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Wednesday
Nov102010

Amazon Kindle Facilitates Crimes Against Children

Shame On You Amazon.com

If you could dream up a sickening, disgusting and criminal how-to book, what would it be about? How to build weapons of mass destruction? How to kill and bury your family without getting caught? A college student's guide to rape? Torture 101? Well yes, those would all be pretty horrendous. But would you ever, in your most horrible of nightmares, imagine a book called "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover's Code of Conduct." Probably not. Yet Amazon.com is selling this e-book for Kindle right now.

The book description is:
This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian [sic] rules for these adults to follow. I hope to achieve this by appealing to the better nature of pedosexuals, with hope that their doing so will result in less hatred and perhaps liter [sic] sentences should they ever be caught.

I don't want to link to it. It is bad enough that I just typed those words. Google it if you don't believe it or read this post from someone who did download the disgusting book or this news article including interview clips with the perverted author of the book.

Your first reaction is probably the same as mine: CONTACT AMAZON! THEY'LL TAKE IT DOWN FOR SURE! I did that...

Amazon Pedophile Book - Live Chat


It wasn't just me. Lots of people contacted them. They contacted them by phone. They contacted them by e-mail. They left reviews on the Amazon site. They called Amazon's public relations people. Many times Amazon promised it would take the "necessary actions", which we assumed would be taking the book down.


Ultimately, Amazon issued this statement (quoted at Good Feed):



As a retailer, our goal is to provide customers with the broadest selection possible so they can find, discover, and buy any item they might be seeking. That selection includes some items which many people may find objectionable. Therefore, the items offered on our website represent a wide spectrum of opinions on a variety of topics.

Let me assure you that Amazon.com does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts; we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions.

Amazon.com believes it is censorship not to sell certain titles because we believe their message is objectionable. Therefore, we’ll continue to make controversial works available in the United States and everywhere else, except where they’re prohibited by law. We also allow readers, authors, and publishers to express their views freely about these titles and other products we offer on our website. However, Amazon.com doesn’t endorse opinions expressed by individual authors, musical artists, or filmmakers.

Is that good enough for you? It isn't good enough for me.

I understand Amazon's desire not to get involved in censorship, but:

1) It has pulled books before for stupid business reasons.


2) I don't think it would be unreasonable for Amazon to establish a few simple rules, such as not selling any how-to guides for criminal activity.


In my mind, selling this type of book is just as bad as handing a gun to someone who says he wants to commit a murder. It makes both the author of the book, and Amazon as the publisher and retailer, accomplices in any crime that is committed by following those instructions. I would imagine that the police will be looking into the author and looking into anyone who downloads this book. Suspected terrorists have been arrested for a heck of a lot less than that and certainly if encouraging someone else to commit suicide is a crime, then encouraging someone to abuse children must be a crime too.

I didn't want to write about this. I had another post planned for tonight. I hoped that a few quick calls to Amazon would resolve it. But since it didn't, I thought you, and your friends, and their friends, and their friends, may want to know what Amazon is up to before you decide where to buy your Christmas presents. Are pedophiles such a big part of Amazon's clientele that appeasing them is more important than removing books that provide play-by-play instructions for illegal and abusive activity? This is not good business for Amazon, period.

I'm not a big boycotter. The only company that I boycott outright is Nestle for decades of unethical business practices and no indication that they plan to change for the better. I don't organize and promote boycotts of companies because of a misstep, even a misstep as bad as this one. However, I am able to vote with my wallet and vote with my blog. There are other places that I can buy the products that Amazon sells and I will. There are other ways I can make money, so I don't really need the Amazon associate links to recommended books in my sidebar. Good companies recognize when they have made a horrendous mistake, they apologize, and they change their ways. Bad companies dig their heels in and hide behind press releases. Which one will Amazon be?


Thank you to Cecily Kellogg for making the world aware of this issue with a tweet earlier today. Thank you to Mile Hi Mama for her play by play reporting of her correspondence with Amazon over the course of the day.

Image credit: Joe Diamond on amazon.com.

UPDATE: It looks like Amazon may have removed the book (either that or high traffic has made that page go down) or they may not have.

UPDATE II: Some people are still able to access it and Amazon customer service says it is available. So maybe it isn't gone.

UPDATE III: The book is definitely gone. However, Amazon has not apologized, explained why it allowed the book and then later took it down, or promised that it won't happen again in the future.
« More than 2 minutes of silence | Main | Would you answer 10 questions? »

Reader Comments (77)

Thanks for linking to me!

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMilehimama

It's not really good enough for me, either.

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLoukia

I just published a post with a brief list of Amazon alternatives for those participating in the boycott on my blog (no link b/c I don't mean to spam - anyone who is interested can click my name on this comment and get to the site).

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenny B

Definitely not good enough for me. I'm absolutely appalled. I don't have words for how disgusted I am not only for the book, but with Amazon. I honestly can't believe anyone in their right mind could suggest it is fine by them that this book stay on their shelves for sale. Horrendous.

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTamara @ bynature.ca

Thank you for posting this tonight. I also don't want to be one of "those" people who goes around boycotting (we're actively boycotting Nestle as well). But I just spent *all* of my Christmas-spending money at Amazon.com because I am a new mom and wanted the convenience of a retailer I have been a customer of for over ten years.

Some of the gifts I ordered the other day arrived yesterday and some will arrive this week - they're going back. They are going back because I have called, emailed, tweeted and Amazon has responded by telling me that my voice doesn't matter. Maybe my otherwise-placed Christmas money will.

This is definitely an issue we cannot ignore or write off as "free-speech."

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGreta

I have been debating what to write about Amazon and this disgusting behaviour. I would like to hope that their special kind of impartiality results in their being charged as accomplices in a criminal action but that would involve a child being hurt in the process. Instead, they will have to live with the PR and Brand damage nightmare that will result from sheer stubborn-ness and and obviously extremely poor business and ethical decision-making. When it hits them in their pocketbooks, I'm sure they will re-think what freedom of expression means to them.

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMara Shapiro (@chickyMara)

I had another post planned too but I had to write on this. I tweeted, I called, I chatted, I emailed and all I got was that silly message. The book is innapropriate, offensive, encourages illegal activity and from the excerpts I have read should be considered child pornogrpahy. I do not boycott lightly at all, but this, for me, is beyond the pale.

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrittany at Mommy Words

I have taken down all my amazon links and will not be buying from Amazon. 'Censorship' us a weak excuse. Profiting from this sick trash is not acceptable.

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterZchamu

It's been pulled. Finally.

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJacki (JackiYo)

As of right now, when I read this and immediately went to Amazon.com to see what the deal was, the book seems to have been pulled. I get a 404 every time I try to see what's going on.

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSarah @ BecomingSarah.com

UPDATE: It looks like Amazon may have removed the book (either that or high traffic has made that page go down).

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I am using it as a reminder to talk again with my children about their bodies and boundaries. The boycott and censorship issues are still unclear to me. But I know that I can talk to my kids and donate to a local shelter or child abuse awareness site while I think it through some more.

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlex@LateEnough

Amazon is the online Walmart.

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJacob

[...] Review written by a Federal Agent (this links to the review on the book itself on amazon’s site) The DaddyYo Blog PhD in Parenting [...]

Even if they have taken it down, the whole thing has left a bad taste in my mouth. I won't be shopping from there this holiday season.

I'll be curious to know if tomorrow brings news that they've caved under the intense pressure from the public and media.

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I am still able to load. It's not gone :(

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertrexxd

It seems to be up and down and up and down right now. I'm going to go to bed and see where things stand in the morning.

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

{sick to my stomach}

I'm really disappointed in Amazon.

I hope with all of my heart that they do the right thing and remove the title (I can't access it so perhaps it's been removed already?).

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Jacob cracked me up! He has a point, it sort of is like the online Walmart. Best analogy of the night, hands down.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSarah @ BecomingSarah.com

I emailed them and got the same response. Interstingly, Amazon's own Content Guidelines for self-publishing e-books (like this one) states the following:

" Amazon Digital Services, Inc. reserves the right to make judgments about whether or not content is appropriate.Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with some examples of prohibited content:
Offensive Material
What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect. Amazon Digital Services, Inc. reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of Titles sold on our site.

Illegal Items
Titles sold through the Digital Text Platform Program must adhere to all applicable laws. Some Titles that may not be sold include any Titles which may lead to the production of an illegal item or illegal activity."

I would say this title might lead to an illegal activity, therefore it violates Amazon's OWN guidelines. I'm appalled that they stood by it AT ALL. I can't believe they haven't made any sort of public acknowledgement of any of this.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarcy

[...] So why am I talking about this? Yes it is the 15th anniversary. Yes this event was a pivotal moment in my early activism. Yes this why I still boycott Shell. But more than that, this is an example of what happens to a huge company without real checks and balances. What happens when a company does something that harms people, harms children? [...]

I took down my Amazon affiliate links, and I don't plan to buy from them at least until this issue is resolved. Their response is entirely inadequate in my mind. Allowing someone to promote crimes against children is a highly immoral and unethical act in my mind, if not downright criminal itself.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

I am truly disgusted. I was much more eloquent earlier in my outraged tweets and Facebook postings, now I am tired and just sick. I hear it has been pulled, but I am waiting for an official statement... although I am not sure that I will ever not be disappointed in Amazon. Time will tell.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrenna

but wait, there's more (link from the facebook group calling for a boycott of amazon):

http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Loved-Boylovers-David-Riegel/dp/0967699703/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1289458888&sr=8-1

i'm ill inside.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermegan

Have law authorities been notified? I would think that they would have something to say about that. It must be illegal in some way, right?

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenne

Amazon believes in freedom of expression? I believe in the freedom to choose who I patronise.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

What? I mean, seriously, WHAT? How is this book and the sale of it not in fact a crime? I would have bet my bottom dollar that it qualifies as incitement at the very least. (Granted, my familiarity is Australian law, but still).

Makes me all the gladder that my Christmas book dollars have just been split between The Book Depository and Fishpond. They may not be as big and all-encompassing as Amazon, but they don't list that utterly vile garbage, either.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

megan:

I think the arguments made in that book are disgusting. I don't agree with its premise at all. However, I do see it as different from the Pedophile's Guide. The one you linked to appears to be making an argument, based on some flaky science, that pedophilia is not wrong. However, I don't think it is giving people play by play instructions on how to break the law and avoid getting caught. Advocating for a change in laws is, to me, different from giving people instructions on how to break the law and not get caught doing it.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

what part of pedophilia is legal????

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterilse

That "censorship" line is so much baloney--I am really sick of Amazon hiding behind it. When the GOVERNMENT bans a book, it's censorship. When Amazon refuses to sell a book, it's smart business practice, because a lots of furious moms are going to take their money elsewhere. What a bunch of hypocritical cowards.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShannon Drury

Is anyone else wondering (hoping) if this is some kind of police sting? I mean, maybe by ordering something like this it flags that person in some way to law enforcement...

Just thinking.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArtemnesia

Several media outlets (including Fox News http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/11/11/amazon-pulls-pedophile-guide-amid-outrage/) are reporting it has been pulled this morning. ???

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMegan@SortaCrunchy

I know this isn't going to be a popular comment but I had to go ahead with it. I am a mother (really, I think you could say "I am a human being" and still have this apply just as much) and am outraged, horrified, disgusted (and all the other words you guys have used) with pedophiles, the things they do to our children, and books (and other media) that encourage pedophilia. I absolutely DO NOT endorse such material.

This all seems to be a very slippery line to me. You said
"I don’t think it would be unreasonable for Amazon to establish a few simple rules, such as not selling any how-to guides for criminal activity."
What if the book is about graffiti art? This is a crime yet many people also view it as an art expression. What about a fiction book that includes discussions/how-tos of pedophilia? Will that get banned too? What about books for the KKK? Who will decide where that line is and how far it moves in one direction or another?

Being disgusted, outraged, sickened and expressing that in your blog, amongst your friends, with your dollars is one thing. Deciding for everyone else by banning the offensive item is a different story. The power of our dollars is just as easily displayed when this author doesn't make any money. And, if he does make money, the information he's providing is just as easily found else where on the web. It is important to me that our freedom (to express ourselves and our, possibly, unpopular opinions; to buy, possibly, unpopular books and other media) should be sacred and not easily given up.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFred

I mostly agree with what you said, and I too find the book reprehensible, but I take issue with this: "I don’t think it would be unreasonable for Amazon to establish a few simple rules, such as not selling any how-to guides for criminal activity."
There are many, many books that provide how-to's for criminal activity. I can't remember where I read it (it was yesterday), but a blogger talking about this mentioned a couple of them. The Anarchist's Cookbook, I believe, was one of them. But there are many other books that provide how-tos. Or that might be perceived in that way.
I think it's dangerous to make a blanket statement, I guess, is all I'm saying.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

As a survivor and a mom I fing this behavior absolutely unforgiveable. And as much as I don't usually jump on band wagons, I just had to post about it as well. Protecting our children is not a fad it is a cause. And I hope that people remember that this holiday season when they are shopping. I for one will never buy from Amazon Zappos and all other subsidiaries ever again.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

Sorry if I repeat a comment above because I don't have the time to do a lot of reading this am. I just finished reading Adam Avitable's post on the same subject and some of the commentary there. Here's what I don't understand and no one has explained as far as I can tell.

Amazon *chooses* what they publish. They don't publish every book in existence. I know that. So since they exercise discretion in some areas, why not in this one? Why does it suddenly become censorship and discouraging freedom of speech in this case, but not when a book never hits their shelf in the first place?

Bottom line (my bottom line), Amazon is a private business and can make any rules about what they choose to sell. Given that, I would have hoped they would err on the side of not publishing such (pretty much universally thought) vile subject matter.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMandy

With all due respect, the slippery slope argument is a fallacy (look up rules of debate, etc). Unless you can definitively prove that doing A will lead to B and then C. Frankly, there is no proof that removing a book on pedophilia will cause the publisher/seller to remove a book on graffiti art.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMandy

Oh, and a bookseller deciding not to publish a book or not (or sell a book or not) is not a removal of anyone's freedom of speech. The government telling someone they cannot express and opinion or self-publish a book is an infringement on freedom of speech.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMandy

Everything you said. This is not a difference of opinion or taste, it is criminal behavior of the sickest kind. "Juveniles who find themselves..." I am livid and will be boycotting Amazon not only until they take this vile book down, but until they give a real apology (not the oft used non-apololgies we hear) and change their policies to ensure nothing like this happens again.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterOlivia

Just because the slippery slope argument is a fallacy it doesn't eliminate the very real dangerousness of deciding that some things should be banned. My reference to PhD's quote about banning how-to books is exactly what I'm talking about. If you ban one there is a very good argument for why you should ban another and another. Where is the line drawn and who decides? There may not be proof that this will happen but are you willing to risk it? If we start drawing the line where does it stop? This is a very real aspect to the issue being discussed.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFred

I'd like to add if you are looking to buy books online you might try Better World Books, http://www.betterworldbooks.com/

They are a non-profit supporting global literacy initiatives I just discovered recently. Wide selection, great customer service.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterOlivia

I saw this on Oh No They Didn't this morning -
Amazon has supposedly pulled the book now.
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6AA3U020101111

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCoral

Coral:

Until I see a statement from Amazon on this, I'm not going to celebrate. I'm worried they are just taking it down quietly now because of the uproar, but that it might be right back up there next week. I want a statement from them stating that they have removed it and explaining why (e.g. that it is illegal or that it doesn't fit with their terms of service).

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Great suggestion Olivia.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

i never post a comment (though i read often - love your blog) but just saw this on msnbc.com

'Pedophile's Guide' gone from Amazon
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40129858/ns/technology_and_science-tech_and_gadgets/

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermrspaj

Look I don't have any misconceptions here. I worry about pedophiles but I don't see them as being the biggest threat to my children. Nor do I believe that this book will convince people that it is ok for a man to have sex with children. Not going to happen.

I am also a bit concerned that we helped a very sick man get more press and attention than he deserves. I hope that he doesn't benefit from that at all.

This is a good reminder to continue to talk to our children about boundaries and to do whatever we can to make sure that our kids feel comfortable coming to us about anything that is bothering them.

The whole thing sickens me.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJack

Except that when the stated rule is "No books that are how-to guides for criminal acts", then the How To Do Awesome Graffiti should be removed. And the Anarchist's Cookbook. And any guide to growing pot, or how to find hallucinogenic mushrooms.

I don't think that's a slippery slope argument. That is pointing out "Here are other things that would need to be removed to make the creation of that rule universal."

Otherwise, what's the point of a rule?

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEmily WK

Well said.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFred

Thanks for being courageous enough to voice the unpopular opinion, Fred. I feel similarly about this, honestly, yet fear reprisal/ostracism if I speak about it publicly.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDou-la-la

Becky, The Anarchist's Cookbook was what sprung to mind for me yesterday as well.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDou-la-la

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