Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said the company does not have plans to stop selling the antisemitic film that gained notoriety recently after Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving tweeted out an Amazon link to it
That makes me think. What's Amazon's and other companies policy on other hateful content? Does it sell copies of Mein Kampf, the entirely false The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and other abhorrent books? Maybe some of those are sold under the justification of historical relevance?
Answer: it does.
Would it be a desirable thing for book stores to start banning books? Recommending them is a different thing but I don't think it's particularly surprising that Amazon sells all kinds of books including objectionable ones. I don't think tech execs should be the ones deciding what people get to read.
Book stores are not libraries. They have never been expected to sell materials that the owners find objectionable. All bookstores have curated selections of books and do not sell everything.
Interesting anecdote. My wife, a librarian by education if no longer employed as one, told me once that the two copies of Mein Kampf that her library had were always reserved. There was a group of 3-4 people in her system that had it constantly on reserve, but never checked it out. Reserved books were kept behind the counter waiting for the individual with it reserved to pick it up. Reservations expired after two months and the next person in line would be sent an email saying it was ready for pickup and the previous person would be informed their reservation expired.
In the 6 years she was at that library it was never checked out and never saw the actual circulation shelves because it was always on reserve.
You are entirely correct and I agree that this is generally the case.
However, some behemoth companies (such as Amazon) have such a dominance in the market that their decisions can have large scale consequences that surpass the reach of governments and international organizations.
When that happens, it is valid for the public to place greater scrutiny on corporations.
The extent and content of such scrutiny is a matter for democracy to resolve.
In any case, it seems to me that the question was put forth in terms of what is considered to be "desirable", not what is legal. Many things that are known to be legal may be considered undesirable by some. Conversely, many things that are illegal may be highly favorable and desirable.
Come, be realistic. As big as Amazon is they have no way of preventing the entire market from ever selling any specific book. Even if they bought the copyright it would still be available via extralegal means.
I’m all for breaking up Amazon, but this notion that they should be required to sell everything lacks precedent and is frankly unreasonable.
I agree, but that is not the point.
A corporation like Amazon may not be able to completely prevent the circulation of a book, but its influence is big enough to impact society in a huge way. That is one of the reasons some believe it should be under much greater scrutiny.
Ultimately no corporation should hold a market to the degree Amazon does. However, given that such corporations exist, the demand for scrutiny naturally increases.
I feel like I don't understand what it is you are trying to say. Could you perhaps talk in more concrete terms?
I really don't see how Amazon should be held to any different standards than we do any other creative industry. The music and film industries, for instance, may be made up of different entities, but let's not pretend the major distributors don't at times act like a cartel. Yet we don't force them to publish every song or movie ever made.
When a company holds too much power, it is valid to hold them under more stringent scrutiny. If a smaller bookstore refuses to sell a certain book, it is possible that access to said book will remain largely unaffected. When Amazon drops some product or content, it is possible for said product or content to effectively disappear from mainstream public discourse, even though you can still buy it.
One is a regular company. The other, a de-facto monopsony.
The difference in scale justifies a different scope for what is and is not acceptable.
I mean, this may look like an irrelevant distinction if you have in mind the occasions when a corporation refuses to carry a book that you believe is abhorrent. Something that, maybe, should disappear from stores anyway. But what if something is removed for reasons that you find unreasonable and abhorrent? The precedent is worrisome.
 And the rest of the market is likely to follow suit.
I get what you're saying now, but it has yet to be demonstrated that Amazon has as much mindshare as you think they do. Or that the rest of the industry would drop a book because Amazon says they won't sell it. Or even that any company could theoretically get as powerful as you are suggesting. And even if Amazon did have enough sway to prevent anyone else from carrying a book, that doesn't mean that they have the power to erase the ideas the book represent within the context of public discourse.
If anything, Amazon is currently proving the opposite; they are getting to be so big that they are having a hard time denying business for items that would otherwise be disagreeable. It's not hard to believe that the managers at Amazon think of themselves as a library for the world and have a moral imperative to sell people books in spite of their objectionable content. Small booksellers are well known to reject books they find objectionable, so maybe this function between size and objectionable material is actually reversed?
It is not my place to say for certain exactly what effect a decision from Amazon can have regarding any specific product. However, I find it entirely reasonable to be cautious of whatever decision a company of that size makes, and the effect it can have. I find it puzzling why that seems hard to agree with, especially because the only thing I'm defending is that they require greater scrutiny, meaning "critical observation or examination". Don't you agree that Amazon's decisions must be critically observed and examined to a greater degree than, say, Barnes & Nobles?
 US$469.822 billion in revenue in 2021
 US$ 3.552 billion in revenue in 2021
More than anything I'm just having a hard time figuring out where the philosophy and reality mesh in this conversation. I'm not seeing the full scope of how you are logically connecting these ideas.
What exactly is the kind of scrutiny you suggest we apply in this situation?
Philosophically, maybe I'm being both a skeptic and anti-corporation. I'm not a big fan of black-and-white thinking. I'm also a left-wing. But I don't have a discernible agenda that I wish to advance here. I often reason only to clarify something for myself, hopefully others.
There are many examples of public pressure and scrutiny that leads publishers and bookstores to either take action by removing a book from their catalog or including them.
External pressure for removal is generally rooted in an understanding that either the author or the book itself is immoral, questionable, or inadvisable in some way. These movements are generally not judicial in nature, taking place largely on social media.
Actions toward the inclusion of books are generally the consequence of fandom. It is a part of the business that is usually not controversial and is seldom publicized.
Also, some books go silently out of print, and others are published and sold without pressure from a fanbase.
So, what people are already doing, I guess? I just think Amazon should have more eyes on them. Both on what they may remove, and what they may include on their store.
Physical bookstores have to curate because they have limited physical space. Given that Amazon can easily host every book in existence. Removing one is not a decision about best use of resources, but an intentional act of censorship.
Amazon is no more responsible for what you choose to read than the ISP that delivered it or the ereader which displayed it. Tech companies shouldn’t be babysitting the population. If something was truly so dangerous that it had to be controlled, it would be made illegal. But you’d find vanishingly few books so dangerous that they need to be banned.
In my opinion: no, absolutely not.
Ulitmately, for every Mein Kampf, there's a dozen positive things like the 1619 project that would be pushed for being banned.
Amazon already bans a lot of stuff, and allows a lot of other stuff, and I feel there are much better examples of misuse of power by Amazon than edge cases of awful books.
Freedom of speech and freedom of association also mean freedom not to speak and freedom not to associate with people who say certain things.
Amazon block access to many things. Obviously they block things that are illegal, but sometimes they block things that are legal -- as I understand it I can't buy a gun on US Amazon.
People who want Amazon to sell anything will sometimes say that Amazon is a dumb pipe - a modification of the common carrier argument. But Amazon isn't a dumb pipe, they make chooses all the time about what can or can't be sold. And all those things that are common carriers also blocked certain items.
Another argument might be about the 1st amendment or human rights frameworks (UNDHR, ECHR, UK's bill of rights which is clinging on against a government that wants to remove it, but will put in place protections for some freedom of expression (but not political protest)). I don't know much about us 1st amendment, but it applies to government and public officials. People say it's a good principle and Amazon is so big they should be mindful of 1FA rights. I'd need to know how far 1FA goes - standing outside city hall on a public sidewalk with a sign saying "fuck city hall" seems to be activity that's protected by 1fa but that will also get you scrutinised, maybe arrested, by law enforcement. But how about signs that deny the Holocaust?
I mention that because UNHDR strongly protects political speech, and so does ECHR. There's language in ECHR that places limits on freedom of expression (one example is to protect the rights (eg right to privacy) of others). Enforcing these rights is difficult.
A third regiment is a broader point about liberty: if it's illegal you can't do it, bit if it's legal you can Nd should do it, right up to the limits of the law, and this is how you protect your freedoms. The problem with this is that in a functioning democracy we want criminal law to be used as a measure of last resort for the clear, bright line, offences. There are things that are clearly criminal behaviours, a large borderline, and then clearly lawful behaviours. We do not want to criminalise people unless we have to. Of course, there are lots of problems with this approach!!!
(Apologies for typos, I'm on mobile and had a chemo infusion today and my hands are struggling)
Related AJC article: Who Are the Black Hebrew Israelites?
This link makes me think the background to that issue is too complex for me to have an opinion.