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'Pedophile's Guide' stirs Amazon controversy

November 10, 2010 |  2:15 pm

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A self-published book that has made its way to Amazon's cyber-shelves is causing some to call for its removal; others have gone even further and are calling for a boycott of the online retailer.

The book, "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover's Code of Conduct" by Phillip R. Greaves II, is available as an ebook in the Kindle store. The self-published book is described, with misspellings, by the author in the product description on the site:

This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian rules for these adults to follow. I hope to achieve this by appealing to the better nature of pedosexuals, with hope that their doing so will result in less hatred and perhaps liter sentences should they ever be caught.

On Twitter, the best way for lots of people to raise their collective voices quickly, users have called for Amazon to remove the book. Author and blogger Kristen Welch tweeted, "Dear Lord, @amazon Do you really want the force (a.k.a MOM BLOGGERS) boycotting you? Remove this book," linking to the book's page. Others went ahead and called for a boycott; a typical post came from John Sutton in the U.K., who wrote, "Not buying anything from Amazon until this appalling title is removed," linking to the book's Amazon page and attributing the idea to "lots of people." 

The ebook remains for sale on Amazon's site; Amazon has not returned the Times' request for official comment. A commenter on Business Insider posted what they say was Amazon's response, which has been widely circulated. That statement reads: "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."

Amazon has not always been such a careful supporter of controversial content on its site. In April 2009, there was an outcry when hundreds of books -- many of which had adult or gay-themed content -- disappeared from Amazon's search results. "Rubyfruit Jungle" by Rita Mae Brown; "Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic" by Alison Bechdel; "The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1" by Michel Foucault; "Bastard Out of Carolina" by Dorothy Allison (2005 Plume edition); "Little Birds: Erotica" by Anais Nin; and "Becoming a Man" by Paul Monette, which won the 1992 National Book Award, were among the books that were de-listed from the site. The company attributed the disappearance to a "glitch."

Amazon is a commercial site and can, when it comes right down to it, sell whatever it likes. Selling "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover's Code of Conduct" might be meant to support the free flow of information. Certainly some book vendors have made it their business to deal in the extremes of free speech -- Amok Books, once located on Vermont Avenue in Los Feliz and catering to a specific and slightly twisted clientele, was dedicated to stocking books that pushed the limits of speech, taste and decorum.

However, that has never been Amazon's model. The massive company may simply have a few kinks to work out when it comes to vetting which self-published ebooks get to its Kindle store. Was anyone paying attention when "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure" was made available on Oct. 28?

People are now. Two hours after Techcrunch posted news of the ebook on its site, the $4.95 ebook went from a sales ranking of 158,221 in the Kindle store to 5,668.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Image: Screenshot of "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure" for sale from Amazon.com.

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