Sensitivity Training at

Amazon logo with frownStarting in January 2001, I have maintained a list of every book I’ve read, and since the mid-2000s I have reviewed almost every book I’ve added.  There are currently more than 1200 books on the list.  In mid-2019, I began posting reviews, one almost every day, to book’s pages on  Previously I had only occasionally posted my reviews there, mostly when I knew the author of the book or had reviewed a pre-publication manuscript.

As of January 2020, I have now posted a total of more than two hundred book reviews at Amazon and have noticed a curious phenomenon which may reveal how the responsible staff at Amazon view the world.  Ever now and then, when I’d post a review, it would show up in my profile with a subdued grey background with the legend, “review hidden by sensitivity filter”.  I had originally assumed (as do many reviewers, based upon my research into the issue) that this meant that, for whatever reason, my review had been hidden from public view for having stepped on some tripwire or other, but it’s actually more complicated and subtle than that.... [Read More]


Jeff Bezos in 1997: The Origin, Concept, and Promise of

In June, 1997, Jeff Bezos, who still had hair, gave a brief interview during the Special Libraries conference in Seattle.  He explains why he chose books as the first product on which to concentrate, and how building something on-line which couldn’t exist in the real world (a bookstore with access to every book available anywhere) distinguished Amazon from other early E-commerce ventures and generated large amounts of free publicity and word-of-mouth referrals.


Knowledge Base: Citing Books in Posts and Comments

ISBN barcode 978-0-934035-63-7When you mention a book in a post or comment, with just a little bit more effort you can make it more convenient for a reader who might be interested in buying the book to find it and, at the same time, generate some revenue to support hosting the Ratburger site or line your own pocket.

Suppose you should mention my own classic and highly collectible 1989 book, The Autodesk File.  Note that the title of the book is in italic type (as book titles should be; magazine articles are in roman type surrounded by quotes), and that it has a link which, when clicked, takes you to the page on where you can empty your bank account buying a used copy.  Here’s how I did that, and how you can too.... [Read More]