Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A sorry day...

Let me start by saying I'm a fan of Amazon. No, let me restate that...I'm a HUGE fan of Amazon. I think they have done more for independent publishing than any other company and I can't thank them enough for the opportunity they have afforded me and the authors I represent.

But...I'm VERY disappointed in the recent developments involving removal of books. Apparently, they are concerned about "objectionable material" and therefore have stopped selling a number of print and ebooks. While I support any company to decide what they will and will not sell, I think this is a bad decision on Amazon's part. They carry far too many titles to be able to properly "police objectionable content" and therefore the removal will, by its very nature, be unfair and discriminatory. Some author's will have their books removed, while others will still be available even though they both contain similar "objectionable material."

This will be a nightmare, as certain authors cry out WHY ME while you let xyz stay? Mistakes will be made and some books will be removed even though they contain no objectionable information. And how exactly does Amazon define objectionable material in the first place?

As they have done with many aspects before, Amazon might put the responsibility into the "readers" hands. It seems likely they will add a link that can be used if someone deems a book objectionable. If this is the case, couldn't jealous authors flag the books of their biggest competition? Are they going to hire hundreds or thousands of readers and train them on what is acceptable and what is not? I don't see anyway they can manage this.

I think they should let "the market decide". If people find something objectionable, they shouldn't buy it. If they bought it and THEN found out it was objectionable, allow them to return it.

Regardless of the practicality of saying which material can be sold and which cannot, there is an even darker side to this development...Amazon has removed these "objectionable" titles from people's Kindles. This is nothing less than theft. Amazon is setting a terrible precedent of sneaking into people's virtual bookshelves in the middle of the night and snatching away something that's been bought and paid for. They're not even refunding the money the people paid for these items. In what world is this not the same as stealing? Amazon has money it their pocket, but the reader no longer has what they paid for. I can't see how this won't go to court and Amazon will absolutely lose and pay thousands in court costs and then have to refund the money of all the books removed.

I beg Amazon...please return the books for people who paid for them. Or, at the very least, return the money you took. As for determining what books will be sold and which ones will not? Well unless you want to hire a few thousand readers to read each book submitted I suggest you let anything be posted and then let those who are buying decide whether the book is good or bad, but don't remove them from the shelves.

That's my 2 cents worth.


Unforgettable said...

I didn't know about this but that is terrible. I am in complete agreement about the unfairness of the whole arrangement. If a book has "objectinable" content then don't buy it. And as for taking these books off people's Kindles, that's just plain silly. It will really harm consumer confidence in Amazon if they don't stop this. Now Kindle users all over will live in constant fear of being robbed by Amazon. C'est terrible!

Robin Sullivan said...

The implications for Amazon could be disassterous. Nay-sayers of e-book readers have said all along that something just like this could happen. The ebook revolution is just starting to take shape and this could set it back significantly.

wannabuy said...

I'm with you on this Robin.

Print objectionable stuff. I don't care. If I do not like an item... I will boycott it. But then again, due to time constraints, I have to 'boycott' 99.99% of the books anyway!

I also agree that the ebook revolution is starting. Just starting... It will be interesting to see how things shake out. If amazon is to imperious... dedicated readers will move on. Heck, about 20% of those who proceeded me to Kindle have moved on to other devices to maximize book selection. It is "C'est terrible." but there will be work arounds.

Merry Christmas,