Today’s Amazon exclusive on Einstein’s books should make you question the purpose of copyright

Amazon announced today that they had scored another ebook exclusive. Open Road Media have just signed a contract with Amazon to provide 7 recently converted books written by Albert Einstein. The seven digital works that will be exclusive to the Kindle Store are:

  • “Essays in Humanism”: An inspiring collection of the great thinker’s views on a rapidly changing world;
  • “Essays in Science”: An homage to the men and women of science, and an exposition of Einstein’s place in scientific history;
  • “Letters on Wave Mechanics: Correspondence with H. A. Lorentz, Max Planck, and Erwin Schrödinger”: A lively collection of Einstein’s groundbreaking scientific correspondence on modern physics with other contemporary giants in his field: Schrödinger, Planck and Lorentz;
  • “Letters to Solovine: 1906-1955”: A provocative collection of letters to his longtime friend and translator that spans Einstein’s career and reveals the inner thoughts and daily life of a transformative genius;
  • “Out of My Later Years: The Scientist, Philosopher, and Man Portrayed Through His Own Words”: An inspiring collection of essays in which Einstein addresses the topics that fascinated him as a scientist, philosopher and humanitarian;
  • “The Theory of Relativity and Other Essays”: E=mc2: It may be Einstein’s most well-known contribution to modern science, but how many people understand the thought process or physics behind this famous equation?
  • “The World As I See It”: A fascinating collection of Einstein’s observations about life, religion, nationalism, and a host of personal topics that engaged the genius’s intellect.

So here’s a guy who has been dead for 55 years, won’t benefit from this transaction, and yet his works are still under copyright rather than belonging to us all. How is that right? What’s worse is that if you read over that list, you’ll see how little copyright matters to the creation of these works. Did he write the letters or essays because he planned to make a profit on them?

This is one of those rare occasions where I can’t help but feel that some publishers are ghouls, picking over the bones of the dead.

via Amazon

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Christopher Harris14 March, 2011

    Even worse, these are another seven books that will be unavailable to libraries in an electronic format.

    1. Nate the great14 March, 2011

      That’s an even better point.


  2. Mike Cane14 March, 2011

    Hey, there’s lots of money to be made on the backs of dead writers. Just ask Google.

    1. Nate the great14 March, 2011


      good one

  3. Gary14 March, 2011

    This article made it to the Zite technology section.

  4. karen wester newton14 March, 2011

    You can blame Disney for this one. As the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney’s death approached, the corporation pushed to get copyright extended from “life+50 years” to “life+75 years.” That’s the reason why so many books are public domain in other countries but still copyrighted in the US.


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