Henry wrote to the Gripe Line to say that the recent hoopla over the Amazon Kindle gave him "several good reasons not to buy a Kindle."
Have you been following this? It seems that a couple of weeks ago, in a stroke of irony almost hard to believe, people who purchased a copy of George Orwell's "1984" and "Animal Farm" woke up to find their books had simply disappeared off their devices during the night. Big Brother had reached into hundreds virtual bookshelves and removed these titles without a trace. These are books by the very dude who coined the phrase "Big Brother." You just can't write irony like that.
[ Find out InfoWorld's Robert X. Cringely's take on the Kindle kerfuffle: "Write and wrong: Amazon's Orwellian nightmare" | Frustrated by tech support? Get answers in InfoWorld's Gripe Line newsletter. ]
David Pogue at the New York Times also considers this unsettling. "Already, we've learned that [e-books] are not really like books," he writes, "in that once we're finished reading them, we can't resell or even donate them. But now we learn that all sales may not even be final."
The titles were removed because they were unauthorized; admittedly, something had to be done. Stealing an author's work is wrong, and there are legal repercussions. But reaching into a consumer's device and taking back goods they paid without so much as an "oops, excuse me" wasn't it.
Yesterday, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos posted an apology in the Kindle user forum:
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.
This apology did not win Henry into the Kindle fold. But those who are already in it -- if you can judge from the comments in the user forum -- seem satisfied at this public apology. The comments are forgiving, upbeat, and pleased that Bezos is such a good guy. How can you be mad at a guy who loves cookies and milk and just said, "I'm sorry?"
OK, I agree it is hard to be mad at him.