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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!

*******UPDATE**************
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.

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Comments

ansatecross
Apr. 14th, 2009 02:33 am (UTC)
Re: They're not censoring anything - you can still buy the books!
Actually, where you're from, your skin colour and your sexuality are exactly the point. When you're in the majority, everything's roses. Everything runs your way. When they don't, you say a word, and it changes. That's privilege. That's a status we in the LGBT community don't have. We've fought for what we have, and frequently have it taken away anyway...witness California, as you mentioned earlier. So I'm pleased that it was just a mistake. I'm skeptical that it really was, or was caused by a single man with a single stroke as the article you suggested seems to suggest. I'm dubious that any supervisor would allow an employee of his to issue a statement as inflammatory (and, if all else is true, just dead wrong) as the one the OP received when he asked a direct and specific question. CYA would seem to be the letters of the day. And oh...what's with the rude dismissal? If you don't want to have this discussion, stop having it.
davenatts
Apr. 14th, 2009 02:51 am (UTC)
Re: They're not censoring anything - you can still buy the books!
I dismissed you as you put it because you want on a long rant about things that just aren't relevant.

OK, I'm gladly stopping now. Though please, next time, don't be so quick to start a hate campaign against Amazon just because they made a mistake, without giving the chance for the truth to surface.
ansatecross
Apr. 14th, 2009 02:59 am (UTC)
Re: They're not censoring anything - you can still buy the books!
Irrelevant in what way? To point out how censorship and prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender presentation is like any other type, such as racial discrimination; and how those who don't have to deal with it, such as those in countries largely unaffected by the present problem or whose sexual orientation and gender presentation align with the mainstream, generally assume that, since there is no problem to them, there is no problem to anyone? That sort of irrelevance? QED. Okay. Go.
davenatts
Apr. 14th, 2009 03:22 am (UTC)
Re: They're not censoring anything - you can still buy the books!
But it wasn't censorship or prejudice based on sexual orientation or gender presentation. Amazon never ever claimed it was. They only ever said 'adult' material was at issue, and it now transpires that wasn't true and it was in fact a wide variety of topics that had been affected. See Mark's 'final update' above!

It was other people's assumption that the material being of GLBT nature was why it had been taken out of the site-wide search and sales rank. They were wrong!

Gone.

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