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July 17, 2009


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Interesting post. My, my 10,000 books--you really are a voracious reader. Have a fun Friday and great weekend. Hopefully this glitch with Amazon will eventually work out in your favor.


I'm not sure why you're surprised at any of this.

It was something that was indirectly predicted long ago by none other than Richard Stallman, writing in the Association for Computing Machinery's "Communications of the ACM" back in 1997 (here: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html).

That's why I buy only dead tree editions of books and only physical CDs on the rare occasions when I buy music -- I have physical possession and can do what I want with them.

Not so with digital editions, which can vanish in an instant at the whim of Amazon, Microsoft, or Apple (just to pick three of the larger players).

Lauren Weinstein said this was akin to Amazon breaking into your house, taking something, and leaving a check. I suggest this analogy is flawed, since the Kindle is not a house and not even a locked door. It's more like leaving your car parked on the street and the repossessor coming in the middle of the night to spirit it away. In fact, it's like leaving your car unlocked with the keys in the ignition.

In that event, you sort of get what you deserve.

John Levine

Subsequent reports said that Amazon learned that they were pirate editions, not authorized by Orwell's estate. Under those circumstances, none of their options were very attractive.

They do seem to have a legal Kindle edition of 1984, so I'm kind of surprised they didn't just replace the pirate one with the legal one.

John A Arkansawyer

Quite an analogy, Steve, and a splooch of moralism on top for the closer. Let's try a different one:

It's like handing the keys to your car to the attendant at the parking lot. You've entered into a transaction with the attendant's employer (with the attendant as the employer's agent). That employer promises to take reasonable care not to hand your trunk's contents over to thieves, not to take your car drag racing, and to give it back to you when you ask for it.

If that employer (or its agent) violates the agreement, you are getting what you don't deserve, and you have legal recourse.

There is where my analogy may break with reality: What recourse do you have with Amazon?

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