Amazon has stirred up quite the controversy. Some is the result of the world we live in. But much of it is its own doing. Amazon’s online bookstore was selling copies of the book “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure”. When someone posted a blog asking how they could do such a thing, their response was:

“Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions.”

Let’s admit that it is seems harder today than it has ever been to determine morals and right from wrong. And it must be harder still for to determine what pieces of literature are acceptable and which should be censored. After all, some of the greatest literature ever written has been banned at one time or another.

But let’s also admit that certain things smell, well, let’s say odious enough to know that they aren’t acceptable. Period.

And speaking of smelling bad, Amazon’s stated high principles smell to high heaven. After all, Amazon was accused last year of removing books with gay and lesbian themes. They didn’t seem to have a problem then of censoring materials. That is, until boycotts were threatened. It didn’t take long for the books to reappear. Amazon blamed a cataloging error for that one.

Second, it’s funny how their belief in the right of people making their own purchasing decisions vanished when it became apparent that those purchasing decisions weren’t going to include Amazon.

Let’s not be fooled — principles were never involved in either of these cases. Money was. And we understand that  because Amazon is a business. And in a business like Amazon’s, this can be hard to do when you’re bound to make some group unhappy depending on what you do or don’t do.

But a business, and a brand, needs to be built on a set of principles and actions that people can believe and trust. Anything less makes you look like a greedy liar.

So how Amazon get out of its mess? It doesn’t. It would have been smarter to avoid it by learning their lesson last year and establishing a policy on what books it will or won’t include on its shelves, and how those decisions are made. And then posting it clearly on their site. I checked out their site today, and there wasn’t a hint of it on their home page.

As for me, at the very least, my Kindle is going to be placed on a shelf for a good, long while. I might even exercise my right to make my own purchasing decisions — elsewhere.