Ebooks - deleted or altered after purchase
December 3, 2012 11:39 PM   Subscribe

This is a well-known story: in 2009, Amazon erased unauthorized editions of Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm from Kindle readers. Are there similar cases, where ebooks have been deleted - or their text altered - after purchase? I vaguely remember reading a couple of such stories, but I have trouble finding them.
posted by Termite to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
About a month ago they wiped a woman's Kindle and cancelled her account - link. It wasn't as widespread of an issue, but it does seem particularly egregious. It was widely covered, with Cory from boingboing breaking the story wide and championing the customer.
posted by I am the Walrus at 1:09 AM on December 4, 2012

Not sure if it would count as your defination of 'altered', but at least half a dozen times I've had them make editorial changes to books I've had on my Kindle for anywhere from days to months --- no ebook deletions, just updates and/or corrections.
posted by easily confused at 4:30 AM on December 4, 2012

easily confused - this is just the kind of thing I'd like to hear more about. What kind of updates or corrections? Are you talking about textbooks or novels? Text files can be altered an unlimited number of times - I have become interested in what this means for the future of ebooks. It doesn't always have to mean something sinister - I realize the convenience of updating textbooks or reference books.

I am the Walrus - thanks for the link! That is one of the stories I remember reading.
posted by Termite at 6:43 AM on December 4, 2012

Amazon will send purchasers of a Kindle ebook an email after issuing a new edition of that ebook and ask them to confirm that they want the update. Upon confirmation, the previous edition is deleted from their devices, along with any associated notes or highlights, and replaced with the latest edition. Nothing changes if the email is ignored.
posted by whitecedar at 7:26 AM on December 4, 2012

My son has a Kindle copy of the first Percy Jackson book. About a month ago, we got an email from Amazon saying that it had been updated due to "significant editorial issues." Of course, by that time the update had already taken place so there's no way to tell what they were, and googling has turned up nothing. But there's one solid example for you.
posted by jbickers at 8:26 AM on December 4, 2012

In my own case, it hasn't been textbooks or reference; it's been both non-fiction and fiction (including MeFi's Own Hugh Howry!), and has usually been corrections for spelling or formatting problems, sometimes fixing missed/jumbled paragraphs --- not any kind of censorship, in other words. Whenever they've done it, Amazon has sent me an email ahead of doing it, requesting me to click on their link for the update --- as whitecoder mentions, you don't HAVE to accept the update, in which case Amazon does NOT delete the older version from your Kindle.
posted by easily confused at 10:08 AM on December 4, 2012

whitecedar: Amazon will send purchasers of a Kindle ebook an email after issuing a new edition of that ebook and ask them to confirm that they want the update.

Do they explain exactly what will be changed or updated?
posted by Termite at 1:03 AM on December 5, 2012

I've had covers changed on my books without being asked. It changes to a totally new version of the cover.
posted by Melsky at 2:55 AM on December 5, 2012

Sort of.... sometimes it's unspecified 'corrections', sometimes they might say something about 'bringing it in line with the original printed version' or some such. They never seem to get very detailed, as in 'we need to fix paragraph 12 in chapter 7, where the dialog was messed up'.
posted by easily confused at 7:16 PM on December 5, 2012

Thanks for your replies! This answers my questions and I've marked this as resolved now. If anyone has anything to add, I'd still be interested to hear it.
posted by Termite at 3:21 AM on December 6, 2012

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