The Amazon dust has settled, and yet, some people still want to boycott Amazon. But I don’t. And here’s why:
It was never about rights.
For me, this was never about the authors right to free speech or Amazon’s right to sell whatever they want to sell. I can’t control either of those things. And I fully expect Amazon to sell plenty of books that I disagree with.
But what I can do, what I should do, (what I did do) is ask Amazon to make a better decision and hold a higher standard. They don’t have to listen, but they did.
Amazon listened. They took the book down.
Maybe it was under the peer pressure of social media and several major news networks, (maybe it was because they are scared for their Christmas profits as some have suggested, I don’t know.) But they listened, and I appreciate that. I appreciate a business that gets feedback from the public and listens.
This book crossed a line.
I’m not naive enough to think that Amazon doesn’t carry books that would offend me. I imagine they carry a whole host of books that I would disagree with. But for me, there’s a difference between a book about a different religion or lifestyle and a “How to” book that encourages illegal activity that would result in the victimization of minors.
This whole hullabaloo has exposed a few other books that Amazon is currently carrying, in which the authors give their opinion that relationships with children are okay. Well, they’re not. And I completely disagree with that. But again, there’s a difference in stating your opinion and teaching people how to groom minors for contact! For me, that was a key difference, and why I asked Amazon to remove the book.
Some people still want to boycott Amazon because they still carry these other books.
Some people are still upset with Amazon, so they’ve said they won’t be giving Amazon any more of their service. People have promised to shop elsewhere at stores that don’t carry any of these offensive titles. And you know what? That’s their right, too. I’m okay with that. In fact, if you’d come up to me saying that it bothered you that Amazon sold offensive books and what should you do? I’d say, well, you don’t have to shop there, you can shop somewhere else. So go ahead, because if it bothers you, that’s what you should do.
But I’m not going to give up on Amazon just yet.
Amazon did what we asked them. And for fairness, I have to point out that everyone calling for boycott said “we’ll boycott you until this book is pulled” and it has been. I never personally said that; I chose to wait and see if Amazon did the right thing. And this time, they did, and I’m happy they did. For other books, I still have the option of flagging books as inappropriate and hoping they continue to do the right thing. And there is still the online petition asking Amazon to discontinue offering books that promote pedophilia. I don’t think that petition should be abandoned just because this little hullabaloo is over. As a business that has the right to choose what they do and don’t sell, Amazon has an opportunity here to set a higher standard for themselves and show their commitment to their customers. I sincerely hope that is what Amazon would choose to do.
Oh, and that book? It was self-published.
Turns out that this offensive book was uploaded by the author and made available for the Kindle, which basically anybody can do with anything they write – no publisher needed. Amazon does state that they will not allow the sale of “objectionable content” but they don’t define “objectionable” and one must wonder how exactly the approval process works. Certainly this unfortunate event has proven that Amazon needs to examine their ‘publish for Kindle’ process, which I also hope they do.
Social media has grown into a new and different thing that most people never expected. Not only has it become the quickest way to spread news (earthquakes, the rescue of Chilean miners, deaths of famous actors,..) but it has now become the fastest way to assemble a large mass of people for a cause (sometimes resembling lynch mobs.) Sometimes the cause is right. Sometimes the mob is misinformed and that’s kind of scary. In this case, purchased copies of the book proved that the outcry was justified. But I have to admit – social media with it’s fangs reared? It’s kind of scary.
For more detailed updates on the whole thing, this Amazon post at Mama Says has links to the other books I’ve mentioned, links to excerpts and other details.
I, for one, am glad this thing is over. (For now.)