Missing Books

/ 17 July 2009

David Pogue shares word of a deeply ironic action on the part of Amazon. They’ve quietly deleted copies of purchased books from Kindles across the world, crediting the owners for their purchase. The books were deleted because the publisher decided they didn’t really want those titles sold as ebooks. The books: 1984 and Animal Farm.

This is the trouble with the cloud, you don’t actually have anything, you are just accessing objects that others hold on your behalf. The Kindle is basically a cache for your most recent reading, the rest of which lives at Amazon awaiting your call. Deleting these books is just a simple clearing of the cache, nothing significant from a technical point of view. But it feels significant, doesn’t it? It feels invasive. It feels arbitrary. It will help Kindle owners realize how little control they have.

Episodes disappear overnight at Hulu. Videos come and go at YouTube. We are living in a sand mandala. Enjoy it while you can, it won’t be the same tomorrow.


UPDATE: It appears that the publisher of these ebooks had no rights to the titles. Amazon was right to take them off the store, but I still question taking them off Kindles in the field.

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