Amazon's 1984 Kindle credit: thank you, Big Brother!

Bezos says the solution was "stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles"

There are things that should be left enough alone and Amazon's Orwellian removal of the book "Nineteen Eighty-Four" from Kindle e-readers is one of them. Orwell would have gotten a kick out of this, yet Amazon seems to miss the humor in it.

You remember the story: Amazon thought it had digital rights necessary to offer George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" and "Animal Farm" to users of its Kindle e-reader. When it turned out Amazon didn't have the rights, it without warning simply removed the books from user accounts and refunded their money.

The irony of Amazon essentially "burning" Orwell books, and certainly some customers, was not lost on the world at-large and many electrons lost their lives chronicling the sad tale.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos used a blog post to apologize to customers in very serious tones:

"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."

That seemed to end it.

Except that now Orwell has returned, or at least might return to users' Kindles. Customers who found the book missing may now get it back, along with their notes and annotations, or Google will pay them for their trouble.

"As you were one of the customers impacted by the removal of 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' from your Kindle device in July of this year, we would like to offer you the option to have us re-deliver this book to your Kindle along with any annotations you made," reads Amazon's note.

"You will not be charged for the book. If you do not wish to have us re-deliver the book to your Kindle, you can instead choose to receive an Amazon.com electronic gift certificate or check for $30."

That good news and Amazon is known for doing right by customers, but in offering $30 cash compensation, the company probably went a little overboard.

I'd have offered $19.84.

(And if Amazon sent me such a check, I'd have framed it).

When he hears "1984," David Coursey first thinks of the famous Apple TV commercial. He tweets as @techinciter and may be contacted via his Web site.

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David Coursey

PC World (US online)
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