Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Disturbing Development

     Apparently, Amazon has been deleting reviews of the books of conservative and libertarian writers. At any rate, reviews are disappearing some time after they were posted and noted by the books’ authors. Amazon has declined to explain the phenomenon to the affected writers.

     It appears that yet another front in the political wars has just been opened.

     If you’re an indie writer, as I am, reviews are a precious, irreplaceable marketing tool. A bevy of positive reviews will help to sell a book better than any other tool in the indie writer’s kit. While it can’t be traced directly to a decline in revenue, the loss of reviews certainly imperils future sales. So it’s understandable that a writer who sees his book’s review count decreasing would be concerned.

     Mind you, I have no idea whether reviews are also disappearing from books written by persons on the Left. I’ve heard nothing about it. But if the reasons are political, it’s an ugly trend.

     You’d think that Amazon, which has as much interest in selling books as the writers who market them there, would be averse to such a phenomenon. A private company is supposed to care strictly about the bottom line, right? Profit and loss rule the corporate boardroom, right? But there have been other developments, analogous to this one, that suggest that that’s not always the case. At any rate, profit and loss are abstractions; different people conceive of them differently, and not always in dollars-and-cents terms.

     Alternately, Amazon might have been infiltrated, as have many other companies, by the SJW set – and those are folks whose highest priority is denying the Right a platform. Given that Amazon is by far the largest online retailer of entertainment of all sorts, it’s obvious that the Left would regard it as a juicy target. So the probability that Amazon has been under attack from within is high. The probability that some infiltrators have gotten inside and are laboring to warp the company’s practices is just as high.

     Disturbing indeed. As Amazon is without a significant competitor in the eBook retailing business, it has ugly implications for the market for fiction packaged that way.

     It would be easy to conceive of this as a problem specifically for writers on the Right. It isn’t that alone. It’s also a problem for readers hungry for such a writer’s variety of fiction.

     Good fiction is not tied to one’s politics. Neither need it display the writer’s political orientation. I’ve enjoyed the works of many writers whose politics is left-liberal; Ursula LeGuin and Lois McMaster Bujold come to mind at once. But these are good writers; their stories are good ones, well told. Their politics is irrelevant to their storytelling ability, and to my ability to enjoy what they write.

     It is shameful that anyone should hope to disadvantage a writer, and those who have enjoyed or could enjoy his work, simply because of his politics. But in our take-no-prisoners political milieu, it’s all too thinkable that persons to whom politics is everything would endeavor to do so.

     For a long time, persons uninterested in the quality of a book have “reviewed” it according to the (perceived) political bent of the author. Most such “reviewers” hadn’t even read the book in question. That was bad – bad enough that Amazon tried to remedy it part way with the “Verified Purchaser” tag, But against a movement from inside Amazon, quite likely no remedy will be offered.

     Amazon’s standing in the eBook market makes this an urgent problem. Does anyone have any ideas about a corrective the indie-writer community could implement, whether at Amazon or elsewhere?

1 comment:

PopRock said...

As an avid reader of over 50 yrs of almost everything but romances,I have noticed a disturbing trend of the vanishing white male hero.He has disappeared,to be replaced by female heroines of great strength,bravery and tactical acumen that they have seemingly been born with.I have even read stories where teenaged girls are leading groups of older men(some military) into raids and battles.It puzzles me as to where a 13 to 17 yr old American girl would garner this type of bravery,skill and leadership ability(not to mention toughness).My experience as a very active highly awarded police officer with over 25 yrs on the streets of a major American city has never led me across the path of any females as being portrayed in the American fiction written today.Not just 1 or 2 but almost every (action) book today follows the same predictable path.....just sayin