Kindle Swindle? (Updated)

After a tough day at work you climb into bed, reach for a paperback book, and find that your nightstand reading material is gone, replaced with a credit for the purchase price. After some digging you learn that paperback copies of the novel you’re in the middle of reading have been repossessed by your local bookshop.

Inconceivable, right? Credit or no credit, invading the privacy of your home and taking a book without your permission would surely constitute one or more crimes.

Now imagine the same scenario, but with an e-book instead of a paperback — an e-book you purchased for your Kindle. That’s exactly what Amazon did to 1984 and Animal Farm buyers.

Repossession via electronic invasion of privacy. If it isn’t a crime, it sure as hell ought to be.

Kindle Swindle? (3 Verse Limerick)
By Madeleine Begun Kane

Have you noticed your e-book list dwindle?
You’re probably using a Kindle.
A book that you bought
Has turned into naught —
Replaced with a refund. No swindle?

Yet the seller invaded your house.
And did it by clicking a mouse.
Something’s there. Then it’s not.
(An Orwellian plot?)
You’re surely entitled to grouse.

The fact that your money’s returned.
Doesn’t mean that you haven’t been burned.
Your privacy rights
Are gone with those bytes.
This vendor deserves to be spurned.

Update: Some updated information from the New York Times:

An Amazon spokesman, Drew Herdener, said in an e-mail message that the books were added to the Kindle store by a company that did not have rights to them, using a self-service function. “When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers’ devices, and refunded customers,” he said.

Amazon effectively acknowledged that the deletions were a bad idea. “We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers’ devices in these circumstances,” Mr. Herdener said.

Update 2: If you would like to read this political satire blog on your Kindle device, you can subscribe right here.

If you would like to read my other general humor blog on your Kindle reader you can subscribe right here.

And my limerick about firewalls, blogging and Kindles is here.

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7 Responses to “Kindle Swindle? (Updated)”

  1. Steve Bates says:

    I can’t say it all in rhyme at the moment, but Bruce Schneier points out several disadvantages of a Kindle e-book over a book printed on paper:

    - you can’t lend a Kindle e-book without lending your whole library (and do you even have the legal right to do that?);

    - you can’t sell a Kindle e-book when you’re done reading it;

    - you can’t read a Kindle e-book without a Kindle,

    and yes, of course, as you so elegantly point out,

    - a Kindle e-book can be repossessed from you by a process not substantively different from breaking and entering.

    Believe me, Amazon will do anything to appease publishers, not customers… and publishers do not have the greatest track record of writing fairly worded EULA’s even for paper books. Why would anyone consider buying a Kindle and licensing e-books under those circumstances? Forget it!

  2. Keira says:

    Loved the limerick! Thanks for a laugh on the subject.

  3. I read this an was relatively shocked.

  4. madkane says:

    Good points, Steve. And thanks, Keira!

  5. Thanks to Kiera for remind us Mad’s Muse is the Limerick. On the day I finished “Angela’s Ashes”. “And that’s the way it is”, ‘Tis!

  6. Travis says:

    Wow… I’ve always preferred the “real deal” when it comes to books versus the electronic copies, but I didn’t think they had the ability to do this! Invasion of privacy or not, that’s quite the annoyance!

    Out of curiosity though… does using the Amazon kindle give you headaches, since you’re staring at a screen that entire time?

  7. Mneiae says:

    Yes, it stinks when they remove books from your personal library. I am sorry that that happened to you.

    @Travis: No, it does not give you headaches. The screen is e-ink and each image is basically temporarily printed on the screen. Otherwise I could just use the barnes and noble store and read all of my books on the computer, which would be more convenient than the locked down .azw that my kindle uses.