Maybe readers allowing you to purchase electronic copies of books from giant impersonal corporations are not such a good idea after all.
What happens when Amazon decides, for reasons of its own, that you should not be in possession of a particular book? Pop! It’s gone. Eliminated by your friendly corporation’s software update system.
Big Brother came calling on Amazon customers yesterday, as the New York Times reports.
In George Orwellâ€™s â€œ1984,â€ government censors erase all traces of news articles embarrassing to Big Brother by sending them down an incineration chute called the â€œmemory hole.â€
On Friday, it was â€œ1984â€ and another Orwell book, â€œAnimal Farm,â€ that were dropped down the memory hole â€” by Amazon.com.
In a move that angered customers and generated waves of online pique, Amazon remotely deleted some digital editions of the books from the Kindle devices of readers who had bought them.
An Amazon spokesman, Drew Herdener, said in an e-mail message that the books were added to the Kindle store by a company that did not have rights to them, using a self-service function. â€œWhen we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customersâ€™ devices, and refunded customers,â€ he said.
Amazon effectively acknowledged that the deletions were a bad idea. â€œWe are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customersâ€™ devices in these circumstances,â€ Mr. Herdener said.