People who bought Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm for their Kindle were surprised to discover that it had disappeared from their devices overnight. It turns out the publisher changed its mind about offering an electronic version, and Amazon caved into their demand to sneak into people’s electronic libraries and take back the book at the publisher’s request.
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.
This kind of bull will encourage readers to visit Web sites in countries where the copyright has expired on Orwell’s books so they can get free un-stealable electronic copies.