SAN FRANCISCO -- Amazon.com Inc. is offering free books or $30 to Kindle customers whose copies of the George Orwell novels "1984" and "Animal Farm" were deleted from their electronic reading devices in July.
When Amazon erased the books from Kindles, citing a problem with the rights to the books, the company issued refunds to the buyers. But the episode startled many Kindle customers, who didn't know Amazon had the neo-Orwellian ability to erase content that had already been downloaded to their devices.
It prompted an apology from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who said deleting the books from Kindles to address the rights question was "stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles."
In an e-mail sent Thursday to Kindle owners whose books were erased, Amazon offered to redeliver the titles to their e-readers for free, along with any annotations users had made. Or the customers can get a $30 Amazon.com gift certificate or a $30 check - which could be worth much more than two Kindle books, because many of them cost $10 or less.
When Amazon deleted the books, it said they had been added to its catalog by a third party that did not have rights to the books.
Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener said Friday the company now has the proper rights to distribute the Orwell books.