updated 08:30 pm EDT, Fri July 17, 2009
Amazon Dels Kindle Books
Amazon found itself in controversy on Friday when it deleted Kindle books on accounts based on the demands of publishers, according to an update from David Pogue. The New York Times journalist says that "hundreds" of users, who had ironically purchased Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm, noticed the removal this morning after the publisher MobileReference decided to back out of offering digital versions of the books and pressured Amazon into removing the titles. While MobileReference hasn't commented on the deletion, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has said the editions themselves were unofficial versions of work it has rights to publish itself and couldn't legally stay on the store.
The online retailer automatically compensated the buyers with the download and has added that the event has made it change its infrastructure to prevent a repeat incident. Books already downloaded should remain in place for the future.
"We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers' devices," the company said.
The move underscores one of the concerns of Amazon's copy protection system for the Kindle. As access to books is inherently tied to customers' accounts and is made available through a connection which is always on by default, it gives the firm near-complete control over access to titles as well as their features. Amazon has faced extra pressure from publishers in the past as it was asked and ultimately had agreed to selectively disable text-to-speech on books when the authors want to reserve spoken versions for separate audiobooks.