Ottawa

Poet hitting a language barrier with Amazon

A local author is petitioning tech giant Amazon to let him publish his work in his own language again — and take a stab at censorship in the process. 

Mahyar Mazloumi can no longer self-publish in Farsi

Mahyar Mazloumi attempted to publish his work in Farsi, but Amazon's features no longer allow for that. (Ryan Tumilty/CBC Ottawa)

A local poet is petitioning tech giant Amazon to let him publish his work in his own language again — and take a stab at censorship in the process. 

Mahyar Mazloumi wanted to publish his latest collection on Amazon's self-publishing platform, but found out the service doesn't support Farsi.

The company used to use a platform called CreateSpace to help authors publish their works in both paperback and e-book formats.

That platform supported Farsi, but since 2018 the company has relied on a service called Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) that doesn't.

"It was a huge disappointment when I realized that," he said on CBC's All In A Day.  

Mazloumi said his work cannot be translated into English without losing some of the meaning.

He started a petition online that now has over 20,000 signatures. 

Censorship issue

Mazloumi said there are tens of millions of Farsi speakers in the world, so he believes the demand is there for books

He said most of those readers are in Iran, where books and all art forms are heavily censored. 

"There is a huge organization: you have to submit the book to them and they give you a long list of corrections, additions or deletions before you get permission to publish," he said. 

He said self-publishing platforms give writers a way around that.

A local poet is campaigning to bring the language back to Amazon's self-publishing service. We'll hear why he thinks politics is influencing the world's largest book retailer. 8:50

The company is a major, growing player in self-publishing and Mazloumi said that makes their decisions incredibly important. 

In an email, Amazon said they were aware of the issue. 

"We are actively reviewing author and reader feedback to evaluate which features and services we offer in the future, including expanding KDP's supported languages," it said.

With files from CBC's All In A Day

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