About six weeks ago Amazon.com did something so incredibly stupid it could easily have been mistaken for satire: It reached into people's Kindles and deleted copies of Orwell's "Animal Farm" and "1984," saying the publisher who sold them (for 99 cents apiece) did not have the rights to do so.
At the time I gave Amazon hell for this ("Careful what you read, Big Bezos is watching") and so did my readers ("Write and wrong: Amazon's Orwellian nightmare"). About a zillion bloggers also jumped in and slapped Amazon about the head and shoulders.
[ Also on InfoWorld: "Careful what you read, Big Bezos is watching" and "Write and wrong: Amazon's Orwellian nightmare" | Stay up to date on Robert X. Cringely's musings and observations with InfoWorld's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]
The company was then sued by a high school senior who says he lost the notes he was keeping in his Kindle for a school assignment based on "1984" -- thus making him the first teenager in recorded history who could credibly claim something else ate his homework.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos issued a public apology -- something he does about as often as it rains donuts in Seattle -- and Amazon issued refunds for the books it "unsold." But that's as far as it went.
Yesterday, however, Amazon quietly made amends. According to a report published in the Wall Street Journal's Digits blog, Amazon is giving Kindle owners the option of having the books restored free of charge, getting a $30 gift certificate, or receiving a check for $30. (Kind of along the lines of what I suggested they do -- do you think they read Cringe, too?)
First reaction: Great news. This is exactly what Amazon should have done in the first place.