The flip-side of having a well-publicised and successful ebook business is that you end up the prime target of criticism when anybody disagrees with how it’s being run, and Amazon has certainly been subject to some controversy recently. After the company’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, apologized for the 1984 ebook debacle, Amazon have now offered any affected customer either their original copy – complete with annotations – redelivered, or $30 in the form of an e-gift certificate or check. Meanwhile the Authors Guild has been redoubling its critique of the company, claiming “Amazon’s hypocrisy is breathtaking”.
“As you were one of the customers impacted by the removal of “Nineteen Eighty-Four” from your Kindle device in July of this year, we would like to offer you the option to have us re-deliver this book to your Kindle along with any annotations you made You will not be charged for the book. If you do not wish to have us re-deliver the book to your Kindle, you can instead choose to receive an Amazon.com electronic gift certificate or check for $30” Amazon email to 1984 customers
The 1984 situation came about after a third-party without copyright authority over the text uploaded it to Amazon’s ebook store. Many users then purchased it, only to see Amazon wipe it remotely from their Kindle – complete with any notes or annotations they may have made – after a complaint from the true copyright holder.
As for the Authors Guild, they’re angry that Amazon have been criticizing Google Books’ moves to offer out-of-print titles out of a claimed fear of the search giant acquiring “a monopoly”. Meanwhile they contrast this with what they see as Amazon’s own intentions for the ebook segment, namely bring users into the Kindle ecosystem with cut-price texts, then ramp up the price once they’re committed:
“Amazon’s hypocrisy is breathtaking. It dominates online bookselling and the fledgling e-book industry. At this moment it’s trying to cement its control of the e-book industry by routinely selling e-books at a loss. It won’t do that forever, of course. Eventually, when enough readers are locked in to its Kindle, everyone in the industry expects Amazon to squeeze publishers and authors. The results could be devastating for the economics of authorship.
Amazon apparently fears that Google could upend its plans. Amazon needn’t worry, really: this agreement is about out-of-print books. Its lock on the online distribution of in-print books, unfortunately, seems secure” Authors Guild