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Amazon apologizes for deleting Kindle e-books

Kindle owners whose lawfully purchased copies of two George Orwell novels were deleted from their devices will be entitled to a replacement copy or $30.

In an apology, Amazon has offered to redeliver copies of George Orwell novels that were mistakenly deleted from Kindle owners' libraries, or provide a gift certificate or check for $30.

Kindle owners who lost their copies of '1984' and 'Animal Farm' in July are now entitled to a replacement copy or $30. CNET

In July, Amazon received a torrent of criticism--not to mention a lawsuit--over its decision to delete copies of "1984" and "Animal Farm" from Kindles after it discovered that certain versions of those e-books were added to the Kindle library by an unauthorized publisher. However, the move to erase lawfully purchased copies of books written about the overreaching hand of a central authoritarian government struck some as funny, and others as outrageous.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos apologized for the move in an e-mail to Kindle owners on Thursday, a copy of which was provided to CNET News by a reader.

"This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our 'solution' to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we've received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission," Bezos wrote.

Those who purchased the deleted copies can e-mail kindle-response@amazon.com to declare whether they would like another copy, or the $30 gift certificate or check (include your address if you want a check). Amazon said the copies would be returned with annotations, perhaps in hopes of satisfying the student who filed a lawsuit against Amazon after he lost his class notes when the e-book disappeared.