Wednesday, November 10, 2010 Sells Their Soul for $4.79

I don't like to be disappointed. There is nothing worse than finding out someone is not who you think they are.

By now you've probably heard about the fact that Amazon is selling a guide to pedophilia in their kindle store.

Don't believe me?

There  has been a lot of uproar from customers on the Amazon Facebook page as well as on the actual "review" of this book. I imagine they've also gotten a lot of nasty emails and phone calls.

Amazon's response to the uproar is:

"Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable," the company said in a written statement. "Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions."

The beauty of living in a country with protected free speech is that Amazon can sell this item and the author can author the item (and I'm sure he's LOVING all of this free publicity, including by yours truly) and no one can do a damn thing about it. And that's a good thing.

However, I happen to think that with privilege comes responsibility.

And Amazon is wrong. This is not a freedom of speech issue. I believe that Amazon should have the right to sell this book. I believe the author has the right to write this book.

But Amazon is a STORE. They are not a library.  They are not the government. They are simply a store.

Whose mission, I believe, is to serve customers and sell books. They aren't doing that very well today.

That they carry a how-to book on child rape makes them not the people I thought they were. I wonder how they look in the mirror at night? I wonder if they could look into they eyes of a sexual abuse victim and tell them how valuable it is for them to carry this book. On principal, mind you. 

It doesn't make much sense to stand on principal when you have no soul.

I reiterate, they are a store. They have choices. Not offering a product because it doesn't fit in with your corporate culture isn't censorship, its business. Good business has a soul. Good business does not engage in endangering children. Good business does not disgust it's customers on principal. Barnes and Nobles does not carry this book. Is anyone out there calling them dirty censors? No.  Although, I imagine they have a lot more business tonight at their online store than they usually have on a random Wednesday. And Amazon doesn't carry every book in the world which means, that yes, the do have some  kind of screening going on.

I imagine that most of Amazon's clients are not pedophiles and that most of them would be turned off by the material. What brick and mortor store carries items that most of their customers don't buy?  In fact, what good business carries items that most of their customers find offensive?  From a business standpoint how does that even make sense? 

The only statement you are making Amazon, is that you don't care what your ACTUAL customer's think.

I don't know about you but if I walked into a bookstore and there was a man crapping in front of me on the floor, I'd walk right out.

I'm not "boycotting" Amazon because I think they need to stop selling the book. That is their choice. I am simply no longer their customer because they are not the company I believed them to be. I don't support places who support pedophiles and allow them the opportunity to thrive. It's that simple. Nothing sinister or censorship about it. Hell, there are some brands of yogurt I won't buy for much lesser offenses. has a man crapping on their floor and it stinks.

This is not a freedom of speech issues, this a  free market issue and the market will respond. Just in time for holiday shopping too. 

Merry Christmas

*** Edited to add that I got an email from this morning. The book is no longer for sale on their site. I guess it WAS a free market issue rather than a freedom of speech issue. It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth since they only did it because it's close to holiday shopping season. Apparently their "principal" goes out the window when faced with financial loss.


Tree Huggin Momma said...

Actually - Amazon had no idea the book existed (its a self published ebook) and until it was reported they did not know about it. The response you got is a canned response to objectionable book titles not to that specific title. Once the company was aware of the issue, and the ramifications they did in fact resolve it.

Christine said...

Actually Tree Hugging Momma, that's untrue. The uproar was going on all afternoon yesterday and they knew about it and the book was not removed by the time I went to bed at midnight.

I work on the website at my own job-It takes me literally minutes to make a change. It's not difficult. And at the rate at which Amazon adds books to their site, you know this is a quick and automated process. Further, Amazon DID address this book specifically citing freedom of speech. So, not, Amazon gets a fail on this.

Christine said...

Additionally, you are suggesting that Amazon is selling items they don't know about? That's a strange business model....

Meredith said...

Well done Christine. There is such a fine line between having freedom and exploiting it. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

Amazon is just trying to cover their backsides in this, as do all companies when the questionable gray areas they operate in go south.

My motto is and always be: Just because you have the right to do something does not make it the right thing to do.

The Fine Art of Motherhood said...

Great post, Chris! Such a huge disappoint because I have always thought Amazon was a great company and they were always my go-to place for online shopping. But, I would absolutely never support a company that is either that unaware or unconcerned about the products they sell -- especially when it comes to something that endangers innocent children. The slight inconvenience of shopping around online is well worth it to ensure that our hard-earned money does not go in their pockets!

Meredith -- I LOVE your motto! That will be a great one to pass on to the kids! Thanks for sharing!