the principle itself is a frightening one. Not only can you remove physical content—Orwell hasn’t been the only one to disappear off of a Kindle device—but you can change, in a sense, the digital record. And what happens when there actually aren’t any physical books behind those electronic versions—and then a publisher or retailer not only removes all links to the book in question, but then proceeds to remove the already purchased book from your reading device? Imagine: When all of your books are in digital form, what is the backup system if they are of a sudden removed?
An e-book is not a physical book. That point might seem trite until you stop for a moment to think how much simpler it is, in a certain sense, to destroy electronic than physical traces. There’s no need of inciting mass cooperation in book-burning enterprises. No need for secret police or raids or extensive surveillance. The power to remove a book from a device, to remove all traces of it from retailers’ websites, to expunge it from a publisher’s online record: It would simplify the work of a would-be Soviet Union or Oceania multifold, would it not? It’s ugly. For all kinds of reasons."