Monday, January 22, 2007

To: Jeff Bezos, CEO,

To: Jeff Bezos, CEO,

As longtime Amazon customers, we are deeply disturbed by your treatment of Jimmy Carter's important new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

Under the "Editorial Reviews" heading – a space normally used either for the publisher's own description of a book, or for short, even-handed summaries from listing services such as Booklist and Publishers Weekly – you insist on running the complete, 20-paragraph, 1,636-word text of a review unabashedly hostile to Carter's viewpoint. You have refused to add information shoppers should have in evaluating this review: the fact that the reviewer, Jeffrey Goldberg, is a citizen of Israel as well as the United States, and that he volunteered to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces, for which he worked as a guard at a prison for Palestinian detainees. And you have refused to balance his negative review by giving comparable space to a favorable assessment of the book, even though positive reviews by qualified experts have appeared in many reputable publications.

Because giving so much space in this location to such a negative review is so unusual – if not unprecedented – for Amazon, and because you have refused requests from many customers that you take a more balanced approach, we can only conclude that you are deliberately trying to discourage shoppers from ordering the former President's book.

This is contrary to Amazon's own interests as a bookseller. More important, it's also contrary to the interests of understanding, peace, and justice for all parties to the Israel/Palestine conflict

We are not interested in supporting a corporation that uses its power in the marketplace in such a biased and unconstructive way on such an important issue.

Accordingly, if you do not, by Jan. 22, remove the Goldberg review, move it to the more appropriate "See all Editorial Reviews" page, or restore a semblance of balance by giving comparable space and prominence to a more positive evaluation of Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, we the undersigned pledge to:

1. Stop shopping at;

2. Completely close our accounts on your service; and

3. Encourage our friends, family, and associates to do likewise.


The Undersigned
Tell Amazon to Treat Carter's Book Fairly Petition
(via Arne Hoffmann)

1 comment:

areopagitica said...

thanks for drawing my attention to this. I'd read neither the book nor the review. I think there is a place for antagonistic reviews (and Amazon does, I believe, commission reviews which give the reviewer a free hand). Nor do I have any sense that presidents and ex-presidents should be protected.

I've since looked first at which doesn't include the review you mention (and which gives the book five stars as well as selling it at a huge discount). At I see it is now one of two reviews and that there's an interview with Jimmy Carter too. This may have changed since your post (even in response to the petition).

I take the point about length of reviews and where they are included and can see that a summary with a link to the whole review might be helpful. Alternatively more mainstream reviews with a variety of viewpoints might help.

Obviously facts about a reviewer's affiliations and loyalties are helpful but I think in this case they're broadly evident from the tone of the review.

Obviously this is a British perspective (one among many) and other contributors to Areopagitica might not agree.

I'll try to keep watching your interesting blog.