So you can read my books

Tuesday, February 10, 2015



In July 2009, Amazon discovered 

two of George Orwell's books had been digitally uploaded to its Kindle e-book store by a company that didn't own the rights.

Amazon pulled the e-books from its site and remotely deleted copies from customers' Kindles without notice. 

That they could do that came as a shock. I thought any book I bought from them was mine.

Amazon later refunded the money spent on the deleted books and has since said they would not do so again unless court-ordered but still ...

Apple, Amazon and Barnes & Noble can revoke access to your ebooks, music and software any time they want!

All the books on your Kindle are not yours.

They belong to Amazon.

All that cash you have paid was simply to access these books on your Kindle. 

You have not paid to own the books.

If you want to own books, pay for physical printed books and get Amazon to send them to you by mail. 

Rather unsettling, right?

Of course, Amazon is not alone or totally a villain in this:

Barnes & Noble “reserves the right to modify or discontinue the offering of any Digital Content at any time”. 

Apple’s terms and conditions state that “You acknowledge that iTunes is selling you a license to use the content made available through the iBookstore”

None of these terms state that you actually own the content at all.

 In each case the content remains the property of the supplier.

Providers like Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble have  

structured their licenses like this to protect themselves. 

If there is a catastrophic site failure 

that makes access to your books impossible, then you could sue for the return of your property. 

They would be liable.  

You can understand why they would want to protect themselves.

More and more in this Digital Age, we are renting services not purchasing products.

I once lost Maukie my virtual cat that way. 

 I was so happy to get the purring guy back!


  1. Sigh. Yet another reason why my dinosaur self prefers hard copy books. Sharing them is another reason...

  2. Elephant's Child:
    You can lend Kindle books (you just can't access them while another is reading them).

    I have 7 bookshelves (all large and long) with books. I sleep in a library it seems like! But should something happen to the power, I have access to many hours of happy reading still!

  3. We might not actually own it, but at least with Apple, I can keep it. Amazon can wipe it off the Kindle, but iTunes cannot reach through to my computer and get it. That's a definite advantage!

  4. Oh man, it's really creepy that they can do that.

  5. Alex:
    Ah, Alex, not so much. If Apple should decide that you have broken their terms of service, once you connect to the internet, you could find your content gone.

    Or if you have not studiously updated your devise or app ... like the man who had all his books wiped recently from his Nook. He eventually got his books back, but not his notes ... they were gone. He was told it was HIS fault for not studiously updating his devise.

    Yeah, isn't it? Brrrr.

  6. I've heard about this happening with Amazon and purchase (not rental) of streaming movies and television shows. I don't know why I'm surprised this policy pertains to books as well, but I am. Just one more reason not to stay away from digital content.

    VR Barkowski