Amazon has begun removing books that fall outside the primary viewpoint of its executives and I assume employees. They basically came out and said “we do what we want and find this offensive; we don’t have to tell you why specifically.” (I cannot find the statement itself on my work break this morning, so I could be off.)

This is concerning. No matter your opinion on the book that was removed, the fact is that’s a pretty open ended statement. People get offended by different things, even people ostensibly on the “same side”. Monty Python no doubt greatly offends one left-wing Amazon employee while another left-wing employee loves it a lot, for instance. I assure you that there is a variety of offensiveness on display among Amazon’s indie authors. If it can offend a sense- aesthetic, moral, whatever- it is present there.

On top of that, the author of that removed book has resources to find workarounds. Most indie authors don’t. Amazon dominates the reading market. The best way to reach readers is through them. If Amazon comes for your tiny little novel and this endeavor is largely just a dream you’re trying to make real, a hobby you pay taxes on, what other option is there? It’s intimidating.

I know the response is that “they won’t bother with the unimpressive likes of you.” Which is presently true. I made less than $60 on my books last year. I’m nobody, and frankly, but for money, I am content with that. But the likes of me is a lot easier to crush utterly than someone established in some way and I’m not greatly worried, but I do see a concern. I was bullied some in middle school. People who like to crush others aren’t looking for a challenge. They like the act of crushing and softer targets are much more appealing because it’s easier to crush them.

There are alternatives. I like, in a technical way, the way Amazon does most things. I’d rather not try to hunt down a less optimized, less profitable alternative. I’m not writing things that I think will offend anyone, but the rules seem to move a lot and I’m busy making ends meet at my day job. But I worry a bit.

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