Public Domain Ebooks Now Harder to Find at Amazon

August 5, 2012

Would Amazon hide free content? Nah, never. . . except that TechDirt reports, “Amazon Hides Classic Free Public Domain Ebooks.” It seems that Amazon recently changed its site so that these free ebooks are now much harder to locate. The article cites a blogger’s account:

“The explanation, by Morris Rosenthal, is a bit confusing, but apparently Amazon reassigned ASINs (identification numbers) for most of the public domain classics that were available on the site. In doing so, all of the historical sales info, reviews, comments, etc., were lost. That means that the works, no matter how popular, get pushed way down in searches and in ‘related’ items. It also means tons of links are now dead. . . .

“Rosenthal doesn’t think there’s anything nefarious going on here — just a sign of a company that doesn’t much care about these public domain works.”

Oh, well that’s a relief. Rosenthal may be willing to give Amazon the benefit of the doubt, but it is worth noting that the change could result in users being directed to fee-based versions of an author’s work over public-domain ones. I somehow doubt Amazon would be sorry to see that happen.

So, what’s a lover of classic works to do? Well, you could use that magnificent Amazon search engine to locate them. Just a thought.

Cynthia Murrell, August 5, 2012

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