INDEPENDENT AUTHORS’ DEPENDENCE ON BIG TECH: CATEGORIZATION AND GOVERNANCE OF AUTHORS OF COLOR ON AMAZON
Keywords:Platforms, Algorithms, Moderation, Amazon, Publishing
AbstractDigital book publishing platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP are often lauded for enabling independent authors unconnected to established publishers to enter the book industry. Despite the appellation, independent authors are not completely autonomous. Book publishing on digital platforms is intensely mediated by the technology companies on which authors rely to publish and disseminate their work. This paper explores the ways in which Amazon KDP undermines the independence of Black authors through its categorization and content moderation systems. The critical framework for this research combines media and platform studies with publishing studies through the application of an ecology model that analyses the technological, economic and socio-cultural contexts in which books and authors circulate online. (van Dijck, 2013). This paper uses a mixed-methods approach consisting of interviews with authors of color and website analysis that collected metadata from Amazon’s Web API. This paper argues that Amazon perpetuates the discrimination Black authors face within the traditional publishing industry through its technological systems. Amazon’s categorisation system uses profile data that has a tendency to sort books by Black authors into categories defined by race regardless of the categories chosen by independent authors. The visibility of books is also impacted by outcomes of Amazon’s content moderation system, Rekognition, which has been proven to be substantially less accurate in accurately identifying darker-skinned individuals (Buolamwini & Gebru, 2018). Amazon acts as a powerful intermediary in the governance and organisation of content in its marketplace due to the increased datafication of books in this sphere.
How to Cite
Parnell, C. L. (2021). INDEPENDENT AUTHORS’ DEPENDENCE ON BIG TECH: CATEGORIZATION AND GOVERNANCE OF AUTHORS OF COLOR ON AMAZON. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2021. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2021i0.12005