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Tag: George Orwell (1-5 of 5)

On the Books: Orwell estate swings back at Amazon

Bill Hamilton, literary executor of George Orwell’s estate, penned a scathing letter to the editor  in yesterday’s New York Times criticizing Amazon’s misrepresentation of the author in a message the online giant posted on ReadersUnited.com last week. The letter was intended to defend Amazon’s position in its ongoing conflict with publisher Hachette over e-book prices, but Amazon’s choice of words has backfired in an ironic way.

In comparing its current e-book pricing standoff to the resistance Penguin Books faced with the introduction of inexpensive paperback books in the 1930s, Amazon quoted George Orwell “out of context as supporting a campaign to suppress paperbacks,” Hamilton wrote. Hamilton likened Amazon’s subversion of the truth to the propaganda tactics employed by the authoritarian government in Orwell’s famed dystopian novel, 1984.

This is about as close as one can get to the Ministry of Truth and its doublespeak: turning the facts inside out to get a piece of propaganda across,” wrote Hamilton. “It doesn’t say much for Amazon’s regard for truth, or its powers of literary understanding. [NPR] READ FULL STORY

Sales of '1984,' 'Animal Farm' up more than 100 percent on Amazon

George-Orwell-1984

George Orwell’s 1984 imagines a near-future dystopia in which all human activity is surveilled and most of it is controlled. Last week, the American government came under sudden, sustained scrutiny after several of its top-secret surveillance programs were revealed to the public. Today, 1984‘s sales are up 127 percent on Amazon while a two-fer of 1984 and Animal Farm is up 314 percent.

Coincidence? READ FULL STORY

Amazon settles suit with teen in Kindle-ate-my-homework case

Remember a few months ago when Amazon deleted a bunch of e-books from Kindle owners, including (ironically) George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four? Well, the company just settled a lawsuit filed by one of those affected by the preemptive move: Justin Gawronski, a 17-year-old high school student from Michigan who claims he made “copious notes” in his Kindle which were no longer connected to the relevant passages of the text and therefore rendered useless. Gawronski, who already received a $30 gift certificate in the wake of the deletion flap, will collect $150,000 (his reps indicate that after subtracting lawyer fees, the proceeds will go to charity). Still, that’s not bad compensation for losing a book that the teen admitted to the L.A. Times last July he was “between a quarter and halfway through” reading. I wonder if it’s too late for me to sue my family’s Labrador for mauling my much-marked-up high school edition of Animal Farm just days before freshman-year midterms.

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos apologizes for Kindle e-book confiscation

In an apology posted on Amazon.com yesterday, company founder and CEO Jeff Bezos fell on his sword over his company’s deletion of unauthorized e-books (including George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four) from the Kindles of consumers who had already purchased them. Borrowing a rather loaded word from President Barack Obama, Bezos termed his company’s preemptive actions “stupid” — as well as “thoughtless and painfully out of line with our principles.” Amazon’s actions last week kicked up a firestorm in the media about the nature of e-book ownership and the specter of censorship by Amazon.

Bezos’ announcement reads in full: “This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our ‘solution’ to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we’ve received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.”

Amazon deletes purchased e-books - sign of things to come?

Last week, hundreds of Kindle owners discovered that an e-book they had bought had been deleted from their Kindles overnight, though Amazon credited their accounts for the purchase. (The titles affected included George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four or Animal Farm, ironically enough.) It seems that these were unauthorized editions offered on the Kindle site and the “publisher” had no legal right to sell the titles. Fair enough. (Amazon is fairly diligent about purging other unauthorized titles from its site, including pirated Harry Potter books.)

But the action raises a lot of questions about the future of e-books. Just how permanent are these products if we can’t share them with friends, import them to other devices, and the company can effectively sneak into our homes and confiscate them at will? Some of my proudest possessions are rarities like David Leavitt’s While England Slept and Kaavya Viswanathan’s How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, novels that were withdrawn from stores shortly after publication due to separate plagiarism charges (Leavitt’s novel was later reissued in a “revised” edition). I can imagine a not-too-distant future when such treasures won’t exist at all.

Of course, I can also imagine a future in which textbooks and timely nonfiction titles can be revised remotely with more up-to-date information without readers having to go out and buy a new updated edition. (Why do I suspect that publishers will want to charge an extra fee for this privilege?) But is anyone else a little disturbed by these new developments regarding Kindle and e-books?

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