Jeff Bezos personally apologizes for the Orwell incident

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The following apology was posted on the Kindle Community message boards:

This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our “solution” to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we’ve received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.

With deep apology to our customers,

Jeff Bezos
Founder & CEO
Amazon.com

Res ipsa loquitur

3 Comments on Jeff Bezos personally apologizes for the Orwell incident

  1. Dear Jeff,

    Apology Accepted.

    Love,
    John

    ps. an email to all the affected customers would have been nice. If not for Paul’s swell blog I would never have know about your apology.

    pss. Paul broke this story first in blog-land, by the way :-)

  2. While it is nice to finally hear from Jeff Bezos himself about this issue, and I do appreciate the apology, actions speak louder than words.

    I think Amazon has always been pushing the envelope with their ebook and Kindle practices – and this latest George Orwell incident went too far and they got slammed.

    And I also believe this incident was no spur-of-the-moment mistake that Amazon would have you believe. They had a system in place to remotely remove ebooks from the Kindle long before this happened. It was methodical and well thought out.

    The fact they would want to have so much control over their customer’s digital purchases in the first place is sheer stupidity on their part.

  3. From the opening about “illegally sold copies” to the closing remarks about “scar tissue,” this is a strange apology. Why bring up illegality, but not clarify who was breaking the law. (Amazon apparently acted in good faith that what they were doing was legal.)

    Why does Bezos mention Amazon’s “principles” without clarifying what those principles are? Uncertainty about what those principles are is what has people upset. Do those who buy Kindle books actually own them, or are they just renting them for some indeterminate time, subject to the whims of Amazon? He doesn’t tell us.

    I am sure the company doesn’t like the bad press that this incident has generated. No company does. But if we don’t know what principles underlie the sale of these books, we cannot know what sorts of “better decisions” Amazon will make in the future. Are they going to clarify their rules, so they clearly have the right to do this sort of thing in the future? Are they going to do it again, but with a bit more warning to those whose books are taken away? Or are they not going to never do this again? Bezos doesn’t tell us which path they will take.

    When I buy a paper book, that book is mine to do with as I please. That’s equally true of an ebook without DRM. I can copy it to another computer or reader. I can even give a copy, legally or illegally, to a friend. But that isn’t true of a DRMed ebook. I may or may not be able to transfer it to another reader, depending on how the DRM was set up.

    This incident points out that Kindle takes DRM one step further. Not only can I not move it to another machine without Amazon’s permission, even the one copy I own may be taken away overnight and without my knowledge or consent.

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