Amazon, the world’s dominant online distributor of books and e-books, censored a book about the Chinese virus from lockdown critic and former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson. Jeff Bezos and company gave Berenson a suggestion on how to adjust his approach: “Please consider removing references to COVID-19 for this book.” After widespread criticism of the company, Amazon reversed its decision and has agreed to publish Berenson’s e-book.
Berenson’s book, titled Unreported Truths About COVID-19 And Lockdowns Part 1: Introductions and Death Counts and Estimates, was to be the first in a series of short e-books about the coronavirus. The author planned to publish via Amazons’ Kindle Direct service, which allows authors to self-publish electronic books.
But Amazon said no. In an email from Amazon that the author published on Twitter, the online retail giant informed the author that the book “does not comply with our guidelines,” and that Amazon customers are being referred to “official sources” about the virus.
“Due to the rapidly changing nature of information around the COVID-19 virus, we are referring customers to official sources for health information about the virus. Please consider removing references to COVID-19 for this book.”
Oh fuck me. I can’t believe it. They censored it. pic.twitter.com/GfPEr7OiV2
— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) June 4, 2020
Berenson is well-known for his 2019 book Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness and Violence, which challenged the prevailing liberal orthodoxy that cannabis has little to no harmful effects. Berenson’s book argued that the drug is in fact linked to mental illness and violence.
In comments to Breitbart News, Berenson explained the topic of his now-censored e-book on the coronavirus, calling it “An introduction and a discussion of death coding, death counts, and who is really dying from COVID, as well as a worst-case estimate of deaths with no mitigation efforts.”
Berenson added, “I briefly considered censorship but assumed I wouldn’t have a problem both because of my background, because anyone who reads the booklet will realize it is impeccably sourced, nary a conspiracy theory to be found, and frankly because Amazon shouldn’t be censoring anything that doesn’t explicitly help people commit criminal behavior. (Books intended to help adults groom children for sexual relationships, for example, should be off-limits – though about 10 years ago Amazon did not agree and only backed down from selling a how-to guide for pedophiles in the face of public outrage.)”
“I have no idea if the decision was made by a person, an automated system, or a combination (i.e. the system flags anything with COVID-19 or coronavirus in the title and then a person decides on the content),” said Berenson.
“I am considering my options, including making the booklet available on my Website and asking people to pay on an honor system, but that will not solve the problem of Amazon’s censorship.”
“Amazon dominates both the electronic and physical book markets, and if it denies its readers a chance to see my work, I will lose the chance to reach the people who most need to learn the truth — those who don’t already know it.”
For updates on Berenson’s book and upcoming works, you can follow him on Twitter.
Following the publication of this article and widespread pressure on social media, Amazon reversed its decision and agreed to publish Berenson’s book.
Update — Added facts that developed following the publishing of this article as documented in a followup article.
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Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.