The kindle is a wonderful piece of technology. I don’t own one, but I’ve gotten the chance to marvel at one from time to time. The problem isn’t what the technology is able to do, but what its allowed to do.

From here:

This morning, hundreds of Amazon Kindle owners awoke to discover that books by a certain famous author had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid for—thought they owned.
1984A screen shot from Amazon.com The MobileReference edition of the novel, “Nineteen Eighty-four,” by George Orwell that was deleted from Kindle e-book readers by Amazon.com.

But no, apparently the publisher changed its mind about offering an electronic edition, and apparently Amazon, whose business lives and dies by publisher happiness, caved. It electronically deleted all books by this author from people’s Kindles and credited their accounts for the price.

And there’s the problem with the Kindle. You don’t actually own what you own. We already knew that you’re not allowed to resell “your” books or trade “your” books the way you can, well every other non-Kindle book you own. Now it looks like the books you bought and paid for aren’t yours if the publisher decides to change their mind.

The real punch line in all this? The two books in question are George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984.

Of course the real, revolutionary question that might better be asked is why are two books which have fundamentally shaped American culture, who’s author has been dead since 1950 are still under copyright?

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