made news last week when it began deleting e-books—specifically 1984
and Animal Farm
off the Kindle's of buyers who had previously purchased the titles. A few days later, the reason behind the deletions became clear. The books had been published erroneously and should never have been made for sale. The incident impacted only a small number of Kindle
owners, but raise questions of personal privacy and the meaning of ownership that apply to all Kindle customers and even the e-book industry as a whole.
Today, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos apologized to the community at large for the company's actions. Bezos characterizes the company's response as "stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted...we deserve the criticism we've received." In the future, Bezos promises that Amazon will learn from these mistakes, make better decisions, and eat all of its vegetables. Trotting Bezos out to put a warm, friendly face on the event might be a smart PR move, but the CEO's apology, however heartfelt, avoids answering all of the tough questions.
Bezos can apologize a dozen times, but it would mean more if the company pledged to cease and desist from watching all Kindles with an Orwellian eye.