Update #AmazonFail

Amazon Kindle 2 Wireless eBook Readerphoto © 2009 goXunuReviews | more info (via: Wylio)

I am not a business person. My poor sense of the business world began when I dutifully sold wrapping paper for fundraisers, continued with a short-lived knife selling business, and ends with me going in a completely different career direction. Of course, the Girl Scout cookie sale will hopefully reinvent my business savvy—well-known product and super cute brown hair, blue eye girl asking people to buy cookies. Again, not likely, anyone will buy cookies because of my business skills. So, beware ANY business advice from me.

Having disclosed my lack of business savvy, I am updating y’all on my post #AmazonFail. Since the uproar last week over Amazon’s selling an e-book guide to pedophilia, I joined with other bloggers(read their blog posts here and here) demanding that Amazon remove this book from its e-book shelves. This was done. The official statement from Amazon lacked any real apology for this book—more legal pandering than substance, no plan for preventing another such e-book. Without a plan for preventing this mishap, it will happen again. I am hopeful that other online book retailers are also taking note of Amazon’s debacle and searching out any other e-books lurking in the shadows with a similar tenor. But rarely as a society do we learn from our mistakes. Am I surprised? No, Amazon is protecting its profits, its products, and its people. Like a child with its hand in the cookie jar, Amazon’s statement smacks of the “sorry I got caught” rather than a genuine apology.

As a boycott looms over Amazon during the Christmas season, I see the potential for independent booksellers to reap more of the holiday retail spending. While Amazon may promise cheaper books, independent booksellers have smaller inventories that I can easily browse, see their wares, and shop with relative confidence about their ethical platitudes. I can’t browse Amazon’s huge online store in its entirety, but a small bookstore browsing equals an enjoyable afternoon excursion. Perhaps, local booksellers can benefit from Amazon’s fiasco. While my shopping of Amazon was limited to graduate school readings, I do not foresee myself supporting this retailer in the future.

Question: What would it take for you to boycott Amazon or shop at Amazon again in the future? Are there any benefits from #AmazonFail?

#AmazonFail

Amazon Kindle 2 Wireless eBook Readerphoto © 2009 goXunuReviews | more info (via: Wylio)

When I first entered the Twitterverse, I learned quickly the value of the hashtag. The hashtag identifies a tweet with all sorts of others just like it—helps the tweeter to see what others have said on the subject. As I read my tweets today, one hashtag kept trending–#amazonfail. I thought nothing of it since I chalking the hashtag up to bad customer service; thus, allowing me to continue my Amazon shopping without much thought. But I was curious. Curious to see what the big “fail” was. Curious to see Amazon’s horrid sin that would cause such an uproar. So, before curiosity killed the proverbial cat, I began following the trend. In the self-published section of Amazon’s Kindle, a book detailing the safe ways to practice pedophilia is available for purchase. Yes, this is why a boycott of Amazon and the hashtag #amazonfail kept streaming through my Twitter feed. As mommy bloggers raise their collective voices against Amazon, I find myself at war between censorship and protecting the potential targets of pedophiles.

I dislike the thought of censorship because I am an advocate for free speech. But I have children and have friends with children. Somewhere, a child has suffered because someone followed the instructions in this ebook. This is where the tension lives for me—between the ability speak on subjects freely or protecting children. But free speech is a fickle creature that we have invented. Initially, freedom of speech protected us from our government’s silencing of its citizens—creating a discursive space in which we can openly discuss and disagree with government.

Now, a private company couches behind the freedom of speech amendment. Under free speech, Amazon defends its right to have published this book on pedophilia. Each customer should determine what he or she buys which negates the culpability of Amazon. Yet, the onslaught of negative reviews for this book were deemed inappropriate and removed. Amazon is not promoting free speech but free speech that protects the profits of Amazon. This interpretation of free speech blurs the lines between public sphere and private spheres. We hide behind the freedom of speech amendment when it suits our needs to make profit.

Even though I have spoken out against censorship, I believe more strongly in speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves. For the children suffering in silence, for the potential victims. I know this is hypocritical, but I would rather err on the side of protecting innocents than always presenting a cohesive whole ideology. I choose to support other booksellers until Amazon takes this book off its website. Yes, this is a major #amazonfail.