Author thwarts Amazon digital book burning: Coronavirus book now back on shelves
06/10/2020 // Michael Alexander // Views

A book criticizing the perceived overblown government reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic has put its author in the middle of a controversy after e-commerce giant Amazon initially rejected its publication.

Written by novelist and former journalist Alex Berenson, the book, “Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns: Part 1,” not only expresses skepticism regarding the effectiveness of government-mandated lockdowns, but also pushes a belief that the deadliness of the disease – which has claimed well over 400,000 lives worldwide – has been overstated.

This controversial take, according to Berenson, is what led to his book being rejected by Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon’s self-publishing arm.

According to Berenson, who first worked as a reporter for the New York Times, his book was scheduled to be published on Amazon on June 3rd.

Berenson, however, in an interview with Fox’s Tucker Carlson, said that he soon woke up to an email from the online retail giant, informing him that they would not push through with its publication and sales.

"They just sent an email saying something like… it didn't conform to their standards. They were encouraging people to use official sources about COVID-19," Berenson said.

Berenson then posted a screenshot of the email on his Twitter account, admonishing Amazon for allegedly censoring his book.

Replying to Berenson’s original post, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk called out Amazon for their decision, calling the situation "insane."


"Time to break up Amazon. Monopolies are wrong!" Musk tweeted, tagging Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Amazon would later change course, noting in a statement to Business Insider that Berenson’s book was only removed in error and would, in fact, be reinstated on its online shelves.

According to Amazon, the company’s decision to greenlight the sale of Berenson’s book was not due to Musk’s intervention.

The company, however, did not apologize directly to Berenson.

"They've said publicly, but not to me, that they made a mistake. You know, people can judge that for themselves," Berenson said in his interview with Tucker Carlson.

Berenson, in his interview, noted that Amazon’s mistake was “picking on somebody or trying to censor somebody who happened to have a big enough megaphone to shout back.”

As of press time, Berenson’s book is part of the online retailer’s Top 100 Books, where it has secured a spot at the 13th place. It is also number two on Amazon’s Viral Diseases and Communicable Diseases categories.

"The booklet is selling incredibly well right now. And I think that's because people really want information that they're not getting," Berenson said, adding that his book is “all facts, all data.” (Related: Scientists increasingly say coronavirus was created in a lab.)

There's no conspiracy theories in there," Berenson added, noting that his book "has information people need and they seem to want that."

Both Berenson and Musk have pushed for skepticism in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic caused by the Wuhan coronavirus, with Berenson noted for saying that mainstream media outlets seemed “committed to painting as bleak a picture of coronavirus as possible.”

A former investigative reporter who covered the pharmaceutical industry beat, Berenson has since made a name for himself as an author of spy novels, as well as non-fiction books. His debut novel, “The Faithful Spy” received an Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best First Novel in 2007.

Sources include:

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