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Amazon removes 'Pedophile's Guide,' remains mum

November 11, 2010 | 11:55 am

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Amazon.com has removed the ebook "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover's Code of Conduct" by Phillip R. Greaves II from its Kindle store, after an outcry against the title spread across the Internet on Wednesday.

Initially listed on Oct. 28 for $4.79, "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure" came to the public's attention Wednesday after a post on the popular blog Techcrunch. Calls for an Amazon boycott on Twitter and Facebook rapidly emerged.

Those calls were widely covered by media outlets, including TV's Dr. Phil. Google news currently picks up more than 1,000 articles discussing the book's title.

That major media attention makes Amazon's response all the more puzzling. Initially, the online retailer told Techcrunch that it would not remove the book from its store, adding, "Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions."

Yet in the late-night hours Wednesday, Amazon quietly removed the book from its site. It did so without making a public statement, or posting anything on its site regarding the book's presence or its removal. The online retailer has not returned requests for comment.

The removal of "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure" will satisfy those swearing to boycott Amazon, but the company has failed to address the key issue. Did the book appear for sale on its site as an act against censorship -- and if so, is it censorship to take it down? Does the company have a solid policy on what it will and won't sell?

While the criminal act of sex with children is unsupportable, it is unsettling that the company stated a policy and then acted swiftly against it. Can voices raised in objection to any controversial  book cause its removal from Amazon? What about self-determination for Tibet, or books that discuss abortion, or evolution?

Amazon is a major part of the publishing landscape. Exactly where it stands, however, is hard to discern.

 -- Carolyn Kellogg

Image: A screen capture of Amazon.com's Web page that formerly sold "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure," taken Thursday.

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