Jeff Bezos on Amazon remotely deleting Kindle books: We’re idiots

posted at 7:50 pm on July 24, 2009 by Allahpundit

We beat on him last week for the Orwell clusterfark so we owe him a link to his attempt to make amends. I wanted to see a groveling apology, and man, did he deliver. There hasn’t been crap-eating like this since that scene near the end of “Anchorman.”

This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our “solution” to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we’ve received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.

With deep apology to our customers,

Jeff Bezos
Founder & CEO
Amazon.com

I ran it through the ObamaSpeak translator widget I designed and got this: “Let me be clear. Although I inherited this problem and therefore am not to blame, the status quo is unacceptable. As I have said time and time again, we must all learn from this teachable moment.” Poetry, baby. Exit question: Second look at the Kindle? I’m leaning back towards springing for the DX for mom’s birthday now, although I’d probably commit to a purchase right now if Amazon rolled out some technological fix to ensure they can’t manipulate books once they’ve been downloaded.

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Hey, apology accepted.

–hit Staples “easy” button

did you see that Obama…..? Now, this was a fella that delivered a teachable moment.

it’s called taking responsibility on his part, and giving forgiveness on my part.

good job Jeff, I shall continue to shop Amazon

ted c on July 24, 2009 at 7:53 PM

That’s what President Obama needed to do.

BadgerHawk on July 24, 2009 at 7:54 PM

what is this Amazon that speak of…

Kaptain Amerika on July 24, 2009 at 7:56 PM

DX

Ok Allah.. I have tired to figure this out. DX?

upinak on July 24, 2009 at 7:57 PM

The Kindle DX. Being released soon. The thinnest, biggest Kindle they’ve produced yet.

Allahpundit on July 24, 2009 at 7:59 PM

Apology accepted.

Now, could you please stop paying people to post 5 star reviews on books that are purely junk? I’m one of your best customers, but lately I feel ripped off on some of my book purchases, having relied on those glowing reviews.

You need to find a better system, or I’m heading over to Barnes & Noble.

Knucklehead on July 24, 2009 at 8:00 PM

How about a netbook with an e-book application?

DrSteve on July 24, 2009 at 8:00 PM

Allahpundit on July 24, 2009 at 7:59 PM

ok, I will look into it. ty

upinak on July 24, 2009 at 8:00 PM

The Kindle DX. Being released soon. The thinnest, biggest Kindle they’ve produced yet.

Allahpundit on July 24, 2009 at 7:59 PM

This?

Very nice but maybe I am weird. I like the smell of books.

upinak on July 24, 2009 at 8:01 PM

“Let me be clear. Although I inherited this problem and therefore am not to blame, the status quo is unacceptable. As I have said time and time again, we must all learn from this teachable moment.”

If he just learns that by heart, he won’t need a teleprompter.

hmfearny on July 24, 2009 at 8:04 PM

I have a Kindle DX, and I absolutely love it. I read 2-3 books per week, and I love being able to have my whole library with me all the time in a package about the size of an average magazine.

I never thought the deletion of 1984 and Animal Farm were such a big deal. The publisher didn’t have rights to the books. They were, in effect, selling stolen merchandise. If I buy a stolen television, I don’t get to keep it. Why should I have the right to keep a stolen copy of a book? Plus, Amazon refunded the money for the books right away, and there were other (legal) versions available for immediate download with less then 1 minute’s effort. It seems like much ado about nothing to me.

Anonymous Finch on July 24, 2009 at 8:07 PM

Very nice but maybe I am weird. I like the smell of books.

upinak on July 24, 2009 at 8:01 PM

Me too! I guess that makes us weird or something like that.

But seriously, I just don’t get the facination with Kindle even after I saw one while I was on vacation.

Real books don’t need batteries or chargers. Call me old fashioned.

Knucklehead on July 24, 2009 at 8:07 PM

I’m leaning back towards springing for the DX for mom’s birthday now, although I’d probably commit to a purchase right now if Amazon rolled out some technological fix to ensure they can’t manipulate books once they’ve been downloaded.

The DX is indeed out and available.

My stepdad got the DX, while the wife got the regular version 2. The DX is kinda big if you move around a lot, but of course great for bad eyes.

Have you played with one in person yet? That’s really what grabs people.

Very nice but maybe I am weird. I like the smell of books.

upinak on July 24, 2009 at 8:01 PM

Most Kindle users do both. Get the important stuff in hardcopy – but the fluffy fiction you can get for cheaper online.

How about a netbook with an e-book application?

DrSteve on July 24, 2009 at 8:00 PM

That’s what I said initially. But this thing’s screen is beyond compare. Plus the battery life, portability, and ease of use are superior.

TheUnrepentantGeek on July 24, 2009 at 8:07 PM

I was thinking of getting a Kindle, have had my wife practically order me to get one twice.

I’ve looked at the Sony reader, I wish there were a way to “handle” a Kindle prior to purchasing, just to get a fell for the thing.

The DX looks to big, but without being able to do an actual side by side, what do I know.

The Kindle has more features and with the price drop, it’s more attractive now. Still more expensive than the reader though, but bigger library and more stuff than the reader.

Amazon is a good company, I’ve ordered many books from them.

This was a good move.

Some kind of download though or upgrade to prevent them from doing this in the future would indeed be a plus.

catmman on July 24, 2009 at 8:07 PM

Cancel your Amazon/Target account.

suzyk on July 24, 2009 at 8:08 PM

Hey Obama… We have another “Teachable Moment” over here… You should check it out.

RalphyBoy on July 24, 2009 at 8:10 PM

Very nice but maybe I am weird. I like the smell of books.

upinak on July 24, 2009 at 8:01 PM

Me too. I also like a hard-copy newspaper.

OmahaConservative on July 24, 2009 at 8:11 PM

Knucklehead on July 24, 2009 at 8:00 PM

Awesome post! 5 Stars! I could not believe when I clicked on this story that I would see such a comment. It was breathtaking and I highly recommend all HA visitors stop by and read it!

Commenters who liked this post also liked:

upinak on July 24, 2009 at 8:00 PM
DrSteve on July 24, 2009 at 8:00 PM
hmfearny on July 24, 2009 at 8:04 PM
Allahpundit on July 24, 2009 at 7:59 PM
ted c on July 24, 2009 at 7:53 PM
BadgerHawk on July 24, 2009 at 7:54 PM
Kaptain Amerika on July 24, 2009 at 7:56 PM

mankai on July 24, 2009 at 8:12 PM

Well for me both posts are great. A Kindle is in my daughter’s future (Christmas) and it was help to see the problem, how the problem was handled and then finally an acknowledgment that they could and will improve on their customer service. The all important customer service.

Cindy Munford on July 24, 2009 at 8:14 PM

Knucklehead on July 24, 2009 at 8:07 PM

PPpsssst, pass the word, Yon Thread for Hawk.

Cindy Munford on July 24, 2009 at 8:15 PM

I have the Kindle app on my iPod Touch. The font is adjustable. I use my iPod for everything but a phone, so it goes everywhere with me. I can’t take notes, though. It’s the best choice for me.

goddessoftheclassroom on July 24, 2009 at 8:19 PM

Amazon backwards is Bezos.

profitsbeard on July 24, 2009 at 8:22 PM

I wanted to see a groveling apology, and man, did he deliver. There hasn’t been crap-eating like this since that scene near the end of “Anchorman.”

Crap-eating by any other name is doing the right thing. Such a shame the filthy liar’s “apology” over his racist comments were not so heartfelt or sincere.

highhopes on July 24, 2009 at 8:24 PM

Let’s look at this apology:

1. He didn’t apologize previous times this happened. They didn’t even stop doing it. No, he apologized when they got caught. He’s sorry they got caught.

2. He didn’t say that it wouldn’t happen in the future. He just said they wouldn’t be doing it in this way. You know, the way that got him bad press. Note that he doesn’t say what their “principles” are; I’m inclined to believe that the principle violated is, “Don’t get bad press.”

This is why I don’t buy MP3s and e-books, even if they’re more efficient, cheaper, and greener. If I buy them, the law just isn’t on my side and the company isn’t on my side. I don’t get to do what I want with them, and I certainly can’t resell them once I’m bored with them. Until they start treating bits and bytes as property with fair use rather than services with all possible rights reserved, I’ll stick with paying for objects and sticking to what’s free in bits (with certain exceptions, of course; if I can pay a few bucks for something that makes my life far easier, I’m not going to say “no” due to this).

calbear on July 24, 2009 at 8:26 PM

Did he bang his head on the door on the saw horses he uses as a desk?

Mr. Joe on July 24, 2009 at 8:26 PM

I still fail to see the interest in these things. But to each their own.

“scar tissue”?

JetBoy on July 24, 2009 at 8:27 PM

Very nice but maybe I am weird. I like the smell of books.

upinak on July 24, 2009 at 8:01 PM

I agree besides did you see the price of that bad boy? $498.00

milwife88 on July 24, 2009 at 8:28 PM

mankai on July 24, 2009 at 8:12 PM

I see you spend alot of time at Amazon like me. Whoever invented that system, if you like this book, you’ll love these was a genius. I have found some real gems cruising thru those recommendations………and spent alot of money.

Cindy Munford on July 24, 2009 at 8:15 PM

Wink!

Knucklehead on July 24, 2009 at 8:30 PM

Fsck the ‘ObamaSpeak’ translator you dumbass.

He did exactly the right thing….he ownedn the issue. No bullshit. Amazon fscked up. Theya Culpa.

Full respect to the guy for shooting straight.

I’m still shopping at Amazon.

LimeyGeek on July 24, 2009 at 8:31 PM

typical Liberal doublespeak!

jerseyjoe99982002 on July 24, 2009 at 8:31 PM

Very nice but maybe I am weird. I like the smell of books.

upinak on July 24, 2009 at 8:01 PM

If we could combine that and the smell of gunfire I’m sure you’d be a very happy lass ;)

LimeyGeek on July 24, 2009 at 8:32 PM

Very nice but maybe I am weird. I like the smell of books.

upinak on July 24, 2009 at 8:01 PM

The smell, the feel, the page-turning, and even poking around Barnes and Noble. Same reason I pick up a NY Post every morning instead of simply hitting up the website.

JetBoy on July 24, 2009 at 8:34 PM

I’m running this through my bs widget and coming up with:

This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle.

It wasn’t really our fault, we were handed illegal stuff to begin with. But we’ll be big and apologize.

Our “solution” to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles.

We lost customer support so that was dumb.

It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we’ve received.

My PR manager has been fired. However I’m still here apologizing prettily.

We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.

We’ll get smarter about ripping you off next time.

I don’t buy a word of this apology.

Ozwitch on July 24, 2009 at 8:40 PM

I’d probably commit to a purchase right now if Amazon rolled out some technological fix to ensure they can’t manipulate books once they’ve been downloaded.

Trust a perp to design and wear his own escape-proof handcuffs.
Yeah, you’re a conservative… in New York!

Stephen M on July 24, 2009 at 8:40 PM

aaaahhh, the smell of books & gunpowder in the morning.

kelley in virginia on July 24, 2009 at 8:43 PM

Very nice but maybe I am weird. I like the smell of books.

upinak on July 24, 2009 at 8:01 PM

A favorite store in my hometown sold books, pipes, tobacco and newspapers–the absolute best-smelling store in the world.

INC on July 24, 2009 at 8:51 PM

Exit question: Second look at the Kindle? I’m leaning back towards springing for the DX for mom’s birthday now, although I’d probably commit to a purchase right now if Amazon rolled out some technological fix to ensure they can’t manipulate books once they’ve been downloaded.

Exit answer.
Write to Amazon, let them know you are interested in the Kindle and are heartened by their apology. Still, before you purchase, you want a clarification of their deletion policy.

rbj on July 24, 2009 at 8:56 PM

Anonymous Finch on July 24, 2009 at 8:07 PM

I think it had more to do with the fact that they simply deleted it remotely without notice. Even if you can’t keep stolen merchandise that you purchased in good faith, the cops don’t come in and take it back while you’re not home, leaving you surprised that it’s gone.

amerpundit on July 24, 2009 at 9:05 PM

Good business move.

MadisonConservative on July 24, 2009 at 9:19 PM

mankai on July 24, 2009 at 8:12 PM

Probably the best snark I’ve ever read. My hat is off to you, sir.

ericdijon on July 24, 2009 at 9:27 PM

I’ll never give the IRS my bank account number (i.e e-file) and I’ll never buy a Kindle.

Caper29 on July 24, 2009 at 9:53 PM

As I remember, not only was 1984 removed, but,

Justin Gawronski, a 17-year-old from the Detroit area, was reading “1984” on his Kindle for a summer assignment and lost all his notes and annotations when the file vanished. “They didn’t just take a book back, they stole my work,” he said.

I think the apology is insufficient. Then again, in this era of “DMCA takedowns”, Amazon’s behavior is not unexpected.

unclesmrgol on July 24, 2009 at 9:55 PM

The kindle is very sensitive to handling issues…..read the comments on amazon and other sites. Be careful and don’t drop it.
————————-
http://plasticlogic.com/
————————-
Check this out.
Due out in early 2010

scruplesrx on July 24, 2009 at 9:58 PM

I just wonder what will happen next time.

Will they send an e-mail or some message to the kindle itself if able that as soon as it is turned on it goes to a new welcome screen of something like “publisher was not authorized to offer a Kindle version of this book.. and as a result we request that you click here to activate a delete function from our end to confirm that it has been deleted…we will fully credit all accounts and hope you would buy a hard copy of the book that at present does not have an approved kindle version. click link to book page…”

tjexcite on July 24, 2009 at 10:02 PM

Mr. Barack Obama….
THIS is a teachable moment. THIS is what an apology looks like.
yours truly,
an American

bridgetown on July 24, 2009 at 10:11 PM

Obama can only apologize for America’s transgressions but when fault is on his shoulders, then he will initially pass the buck (media blew out of proportion) then when pressed he will carefully phrase his thin apology to weasel out.
I agree….this was a teachable moment that Obama will not recognize and do the “right thing”. Because He does not “GET IT”.

scruplesrx on July 24, 2009 at 10:20 PM

Ozwitch on July 24, 2009 at 8:40 PM

All too plausible. But there’s a small chance he just maybe might mean it, and more to the point it’s a fantastic apology, plus we want to believe it like the battered woman wants to believe the apology the drunk-the-night-before boyfriend gives her when he shows up with flowers the next day.

I’ll never give the IRS my bank account number (i.e e-file)…
Caper29 on July 24, 2009 at 9:53 PM

Thank you! Have thought for years that efile was a scam to get their long fingers access into our accounts. “Not permitted, f******!”

inviolet on July 24, 2009 at 10:46 PM

Plastic Logic

Check this out.
Due out in early 2010

scruplesrx

I’m up for this one, because it seems to be more about selling the device than selling the content. B&N and AT&T can do what they want with the content, PL just want to sell readers. Plus it’s big and light. I like it.

Ozwitch on July 24, 2009 at 10:49 PM

Gotta have books. Can you imagine politicians having their photo taken with a Kindle as a backdrop instead of a wall of books?

Okay, a phony wall of books, but you get my point.

pugwriter on July 24, 2009 at 11:09 PM

Gotta have books. Can you imagine politicians having their photo taken with a Kindle as a backdrop instead of a wall of books?

Okay, a phony wall of books, but you get my point.

pugwriter on July 24, 2009 at 11:09 PM

——————————————————–
NO because “cool” is your iPOD playlist will now become what is on your Kindle PlasticLogic library.

scruplesrx on July 24, 2009 at 11:16 PM

I bought a used kindle one late last year. I love it. I haven’t read this much in years. I can see the point some make about feeling violated but, they did refund the money and you could have downloaded a legal copy. The person I really feel for is the kid who had put a bunch of annotations in for a report and lost all his work.

boomer on July 24, 2009 at 11:44 PM

inviolet on July 24, 2009 at 10:46 PM

If they IRS really wants your bank account number they will get it. With or without your help.

boomer on July 24, 2009 at 11:45 PM

The kindle is very sensitive to handling issues…..read the comments on amazon and other sites. Be careful and don’t drop it.
scruplesrx on July 24, 2009 at 9:58 PM

I’ve dropped mine several times and never had a problem. Then again I guess it all depends on what a person means by drop.

boomer on July 24, 2009 at 11:48 PM

Sorry. Too friggin expensive and I can’t write notes in the margins.

Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t buy one, I can see some benefit, but the price has to come waaayyy down first.

pugwriter on July 24, 2009 at 11:58 PM

Good apology, still a little more to go.

1. The man/woman who ordered the delete needs to be fired, hopefully the CEO is just being responsible and taking the blame like a good executive.

2. Amazon needs to include a patch and promise that no deletes will ever occur again. They need to make it physically impossible in new versions.

If they don’t do this they should be sued for burglary.

scotash on July 25, 2009 at 4:41 AM

Note to Self: NEVER BUY A KINDLE!

Seriously people, When you purchase some hardware that you have no real control over, don’t be surprised when the company you “bought” it from uses their control over it to steal from you.

This is why if I download an e-book a movie or an MP3 I IMMEDIATELY use DRM stripping software to cleanse my property of the evil DRM possessing it. Then I make backup copies of it and store them so that I know no matter what I will be able to keep what I paid for.

And, the “apology” is hollow until Amazon does two things:

1) Refunds the money paid for the e-books to all people that purchased them.

2) Pushes down a patch that cripples their ability to delete e-books from Kindles. Amazon needs to surrender this ability, they have shown they can’t be trusted with it.

To do anything less than the above is to prove they aren’t serious and the apology is worthless.

wearyman on July 25, 2009 at 9:23 AM

I know as one person who was considering buying a Kindle, that purchase will never happen until there is a new model without the capability to erase a book I purchased.

Release on July 25, 2009 at 10:11 AM

Seriously people, When you purchase some hardware that you have no real control over, don’t be surprised when the company you “bought” it from uses their control over it to steal from you.

–wearyman

I just had a chill–your comment reminded me of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and something about not trusting a book when you don’t know how it thinks.

goddessoftheclassroom on July 25, 2009 at 10:19 AM

Good apology and he needed to make it because …

The Kindle is still WAY TOO EXPENSIVE for what it does. I’m typing this comment on a Samsung N120 which has a 10.1 inch display and a near full-size keyboard. Total Price? $400 dollars. Paying almost $500 for a niche product like Kindle is still not going to move this product with the Walmart folks. That’s where the money is.

HondaV65 on July 25, 2009 at 10:31 AM

There are those who say we must do nothing about this deleting of books from our customers’ machines.

Mike H on July 25, 2009 at 11:35 AM

It just happened to be Orwell?
Did the request to delete the books come from our current Orwellian government, by chance?

PoodleSkirt on July 25, 2009 at 3:39 PM

Um, Allah, the fix already exists.

There are scripts that exist that will break to “copy protection” on Kindle books, and you can upload them to your computer via the USB cable. So every once in a while you upload all the books you’ve bought for your Kindle to your computer, and save the files in a directory. If Amazon wipes one of the, you run the script to unencrypt the file, change it’s title, and re-download it to your Kindle.

Email me if you want all the details.

Greg Q on July 25, 2009 at 5:29 PM

When I worked at Toys R Us and we mistakenly did business with Bezos ak Bozos we lerned that he is not to be trusted. He is like Obama – the law and contract mean nothing.

bill30097 on July 25, 2009 at 6:37 PM

Greg Q on July 25, 2009 at 5:29 PM

You don’t need a script to transfer the .AZW files from the Kindle to your computer. I do it all the time. There’s no “copy protection” on .AZW files that prevents this. What the applicable DRM *does* prevent is copying the .AZW file from one Kindle and transferring it to another via this method, but then pirating a book in this fashion isn’t what’s at issue here.

Frankly, if one is *really* worried about this, one can simply turn off the wireless and Amazon has no access to the Kindle. If you buy Kindle books through Amazon you can download them through your computer and upload them to the Kindle via USB. Kindle owners certainly have the ability to make local backups of their Amazon Kindle purchases.

JohnTant on July 26, 2009 at 9:20 AM

HondaV65 on July 25, 2009 at 10:31 AM

What’s the screen resolution like on your laptop? Backlit? Comfortable to read for 2-hour-long stretches? Battery life measured in days instead of hours? Portability? What’s the E-Book selection like on that laptop? Can I get Mark Levin’s new book?

The Kindle is specifically sold as an E-reader, not a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none device. Honestly, the theory here is that convergence devices lose out big time when compared to an elegant, simple device. Consumers are also getting tired of having to push five different buttons on three remote in order to watch the news. Kindle is better at being an E-Reader than any convergence device will be, and that’s how it’s being marketed.

As for what *else* one can do with that $300 (the actual price point of the Kindle…the more expensive one has a larger screen and is targeted for a different market than the standard Kindle), well, you can make that argument with just about anything For instance, for $300 I could enjoy a great meal at Citronelle. So what?

JohnTant on July 26, 2009 at 9:31 AM

See? Now wasn’t that easy and beautiful? Bezos is a good businessman that knows Americans, we aren’t looking to flog the guy to death and since he came out and flogged himself, we give them another chance.

I’m sold, I just bought some more stuff from Amazon. A bought a couple of battery chargers for my iPhone, and case and holster for my wife’s enV Touch, a couple of mp3s and two books.

Geministorm on July 26, 2009 at 10:46 PM

I had been looking at purchasing a Kindle, was on the fence, and now I’ll never consider it again.

freedomshope on July 27, 2009 at 4:55 AM