Amazon CEO apologizes for removing digital books

Bezos calls the move 'stupid, thoughtless'

In an era when corporate CEOs are urged by consultants to quickly apologize for mistakes, Amazon.com's founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has taken that advice to heart.

In an extraordinary blog, Bezos apologized for Amazon's handling of illegally sold copies of George Orwell's 1984 and other novels on the Amazon Kindle e-reader.

"Our 'solution' to the problem was stupid, thoughtless and painfully out of line with our principles," Bezos wrote. "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."

He signed his missive with the comment, "With deep apology to our customers."

Customers praised his statement on the same Kindle forum Bezos used, with one post from Bryan Wheeler saying, "that took a lot of courage ... Still a very loyal Amazon customer here."

Others were less trusting, with LASoundCrafter adding, "Thank you for your mia culpa.[sic] Now it will be interesting to see how Amazon handles future (possible) illegal downloads and potential license holder's lawsuits." That poster added that maybe Amazon should search out ownership before a posting is allowed.

On July 16, Amazon removed the novels from its Kindle e-book store, as well as any digital trace of the books. That meant the e-books were stricken from users' digital lockers as well as Kindle devices. Some commenters noted the irony of Amazon's pulling the novels 1984 and Animal Farm, calling the move Orwellian, referring to the totalitarian state depicted in Orwell's dystopic novels. They also used the comments as an opportunity to compare buying a physical book, which can't be taken back, to buying a digital one.

Amazon refunded the price of the books, 99 cents, and sent e-mails to its affected customers explaining that the deleted books had been added to its bookstore by a third party using Amazon's self-service platform. The third party did not have the rights to the books, Amazon said. The online retailer also said it would no longer delete books in the same manner.

"When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers' devices, and refunded customers," Amazon said in an e-mail statement to customers. "We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers' devices in these circumstances."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags e-booksamazon.com

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matt Hamblen

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?