Amazon's book banning leading to multiple Restricted Policy Violations


#1

I’ve sold mostly books on Amazon for about 12 years, excellent customer service and compliance to the extent a person can remain compliant with the constantly moving targets. You don’t keep bucking the AZ bronco for 12 years without being thrown minus doing things right. In total I’ve carried about 15,000 titles, currently over 5,000 in inventory. Lots of interesting and often rare stuff, all genres, many academic titles.

The account despite excellent metrics is now showing as At Risk with 3 Restricted Policy Violations because Amazon has without warning banned 3 titles for content. The first was a college classroom-intended paperback Mein Kampf with a foreword by a history professor about the content. This was not a leather bound coffee table Baby’s First Mein Kampf with a gilded swastika for the deranged parent. I posted about this banning on my social media and one of my friends who happens to be Jewish noted that he was assigned passages of Mein Kampf in Hebrew school, which makes perfect sense to me.

Just now I’ve received an email that two books were banned the same day, two more strikes on my account. For over a year I’ve had a rarish early printing of The Turner Diaries for sale, a work of fiction (!) about a right wing militia insurgency in the US. I haven’t read it - believe it or not I don’t read every book I sell, impossible on top of undesirable - but I’ve known about it since the 90s, & the content seems similar to Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang (not yet banned, give it time) with adjustments for philosophy and targets. Banned at the same time was For My Legionnaires, the 1936 “Romanian Mein Kampf” which spurred on the Iron Guard in that country and is an important historical text for anyone studying Romanian history. Ironically the book was initially banned in Romania when first published, seeing as the government had a censorship board.

It’s not that I specialize in rightist texts - far from it, I’m an old school liberal which to me means no censorship - I just happen to have 5,000+ titles for sale and we’re opening things up to the public to ban titles now, so that’s going to affect every bookseller with an awful chilling effect. As far as Amazon is concerned now however I’m a fascist crank and a danger to the community.

All of these are books Amazon allowed sale of FOR A QUARTER CENTURY then banned overnight without warning and is dinging seller accounts on as if we were selling baby food enhanced with glass shards.

We’re headed to a very dark place in the US regarding availability of books. Along with anything rightist I predict bannings of ‘cancelled’ earlier wave feminist texts for being “trans-exclusionary.” Tick tock, give it time. Whatever you like to read is next. I predict this thread gets censored and locked before the end of the weekend.

On top of this, publishers of a lot of titles are cutting deals to restrict secondary market sales of their books as used, raising your prices and limiting what I can sell. Marvel for example I don’t bother to try and list any longer, third party sellers are simply blocked through corporate dealings from listing without presenting a recent wholesale invoice from the publisher. This is a means of subverting secondary sales allowances in the Copyright Act.


#3

Yes they do and for TWENTY FIVE YEARS they profited from selling these titles on their site.

Now take a swing at justifying how changing that overnight and retro-hitting accounts which were perfectly compliant with that choice of Amazon’s with policy violations post facto is either logical or ethical. I’ll wait.


#5

I completely agree that the idea of removing books for offensive content with little to no over site/review is a bad slippery slope. But the bigger issue is the immediate violation sellers are in with no warning when one of these items is deemed problematic. Zero warning or ability to comply with taking something down. That’s the most unfair and callous part.

I’ve had 2 of these violations for books I sold years ago that haven’t been in my active inventory since then.


#6

“Times change” indeed. Times changed when Hitler burned books he didn’t like.

I’m curious as to why you think banning a text that Jewish children are assigned in school to learn about anti-semitism and college students are assigned in history classes to learn about, yknow, history is a good idea.

You are of course avoiding the actual issue of the retro-dinging of accounts for selling products with compliance from 1996-yesterday.


#8

Not “oh please” it’s either OK to ban books or not. It’s either OK for Hitler and others or not OK for Hitler and others. Pick one, stick with it.

Explain how selling complaint products on Amazon that they’ve allowed since 1996 is ‘asking for it.’ Also explain how what you imply as a solution - avoiding selling anything that SOMEONE MIGHT FIND OFFENSIVE - isn’t going to lead to immediate mass self-censorship and widespread inon-availability of books.


#10

Aside from being about “liking it” or not the issue is Amazon allowing sale of items for nearly 3 decades then deciding retroactively that the people who had been doing so with Amazon’s blessing, to Amazon’s profit, are suddenly now in violation of policy which changed on a dime without warning.

Evidently for some reason you do like the idea of the world’s largest retailer chilling the availability of books. It’s their right of course but why anyone would post multiple times to defend that is inexplicable.


#12

You’re not addressing any issue. Was Amazon’s responsibility not to the shareholders from their IPO until yesterday? The shareholders made money from selling The Turner Diaries until yesterday and everyone was OK with that.

Why is it alright for Amazon to decide that sales they enabled and encouraged (“Sell Your Copy”) are now a problem for seller accounts.


#13

mpla

Well apparently my response needed to be reviewed… may never show up - sad state of things…


#15

How is banning long-term seller accounts with excellent customer service because of retro-deciding that compliant sales in years past are suddenly non-compliant with no warning is in Amazon’s best interest? How is banning texts assigned in college courses in Amazon’s best interest? How is the entire idea of chilling selling any content at all - books, music, video - which cold possibly have any content anyone could be offended by in Amazon’s interest?

The third party seller is far from irrelevant, before AWS took off we were the only thing making Amazon net profitable.


#17

I know that I am irrelevant in Amazon eyes.as is other sellers.
Yet you do have a valid point about a publicly traded company, responsible to stockholders.
In the ever changing world of what is allowed to be sold on the site, Amazon is the final arbiter.
Books that had been allowed and IMO should be allowed have been deemed verboten.
This has happened to me also and I just have to decide if I want to sell them elsewhere or not at all.
I am reminded that those who do not learn from the past are forced to repeat the mistakes of the past. Sort of like reincarnation.
I do have some issues with the book banning as practiced by Amazon. I believe some notice should be sent before the ban but aside from that, what will be allowed becomes a very murky area.
In these troubled times I do find the Turner Diaries and Mein Kampf to be offensive personally.
So IMO they should be sold for $1K or more and take money which could otherwise be used for other nefarious purposes.
Both titles are available online for purchase so anyone who wants such titles can find them.
I recently refused to purchase an SS required copy of Mein Kampf since the history of such a purchase did offend me. Personal decision.
I do have other titles which I do not agree with listed and I have higher prices on them. They probably will never sell and will get disposed of elsewhere.
If we do not adapt to a changing world, we will perish.
Same as selling on Amazon. @mpla


#18

This isn’t a conversation, you have no substance to impart. I’m happy to discuss this with anyone else.


#20

First off, have you read The Turner Diaries? I haven’t, so I’m not so sure that I already know that it’s offensive to me. I’m curious as to how people know they are offended by things they didn’t ever read. Psychic abilities? Stepping back from that, who cares what you or I find offensive?

Are booksellers expected to read every page of every book they sell, incidentally? Do sellers have to watch every DVD? Do sellers have to listen to every second of every song? And what exactly are we searching for…?

In re Mein Kampf and Legionnaires, these are important texts for understanding actual history of the 20th century among other reasons not to repeat it. People read them because they are offensive. The vast majority of readers are offended by the text, that’s the point.

What kind of world will it be if we ban every book, lyric and video someone else finds offensive? Nothing will remain. Maybe you can buy One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish but bye-bye to The Lorax. I love how no one seems to consider that virtually everything offends someone.


#21

Not people who agree with me, people who share any perspective at all regarding the actual issues at hand. You serially sidestep the issue affecting sellers, the retro-banning and its consequences.

You are the one who’s OK with banning things you disagree with, not me. So again, no, not “people who agree with me.”


#23

I have a post being reviewed so I will say that all you are espousing was done in Germany.
And the laws got changed to make it legal.


#24

“All I am espousing” was done in the US starting with James Madison’s drafting of the Bill of Rights. Of course the Bill of Rights probably offends someone so we should ban any book containing it. And of course retroactively assign Restricted Policy Violations on 3P seller accounts.


#25

What about Jefferson? One of my personal heroes and I wish more of his original language had been left but I can only learn from history, not change it.


#27

Amazon has the right to decide what they desire to be sold, or not be sold, on their site.

Not when you ban something and it massively eliminates the ability to buy it. This then falls under Sherman Anti-Trust and anti-competition laws.

I want to thank all the people flagging my posts in order to censor things they do not like.

This behavior is going to destroy Amazon and this country.


#28

I’ve had the same thing happen as you, including with Mein Kampf. I’ve had 3 or 4 of these violations, always for a book that I sold years ago. I don’t think Amazon will really act on these “violations”. How can you be blamed for selling a book 5 years ago, long before Amazon decided to ban it??
Coincidentally, you mentioned The Monkey Wrench Gang. This was the book that started me selling on Amazon 12 years ago!


#29

Great point, I’m wondering what you mean by “actions of this past week,” has there been a mass-banning of content? I know of these 3 books but I’m assuming there have been many others.


#30

I’m curious, what else from your inventory was banned or retro-banned in the Amazon time machine?

Also I’d be very worried that some algo they have going will start closing accounts with X number violations without a human even looking at it, or maybe a sub-contracted employee 12 time zones away who makes no distinction between a banned book and Throwing Knives for Toddlers.