Having encouraged an atmosphere of customer anger over issues like ebook pricing, Amazon experienced a surge of backlash over a reprehensible self-published ebook on pedophilia and reversed position, removing the book from their site. Phillip Greaves’ The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure was posted as a Kindle ebook on October 28, and discovered by the internet–and then worldwide media–yesterday.
At first Amazon tried defending the product (sorry, but it’s not worthy of calling this file a book) and generally hiding from the media onslaught, reportedly saying the company “believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. 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.”
But then the book hit their ebook “bestseller” list–most likely driven by a relatively small number of purchases by journalists reporting on the product–and they removed it from their system. The wave of negative press was accompanied by multiple internet-based calls for a boycott of the company and thousands of negative comments on the title’s web page.
As CNN (among others) painstakingly pointed out, the etailer already chooses not to carry lots of product that they believe is objectionable, most notably pornography. They also cited Amazon’s posted terms for self-published Kindle works, which indicate that “pornography, offensive material and ‘titles which may lead to… illegal activity’ are among the prohibited content listed in the guidelines.” Amazon “reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of titles sold on our site.” The AP cited other objectionable products Amazon has removed in the past, like the video game RapeLay.