Amazon Bans ‘A Shifting Alliance’ Ad for Featuring “Inappropriate Display of a Weapon”

An ad campaign for the latest book in the Galaxy Ascendant science-fiction series has been denied approval from Amazon due to an image of two characters using firearms being featured on the advertisement.

After submitting ads for the upcoming release of A Shifting Alliance, author Yakov Merkin received a message from Amazon informing him that an ad for his upcoming release had been denied due to the ad, which features a picture of the book’s cover, containing “an inappropriate display of a weapon.”

In their warning, Amazon stated that a submitted ad for A Shifting Alliance “no longer complies with our current Creative Acceptance Policies” due to said display:

“Your ad titled “A Shifting Alliance (Galaxy Ascendant Book 3)” no longer complies with our current Creative Acceptance Policies. Specifically for the following reasons:

Your ad contains an inappropriate display of a weapon, such as: pointed directly out toward the customer or at another character, in the act of firing, or being held by a minor. Please remove the inappropriate image”

According to section 7.13 of Amazon’s Creative Acceptance Policies, which was updated in the wake of the Dayton and El Paso terror attacks, ads featuring weapons are prohibited in order “to protect our customers from uncomfortable or shocking experiences.”

Curiously, while Amazon explicitly prohibits “images of firearms demonstrated as firing or having been recently used (for example, bullets visibly exiting the weapon, smoke or other residue shown around the barrel),” it allows for “non-violent depictions of non-realistic firearms that are fantasy weapons, including fantasy/sci-fi firearms such as ray-guns and phasers.”

As the cover for A Shifting Alliance features images of “non-realistic firearms” with “bullets visibly exiting the weapon,” it appears that Amazon erred on the side of those customers who would find the depictions uncomfortable or shocking.

Merkin has not been the only victim of Amazon’s overreactive policy towards visuals of firearms. Rick Smith, co-founder and CEO of law-enforcement technology developer Axon had ads blocked for his recent book The End of Killing due to the cover featuring an image of a firearm, despite the discussion of ending gun violence within the book.

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