Joho the BlogThe strongest force in the universe continues to be irony - Joho the Blog

The strongest force in the universe continues to be irony

David Pogue reports that Amazon has deleted some books from people’s Kindles, even though people had paid for them. It seems that the publisher decided it didn’t want them offered after all. [NEXT DAY: More exactly, the publisher that owns the copyright objected to another publisher selling the book.] So, Amazon deleted the books and credited people for their purchase.

The books were George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984. OMG.

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11 Responses to “The strongest force in the universe continues to be irony”

  1. It seems that the Italian edition of Cluetrain Manifesto is out of print. It seems that the translator (I, me, myself) would be happy to buy the digital rights from the publisher to have the book available at least as an ebook. It seems that the authors (namely you, David) sold the digtal rights to’ the publisher to have him actively avoid digital versions of the book. So, thanks to the publisher with the enthousiastic agreement of the authors, the book willemstad still remain clandestine in Italy: business as usual.

  2. Yes, Antonio, as I and my publisher and my agent have explained in our very long correspondence with you, the authors of Cluetrain sold the rights to the book to a publisher, including, in typical fashion, the rights to the digital versions. Of course we didn’t sell our publisher those rights to “actively avoid” digital versions. Rather, the publisher has chosen not to sell those rights to you.

  3. This incident with Kindle and Orwell’s books is like a sign of time and a sign of something very bad happening to our digital culture.

    I now understand what were my subconscious objections against Kindle – when I buy the book, I want to own it, without any restrictions. But with Kindle this, apparently, is not the case !

    What with hundreds of my audio books I bought from Audible? Amazon bought Audible? Can they go into my account and just wipe out a book?

    The irony is that the case involves Orwell’s books.

    These very books that, in our culture, are like silent mementos of what could happen to us, when the control over communication and system falls into some centralized “centres” of power, thought etc.

    I guess I do not exaggerate: this little event should be the first important warning of where could we get to if we do not change all these DRMs …

  4. the solution to this seams as easy as not purchasing kindle anymore

    like in ‘we are still in time to shape the digital culture and avoid electric fascism’

  5. too funny…
    I wish it were a joke.

  6. […] E-Books Are More Equal Than Others” (via Joho) – A NYT article about Amazon removing some books from people’s Kindles because the […]

  7. I had thought the greater irony was in how the Internet was used for this world’s “two-minute hate”… no one knew the actual situation (and Amazon seemed clumsy in its communications) but the mob-mentality of weblogs knew who the obvious villain was.

  8. I’d have to side with Antonio here. If you sell rights to an entity that you know still lives in the stone age, you also know beforehand that the book will get a stone age treatment.

  9. Jeff Bezos sent an apology (here).

    While it is good to see, while we should prise Jeff’s Bezos courage – it is not be enough to regain trust that such orwellian effect would not repeat, in a different fasion, in the future – until the policies and rule they handle Kindle – change.

    John (D) – I watched a lot of weblogs about Kindle. I do not agree it was in mob-mentality like mood. Most people did not specifically blame anybody – most of what I saw was a genuine CONCERN ….

  10. J. Zittraine needs to see this, it’s the whole tethered device phenomena.

  11. Re: In response to Amazon’s remote deletion of 1984 and Animal Farm

    Hi there,

    Saw you’d written about the Amazon / 1984 flap, and I thought you might be
    interested in the petition we launched yesterday:

    We have over 1400 signatures already, and signers include Lawrence Lessig,
    Clay Shirky, Cory Doctorow and other notable authors, librarians, and

    The petition opens:

    “We believe in a way of life based on the free exchange of ideas, in which
    books have and will continue to play a central role. Devices like Amazon’s
    are trying to determine how people will interact with books, but Amazon’s
    use of DRM to control and monitor users and their books constitutes a clear
    threat to the free exchange of ideas.”

    Please have a look, and if you support the cause or think it would be
    interesting to your readers, a blog post would be great!


    -Holmes Wilson
    Free Software Foundation

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