Amazon undownloads 1984 and sets Orwell free
Originally published August 4th, 2009
There’s something very satisfying about the news that Amazon can delete books people download to their Kindle readers. Books contain ideas and sometimes lies or so-called “fiction,” and so people can be led into commiting thoughtcrimes without knowing it, all by books.
So when George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 were recalled by the Amazon mothership, I felt a little lighter in the head which felt good. These people who downloaded those Orwell books thought they owned them, which is bad enough for electrons. Like how can you own electrons, and anyway if anyone owns Orwell’s electrons it’s Amazon. Only it turns out not, because Amazon was playing broker for MobileReference.com which sold the Orwell books to Amazon Kindle customers. Well, it turns out that MobileReference.com didn’t own the Orwell electrons either! So Amazon did what it could, which was to undownload the books back up to the cloud. And this cloud won’t rain again until 2044 when the copyrights expire. So Kindle people, you can just unbuy these books and you’ll be fine until then. In fact you don’t need to move a mouse-button muscle because Amazon has already unclicked those purchases.
There were complaints that some Kindle people added annotations to their copies of the Orwell books, and when the books got upscotched back to the Cloud, so did those annotations. Let’s set aside the fact that adding notes to books is like adding extra notes to a symphony. Folks, you’re messing it up for the rest of us! But OK, you added notes to “your” books on “your” Kindle and now they’re gone. Got any proof? Good luck with that one in court!
So let’s just say there’s a Kindle-sized memory hole that sucks up unauthorized electrons, and let it go. The ideas they’re protecting you from might be your own. Or as George Orwell himself would say, “Ignorance is Strength.”