Amazon could ban Hamlet ad for holding one thing

In order to get along we abide by certain standards like ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ and if you don’t abide you go to prison or death row. There will be repercussions after all for those of you refusing to abide by the rules. And, for better or worse, we live in a politically correct society, one in which people are easily offended-and we don’t want that do we. So organizations and businesses create standards to live by, hoping people will not get offended.

Amazon has standards for us writers who publish e-books on their site and they are entitled to do so. I’m sure they review their policies from time to time, but it is interesting to read what they will allow and what they will not.

Example:  Unacceptable books • Books glorifying or promoting the use of illicit drugs, drug paraphernalia or products to beat drug tests • Books with content that is obscene, defamatory, libelous, illegal, invasive of another’s privacy, or contains hate speech • Books with content that is threatening, abusive, harassing, or that discriminate or advocate against a protected group, whether based on race, color, national origin, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age or any other category.

No complaints from this corner. But let us move on to advertising on Amazon, what you can or can’t do.

Examples: Unacceptable ad content • Books with overtly religious or spiritual content • Books that advocate a specific political ideology, advocate for or against a specific political issue, or promote a specific candidate. Objective, educational or historical political content may be accepted • Foul, vulgar, or obscene language, including censored words that indicate foul, vulgar, or obscene language • Images of human or animal abuse, mistreatment, or distress • Images or titles glorifying or promoting the use of illicit drugs, drug paraphernalia or products to beat drug tests • Images or titles that are obscene, defamatory, libelous, illegal, invasive of another’s privacy, or contain hate speech • Images or titles that may be interpreted as threatening, abusive, harassing, or that discriminate or advocate against a protected group, whether based on race, color, national origin, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age or any other category. • Provocative imagery such as blatantly sexual prurient poses or poses that may be suggestive of sexual behavior, including partial nudity, excessive cleavage, or models in lingerie, underwear, or swimwear • Violent or disturbing images or titles. This includes excessive blood, injuries, mutilations, guts, corpses, and weapons being used in a violent or threatening manner.  

Keep in mind this is about ad content and ads should be somewhat clean and respectable. But for me, it seems almost puritanical to ban ‘models in lingerie, underwear or swimwear.’ If people get upset by a woman in a swimsuit, or for that matter, a man in a swimsuit, it says something about that person, something along the lines of unhealthy repression, and though I could go into more details, I may be banned for offending repressive Puritans.

And if people wanted to press the issue they can find something in all those no-no’s in books or cover art; it all depends on how picky they want to be because reading what Amazon says is unacceptable could be everything if you look closely enough.

But it is not a battle worth fighting; none of the ads I created had anything offensive except for the cover of Silent Murder, the knife on the one cover is acceptable on my Amazon page, but is not acceptable in advertising. While it appears to be a double standard, perhaps hypocritical, at the same time both Amazon and myself win.

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I can see their point in much of what I read in Amazon’s policies that they sent me and other writers. I may not agree with everything as I think they have gone to the extreme a bit on some things. For example my favorite No-No that actually got me to chuckle was the following: Skulls and bones. We do not accept images of realistic skulls that may frighten or upset customers. We do not accept images of skulls or bones that appear in or around a grave, or as an exhumed body.

A skull? Really where does it end.

So Hamlet holding the skull in the graveyard in which Hamlet says, “Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well Horatio . . .” is now forbidden as an ad image. 

Some things are just ridiculous. 

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