A unique blog dedicated to covering the worlds of book publishing and the news media, revealing creative ideas, practical strategies, interesting stories, and provocative opinions. Free speech, literacy, and great books are also discussed. Along the way, discover savvy but entertaining insights on book marketing, public relations, branding, and advertising from a veteran of two decades in the industry of book publishing publicity and marketing.
Friday, February 28, 2020
Should Amazon Go Communist On Nazi Books?
recently caused a stir on the right and left when news leaked it has been
banning certain books or selling materials that were censored by others. It
again raises the argument: should books be banned in America?
you are going to ban books, you should publicly list which ones they are, state
why, and show a consistent approach in your rules as to what makes the cut -- and
doesn’t do any of that.
are hypocritical. While it bans books by David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan
leader, and George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the America Nazi Party, it still sells books with plenty of questionable imagery and views. It also sells other controversial memorabilia, just as it does with Confederate books or memoirs of killers,
rapists, and terrorists.
one believes the world is better by Amazon selling hate-filled propaganda –
except for racists – but the world is worse off when the biggest bookseller quietly
bans books. If it does it with these books, what stops them from removing books
espousing other views, values, theories, or histories, simply because it disagrees
with the content?
suppose some books challenge us, legally, morally, and psychologically.Do we want books about bomb-making,
pedophilia, or encouragement for violence?
never a good answer to any of this. Free speech cuts both ways – Amazon can
choose to sell what it wants to and writers can choose what to write about, just
as consumers choose what to buy. But free speech can’t force a store to sell
something anymore than it can force a writer to write something. Free speech
really is a government issue. The U.S. can’t stop Amazon from selling a book by
or about a white supremacist nor can it stop or force someone to read/buy the
book. But we all tend to think of free speech has going beyond that.
want free speech without retaliation from a government, employer, or housing development.It wants to have people speak freely, without
retribution. But it also expects people to be respectful, fair, and kind-hearted. Well. Americans don’t really agree on anything. One person’s love
is another’s hate. One’s garbage is another’s gold.
gets a huge demerit for not having a clear and consistent policy and for not stating which books are blacklisted. But the bigger issue is beyond all
of that. We need to resolve how to allow for all views to be heard while
voluntarily encouraging that we have more tolerance by both writers and
a tricky balance. It’s an unending quagmire than many have been nuddied and
Amazon should just go back to the ethos Jeff Bezos espoused in 1998, when
Amazon was an ambitious start-up, when he said:“We want to make every book available – the
good, the bad and the ugly.”He believed
customer reviews would “let the truth loose” and dictate what gets purchased or
Nazis, ironically, rose to power once information was controlled by the state
and books were banned, burned or censored. First they keep you in the dark.
Then they confiscate your rights and propertyThen they enslave or kill you.Amazon has triggered that first stage, though no one would compare them
to the Nazis. But knowledge and information are invaluable assets to keep our
nation a free and thriving democracy.
will always err on the side of books. Write what you wish. Publish and sell
them. We hope writers, publishers, and stores will act responsibly, accurately,
honestly and fairly. But as we can see, challenges and loopholes are always
with us. It is something we must live with.