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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

venivincere
Apr. 12th, 2009 02:43 pm (UTC)
I just left a review for The Filly on Amazon; wonder if they'll let it show:

This is how your review will appear:


5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Young Adult book - Shame on Amazon!, April 12, 2009
By <> (Detroit, MI) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
This is a beautiful coming-of-age, learning-oneself story -- what a shame Amazon has seen fit to remove its ranking because it's classified as gay/lesbian fiction. Shame on Amazon! I'll direct my friends elsewhere to buy this book.

Your Tags: amazon is anti-gay
the_sea_to
Apr. 12th, 2009 03:08 pm (UTC)
I LOVE YOU VENI
zellieh
Apr. 12th, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
Do you mind if I mention this in a post on my journal about this whole mess? Because I think it's a great idea! *g*
venivincere
Apr. 12th, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
Not at all; mention away! With all the news about Iowa and Vermont, you'd think they'd pick up on the changing tenor of opinion.
markprobst
Apr. 12th, 2009 06:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the review. For my book at least Amazon does screen all reviews before they are posted. It will be interesting to see if they let that one through!
tracevincente
Apr. 12th, 2009 09:02 pm (UTC)
I was going to suggest that as well -- that if Amazon doesn't make this right, that someone start a campaign asking all concerned, registered Amazon users to leave appropriate feedback and in the process, let customers know Amazon's new policy (assuming, of course, that Amazon will allow the reviews) and directing people to buy elsewhere.

I've spent an awful lot of money at Amazon over the years and I feel betrayed and more than a little sick to my stomach about it now.

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