Steven Levy at Wired talks about the experience of finding a typo on the title page of a Kindle book. A book entitled I, Sniper opened up on his Kindle as I, Snipper. Levy emailed a friend of his who worked at the publisher about it, and his friend told him that the book was being corrected both for people who had and had not already purchased it.
However, Levy found that it hadn’t been corrected for him—and when he contacted Amazon about it, the Amazon representative told him that Amazon had a policy of not correcting works that had already been purchased unless that purchaser asked for a new copy (or they received a court order).
Apparently this is a result of the uproar that came about last year when Amazon unilaterally removed from users’ Kindles copies of Orwell novels that had been mistakenly sold outside of copyright. Bezos promised not to do it again, and this promise would seem to extend even to fixing typos.
Levy notes that sometimes it might be good to correct mistakes in all instances of a file, or add updates—but on the other hand, he has to admit he doesn’t want Amazon fiddling with his purchases, court order or not.
I talked about the idea of “fixing” mistakes in e-books a couple of months ago, and concluded that from a historical point of view it might not be a good thing. Still, when it comes to embarrassing typos, it might not be worth getting too “snippy” about it.