Last week, a story was circulating through social media platforms that illuminated a real bonehead move by Amazon. It was deleting copies of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm from people’s Kindles without their knowledge.
Turns out the books being deleted from the popular e-readers were unauthorized editions, and in the Kindle terms of service it is made clear that Amazon is within their rights to do such a thing . . . but still. The passionate community of Kindle users (our household owns two) was up in arms.
Of course, the irony of going Big Brother to delete 1984 was not lost on most commenters.
Amazon made a quick announcement admitting the mistake, but it was pretty generic. It wasn’t enough.
So yesterday Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos issued this statement:
An Apology from Amazon
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.
With deep apology to our customers,
Founder & CEO
Often, when a CEO is forced by circumstances (or her or his own boneheadedness, or other events) to issue an apology, they don’t go all the way. It’s a “mistakes were made” kind of statement that satisfies no one.
If you are telling me you are sorry, I want to know you are truly remorseful.
This statement is the clearest, most forthright, most constructive corporate apology I can remember. It takes courage, as a leader of a public company, to stand up like this.