In addition to the ridiculously onerous terms you have to agree to before Amazon lets you put electronic books on their overpriced Kindle, Amazon feels it’s perfectly okay to take away books that you’ve already bought. The stolen/forcibly returned books in this case are Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm by George Orwell. Apparently the publisher got cold feet about online distribution and to make the publisher happy, Amazon erased the books – because they could. The fact that Nineteen Eighty-Four is one of the books Amazon reached out and deleted from your device would be deliciously ironic were it not so infuriating. Does Amazon’s actions as Big Brother make these unbooks?
Amazon is also being heavy handed with struggling newspapers. They are happy to let a newspaper put their content on Kindle, as long as Amazon gets 70% and the paper 30%. And lets not forget the secret terms that Amazon enforces against you. Don’t even think about putting a non-Amazon ebook on your Kindle – it’s not allowed and could bring a lawsuit.
I love useful and especially beneficial technology, but the Kindle is neither. And because I don’t own a Kindle, Amazon can’t cancel my account and turn it into a very expensive paperweight.
Update: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has issued a personal apology for Amazon’s handling of the Kindle book deletions. This is very late in coming but seems genuine. I really do not see the utility of the Kindle compared to a netbook or other small device, which costs about the same but gives you a better screen and incomparably greater functionality. There’s just no point to it.
Also check out a former fan of Kindle and his decision to put the device down and go back to real books after seeing all that Amazon has done to make the Kindle inferior to actual paper books.
But at least Amazon and its founder have confessed their mistake and vowed to do better in the future.