Shoes or George Orwell?

Here’s a secret… if you haven’t met me, that is: I love shoes. And so my attentions are torn between Amazon’s purchase of Zappos and their deletion of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm from Kindles overnight.

First, the shoes:

Amazon has purchased Zappos, the powerful online shoe retailer. Now, I remember discussing with a fashionista-friend her passion for Zappos and my passion for Amazon – great return policies, great selection, easy-to-acquire sizes and (importantly) easy-to-acquire out-of-the-ordinary designs. There have been concerns whether Zappos will retain its zappo-ness, but I myself am simply delighted to see what happens next. With a more closely-knit distribution system and incentive for a stronger gross margin, I’m hoping for more designs, more sizes, less prices.

And now the deletions:

Amazon remotely removed copies of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm from customers' Kindles which, as it turns out, Amazon didn’t have the rights to sell. (If you haven’t read Orwell, the great irony is his cautionary alert against large entities controlling individuals through technology.) A great reminder of those privacy policies that we click in order to utilize an online service. And a question sometimes forgotten: do I “own” what I download?

For further reading or listening, see:
* Farhad Manjoo’s commentary on American Public Media’s Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal
* Peter Kafka’s blog, Media Memo, on All Things Digital
* Google News brief on Jeff Bezos’ apology


  1. Back in college, we used Amazon's search engine to get all of the book information on orders for the library. One thing they do, and do well, is making the information accessable and, thus, usable. Their current shoe search is very good, and they have a great selection. I'm just sad to see the company, Zappos, that I grew to love - their service, selection, and mantra - fade.

    And, when I heard about the Kindle debockle, I pulled my prior support for the device. Though I personally have little reason to dislike Amazon, this story has soured me greatly - you are right, what are our rights when we download? That has yet to be determined.

  2. Brenda,

    I must check Zappos out. Thanks for sharing!


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