They should have complete control over what is and isn't allowed.

  1. nowwhatareyoulookingat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    if never again

    why did they do it in the first place? If it is because they weren't licensed to distribute the ebook in the first place, that problem will happen again, so they'll be in the same situation in the future. If they are saying in the future they'll take the hit for already sold books, they could do that this time as well. Now, if they are busy removing the capability for doing this from their systems, so they can tell publishers in the future "Sorry, can't do that", well that opened them up to a big can of legal worms...

  1. Ouate de phoque

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Consumers are f**ked

    Just like prostitution. You bought it but you don't own it!

  1. ggirton

    Joined: Dec 1969


    self posting

    they gave users control over posting the book, the official story goes, so the "third party" didn't have rights.

    However, whatever the excuse, trust has been broken and the nature of the closed platform revealed.

    By the way, this happens on the iPod platform all the time with Apps and Apple HAS been called Orwellian (not n***) by many.

  1. malax

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Perhaps it'll never happen again because Amazon changed the wording of the contract with content providers to say that removal of content is not an option even in the event of a screwup.

  1. joecab

    Joined: Dec 1969


    malax is prob right

    but it's hard to believe that wording was ever there in the first place. Still, there's no way I see myself ever paying them for a book. Way to drive home who really owns it. I just opened my Kindle account for the first time this week to get a copy of Free (for, duh, free) which is what I expect to pay for any future Kindle books.

  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    RIAA is envious

    I bet they wish they could do this.

  1. macnixer

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Apple pulls apps from the App Store and they do pull music and videos, BUT the apps, music, video etc. do not disappear from the iPods, iPhones, Macs and PCs. you are disseminating FUD. Please don't be stupid and prove yourself to be an idiot.

  1. paulc

    Joined: Dec 1969



    seem to really miss the point here. It actually has little to do with rights and copyright... it's ALL about the ability for them to "reach out" and delete things on YOUR PROPERTY without ANY due process.

    It's like an individual or government agency simply walking into you house and taking something away from you because they say/think you don't have any rights to it. Or that they claim you paid x for when you should have paid x y.

    Frankly, this really is criminal on their part... it lacks any semblance of any form of due process. Which is probably why they very quickly stated "oh we won't do this again." A phrase that simply can NEVER be used as a defense in any criminal proceeding.

  1. JulesLt

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Paul - it's not criminal if it's in the contract. The problem is that people still don't understand what they're signing up to with DRM'd content yet, and won't until there are a few incidents like this.

    This is also the main argument why DRM'd files should cost far less than non-DRM'd files - because DRM is basically a lease (no matter how long).

    [And personally, I wouldn't have a problem with the idea of DRM'd book rental, as quite often I buy, read, sell, at far less cost than a Kindle edition would cost]

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