7 On Your Side helps SF man restore e-books deleted by seller

Audio books

Hard copies of books can sit on your shelf for an eternity, but what about a virtual book? Can the seller reach in and delete books from a customer's computer?

One book lover said that that's exactly what happened to him.

A San Francisco man said his audio books vanished from his computer. He came to 7 On Your Side for help.

Lee Hounshell has downloaded hundreds of audio books onto his smartphone so he can enjoy a book while on the streets, on a bus, and in the store.

"It is an easy way for me to have light entertainment or sometimes serious learning from almost any location," he said.

It's his way of fitting literature into a hectic life. "Occasionally you do get into a really good book and you miss what's going on," Hounshell said.

Once he buys an audio book, he can listen to it over and over -- at least that's what he thought.

"I found that the first three of 'Incarnations of Immortality' had been removed from my library," he said.

Hounshell says he wanted to re-read a sci-fi series he bought in 2008, but found he couldn't load the first three books onto his phone.

"I was missing the first one, 'Death,' the second one, 'Time,' and the third one, 'Fate,'" he said.

A series isn't complete without the first three books, so he contacted the book seller, Audible.com.

"I was told that these books are no longer available. I was also told that I could not get them. I tried to explain, 'Wait a minute, I purchased these books in 2008,'" Hounshell said.

Audible told him the publisher had restricted access to those books, but Hounshell says a digital book shouldn't be any different than a hard copy. He owned them, after all.

"And my books were being taken away from me, and that kind of scared me -- not only from the point of view of the books but for the kind of precedent it would set for everybody," he said.

He kept calling Audible, and the company kept saying there was no way to get the books back.

"Audible gave me a lot of grief about this and refused to help until I contacted 7 On Your Side," Hounshell said.

7 On Your Side asked Audible why it took away those books. The company said it was just a technical problem and, indeed, Hounshell does own those books forever.

Audible said: "The technology that we use and that our customers use varies from person to person and device to device and sometimes, that technology doesn't work the way we want it to. We have solved this customer's issue, and we are pleased that he is now happy with our service."

Audible did restore the books and now Hounshell is catching up with sci-fi characters named Death, Time and Fate, exactly as fate would have it.

"I'm very happy about that," he said.

Related Topics:
technologye-booksconsumer7 On Your Sideconsumer concernsbookssmartphonesSan Francisco
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