I’m quite curious to get comments on the feature below. I got it from shelf awareness, but it is originally it may be the NYT that got all of this started.

To ban or not to ban. Online reaction was swift and angry yesterday when a new self-published Kindle book, The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasureby Phillip Greaves, was offered for sale at Amazon.com. Customers piled up hundreds of one-star reviews and called for Amazon to remove the title. The backlash was strong on Twitter andFacebook as well, with calls for an Amazon boycott until the company stops selling the title.

TechCrunch reported that Amazon responded to the outcry by 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.” By late Wednesday, however, Amazon had apparently removed the book from its website.

The Associated Press (via NPR) noted that this “isn’t the first time Amazon has come under attack for selling objectionable content in its store. In 2002, the United States Justice Foundation, a conservative group, threatened to sue Amazon for selling Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers. That title is still available through Amazon. In 2009, Amazon stopped selling RapeLay, a first-person video game in which the protagonist stalks and then rapes a mother and her daughters, after it was widely condemned in the media and by various interest groups.”

CBS News reported that Chris Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, “said that Amazon has the right under the First Amendment to sell any book that is not child pornography or legally obscene. Finan said Greaves’ book doesn’t amount to either because it does not include illustrations.”

The question of censorship was also a substantial part of the online discussion. In a post titled “Crossing a Line: Is Banning Books Ever OK?” a Book Smugglers blogger observed: “My first reaction was that of revulsion and I not only RT the link with a ‘I have no words’ attached to it, I also wrote and I admit it, without thinking about what I was saying: Seriously @Amazon? YOU NEED TO REMOVE THIS FROM YOUR SITE. Which is of course an attempt at book banning. Needless to say, madness ensued and we got hundreds of @ replies who shared the feelings of disgust and who retweeted the request to pull the book off Amazon.

“There were also quite a few replies who questioned the request on the grounds that censorship should never be encouraged even if the content of a book is disgusting and reprehensible. The ensuing conversation was not only interesting but also eye opening. Because I have always, always seen myself as someone who would never EVER condone book banning or censorship on any grounds, there I was facing a very uncomfortable truth about myself: a line I never ever thought I would cross and yet I did, in a heartbeat.”

If you take the time to read the above piece, please leave a comment.

Maralyn D. Hill, President
International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association
Books By Hills Success With Writing Where & What in the World
Member: Society of Professional Journalists

Finalist in the Writing and Publishing category of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, “$uccess, Your Path to a Successful Book,”