On Amazon… ‘banning’ books, etc.

Pretty please, take note… this isn’t a call for a debate… normally I like debates.  But I’m tired and I hurt, and my head’s loopy from drugs.  Soooo…don’t think I’m ignoring if I’m not responding to questions.  I just know how easy it is to go from… question to debate.  And I’m not doing it.

Now, onto my post, and my opinions, and the reasons behind my post.  With a particular book being removed from Amazon, people are now worried that Amazon will start censoring books based on public outcry.

FYI, I don’t think it’s censoring to refuse to sell a book.  It’s a business call.  It’s the same reason a Christian bookstore probably isn’t going to sell books on magical realism and the same reason stores on the occult aren’t likely to be selling books by Christian fiction writers.  And these books aren’t advocating or talking about things they ‘may help to lessen the sentence if they are convicted’.

That bit right there was probably a huge part of the problem-telling potential predators how they might be able to lessen their sentence if they get caught doing something that heinous.  (FYI, if you dont’ know the story, I’m sorry but I’m not going into detail, and PLEASE NOBODY LIST THE GUY’S NAME or WHAT the fricking book was, or linking anything, because I refuse to give him any hits-any posts that do so, I will delete.)

So there was a major problem with public outcry. Some say Amazon shouldn’t have given in, that they censored this writer.  Amazon published this through the digital platform-they were the publisher, and as such, they held certain rights.    They had the right to make a business call.  They had the right to refuse to publish this work, and to remove it if they deemed it necessary.

Per their content guidelines: (Quoting from their site)

  • Offensive Material
    What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect. Amazon Digital Services, Inc. reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of Titles sold on our site.

Amazon has the right to decide what to publish, what to sell.  Do I want them giving into public outcry blatantly?  Nope.  Individuals like Fred Phelps would have a field day.  It’s possible those who are absolutely adamant that I shouldn’t eat meat might try to have all non-vegan cookbooks removed.

But common sense can and should step in.

Books that tell somebody how to commit a murder? Do I think those should be on sale?   Of course not.

Does this mean I think Lolita should be banned-um, no.   Yes, I saw that question on twitter, and yes, I ignored it. Again, it’s not banning on Amazon’s part to make a business decision to decide not to sell a book, especially when it’s already part of their content guidelines.  Target can decide not to carry a certain style of purse because it doesn’t suit their clientele-that’s not banning.  It’s business.  As Amazon already had the right to make the decision as the publisher, they didn’t need to justify anything.

And I’m sorry, but I think it’s a foolish question-Lolita is fiction, right?  Now I personally think it’s disturbing (and disgusting) fiction, but it’s fiction and it’s also not fiction that was telling people how to get lighter sentences if they offend.  Do you see the theme here?  This is a problem.

Do this mean I think history books with children marrying  should be banned? I’ll be blunt-another foolish question.  One-they are history books and they aren’t exactly telling people it’s okay, and again, they also aren’t telling people how to get lighter sentences.

Amazon, in the end, is a business, and yes, they are in business to make money.  But they are also going to have to be aware that public outcry can get nasty.  They shouldn’t cater and give in blindly.  It’s stupid.  You’ll have extreme conservative religious groups saying anything with the word S E X is evil.  Never mind that God created sex, but that’s another rant.

But Amazon can find a way to handle this without worrying about the extremism that’s going to come at them.

How?  Through common sense.

If I was in charge, and I so thank God I’m not, but if I was?

I’d form an unbiased, internal group and I’d specifically look for people with a variety of outlooks on life, probably even a variety of religions and upbringing, parents, non-parents, single, married, etc.  I’d investigate them–hard.   Question them like nothing you’ve ever seen, because what I want to know is: Are you capable of taking objective looks at things and putting your own feelings aside? Although I’m asking for an eclectic mix of people, I’d be doing this more to as a public example-saying See…?  It’s not just a Christian** group/Conservative Group/Athiest Group/Liberal Group/People with Kids/Without Kids. It’s the objectivity that matters.

**Before anybody freaks at the Christian thing… FYI, I’m Christian.  I write romance.  I write erotic romance.  I don’t view sex as a sin and I’m not going to blink twice at the books that will make the extremists groups go… you’ll burn in hell if you touch that.  Having a wide variety represented means you’ll get a better representation of what their customers really think anyway.

Back to my imaginary committee.

This group will be chosen on based on displayed objectivity.  They’d use that objectivity to look at books that are hit with hard public outcry.

They’d look at specific criteria.

  • Does the book involve material that is abusive to certain religious groups/minorities/’special interest’ groups (namely children, disabled, animals, etc)
  • Does the book advocate or push legal limits, telling people how to skirt the law or ‘lessen their sentencing’ if caught, or how to commit illegal acts-ie: safe sex with a child?
  • Does the book advocate violence/hate crimes-a how-to book on stalking and raping a woman, how to murder, dog fights, etc.
  • Does the book have anything ‘constructive’ besides ‘money’ to offer society

They’d look at these things.  If there are more negative aspects to the book than positives, then the publisher shouldn’t sell it.

I might even consider doing this in a survey type thing, anonymous, rather than in a committee, that way it doesn’t turn into a bureaucratic thing.  Each person can answer freely without worrying about what others would say, submit their viewpoints-perhaps a small head committee of 3-5 people would gather the info and look at the final info and based on that, not on their own personal viewpoints, make the call.

If there is more negative impact than positive, don’t sell it-money shouldn’t be the deciding factor, and freedom of speech isn’t even a factor because nobody is saying people can’t put their stuff out there for people to read.

This isn’t censorship.  This is business.

We aren’t granted the inalienable right to publish for profit, ya know.  If people want that, then they work to sell to the masses, which means not selling things that are going to turn the stomachs of the masses.

Now…I dunno if this post is going to garner many comments.  I’m just posting my opinion on it, and honestly, that’s all I want to do it.  I don’t want to debate.  I’m loopy on pain meds from a surgery today and while normally I enjoy debates, I’m too loopy for them right now.  Plus, I’m tired.  Please don’t try to drag me into a debate-not going to happen.

But I don’t care one way or the other if I get many comments.  If you’re new?  Howdy & welcome. People are welcome to comment.  But considering how heated this topic has gotten around the web, I feel the need to point this out, you might want to keep this in mind, I’m very, very careful to keep my blog a friendly place for my readers.  Keep your tone civil, regardless of your opinion, because if you don’t, I will delete and I’ll do it with a smile.  Because I’m a bit of a snot that way.  If you can’t voice your opinion with respect, you can do it elsewhere.

Again, I’m not getting into debates about this-I had a few people try to drag me into debates on it on twitter when I stated my opinion.  Stating an opinion isn’t an open call for a debate.  Just as blogging about it isn’t an open call for debate.

5 Replies to “On Amazon… ‘banning’ books, etc.”

  1. Bravo. You stated it very well and I happen to agree with you. I applaud you for being able to state it so clearly while loopy.

    Hope you feel better soon. I also had something done today and understand your no debate stance. More medication please.

  2. Very well said Shiloh!U keep writing and i’ll keep buying! God bless u and urs shiloh!Hope u feel better soon!

  3. Thank you SO much for posting this, and for expressing so well what I could not. I’ll be honest– I’m a really, really emotional person. I have never been able to debate. I knew in my head what I wanted to say but couldn’t find the words. People get frustrated with me because I give the impression I’m over emotional and lack intelligence to debate. I appreciate that you found the words I couldn’t. Thanks:) (I hope you feel better very soon.)

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