Who’s watching what you’re reading?

Or why I won’t be buying a Kindle any time soon.

Amazon Kindle e-book reader being held by my g...

Image via Wikipedia

Amazon has again set itself up as the arbiter of what you should be reading. This time they’re protecting you from erotica that involves adult incest. The powers that be at the online retailer have decided that these books violate its content guidelines. What are those guidelines? Amazon restricts “offensive” content. But who defines offensive? You may agree that the titles in dispute this time are offensive. However, who’s to say you will agree with the next category they decide to delete.

There are a number of worrying aspects to Amazon’s move:

  • First, the move to censor these books came after Amazon had been selling them for quite some time. They were not rejected upon submission. What prompted the move? Did someone or some group complain and Amazon bowed to the pressure?
  • Second, there is no transparency to the process. Amazon doesn’t even attempt to provide specific guidelines and seems able to change their mind at any time – with no recourse for either authors or customers.
  • Third, Amazon again deleted existing books from customers’ Kindles. That’s right, in violation of a legally binding judicial settlement, Amazon reached into people’s Kindles and deleted books that customers had paid for. Amazon has since stated that the deletions were due to a technical issue and the books were again available for re-download. Do you trust Amazon not to do it again?

By Xander via Wikimedia Commons

Amazon’s attempt to control what its customers are reading is, simply put, an invasion of privacy. It’s also censorship, something they claimed to oppose when they originally refused to remove The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure. Unfortunately, most Americans will choose to buy their books, or ebooks, from the retailer with the lowest price. As long as consumers continue to buy from them, Amazon will continue to do whatever they please. If the old saying is true – those that have the money make the rules – Amazon has enough money, and market share, to continue to make the rules about what you can read.

For more information on E-book readers and privacy, check out this article by NPR: Is Your E-Book Reading Up On You?


About booksnquilts

I'm the Children's Services Coordinator for the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library in Central Virginia.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s