“One of the things that surprises people – sometimes upsets publishers and authors – is that we let people enter negative reviews, and they say, why do you do this? You – your – you only make money if you sell the books. Why don’t you weed out the negative reviews? And the reason is: because our – we’re taking a different approach and trying to sell all books. We want to make every book available; the good the bad and the ugly. And, when you’re doing that you actually have an obligation – if you’re going to make the shopping environment actually conducive to shopping – to sort of let truth loose.”
Jeffery Preston Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO, stated, digressing on his company’s background and success. This was long ago in 1998, during at speech at Lake Forest college, in Lake Forest Illinois.
In 2017 Amazon banned 100+ titles (200+ if Kindle editions are counted). The obvious question arises: what changed? The answer: the degree of media pressure. The books which were banned during the aforementioned year primarily (though not exclusively) focused upon ‘Holocaust revisionism,’ and were, for many years prior to 2017, singled out for scrutiny by various Jewish organizations, such as the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, who denounced Amazon and Bezos specifically for carrying such items (which, as should be obvious, makes little sense; as simply carrying a book doesn’t imply one agrees or disagrees with it’s authors conclusions). Though several titles, such as Castle Hill Publisher’s Jewish Emigration From The Third Reich, focuses on the emigration policies of the pre-war Germany (which suggests the book was banned because of the publisher, not because of its content).
Those who regarded the authorship and promulgation of such unorthodox views as wholly unacceptable perceived the ban as a good development; a step in the right direction. High profile individuals such as Marie Sarah van der Zyl, Board of Deputies of British Jews, remarked, “It is very welcome that Amazon has listened and removed the offending titles from their website. These are not works of historical integrity. They are an anti-Semitic attempt to exonerate the Nazis of their crimes and to stoke the fires of hatred.” I have not read all the books in question, so I cannot attest to the truth or falsity of Ms. Zyl’s claims, but such claims need not even be addressed.
I would contend that even if her claims were all completely true, they’re wholly irrelevant in relation to whether or not such books should be banned from sale from the world’s largest book publisher. Ms. Zyl did not, after all, call for the ban of white-critical books (Tim “It’s time to destroy white Alabama” Wise, for example, has, to my knowledge, never met with such a ban), or black-critical books, or hispanic-critical books, or christian-critical books, or books critiquing transhumanism, and so on; or books which revised the history of other periods of history (correctly or incorrectly).
Consider a society wherein every single one of these aforementioned groups made the same haughty book-ban demands as Zyl and Yad Vashem, with the same frequency and shrillness, one wherein major companies swiftly and spineless bowed to such calls for censorship. One doesn’t have to ply too much creativity to see the myriad problems entailed.
Shortly after the ban on Castle Hill Publishing (and others), Germar Rudolf, a member of the aforementioned publishing group, created a documentary on the banning affair which critiqued Amazon and then published a book based upon it, titled, The Day Amazon Murdered History. That book was also banned.
Later, other titles by controversial publishers were nixed by Bezos’ company, including but not limited to: The Liberator Code Book: An Exercise in Freedom of Speech, Mohammad’s Koran by Tommy Robinson and Peter McLoughlin, White Identity by Jared Taylor, The White Nationalist Manifesto by Greg Johnson, nine different titles by Daryush “Roosh” Valizadeh including his latest publication, Game and many, many more.
Books, however, were not the only kind of product which Amazon has banned; they’ve also banned movies from their Amazon Prime service after receiving a letter from Adam Schiff urging Amazon to address the proliferation of “anti-vaccine misinformation.”
There is one thing which ties all of these disparate banned authors together — besides penning controversial opinions — the influencer class, that is to say, journalists, opinion columnists and ethnic grievance activists (all three of which are increasingly indistinguishable). For preceding nearly all aforementioned bans was a series of publications from outlets such as CNN or Quartz and other similar venues, decrying Amazon for selling works with which they disagreed.
Whilst this trend is certainly unfortunate (at least for those who disapprove of book banning, given the damage to authors, publishers and informational access, the practice engenders), the upside is that it demonstrates Amazon’s susceptibility to outside pressure (from organizations much smaller than itself). If Amazon can be pressured into removing books from their catalog, they can, with sufficient effort, be pressured into reinstating them, preferably, at the same time as new alternative platform are devised and present alternatives bolstered.
- Adam B. Schiff. (2019) Press Release: Schiff Sends Letter To Amazon CEO Regarding Anti-Vaccine Misinformation. SchiffHouseGov.
- Agencies. (2017) Yad Vashem Asks Amazon To Pull Holocaust Denial Books. Times of Israel.
- Annalisa Merelli & Justin Rohrlich. (2019) There’s a Disturbing Amount of Neo-Nazi & White Supremacist Material on Amazon. Quartz.
- Barenakedislam. (2019) Newly Sharia Compliant Amazon Has Banned The Book “Mohammad’s Koran – Why Muslim’s Kill For Islam” With No Explanation. Bare Naked Islam.
- Codoh Trustees. (2017) Amazon Mass-Bans Dissident Materials: Hundreds of Titles Erased In A Day. Castle Hill Publishers.
- Gregory Hood. (2019) Amazon & The End of Free Speech. American Renaissance.
- James Thomas. (1998) Video of J. P. Bezos Speech At Forest Lake. Archived at C-SPAN.
- Jon Sarlin. (2019) Amazon Removes Anti-Vaccine Content After CNN Business Report. CNN.
- Kevin Barrett. (2017) Jeff Bezos, Amazon endorse holocaust denial! (UPDATED) Veterans Today.
- Stephen Gutowski. (2018) Amazon Bans Gun Book. Free Beacon.
- Stephen Oryszczuk. (2017) Amazon Removes Holocaust Denial Book From Sale. Jewish News.