Saturday, January 21, 2023

Has Someone Discovered a New Way of Censoring Books?

As I mentioned recently, Amazon-KDP has for the second time shut down my account, which means that my self-published books are mostly no longer available. The exceptions I know about are the Kindle of The Machinery of Freedom, which was put up on Amazon by my agent not by me, the print copy of Legal Systems Very Different from Ours, which I put up on Barnes & Noble the first time this happened, and any kindles that Amazon hasn't yet noticed and taken down.

Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action, as we are informed by the villain in one of the James Bond books. It is only twice so far, but I am wondering if it may be more than a glitch in the Amazon software.

Suppose you want to block publication of a book self-published on Amazon. You complain to Amazon that there is something wrong with the book, that it contains pornography or pirated content or something else they would object to. You get a dozen or two of your friends, possibly people who share the views that make you dislike the book, to send in similar complaints. Amazon, working on a very large scale, cannot afford to have competent human beings look at such complaints, so instead they have their systems programmed so that if they get enough complaints about one book they automatically cancel the author's KDP account, sending him some vague and invented reasons. If the author complains enough, in particular if he finds some way of speaking to a human being at Amazon, they restore the account.

At which point you send them some more invented complaints and they do it again.

It's only a guess, but it seems possible. If it keeps happening I plan to move all of my self-published books to Barnes&Noble, which seems to be the next best place to publish them.


Anonymous said...

"To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness." -- Oscar Wilde in The Importance of Being Earnest

I don't know if he was first, but there are a lot of variations.

Rohan said...

This is a pretty common technique these days, especially in video games.

Here's a reddit post (posted today) discussing how crafting cartels are abusing it to preserve their oligopolies: