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.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags amazonkindlee-readers1984Orwell

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

David Coursey

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?