Amazon Refuses To Publish First Cornish-Language Ebook
from the there's-a-word-for-that dept
As we’ve noted before, Amazon is beginning to wield considerable power over the entire publishing chain. The past teaches us that as successful companies gain near-monopoly powers, their arbitrary decisions become more problematic. Here’s an unusual example of that, pointed out to us by @IndigenousTweet via @MLBrook:
Diglot Books Ltd has today been told that Kindle Direct Publishing will not publish their bilingual children’s picture book Matthew and the Wellington Boots because it is written in Cornish.
The book which was released for St Piran’s Day earlier this month has been successfully launched on the iTunes platform, but will not be available to Android or Kindle Fire users because “the book is in a language that is not currently supported by Kindle Direct Publishing.”
Fair enough, you might think — if Cornish uses some weird alphabet not supported by Amazon, there’s not much to be done. Except that’s not the case:
The Cornish language which uses exactly the same alphabet as the English language has been on the rise since its recognition as a living language in 2002 under the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, and is now spoken fluently by several thousand people.
That is, no special characters are needed, as the Cornish Wikipedia’s page on the language demonstrates, so there is no technical reason for Amazon not to publish the book. Clearly, this is just an arbitrary decision on the company’s part, one that it is essentially impossible to appeal against.
As the press release from the publishers quoted above notes, Diglot Books were able to use iTunes to offer their ebook instead. Some might say this is a case of out of the frying pan into the fire, since in the past Apple too has shown itself inflexible in terms of what it will and won’t accept. Had Apple refused to carry the title for whatever reason, it’s arguable that the Cornish language, still struggling to re-establish itself after dying out a couple of hundred years ago, would have suffered as a result of this lack of access to the main ebook distributors.
Promoting Cornish may not be high on everyone’s list of priorities, but Amazon’s refusal to publish the first ebook in the language provides another worrying example of how it is failing to use its increasing global power responsibly.