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Amazon Follies

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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

gina_stormgrant
Apr. 12th, 2009 12:02 pm (UTC)
My little gay RomCom lost it's ranking yesterday. 8-(

If you check the gay bestseller list, it's filled with the same books, just the Kindle editions. This isn't about protecting the public (if so, then give us our own lists and exclude us from mainstream lists--better the gay ghetto than being erased altogether!), it's about pushing their own product--it exposes more customers to the Kindle.

It's *always* about the money.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books/301889/ref=pd_ts_b_nav

Thanks for sharing the info. Is it okay to link back here?

the_sea_to
Apr. 12th, 2009 12:29 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry to hear that Stormy. *hugs*
tammy212
Apr. 12th, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC)
Oh no--that sucks so hard if you're right.

And for those who care--HEATHER HAS TWO MOMMIES lost its sales ranking!
hal_obrien
Apr. 12th, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC)
It's always about the money.

Would that it were. Because as I outline in my personalization below as part of signing the online petition, this is almost certainly going to cost them far more than any marginal increase in Kindle titles, and it makes them vulnerable to some very expensive shareholder litigation. My own guess is the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing, and Kindle titles still being listed was an oversight, not a strategy.

*^*^*

I'm a straight heterosexual man. I tend to see the vast majority of objections to homosexuality as religious in nature. That Amazon should choose to favor the religious views of one group over those of all others is, to me, appalling.

In addition, it's difficult for me to see how you can justify this to your shareholders given both the raw decline in sales such a policy of excluding titles will bring, combined with the secondary loss of sales from the bad publicity this is sure to engender.

So... You won't please those to whom this is aimed; you've cut your own revenues; and you've opened yourself to a major shareholder lawsuit.

This is almost straight out of the recent movie "Duplicity" -- it's hard for me to understand how any employee of yours who wasn't secretly working for Barnes & Noble as a mole would approve such a thing.

Edited at 2009-04-12 09:07 pm (UTC)
hal_obrien
Apr. 12th, 2009 09:35 pm (UTC)
And, speaking of "it's always about the money...":

Remember, kids, it's a Sunday. So if you have the disposable investible cash, you might want to put in your short order on AMZN for tomorrow's opening now.
pierceheart
Apr. 13th, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC)
Very important to smack Amazon with this one - where the kindle edition has a sales ranking but the hard copy does not, this is pure bullshit on the part of amazon.

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