Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Amazon Incident

The most interesting thing about The Amazon Incident (anybody reading more than a few months from now will have no idea what I'm referring to - and deliberately not explaining) is that that almost everybody who's written about it wanted to be shocked and offended. They clearly had no interest in what really caused this (which quite possibly had happened before with nobody noticing or affected titles that nobody felt worth raising a ruckus about). Even when the first reports appeared and nobody really knew what was happening it was pretty obvious that this was simply a glitch of some kind. But it's easy to see that didn't really matter from the people who pointed out how arbitrary and silly the exclusions were. They were actually proving this wasn't something deliberate but instead had already decided it was some odd kind of intentional political action and in true true-believer fashion wouldn't see the evidence in front of them. The most amusing, or sad, response has to be the self-flagellation of the former Soft Skull publisher who claims "the books that were de-ranked were de-ranked because it is always the outsider whose books get de-ranked and 'mainstream' society and the capitalist institutions that operate within it, whether my old company or Amazon, must self-police ruthlessly in order to guard against this kind of thing happening." Well so much for any political reality or reason: pump our super-egos full of steroids and welcome fear into our minds. And as Mr Soft Skull seems to have overlooked but so many other people pointed out (though again trying to show how unreasonable a deliberate decision would have been), large numbers of the books weren't outsider at all but published by huge corporations, written by famous, wealthy and award-winning writers, taught on campuses and even best-sellers.