Amazon as Censor

Last Updated Apr 13, 2009 11:12 AM EDT

There is a new storm gathering over an online media company this weekend, and this time it is Amazon. It appears that the Seattle-based discount merchant is imposing what writers believe is censorship by removing sales rankings and searchability for books that, according to some sort of questionable standard, are deemed "objectionable."

This dark category appears to focus on gay and lesbian novels, as well as other books that overtly deal with human sexuality in all of its richness. According to one of the main watchdog sites tracking this scandal, "out of a Top 100 Gay Novels List, almost all the books are "purged", including authors such as Jamie O'Neill, Edmund White, and Andre Aciman.
Also purged are classics such as James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, and Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain.
Amazon's unannounced and incomprehensible move has moved those on Twitter who are paying attention to try and get the corporate giant's attention. Please read this open letter.
Thanks to Erik Sherman for alerting me to this controversy.

  • David Weir

    David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7x7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977. He’s also been a content executive at KQED, Wired Digital,, and Excite@Home. David has published hundreds of articles and three books,including "Raising Hell: How the Center for Investigative Reporting Gets Its Story," and has been teaching journalism for more than 20 years at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Stanford.