Okay—I am officially creeped out because there really was something that went bump in the night last week and it was Amazon.com. I imagine a faceless being in a black cloak passing over the homes not in possession of a Kindle reader but descending on the bedrooms of their customers to delete copies of certain titles it had sold without publisher authorization. Think about it, an unseen hand removing property they had purchased simply because it could do so-remotely and without permission. And no, the fact that Amazon credited accounts is not the issue.
I’ve spoken with gusto about the move toward electronic textbooks but this single event has made me really ponder the issue of DRM—digital rights management. What Amazon is effectively telling customers who buy electronic copies of books is that they really don’t own any of them not to mention that Amazon has the power to make words and ideas disappear from afar. I immediately recalled one of my posts on the Kindle DX where I expressed disdain for those not enlightened enough to jump on board the digital textbook train. This latest event does give me reason for pause. What will stop any company—or worse yet, government or group with an agenda from “disappearing” words, ideas, facts at their own discretion, without warning, and without a trace?