First, the Amazon affair. I'll start by saying I'm not giving the name of the book or the author. It's out there if you want to find it. But, as I said earlier in The Naked Truth, I'm not going to give this guy any more publicity than necessary to discuss the issue. The basic facts are that someone published through Amazon's DTP platform a book that supposedly told people how to avoid being caught committing pedophilia. I say supposedly because I haven't read the book and never will. Anyway, the reaction was fast and furious when news hit the Amazon boards and it wasn't limited to there. It hit facebook and then the internet and then national media. Demands were made for Amazon to remove the book posthaste. When Amazon didn't instantly do so, there were calls for boycotts.
What no one thought about when making the demands and going viral with them was the simple fact that it brought attention to a book that wouldn't have received it otherwise. The book went from unknown to the top 100 in paid e-books in a matter of hours. And all because of the very public demands for its removal. The author, if I remember correctly, was also to be interviewed on the Today Show. Talk about a lot of free press.
Then Amazon did take the book down. More press. The author is making the rounds saying he's sure the book will be back up soon. Who knows. Personally, I doubt it. At least if the book says what it's purported to say. Why? Because a book showing someone how to get away with the very heinous offense of pedophilia will be against the Terms of Service every author or publisher has to sign before publishing through the DTP platform.
But what worried me and a number of other people about this incident was the potential for more calls for books to be dropped from sales lists by Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other digital outlets. It's a slippery slope once started. And it soon appeared our concerns were valid. Within hours of Amazon removing the book, there were new threads popping up on the kindle boards demanding that other books be removed. People were actively searching the catalog to find books on subjects they thought offensive. PETA has since chimed in, sending Jeff Bezos a letter demanding books about dog fighting, etc., be removed from the catalog.
Anyway, to see more of my thoughts on this subject, check out the following posts:
- When Outrage & Good Intentions Backfire
- Update to When Outrage & Good Intentions Backfire
- And the Mob Mentality Continues
Edit: I found the general site. It is in the PubIt Help Board at the Barnes & Noble Community. Here's what the disclaimer supposedly says: "About Self-Published Content
Barnes & Noble receives content from many independent authors and publishers. If you find any content that is inappropriate, please report it to Barnes & Noble."
Witch hunt anyone?
The other major firestorm of the week came from James Frey and his Fiction Factory. That should be more like his sweatshop. I initially read about it here after being pointed to it by Pam Uphoff. My initial reaction, because I wasn't really awake, was that it wasn't that big of a deal. Then, as the coffee kicked in and I started reading the contract terms, my blood boiled. I won't go into it all right now. I detailed my opinion of what Frey is doing here. Suffice it to say that for the price of a short story, Frey et al are convincing writers to do outlines, rough drafts, rewrites -- requiring they incorporate ALL notes and comments -- for a new series of books. Books that may or may not bear that writer's name because, gee, Frey can decide what names to put under "author", including fictional names. For a whopping $250, the author does all the work and MAY get a modicum of credit for it. Oh, yeah, they might, MIGHT, receive 40% of any fees from the sale of the work IN ANY FORM -- but only after all sort of fees (most of which are unlimited) have been deducted. And if that isn't enough to get your blood boiling, Frey retained an irrevocable right to have the author do any and all sequels he sees fit. Notice, there's nothing saying the author can opt out. Basically, the author indentures himself to Frey for as long as Frey wants.
I could go on but I'll stop here. John Scalzi says it so much better in his post about the contract:
Writers: This contract would be appalling and egregious regardless of who was offering it. A story idea good enough for James Frey to sell to Hollywood would be good enough to sell to Hollywood without James Frey. Write your story, get an agent, and sell your work with your own name on it and all your rights to the work intact. It may take more time, but it will be worth it. Have more respect for yourself and your work than quite obviously James Frey will have.
So, any thoughts about this or the Amazon slippery slope?