"An important post about the way Amazon is redefining the literary landscape. It's not just reviewers who are concerned--as an author this worries me deeply, even though Amazon is the largest retailer of my books." --Mike Mullin, author of ASHFALL
Amazon, GrAmazon, is redefinining our experience of literature! Amazon has evaded having to pay tax and comply with labour laws in many countries, in many US states. Now it is getting around the various laws that protect free speech in order to define what people may or may not read purely for the sake of making Even More Money. America is a capitalist country, Amazon is only 'living the dream' and taking it to the extreme of that cliche, power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. The power of the monopoly.
For Goodreads, comments and shelves are to be self-censored under pain of summary deletion of anything that offends GR, because it is off-topic or criticises the author. Especially, or perhaps only, if the author is one of the Stgrb whose genius seems to be in their ability to generate negative publicity. Which is of course at the root of it. Since my reviews are generally snippets of my life, they are mostly off-topic, however they do not offend GR and so they still stand. So from this I gather that to offend GrAmazon in any way puts your work at risk of deletion. 'Offence' is always going to be "off-topic". What stunningly clever lawyer thought that one up, it covers everything!
The world of books already for many people defined by Amazon will also in the future be limited by them into the boundaries Amazon sets. At the moment they are deleting books with overtly sexual titles and others with sexual content they don't approve of. And should Amazon decide to make what they think is appropriate retroactive, well no-one actually owns a Kindle book, it is only rented, and I am sure in the terms of the rental there is a little tiny bit which says they can alter the words "if necessary" or perhaps replace the entire book by another (sanitized) edition.
Most people now, when they think of Eeyore, think of Disney's loveable soft-toy donkey and have no idea of the original irascible, cynical, loner of a character that A.A. Milne wrote. Sickly-sweet Disney is all about profits. It is so much better to have a happy ending, all-American accents and nothing to offend the parents so everything is rewritten to fit those parameters and so these stories pass into folk history with their literary origins forgotten. Imagine if the Little Mermaid had ended as in the original - the Mermaid has the choice between murdering the prince's new wife or committing suicide! So it was rewritten and it is the rewritten version that has become the standard.
How soon before books featuring paedophilia, rape and violence in a positive light are banned or reworked? Nabokov's Lolita won't be first on the firing line, Neither would the Q'uran with Muhammed marrying a 9 year old, and the Bible so full of threats, violence and murder. These books are too well-known to mess with, but self-published authors - they are on the frontline. Nenia is one of the first casualties
And then with Amazon's domination of the SPA market, the eBook market and the world's biggest bookclub, Goodreads you can forget any laws enshrining freedom of expression in books, because if it doesn't pass Amazon's ideas of what is right and fit to promote profits, it won't be published by them. Publish it any other way, and who will hear of it? Did the books still burn if the people there who saw them on fire had no means to tell anyone else? Did Goodreads censorship really happen if only 1,000 people knew and 19,999,000 don't?
So censorship is not just deleting, it is making sure that no one knows there is any form of censorship in operation - firstly by threatening people so they self-censor and secondly by limiting drastically the number of people who know about it.
What we need is another book company to break Amazon's monopoly, but it won't happen, Amazon will just buy it. I have no solution to this problem. I forsee a sort of electronic version of Russian samizdat for those 'in the know', for the other 19,999,000 well they say you can't miss what you've never had.
All hail capitalism without controls.