I’ve spent the summer finishing up a YA book that my agent will, with any luck, be able to sell after I finish up the third and final draft. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it later, but for the sake of taking a break from the wonderful world of revision, I thought I’d take the time to write a blog about something very curious that I’ve seen happening in the Kindle store.
By now everyone is probably familiar with the big Kindle hiccup that happened at the start of the summer with George Orwell’s 1984. It wasn’t all that odd since the book was still in copyright. In the past couple weeks, Amazon started doing something that is a bit odd: pulling public domain books from the self.
Yesterday, Amazon announced that it will begin removing all duplicate Public Domain titles, which at least solves the question of the disappearing eBooks.
People who have Kindles are probably aware that publishers by the thousands have uploaded works that are in public domain and sold them for profit. Most of these titles are likely just books that people took off Project Gutenberg and reformatted for Kindle.
They claim the reason for the new policy is to make things less confusing for the consumer because there are too many copies of one work by different publishers. I don’t think it’s confusing at all, which is why I think there’s something else behind it.
My guess is there’s going to be some bigger announcement by Amazon regarding public domain by the end of the year. Which begs the question: what happens if I want to re-download a book that was removed because of this new policy? And further isn't this make a little bit too much of a monopoly for the company? Publishers big and small have successfully republished public domain works with new covers and different authors providing introductions for the past hundred years. A larger percentage of the publishing industry is made up of this kind of practice. For Amazon to say that they will only let one publisher sell something like Huck Finn seems a little odd, and frankly illegal to me.