July 27, 2009
Amazon Faces a Fight Over Its E-Books
By BRAD STONE
SAN FRANCISCO — Last week, Jeffrey P. Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, offered an apparently heartfelt and anguished mea culpa to customers whose digital editions of George Orwell’s “1984” were remotely deleted from their Kindle reading devices.
Though copies of the books were sold by a bookseller that did not have legal rights to the novel, Mr. Bezos wrote on a company forum that Amazon’s “ ‘solution’ to the problem was stupid, thoughtless and painfully out of line with our principles.”
An apology was not enough for many people.
A growing number of civil libertarians and customer advocates wants Amazon to fundamentally alter its method for selling Kindle books, lest it be forced to one day change or recall books, perhaps by a judge ruling in a defamation case — or by a government deciding a particular work is politically damaging or embarrassing.