-Amazon sold copies of 1984 and other works that it didn't have rights to
-when it found out about the error, it immediately erased the works and credited buyers for the amount they'd paid
When I buy a dead-tree book, I expect to be able to read it forever. I'm sure most people think the same way about e-books, but that isn't the case. In reality, buying an e-book for a Kindle is akin to buying a ticket to a museum exhibit: you can look, but if the museum needs to move the exhibit somewhere else that's just tough for you.
Amazon has apologized for the way they handled the situation and has promised not to react that way again, but that doesn't satisfy some. Class-action lawsuit, anyone?
I'll admit that I have a modicum of sympathy for the student mentioned in this article:
One of the plaintiffs, Justin Gawronski, has a compelling story about his experience with Amazon's memory hole. Apparently, he was reading his copy of 1984 as a summer assignment for school, and had been using one of the Kindle's selling points—the ability to attach notes to specific parts of the e-book text—to prepare for his return to school. Since he was actively reading the work when Amazon pulled the plug, he actually got to watch the work vanish from his screen. He's left with a file of notes that are divorced from the text that they reference.
Even though I think that electronic textbooks could be the wave of the future, I have to laugh--it's impossible for a publisher to make dead-tree book text disappear before your very eyes!
Update: Young Mr. Gawronski need not read 1984 to learn about a police state. Instead he can pay attention to the real Airstrip One:
The Children’s Secretary set out £400million plans to put 20,000 problem families under 24-hour CCTV super-vision in their own homes.This, in Britain.
They will be monitored to ensure that children attend school, go to bed on time and eat proper meals.
Private security guards will also be sent round to carry out home checks, while parents will be given help to combat drug and alcohol addiction.