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Amazon Removes Star Wars Memoir from the Kindle Store & Then Puts it Back

a-long-time-ago-growing-up-with-out-gib-van-ert-paperback-cover-art[1]Did you hear about the latest terrible mean thing Amazon didn’t do?

According to BoingBoing and Techcrunch, Amazon has supposedly removed a personal memoir because the author reflects on his childhood and references Star Wars. The author reported that Amazon pulled the book because the obvious trademark issues.

Kindle Direct Publishing informed me today–Christmas Day–that they have removed my self-published book, A Long Time Ago: Growing up with and out of Star Wars, from the Kindle store because it "contains references to the trademarked term, “Star Wars".

Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Well, no.

I checked and this book is still listed in the Kindle Store (here).

I don’t know if someone at Amazon reversed the decision or if the author simply made up the story. Perhaps the ebook is only missing from the Canadian Kindle Store, possibly due to differences in their trademark laws. It’s also possible that someone at Amazon saw the early reporting, looked into the matter, and reversed the removal.

Update: It seems the ebook may have been removed and then restored. Jason Boog of Galleycat covered this story and his post implies that he looked at the listing before publishing his post earlier today. If he didn’t see the ebook then it probably wasn’t there.

All I know is that there is no story here.

A Long Time Ago: Growing Up With And Out Of Star Wars


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Richard Adin December 27, 2012 um 6:57 am

Nate, if you accept that Boog didn’t find the book and now the book has returned, then there is a story here. The story is the arbitrariness of Amazon and how it refuses to clearly state its policies or why it does/doesn’t do something. The two most deceitful companies, in terms of clarity of policies, are Facebook and Amazon. The difference between the two is that Amazon doesn’t change its written rules daily, only its unwritten inhouse understandings of the rules, whereas Facebook is proud to require its users to spend hours every day trying to keep up with policy changes and to have one set of standards for users and one set for the Zuckerbergs.

Again, the Amazon story is that no one understands when a line is being crossed because the sands are always shifting.

Nate Hoffelder December 27, 2012 um 7:42 am

Except the story consists of more info than just the fact the ebook was removed. We also need to consider how long it was gone, the damage done, and the reasonableness of the removal. The ebook was back before I could post on the story, it lost a couple dozen sales (at most), and I can see how removing the book can look like a reasonable decision.

Unlike the last book/trademark story I covered, this one is not that unreasonable. There are actual Star Wars books being published every year, and someone probably does hold the trademark on using the word Star Wars with books. I could see how someone inside Amazon might think this book is a trademark violation. That was certainly my first thought.

On a scale of 1 to 10, this screw-up barely rates as a 2.

Mike Cane December 27, 2012 um 2:15 pm

>>>this one is not that unreasonable

Are you nuts? Of course it’s unreasonable. There’s fair use for trademarks as well as for Copyrighted material. Why do you think you see books that are guides to trademarks with "UNOFFICIAL" splashed on the cover? Are you going to try to DMCA someone’s eBook if the title is, "I Was a Digital Reader"?

Nate Hoffelder December 27, 2012 um 2:50 pm

There is no such thing as fair use for trademarks. There’s such a thing as noncommercial use, and there is using the trademark to refer to the product it covers. Neither applies in this case.

To elaborate on my previous comment:

Given that there are Star Wars books, and that customers will search for this term to find them, it seems like there could be a tiny chance of confusion.

The original goal of trademark law (before it was corrupted by the moneyed classes) was consumer protection: to protect consumers from unknowingly buying a knockoff. The risk of confusion here is low but it is not zero. That’s why the original removal is not that unreasonable.

I’m not going to insist it was a trademark violation, but I can see the reasoning behind the removal.

Mike Cane December 28, 2012 um 9:08 am

You are still nuts. Coke vs Pepsi commercials. Pepsi has to pay Coke for using their trademark? The reasoning behind the removal was that of an effin MORON. There is no sane justification for it, period.

Carol Frome January 19, 2013 um 10:31 am

Hmmm. I think I’ll conjure up a scandalous reason for Amazon to take down my book. Then I’ll take it down myself or have it taken down. Then I’ll announce the scandal in all the blogosphere’s right places. Then it will become news and readers will hear about my book.

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