More on yesterday’s entry re Amazon selling race hate material. This story was first broken in 2013, and received some national media coverage, as a result of which (it is claimed, but I cannot confirm) that Amazon withdrew these items for sale, albeit temporarily. They seem to have sneaked back without any publicity.

Much of the response to the media coverage took the line that if these books aren’t illegal, then why shouldn’t Amazon sell them? Fair point, but there’s two qualifications on this. First, these books are illegal in some countries in Europe, most notably and obviously in Germany. Despite this Amazon will happily post these books to you irrespective of where you live. There was no “not for sale in Germany” warnings on the site for these books. So is Amazon breaking the law? Secondly, while you can buy many things aren’t technically or actually illegal, soft porn for example, the conditions in which they are sold are controlled by responsible sellers, if not by the law itself. So soft porn goes on a top shelf. Even Viz has a “not for sale to children” label. But Amazon ignores these rules. I just checked – even highly explicit content such as the Fifty Shades series contains no warnings about the nature of the content. With these “novels” at least you get reasonably accurate reader reviews – almost 2,000 of them! – but with the holocaust denial books the descriptions give no hint that what you are getting is racist bilge.

One final point. Amazon uses clever algorythms which trace what you buy and also which items you browse. Because of these searches Amazon is now convinced I am a neo-nazi, and keeps trying to sell me more of this garbage.