Controversial author Michael Hoffman has had his latest book, Judaism Discovered, effectively banned by the “earth’s biggest bookstore,” Amazon.com. While the book may be ordered from third party vendors at inflated prices through the Amazon website, Amazon has refused to sell it to customers directly. This de facto ban was apparently put in place at the behest of a rabbi.
This seems to be part of an orchestrated campaign to silence Mr. Hoffman. Blogger.com (owned by Google) recently attempted to shut down his blog under false pretenses, while Google Video had previously pulled two of his videos. It would appear that Barnes & Noble has also recently stopped carrying the book.
This ban is all the more surprising since unlike Canada’s Chapters-Indigo chain, which has a history of banning books not liked by its owners, Amazon has earned a reputation for offering its customers a wide selection of controversial titles, refusing to succumb to pressure from special interest groups to blacklist publishers deemed politically incorrect. This is, to my knowledge, the only book banned by Amazon. Now that Amazon has stepped out onto this slippery slope, one wonders if it’ll be the last.
If you’re an Amazon customer, let them know that if they don’t lift this ban, you’ll be taking your business elsewhere.
UPDATE (09-08-07): It has come to my attention that Mr. Hoffman may not have been entirely honest about why Amazon refused to carry his book. I can no longer in good conscience recommend that people stop shopping at Amazon. For further details, read messages #21, 23, and 24 in the Michael Hoffman thread I started at VNN Forum.