Seller's remorse

July 17th, 2009

Have Amazon just sounded the death knell for the e-book?

This morning, hundreds of Amazon Kindle owners awoke to discover that books by a certain famous author had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid for – thought they owned.

But no, apparently the publisher changed its mind about offering an electronic edition, and apparently Amazon, whose business lives and dies by publisher happiness, caved. It electronically deleted all books by this author from people's Kindles and credited their accounts for the price. [...]

Alternatively – just possibly – could this be a devilishly cunning plan by Amazon to rid the world of DRM by providing a highly visible demonstration of exactly how little it means to 'buy' an e-book when it's 'protected' by DRM, thereby prompting a boycott of the Kindle that'll persuade publishers that their customers just won't stand for such strongarm tactics?1

Just another reminder that the 'Rights' referred to in the phrase 'Digital Rights Management' are those of the publisher, not the customer.

[Post title stolen from a comment by ross_teneyck.]

[Via James Nicoll]

  1. No, I don't think so either. As far as I can see the book publishing world is still – with a few honourable exceptions like the Baen Free Library – a decade or two behind the music industry on DRM. They'd probably be quite relieved if the level of demand for e-books would please disappear for a decade or two so that they could carry on selling books the old-fashioned way.

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