Editor’s Note: Amazon informed Berenson on Thursday afternoon that it would carry his book on the coronavirus pandemic. Berenson had attempted to publish the manuscript via Kindle Direct Publishing. This article has been updated accordingly.
An Amazon spokesperson told National Review, “This book was removed in error and is being reinstated.”
Amazon backtracked after initially refusing to distribute former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson’s book on the coronavirus pandemic.
Berenson, who covered the pharmaceutical industry for the Times from 1999 to 2010, has been an outspoken critic of models used by epidemiologists to predict the course of coronavirus outbreaks in the U.S. He has also criticized the resulting lockdowns that were imposed across much of the country to prevent the pathogen’s spread.
“Your book does not comply with our guidelines,” Amazon informed Berenson in a message. “As a result we are not offering your book for sale.”
Berenson proceeded to point out that Amazon currently sells The Anarchist’s Cookbook, which provides instructions on building explosives, and The Unabomber Manifesto: Industrial Society and Its Future, written by Ted Kaczynski.
Berenson attempted to release the book via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, which allows users to upload and sell manuscripts as ebooks. The company site offers tutorials on how to self-publish, offering quality guidelines for writers.
Amazon has since the onset of the pandemic been removing books containing coronavirus conspiracy theories, although it isn’t clear if there are public guidelines for which information on coronavirus is fit to sell through the company.
“As a bookseller, we provide our customers with access to a variety of viewpoints, including books that some customers may find objectionable,” the company states in its publishing guidelines. “That said, we reserve the right not to sell certain content, such as pornography or other inappropriate content.” Amazon also reserves the right to remove books if they provide a “poor customer experience.”
Amazon has entered the publishing business to become the largest bookseller in the U.S., controlling about 50 percent of the printed book market and over 75 percent of ebook sales. The company boasts its own publishing house and over 10 million subscribers to its ebook subscription service.
“They aren’t gaming the system,” literary agent Rick Pascocello told the Wall Street Journal in 2019. “They own the system.”