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Amazon Follies

On Amazon.com two days ago, mysteriously, the sales rankings disappeared from two newly-released high profile gay romance books: “Transgressions” by Erastes and “False Colors” by Alex Beecroft. Everybody was perplexed. Was it a glitch of some sort? The very next day HUNDREDS of gay and lesbian books simultaneously lost their sales rankings, including my book “The Filly.” There was buzz, What’s going on? Does Amazon have some sort of campaign to suppress the visibility of gay books? Is it just a major glitch in the system? Many of us decided to write to Amazon questioning why our rankings had disappeared. Most received evasive replies from customer service reps not versed in what was happening. As I am a publisher and have an Amazon Advantage account through which I supply Amazon with my books, I had a special way to contact them. 24 hours later I had a response:


In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.


Hence, if you have further questions, kindly write back to us.


Best regards,


Ashlyn D

Member Services

Amazon.com Advantage


Yes, it is true. Amazon admits they are indeed stripping the sales ranking indicators for what they deem to be “adult” material. Of course they are being hypocritical because there is a multitude of “adult” literature out there that is still being ranked – Harold Robbins, Jackie Collins, come on! They are using categories THEY set up (gay and lesbian) to now target these books as somehow offensive.

Now in fairness I should point out that Amazon has also stopped ranking many books in the "erotica" categories as well which includes straight erotica. But that's a whole other battle that I'll leave to the erotica writers to take on.


Now I could probably convince the automatons at Amazon that The Filly is YA and therefore not “adult” in the least, and I could probably even convince them to reinstate my ranking.  But if they are excluding books just on the basis of being “gay” then by all means exclude mine too because I don’t want them just to reinstate the “nice” gay books, they need to reinstate all the gay books and if they are really going to try and exclude so-called “adult” material, then how come this has an Amazon ranking?


Here is a screencap of the case log from Amazon. Keep clicking on the image to make it bigger

************For everyone who has commented on my blog - Thank you very much. and everyone who has asked if they can use my name and link back to me. YES please do. Spread the word. Amazon will be beside itself in the face of all this fury!

Publisher's Weekly now has a story here, that an Amazon spokesperson claims this is all a glitch and they have no such new policy.  My caselog is still active in my Advantage account with the response from customer service rep Ashlyn D. Also I'd like to point you to this blog of an author who received this same response from Amazon back in February. Amazon has some 'splainin' to do!

***********UPDATE #2******************
As of 8 AM this morning (April 13th) The Filly has had its ranking reinstated by Amazon.  I also noticed Alex Beecroft's False Colors was reinstated as well.  Many others are not, so they haven't fixed the "so-called" glitch as of yet.

*******FINAL UPDATE******************
Amazon has released a statement of apology stating that it was  an "embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error" that pertained to 57,310 listings.  They also say that It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay & Lesbian themed titles.  So it's over.  Amazon admits they goofed, and I, for one, shall give them the benefit of the doubt and say I do not believe that there was any malicious intent. Case closed.



Apr. 13th, 2009 02:20 am (UTC)
Re: They're not censoring anything - you can still buy the books!
Dude, the whole point of Probst's anger is that his young-adult romance is being labelled as unsuitable for its target audience.

The biography of Ellen DeGeneres: Out. The biography of Ron Jeremy: In. That right there speaks volumes. The issue isn't that they're choosing to demote objectionable content; the issue is that any mention of homosexuality is considered objectionable. Two dudes kissing is not adult content in and of itself.
Apr. 13th, 2009 02:29 am (UTC)
Re: They're not censoring anything - you can still buy the books!
I think the problem here is their definition of 'adult'. Amazon seem to think adult is something that could offend people, whereas you think it is sexual material?

You're probably right about the Ron Jeremy biography, so again, take it up with them.
Apr. 13th, 2009 03:20 am (UTC)
Re: They're not censoring anything - you can still buy the books!
If Amazon thinks "adult" is "anything that could offend people," then they're doin it wrong, because ridiculously violent books like "American Psycho," anti-establishment books like "The Anarchist's Cookbook," and misogynist sexually explicit books like "The Complete Asshole's Guide to Handling Chicks" are still in. As is "The Parents' Guide to Preventing Sexuality."

Of the books that have been stripped, though, the vast majority of them are either sexually explicit or referencing gay issues. So where are you getting your idea that Amazon considers "adult" to mean "offensive?"

As for contacting them -- dude, I HAVE. I can bitch in multiple places. It's a special talent of mine.
Apr. 13th, 2009 03:59 am (UTC)
Re: They're not censoring anything - you can still buy the books!
Well, as we know, some of the books that have been taken off the main search aren't particularly sexual, so I'm guessing 'could-be-deemed-offensive-to-our-highest-spending-users' is the filter.

Keep up the bitchin' then :-)
Apr. 13th, 2009 04:06 am (UTC)
Re: They're not censoring anything - you can still buy the books!
Again, who is the high spender for whom "Tropic of Cancer" is inconceivably offensive but "Delta of Venus" isn't? Who is offended by Melissa Etheridge's autobiography, but not Traci Lords's? And if you can define that population, what makes you think that those people are Amazon's most coveted customers?
Apr. 13th, 2009 04:30 am (UTC)
Re: They're not censoring anything - you can still buy the books!
I don't know, it was just a guess.

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