UPDATE: The following update appeared on David Pogue’s Times column.
EDITOR’S NOTE | 8:41 p.m. The Times published an article explaining that the Orwell books were unauthorized editions that Amazon removed from its Kindle store. However, Amazon said it would not automatically remove purchased copies of Kindle books if a similar situation arose in the future.
My Note- It doesn’t change the core issues here!
Just a few weeks ago I posted on a series of encounters I had with Amazon and their customer service. The first post raised questions about DRM. The second clarified some of the initial misinformation I received but, on other levels, only made the situation worse. The third post was an open request to Jeff Bezos to clarify the issue personally. (He didn’t and I never heard from Amazon again.) All of it left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
Today it went from bad to worse.
Earlier today our friend Alex Kac at WebIS sent us a link to a piece from David Pogue at the New York Times. It’s bad, really bad, and raises Amazon’s Kindle issues to an entirely new level.
The short story is that people who purchased certain books discovered that Amazon remotely remove them from both their Kindles and iPhones after Amazon and the books’ publisher had a falling out. Pogue writes–
(Amazon) electronically deleted all books by this author from people’s Kindles and credited their accounts for the price. 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.
Okay let’s count the issues here…
1. This proves you rent, not buy, eBooks from Amazon.
2. Amazon acted without prior notification and then merely credited accounts the price of the books.
3. Amazon WENT ONTO PEOPLE’S DEVICES WITHOUT PERMISSION AND DELETED CONTENT FROM THEM!!!
But there is another HUGE issue that Pogue doesn’t touch on. That issue —
What happens to notes and highlights I’ve painstakingly taken if Amazon removes a book from my Kindle???
This isn’t a theoretical issue people.
I’m currently reading the book “Nudge”. I’m not reading the book for fun. This is work and I m taking the notes for something I need to write over the next few weeks and I’ve been amazed at how good the Kindle is for this.I’m about 15% into it and already have 75 notes and highlights. But now…I’m concerned.
Sure maybe it’s unlikely that Amazon will suddenly have a falling out with the publisher of “Nudge” but what if they did? Heck, I’ve already had an issue reinstalling books, and now owners of “1984” have had their copies ripped off their Kindle without notice. So don’t tell me this shouldn’t be a concern.
We now know that Amazon can remotely remove the book from our Kindle without prior notice. That’s bad but, then again, if it happened I could always buy a hard copy of the book. But what happens to my notes and highlights if Amazon wipes the book? I assume those would be gone too and those are irreplaceable. That’s a huge issue and is reason enough to question whether or not to keep using a Kindle.
My open letter to Jeff Bezos last month went unanswered. I never heard from any of the four customer service reps I spoke to again either. So I repeat the call —
Mr. Bezos —
You have a great product. It works well. It has the potential to finally move people into the electronic era and we all know that that’s the direction things are moving. But there are huge open questions that remain and your silence on the subject only makes it worse. My encounter with your customer service representatives was bad. The episode that Mr. Pogue writes about is far worse. The issue of what happens to notes and annotations… that a huge issue and one that needs you to address immediately.
Hume’s Other Fork – Life imitates Art