Holding Booksellers Accountable

Jennifer, one of my best and wisest (and funniest and prettiest) friends, recently wrote asking me to consider sending a letter to the owners of Amazon and ChaptersIndigo. She told me that Peter Sotos, a convicted pedophile and promoter of child pornography, has published a new book that contains images and the story of Masha Allen, without her consent. While writing about someone without their consent is not a new idea, Allen is the five-year-old girl adopted from Russia by a man who sexually abused and molested her for five years. Her story is one that tears your heart apart: abandoned to a Russian orphanage, “saved” by an American man, molested nightly by said same man, and filmed and promoted to be an Internet child porn star. With an undeniable human spirit that only few of us possess, Allen beat the odds and saw the ogre sent to prison. In an effort to help other children who are victimised in such a manner, and to put some sort of stop on child pornography downloading, Allen appears before Congressional hearings and tells her story on talk shows. I found Nancy Grace’s broadcast interview with Allen and others helpful and disturbing.

Apparently, “Show Adult,” Sotos’ new book published by Creation Books, graphically describes Allen as a “child pornography star.” Please. And Yuck. The three words presented together illustrate exactly what is wrong with the entire situation.

While I hate to get into the quagmire of book banning, and feel a bit uncomfortable when I have not/will not read the book, I am also a firm believer in socially responsible media. That includes book publishing and distribution. Most censorship issues fall into areas of grey-ness, but for me, child pornography is a black and white matter. Any person who tries to profit off the heinous crimes against the powerless deserves to be quashed. Full stop.

It matters not to me that Sotos and his publishers mask the book in psychological theory and behaviourist methodology.

Jennifer is right. We need to let the big booksellers know that selling this book is an irresponsible thing to do. (Most independents have enough sense, I think, to see that facilitating the process of child porn distribution is not helpful to their business and does not one thing to make this world a better place.) I’ll begin by writing to Jeff Bezos at Amazon.com (bezos@amazon.com). After all, he’s the head dude who in the beginning posted only negative reviews of Jimmy Carter’s Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, and then listened to customer demand for fairer treatment. Jennifer also recommends writing to Heather Reisman, President, Chapters/Indigo (hreisman@indigo.ca) and Susan Dayus, Canadian Bookseller Association (sdayus@cbabook.org). I didn’t find the book listed on the Chapters/Indigo website, which may mean that Chapters/Indigo have already heard the pleas. Alternately, you might simply send a note to the Amazon.com customer service, or the Chapters/Indigo online helpdesk.

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2 thoughts on “Holding Booksellers Accountable”

  1. In what genre will Chapters possibly be able to slot “Show Adult” and equally disturbing “If I Did It”? I’m all for getting people reading books again, but let’s leave it to the Harry Potters rather than the sick and deranged, shall we?

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