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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.



( 391 comments — Leave a comment )
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Apr. 12th, 2009 09:18 pm (UTC)
Found you through link-hopping over this whole kerfluffle.. Hope you don't mind, I've included a link here in my own post over all this, as a source of information on it?
Apr. 12th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
Pretty HUGE exception to the rule
Look at this:


So the Essential Bechdel D2WO4 collection retains ITS rank (#7,747 as of two minutes ago) despite containing some explicit artwork and habitually frank discussions of GLBTQ issues - yet some purely textual gay/lesbian romances lose their ranking?

What the hell?

Of course, Bechdel's the exception because she's one of the biggest and best-selling names in lesbian literature right now. I think she needs to know what's happening on Amazon.com, don't you?
Apr. 12th, 2009 09:42 pm (UTC)
It's already on Pam's House Blend and AfterElton, but I have yet to see this on Towerload or HuffPo.
Apr. 12th, 2009 09:43 pm (UTC)
And when they aren't full-on hiding them, they're giving you a run-around. I did a search for the Bending the Landscape anthologies, as a test; the first six results were used editions with high prices, then books that had nothing to do with my request. It took an extra click to get to the real pages with the reviews and ability to order new- but no sales rank.
Apr. 12th, 2009 09:46 pm (UTC)
This appears to have contact information for an official GLBT employee resource group at Amazon: http://www.hrc.org/issues/workplace/organization_profile.asp?organization_id=4994&search_id=1&search_type=Quick
Apr. 12th, 2009 09:56 pm (UTC)
Read this via matociquala and have linked back here from a couples places.
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:13 pm (UTC)
feel free to exercise your damn american rights


holy shit... vote with your dollar and QUIT BITCHING. People will do things you dont like your entire life. Best to just go around them and do it yourself ffs.
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:20 pm (UTC)
Google up "Amazon Rank" and bomb.
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:23 pm (UTC)
Letter sent.
Google bombed.

Thanks for letting us know!
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:23 pm (UTC)
Mark, we win an Internet. Woot! Thank you for starting it!
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:31 pm (UTC)
Amazon's Idiocy
Here's my e-mail to Amazon. I hope somebody gets kicked in the balls over this stupidity.


I was shocked and dismayed to hear that Amazon has classified many, if not most, Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender book titles to the "adult" category. According to one story, this not only removes them from the sales rankings and bestseller lists, but also hides them even from a direct search by title. I'm not sure if some fundamentalist group has coerced Amazon into taking this ridiculous position, or if it's just an incredibly stupid idea that was generated within the company, but I'm very offended by it. I've been an Amazon customer since shortly after the company was formed, and have purchased thousands of dollars worth of items from Amazon. I find this decision extremely offensive, and unless it is reversed, will strongly consider taking my business elsewhere. Amazon is no longer the only place to shop on the web, and I hope the company will reconsider this unfortunate move.
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:41 pm (UTC)
C'est la merde!
My husband and I were reading the description for The Filly. It sounds beautiful and inspiring, and I'd really like to read it. And the worst part [for me], aside from what I perceive as censorship, is that in order to read it, Amazon expects me to fork over $350 that I don't have to buy a Kindle. I don't mind the concept of eBooks, you know; it's the principle of the thing. (Call me old-school, but I prefer the feel of pages beneath my fingers.) Is there somewhere else that I can purchase the printed version (or a downloadable eBook version for my PC)?

*spreads the word*
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:54 pm (UTC)
Re: C'est la merde!
Also, a quick thank you, both as a bisexual woman and the mother of two preteens. Many of my friends are LGTBQ or have children who are questioning their sexuality, and I remember a distinct lack of queer-friendly YA reading material when I was growing up.
Re: C'est la merde! - markprobst - Apr. 12th, 2009 10:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: C'est la merde! - markprobst - Apr. 12th, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:42 pm (UTC)
You don't know me at all, but thank you for giving permission to link to this post -- I found it through friends' links, I think. I've done so here, and informed my (mainly Brokeback fans and various fandoms, along with some published m/m authors) Flist about this ridiculous move. Though many will have already seen it, many won't, and your post is very helpful in laying out the issue.

Also, I'm going to check out your book when I have time -- it sounds wonderful, and I work with tons of teens. :)
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:50 pm (UTC)
Contacting Amazon
http://amazoncustomerservice.blogspot.com/2007/12/8.html mentions the hassles of contacting Amazon's customer service, and gives several phone numbers. Among them:

1-800-201-7575 for the US
outside the US and Canada: (206) 346-2992

(These are different from the ones listed on the site. Which also work, but may be flooded right now.)

Snail mail to customer service
Amazon.com, Inc.
Customer Service
PO Box 81226
Seattle, WA 98108-1226
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC)
I'll definitely be linking back to this post, along with many others. Thank you very much for spreading the word about this.
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( 391 comments — Leave a comment )