Imagine buying a DVD at Wal-Mart and then, a few days later, someone from the Hollywood studio that produced that movie breaks into your house, takes that DVD out of your collection and leaves a refund on the dresser for you - all because that studio suddenly decided that it didn't want Wal-Mart selling its DVDs.
Sounds crazy, right? But, in theory, that's exactly what Amazon is doing with two electronic books sold for the Kindle e-book reader. Apparently, the publisher that supplied Amazon with George Orwell titles - specifically Animal Farm and 1984 - decided that it no longer wants to sell through Amazon. So they had Amazon remove them - even though they'd been legally purchased by Kindle owners. (Techmeme)
Just like that.
I can't begin to put into words just how creepy this is. Amazon says that it's "rare," but just the fact that it can happen at all is worrisome on so many levels. If Amazon can do it with books, what's to stop a movie studio or music label from doing the same thing to someone else, say Apple and its iTunes store.
Bad PR move, Amazon. Don't you have some sort of binding legal agreement with the publishers that could prevent something like this from happening? Where were the lawyers? Where was the PR team? And why didn't anyone warn the customers ahead of time?
It will take some real PR magic for Amazon to deflect the negative publicity of this one. Right now, Amazon looks like the egghead kid who caved to a bully and gave up the lunch money to avoid a fight. It sure does make it hard to earn any respect when you come across looking like a punk.