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Amazon Pulls Controversial E-Book After Consumer Complaints

Sale of self-published book about pedophilia launched threats of boycott from blogosphere and social media sites.

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Following thousands of angry comments and threats of consumer boycotts before its busiest shopping season, Amazon.com on Thursday pulled a controversial self-published e-book on pedophilia from its virtual shelves.

The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover's Code of Conduct, by Phillip R. Greaves II, began selling about two weeks ago, but word quickly spread across Facebook and Twitter. Initially, Amazon said it would continue to sell the e-book on the grounds of free speech. After people posted about 3,000 comments, the company removed the book and deleted "more than 100 negative reviews," the site said.

"[While we] do not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, we do support the rights of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions. Amazon.com believes it is censorship not to sell certain titles because we believe their message is objectionable," the company said in a statement.

But it may be too late for some customers.

"I am canceling my Amazon Visa card and no longer spending the hundreds of dollars yearly on this site. I suggest others do the same," said one Amazon site post.

The timing could perhaps not have been worse for the business' public relations team, coming as it did just after Amazon's announced acquisition of Diapers.com, an online retailer of baby care items.

"While our parent company has been purchased by Amazon.com we have NO control over what is sold on their site. If there are any complaints or concerns please send them to Amazon.com," Diapers.com posted on its Facebook wall, apparently in response to the large percentage of Facebook fans who had expressed anger and plans to no longer buy from Diapers.com or its new parent company.

Amazon's content guidelines prohibit "The upload, download, or transmission of any Content that is unlawful, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, indecent, lewd, harassing, threatening, harmful, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, abusive, inflammatory, or otherwise objectionable."

This is not the first time Amazon has been embroiled in a case involving a pedophilia book. In 2002, the United States Justice Foundation contacted Amazon.com regarding its sale of "Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers," by David L. Riegel.

"While one might be initially inclined to declare that Amazon.com has a First Amendment right to promote whatever it wishes, the reality is that the material being promoted by you, for commercial gain, is obscene under relevant community standards and should not be made readily available to children for any reason. To wit, the above referenced book's description has reader reviews, which include admitted pedophiles praising the concept of pedophilia and pederasty, and actual acts of pedophilia and pederasty, as expressed in Riegel's work," wrote Richard Ackerman, litigation counsel, at the USJF.

Amazon lists Understanding Loved Boys, as well as other Riegel books such as Could They Have All Been Wrong? and We Were Not Abused.

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