Irony: Amazon Erases Orwell Books From Kindle Service

September 2009

In a case of life imitating art, Amazon has angered some customers of its Kindle electronic book service by remotely deleting two George Orwell books, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Copies of the novels, which feature dystopian worlds, were wiped from the book readers this week.

Many have compared the move to the workings of the totalitarian government in Nineteen Eighty-Four, in which documents deemed inappropriate are dropped into a "memory hole" and erased forever.

Amazon said the books were uploaded by a publisher who didn't have the rights to reproduce copies of them.

"When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers' devices, and refunded customers," Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener told the New York Times.

An authorized digital edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four was made available for Kindle users, but no versions of Animal Farm are being offered yet.

Some customers said they were upset after discovering that Amazon could erase books that were already in a Kindle owner's possession.

"I never imagined that Amazon actually had the right,the authority or even the ability to delete something that I had already purchased," said Charles Slater, who bought Nineteen Eighty-Four for 99 cents US last month.

"We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers' devices in these circumstances," Herdener told the Times.