The books - downloaded from Amazon.com by American Kindle users - were remotely deleted after what the US company now says was a rights issue regarding the publisher, MobileReference.com.
"These books were added to our catalog using our self-service platform by a third-party who did not have the rights to the books," spokesman Drew Herdener told the Guardian. "When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers' devices, and refunded customers."
Amazon refunded the cost of the books, but told affected customers they could no longer read the books and that the titles were "no longer available for purchase".
Others were simply angered or annoyed by the sudden move, which they felt treated them unfairly simply for having bought the book in the first place.
"It's like having Barnes & Noble sell you a book, charge your Visa and then 3 months later change their mind, credit your card and demand their book be returned," said a disgruntled reader on the Amazon website.
"I was in the middle of reading the book on my Kindle," said another.
This is Amazon choosing its "content partners" over its customers. There is nothing about copyright law that required these deletions -- if Amazon didn't have the rights to sell the e-books in the first place, the infringement happened when the books were sold. Remote deletion doesn't change that, and it's not an infringement for the Kindle owner simply to read the book. Can you imagine a brick-and-mortar bookstore chasing you home, entering your house, and pulling a book from your shelf after you paid good money for it?Via The New York Times
If people want books that won't evaporate on the orders of faceless bureaucrats, if they want their libraries to last, or the right to read privately, or if they want the same ability to share or loan books that they enjoy with printed books, they should avoid buying any book that can't be copied or any e-book reader with "remote deletion" features. Project Gutenberg has e-books that won't disappear at midnight, like a pumpkin coach. Cory Doctorow sells e-books that will live as long as your hard drive and your backups keep them around. They're in unrestricted formats — like plain text, HTML, or PDF — and you can read them on devices without an Amazon Big Brother on board.
This is ugly for all kinds of reasons. Amazon says that this sort of thing is “rare,” but that it can happen at all is unsettling; we’ve been taught to believe that e-books are, you know, just like books, only better. Already, we’ve learned that they’re not really like books, in that once we’re finished reading them, we can’t resell or even donate them. But now we learn that all sales may not even be final.
As one of my readers noted, it’s like Barnes & Noble sneaking into our homes in the middle of the night, taking some books that we’ve been reading off our nightstands, and leaving us a check on the coffee table.
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Image Source: Xesc