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Thursday Midday Links: Amazon Bows to Pressure & Bluefire Brings...

A day after Amazon released a statement stating that it would not remove an objectionable book containing what the self published author described as a way to be a better pedophile, Amazon has reversed its stance and the book is no longer in the catalog of self published Kindle titles.   The controversy reached mainstream with news reports on AP wire, CNN, and BBC.   As other news organizations have noted, Amazon still sells objectionable content concerning pedophilia and other illegal acts:

It is currently accepting pre-orders for the hardcover version of ‘I Am the Market: How to Smuggle Cocaine by the Ton, in Five Easy Lessons’ by Luca Rastello.

And in 2002, the United States Justice Foundation, a conservative group, threatened to sue Amazon for selling ‘Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers.’ That title is still available through Amazon.

Perhaps those concerned can voice their complaints loud enough to have even more books removed.   There are already one star reviews on the books by David Riegel, author of Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers, that started being posted yesterday.   In googling, I found that Amazon had removed another title regarding pedophilia in 2000 under pressure from Evangelical Christians, although it is offered for sale from secondary sellers on the site.    Oh well.   (I blame all the people who brought this up for my knowledge of the NMLBA’s existence. I could have lived without that but now I inflict it on the rest of you.)

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Bluefire App has been updated to allow for library rentals.   This means you can use your local digital lending library with Bluefire.   Basically, you download the digital book from your local library and then copy it over to iTunes and then sync.   It’s important to remember, though, that downloading an ePub book requires two steps.   First you download the “ASCM” file and then you double click on that file.   Your computer should open Adobe Digital Editions (or the Sony Reader Software if that is how you have it set up).   ADE will then download the actual book.    The book should be found in My Documents/Digital Editions folder.   I have a tutorial with pictures here as does Bluefire here.   Yay, Bluefire!

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New York Times will have a separate ebook bestseller list beginning in 2011 which means that authors like the Harlequin Presents authors who are routinely showing up on the USA Today list and the self published authors that are ranked high on Kindle might show up instead of others.   I suspect, however, that the ebook bestseller list will largely mirror that of the print list because frankly ebook reader tastes aren’t so different than digital reader tastes if the existing top selling lists at Amazon are any marker.   There will be one list for fiction and one for non fiction which leads me to wonder if there is going to be a future abrogation of format distinctions between hardcover, trade, and mass market and what that means for bookselling.

Further, given that Amazon has at least 50% of the market, if the Times list doesn’t track very closely with the Amazon list then its methodology will be put in question.   And if Times list is tracking digital books and Amazon does retain 50% of the market, what is the use of the Times list in the first place?

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Borders has partnered with a fulfillment company to offer free two day shipping for $79 AND free shipping on returns.   This is the cost of an Amazon Prime membership (which I have and   love).   Amazon offers Prime eligible shipping for things other than books but it does not offer free shipping on returns.   This is smart by Borders.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

40 Comments

  1. Julia Broadbooks
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 11:09:18

    Yes, that NMLBA thing is one of those things that sticks with you. It’s like trying to wash pine tree sap off of your hands: you scrub and you scrub, but there’s still a residue left behind.

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  2. Maddie
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 11:38:17

    I’m truly speechless, why would Amazon give the go ahead and sell this crap on it’s site?

    And to back down when people are righteously outrage, boggles my mind because last time I looked molesting kids is still illegal.

    I guess it’s all about the Benjamins, after all, because if people didn’t take noticed we all know that book would still be on their site for sale.

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  3. Ridley
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 11:44:35

    The real test of people’s constitutional convictions is when the subject matter is objectionable to them.

    Still find it amusing that books on bomb making are everywhere on Amazon, but no one cares. Blow up a building = NBD. Have sex with a minor = end of civilization.

    I’m not saying either one is a good thing to do, but it does seem hypocritical to freak out over potential sex but not potential death.

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  4. Tweets that mention Thursday Midday Links: Amazon Bows to Pressure & Bluefire Brings Digital Lending to iThings | Dear Author -- Topsy.com
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 11:47:31

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Karen Scott and Ferishia, dearauthor. dearauthor said: NewPost: Thursday Midday Links: Amazon Bows to Pressure & Bluefire Brings Digital Lending to iThings http://bit.ly/asgHrc [...]

  5. tricia
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 11:53:32

    I feel weird about the Amazon thing. I feel like it wasn’t too long ago that we were all upset that Amazon delisted a bunch of erotica and erotic romance–we called foul as a community. I DO see the difference between erotic romance and a how-to pedo guide, but I feel like this public outcry only gave the author more attention… and people will just find another way to buy the book.

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  6. ka
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 12:11:18

    @Ridley: I do care and would not purchase either book. Like those who protest at soldiers’ funerals or threaten to burn the Quran, the best remedy is to ignore them.

    I used to work at Hascom Field and ran during lunch. As I ran past the historical markers, I thought about the farmer-turned-founding fathers. Our democracy, even at 235 years old, is still adjusting in a world where some seek to deny basic human rights. I am thankful for living in freedom.

    Today is Veterans’ Day and I thank those who have served and sacrificed for my freedom. I’ll be attending a sunset service aboard the USS Missouri to remember those who left us too soon.

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  7. LG
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 12:32:14

    As much as I find the idea of a book about how to be a better pedophile very, very disturbing…I don’t agree with forcing Amazon to yank it and other books people object to. Those who want that kind of information will find a way to get it, regardless of whether or not the book is available, and those who find it distasteful won’t buy it.

    It’s kind of like how I feel about book challenges at libraries – the worst-case scenario, for me, is always the removal of the book from the library, no matter what the book is actually about. No one should be allowed to have their own ideas of what is objectionable or not objectionable dictate what others may read, in my opinion. If we do allow that sort of thing, where does it end? Tricia mentions erotica. I know of at least one court case involving adult manga.

    So, should there be a list of topics that may not be sold in Amazon or other places, or available in libraries? Who comes up with that list? And, although you may be part of a majority group that finds a particular topic objectionable, what happens when something on the list that the majority (or even just loud minority) objects to is something you enjoy?

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  8. W
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 13:10:13

    What happens when someone protests something that I find acceptable? I fight back with my own counter-protest and hopefully a sensible argument or two.

    I’m waiting to see the pro-child molestation protests that come out in support of the book. C’mon guys! Come out and defend this idea.

    What, no takers? Then I guess it is an idea that should crawl into a hole and die.

    And Amazon is a business, not a government agency or the law. If the majority of their customers don’t want to support a business that would produce and distribute information on how to molest children, well, I guess they need to listen to their customers. I don’t think that pro-molestation audience is quite big enough to drive up Amazon’s profit margins in the face of losing the anti-child molestation crowd.

    This is stupid. We are a society. We have to all live together, but we need some sort of moral standard for ourselves as a group.

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  9. LG
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 13:27:11

    @W – And when fighting back doesn’t work? When there are enough examples of situations where books were banned or removed for various reasons to justify removing or banning yet another book for a different reason?

    Also, please remember that reading about something or even thinking about something is not DOING that something. Yes, these things could be warning signs of future problems, but they don’t have to be.

    Not everyone has the same reasons for reading certain books – wouldn’t it be nice if, say, law enforcement purchased the book and used it to figure out better ways to catch pedophiles?

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  10. Ridley
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 13:51:52

    @W:

    Still, you’re okay with a wide selection of explosives cookbooks.

    Why is one crime okay to read about in the theoretical when the other isn’t?

    Why do you want to give a company, which you have no control over, the power to dictate reading material choices? What if the AFA sees this uproar as a weakness at Amazon and pressures them to delist m/m romance or pro-abortion literature? After all, Bezos is a known Republican donor. Will you support the business’ right to limit speech then?

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  11. Janet P.
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 13:53:49

    I am also uncomfortable with the Amazon thing. Heck, it wasn’t even really a book. It was a rambling mess. I’m not so much uncomfortable with Amazon making a business decision as I am with the outcry to pressure our government to enact censorship laws to now prevent certain books. Total overreaction?

    It has become increasingly clear to me lately over just how complacent we are becoming of our personal rights. Whew.

    ReplyReply

  12. pamelia
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 13:56:44

    @LG: So glad you made that point about law enforcement. I can’t say I agree with Amazon yanking the book either. Remember, there are a lot of people out there for whom homosexual content is just as bad in their minds and they think it should be just as illegal (in fact some sex acts between consenting adults are illegal in some states). And while I agree with the general sane consensus that pedophilia is far and away one of the worst of the worst crimes and as much as I LOATHE the idea that there are pedophiles out there and as much as I have that knee jerk “GET RID OF IT NOW” reaction to a book about a loathsome and terrible topic, I don’t see censorship as the correct response. I don’t know the answer to this one, but I can’t imagine Amazon’s profit margins were impacted either way by selling or refusing to sell that book. I doubt a tech savvy pedophile would seek out their resources in such a public way as buying them on Amazon since there is such a large underground community of them sharing/selling information and much worse. I guess I feel like the more we know about “the enemy” the safer we can be, so driving them farther underground? May make us feel more comfortable for the present, but it sure doesn’t make the problem disappear.

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  13. W
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 14:02:21

    Fight long enough, fight hard enough, and have a reasonable enough argument, and eventually other people will see things your way.

    That said, some people will never agree with you. Some books that don’t deserve to be banned will be banned. Good books will find defenders. I’ve seen it happen. I’m not seeing any defenders here, so that suggests to me, this is a book that isn’t worth the fight. We still have a long way to go on a lot of issues, but we have to find balance as a society.

    As far as stuff like this, this junk gets posted in dark little holes in the internet where those trying to prevent such things can find them and use them, and unfortunately those looking for such things can find them too. The law doesn’t go after them. That’s freedom of speech.

    Amazon doesn’t have to use it’s corporate power to distribute this. If Amazon wants to ban bomb making books, or cupcake cookbooks, heck! They are free to do it. They are a business and free to run their business as they see fit. If they get a large enough backlash (Hey, I like cupcakes!) that they feel it threatens A: Their corporate image, or B: Their bottom line, they change their policy.

    Clearly when searching the kindle store, and running across something that so grossly offends, it turns off a valid customer to the Amazon experience. That A: damages their corporate image more than the potential backlash of pro-molestation people, and B: It affects their bottom line.

    So I don’t blame Amazon, and as a free American, I’m willing to give them the freedom to run their business. If they ban something I object to, I’ll speak up there.

    He with the loudest wallet wins.

    I’m also not going to require Christian bookstores to carry books on how to best worship Satan under the guise of free speech, or require the sex toy and erotica shop down the street to carry a book proclaiming that masturbation will land you in the fires of Hell.

    And whether I’m in need of a new Bible, or a new story about a hot threesome in a barn, I’ll know where to look and not complain that I can’t get both in one spot.

    Amazon is the closest thing on the planet to being able to get anything in one spot, but it is still a store. It has to look out for the interests of the majority of its customers. If you are after something like this, go to that dark little hole, not the most prominent internet marketplace on the planet.

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  14. Miss Moppet
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 14:06:41

    Isn’t there a difference between controversial and illegal activity?

    Abortion is controversial. Child abuse is illegal.

    When I walk into my local bookstore I understand that I may find books on controversial topics which take the opposite view to mine.

    What I don’t expect to find are how-to guides for any kind of illegal activity, be that bomb-making, serial killing, bank robbery, tax evasion, or pedophilia.

    If I saw such a book on the shelf of a brick-and-mortar store I would complain at once to the management. Why should Amazon be any different?

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  15. W
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 14:09:12

    And for what it’s worth, I would not support any law that inhibited the ability to write whatever anyone wanted to write or arrested anyone for writing it.

    I’m just willing to let social evolution work certain things out in the open marketplace.

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  16. joanne
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 14:09:41

    .@Ridley: Ridley I absolutely get your point but the way you make it is a gross assumption about how others feel and the battles they are willing to fight. (no one has to buy a book on Amazon to build a bomb- just put the search in google and wham, there are all the instructions you need, for free)

    As for the rest of it: Pedophiliacs are sick fucks so I doubt very much they are going to pony up to the bar and spend money to find out how to make their victims happier. I’m inclined to think the purchases of this detestable book are either the author’s appalled family member/s or a professional in the field. I hope it was a law enforment agent/agency.

    We have laws now in the U.S. to protect children- we need to fund the agencies that enforce those laws and force our law makers into more dialog in the same way they were forced into looking at the gun laws. Will that protect all or any of the victims? Nothing ever will- but banning books and/or the selling of books has never been an answer.

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  17. justwondering
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 16:18:20

    Will Samhain, EC and other e-publishers be included on the bestseller list? I’d be curious to see if some of the titles would make the list.

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  18. Pat
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 16:47:17

    I think Miss Moppet makes an important point. There is a big difference between controversial (or even repulsive) and illegal. I do not see that instructions on how to commit a crime qualifies for first amendment protection any more than shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater does.

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  19. Keishon
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 18:52:39

    I can’t quite wrap my head around the need for a separate NYT list for digital books but okay.

    ReplyReply

  20. SAO
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 23:48:04

    I find the Amazon controversy an interesting harbinger of the world of self-pubbed e-books. We are removing layers of gatekeepers to publishing — agents, editors, publishing house, book wholesalers, bookstores. All these people have made choices about what gets published and sold.

    Some rules are still in existence. Harlequin, for example, imposes strict rules preventing any character with an awkward pregnancy to even consider abortion.

    The number of copies sold of the average self-pubbed e-book is so miniscule and the potential quantities of such books for sale so high that the cost burden of vetting them all will be high.

    As gatekeepers to publishing disappear, I’d expect more and more offensive crap to be available to the public.

    I presume that stores will develop a response. Some will occupy a niche where everything, even advice to pedophiles is available. Others will protect their customers from the stinking piles of doo-doo — and possibly references to homosexuality, atheism, and any sex other than the missionary position performed behind closed doors by a couple married for 10 years and eager to have a child.

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  21. EC Sheedy
    Nov 12, 2010 @ 01:40:44

    @Maddie:

    I don’t think the giant Amazon reads or vets any of the books it sells. I doubt they even knew they’d published this piece of garbage until the public disgust showed up on their cyber doorstep. I can see this happening again and again…

    I guess you could say it’s the dark side of being able to self-publish so easily. What I hope is that Amazon finds a way to effectively deal with it, and not provide a convenient distribution system for those who want to promote illegal activities. Anybody can write and publish whatever they want to, but that doesn’t mean *everyone* has to stock it, sell it, and make a profit off it.

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  22. Mina Kelly
    Nov 12, 2010 @ 04:48:50

    It does depend on where you are in the world, but while peadophilia may be illegal writing about it isn’t. I don’t know much beyond what I’ve read recently, but unless it contained illustrations I can’t see why the book would be illegal in and of itself. The Italian Job makes robbing Italy look like an entertaining caper, but no one is demanding Amazon stop selling the DVD because it’s promoting an illegal activity.

    I think W is right, though; as far as Amazon’s concerned it’s about losing customers. There are most customers likely to boycott them because of the book than likely to buy it, so financially it makes sense to drop the book. I haven’t seen the contract for self publishing through Amazon, but I’m willing to bet it includes a clause that allows them to drop anything like this (or an agreement from the author they won’t upload anything like this) to cover their backs in the first place.

    (Part of me thinks they’ve rather missed a trick by removing it. After all, Amazon would have tracked anyone who bought it, and that’s a list the police might have been interested in!)

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  23. Miss Moppet
    Nov 12, 2010 @ 05:09:37

    @Mina Kelly I’m not arguing that the book itself is illegal, but that no reputable bookstore should stock it, any more than they should stock Rape for Dummies or Drug Dealing 101.

    I think fiction and feature films are a different issue. I’m not arguing that Lolita should be pulled from the shelves.

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  24. Jackie Barbosa
    Nov 12, 2010 @ 09:48:05

    @Miss Moppet: Amazon sells Secrets of Metamphetamine Manufacture: Including Recipes for Mda, Ecstasy, and Other Psychedelic Amphetamines. So does Barnes and Noble, although Borders does not. That book has been in print and available for sale for years, yet no one has ever raised a stink over it.

    In other words, I really don’t think it’s the ILLEGALITY of the activity/information in the book that caused people to go crazy over this book.

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  25. Miss Moppet
    Nov 12, 2010 @ 10:02:28

    @Jackie Barbosa

    You may well be right. I can’t speak for what has made others react as they have – only for myself. My position is that Amazon shouldn’t be selling the meth book either. Others may disagree.

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  26. Jackie Barbosa
    Nov 12, 2010 @ 10:31:11

    @Miss Moppet: Maybe you should consider organizing a letter-writing campaign and call for a boycott of Amazon (and Barnes & Noble) if they don’t stop making that book available for sale. I would be very interested to see if you could get people to express even CLOSE to the level of outrage over the methamphetamine book (or The Anarchist Cookbook) that the pedophilia guide garnered within hours of its availability becoming known.

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  27. Miss Moppet
    Nov 12, 2010 @ 10:40:46

    @Jackie Barbosa

    I’m quite sure that you are right about that. I am not, however, about to change my mind simply because no-one else agrees with me.

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  28. Ridley
    Nov 12, 2010 @ 17:16:27

    The point is, Miss Moppet, that those crying for this book’s removal are not taking a principled stand, they’re reacting emotionally.

    Calling for this book’s removal on the grounds of potential future harm, while ignoring the numerous other books on drug cultivation, bomb making and so on is hypocritical.

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  29. Author On Vacation
    Nov 13, 2010 @ 12:43:39

    Hi, everybody.

    I agree with Ridley. My personal opinion is that a book offering guidance on committing a despicable and damaging crime: GROSS. However, I think the most prudent course of action is to invalidate the book by declining to purchase the book, read the book, or notice or acknowledge the book in any way.

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  30. EC Sheedy
    Nov 13, 2010 @ 16:56:31

    Yes, we can decline “to purchase the book, read the book, or notice or acknowledge” HOW TO GET AWAY WITH BREAKING THE LAW books. No doubt the majority of us wouldn’t want these books even as giveaways.

    Like everyone else I’m not supporting a book burning/banning, but I do support the show of disgust that made itself evident when a law-abiding bookseller chose to showcase and sell a self-help guide for the engaged or emerging pedophile. I, for one, am glad Amazon decided to change its corporate mind and pull the book from its cyber shelves. Good for them! I can see no social purpose served by a book purporting to help pedophiles physically and emotionally damage children in such a way as to avoid legal problems. (Or any other how-to *book* that openly aids and abets criminal or terrorist activity.)

    No, I have not read the how to be a better pedophile guide nor any other such books, so everyone can assume this is an uninformed judgement.

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  31. Moriah Jovan
    Nov 13, 2010 @ 17:06:32

    @EC Sheedy:

    when a law-abiding bookseller chose to showcase and sell a self-help guide for the engaged or emerging pedophile

    Actually, the denizens of the intert00bz showcased it. Before the brouhaha began, it had sold a grand total of 1 copy. Once everyone’s attention was brought to it, I’ve read it sold between 1,000 and 3,000 copies.

    So. Let’s do the math.

    1,000 copies x 4.99 – 30% = $3,493

    3,000 copies x 4.99 – 30% = $10,479

    to the author. In one day. I should be so lucky.

    This for a book that would have languished in obscurity had it been ignored.

    Now, it’s probably all over the torrent sites and the underground pedo community because they now know it exists.

    That’s teaching ‘em a lesson.

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  32. Anon
    Nov 13, 2010 @ 19:09:08

    I think it’s absolutely disgusting that some people are willing to let this book stay on Amazon.

    There is a world of difference between bomb making and having sex with minors. There is a reason why any such material is cause for imprisonment.

    It abuses the most vulnerable generation, our children. You can find bomb making anywere because there are lots of countries that have big militaries.

    Who is going to stand up for these children? Oh, you say it’s okay because there are bomb making books on Amazon. I’m sure that if enough people were to kick up a stink that would be gone too. But in a place where people believe might is right, that won’t happen.

    I think I may stop reading this site if this is the views of the readership. The day I condone any type of child molestation on any level – no matter if someone else points and says – oh look they have something just as bad so it’s okay — is the day I’m outta here.

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  33. Jane
    Nov 13, 2010 @ 19:25:42

    @Anon I’m not sure where “any such material is cause for imprisonment.” Do you have a statute or case law that you can point to that makes the writing itself illegal and “cause for imprisonment.”

    I’m not sure how allowing this book to die off in obscurity is not “standing up for the children.” Removing the book from Amazon in no way makes children more or less safe from pedophiles.

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  34. EC Sheedy
    Nov 13, 2010 @ 19:36:32

    Of course there are those attracted to the buzz, those who will want to see. Aren’t there always?

    So your logic is when a person perceives something as wrong or, to them, personally disgusting, they should shut up and let that perceived wrong find its true resting place? That it’s best not to air one’s view lest it encourage more sales?

    This is interesting to me.

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  35. Moriah Jovan
    Nov 13, 2010 @ 20:03:15

    @EC Sheedy:

    To me, the ballyhoo began because the subject matter is so disgusting that people recoiled, as people will do. It’s normal.

    However, instead of simply recoiling and saying, “This is horrible” and leaving it at that, it went to “that shouldn’t be ALLOWED” and “Amazon should remove it” and “that’s illegal” (which it’s not). That’s what I’m reacting to. That was the immediate default position of a lot of people, and I found it interesting that those of us who disagreed (either here or elsewhere) were somehow cast as condoning pedophilia. After all, Anon at #31 said:

    I think I may stop reading this site if this is the views of the readership. The day I condone any type of child molestation on any level…

    Thus, because some people didn’t agree on which principle was the higher one, those of us who chose speech are therefore condoning pedophilia? Really?

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  36. Maili
    Nov 13, 2010 @ 20:53:49

    @Anon:

    There is a world of difference between bomb making and having sex with minors.

    Sorry, but for me, there is no difference. Both affect children directly. The Oklahoma City bombing took quite a few toddlers’ lives, for instance. And there is a history of children losing their loved ones to bombings. Also, the children who lost their limbs or became severely disfigured, due to home-made land-mines, nail bombs and so on. So yes, IMO, there is no difference. Sorry if I derailed this topic with that.

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  37. Ridley
    Nov 13, 2010 @ 21:12:03

    @Anon:

    I think I may stop reading this site if this is the views of the readership. The day I condone any type of child molestation on any level…is the day I'm outta here.

    By your logic, you condone terrorism by not calling for the immediate removal of bomb making guides.

    As a guy named Ackbar once said, “It’s a trap!”

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  38. EC Sheedy
    Nov 13, 2010 @ 22:58:43

    @Moriah Jovan:
    I do not consider for a moment that you or anyone else on the Dear Author thread in any way condones pedophilia. Absolutely not.

    Discussions like this always tend to zig and zag in unexpected directions, and pedophilia is an incendiary topic–and deeply emotional. The pale man in the wrinkled T-shirt (he who wrote the book) caught on camera by CNN can sit in a room and write whatever comes to his mind. I don’t think anyone disputes that. Nor can anyone stop it.

    All I can say is that I am relieved Amazon took the book down. I just am. And I’m glad people kicked up enough of a fuss to make that happen. I just am. Do I think any of this outrage changed the world. Hm-m . . . I think yes, a tiny, tiny bit. I just do.

    But then I am not always rational. :-)

    The question now is: on which TV interview couch will this author sit to extend and continue his fifteen minutes of infamy?

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  39. Miss Moppet
    Nov 14, 2010 @ 06:08:40

    I thought the LA Times had the most sensible take on this:

    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-amazon-20101112,0,2969867.story

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  40. Brian
    Dec 20, 2010 @ 13:17:40

    The book’s author has been arrested…

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/12/20/florida.obscenity.arrest/index.html

    ReplyReply

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