SEATTLE (TheStreet) -- Last week, Amazon ( AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos took a publicity hit when he removed illegal copies of George Orwell's books not only from the Kindle Web site but from the electronic lockers of Kindle owners everywhere. The irony of this Orwellian decision was not lost on many as they questioned who owned the work once it was bought and downloaded and whether or not Bezos could authorize such an action on the part of Amazon. (I'm actually not sure who was really reading 1984 at the time, but boy did they get ticked!) In one of those great moments of reputation saving, Bezos posted the following note on the Kindle community blog: "This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our 'solution' to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we've received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission. With deep apology to our customers, Jeff Bezos." Of course this was exactly the right thing to do, which means Bezos is a master at a relatively newly discovered leadership characteristic -- the humble apology. He was joined recently by another good apologizer, Microsoft ( MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer after sending the gaming community into fits when he reportedly implied that a new Xbox360 was in the works for 2010: "I confused the issue with my poorly chosen words. There is no news in my comments. Things are as reported after E3. Sorry."