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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. 12th, 2009 04:02 pm (UTC)
Okay this is all over my flist.

But what can we do?
Email in protest?
Apr. 12th, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
Boycotting and spreading the word is probably the best bet for now. If enough people decide to boycot, the results will be noticeable, and if enough stink kicks up it'll snowball and something will have to happen.
Apr. 12th, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC)
I boycotted with my data first, deleting wish lists and whatnot before bailing altogether.
Apr. 13th, 2009 12:11 am (UTC)
What good does a boycott do?
The problem when a small minority tries a boycott, it runs the risk of being brushed off or unnoticed. In an economic downturn, a few thousand people leaving over this issue could be misinterpreted as customers who are tightening their financial belts.

Personally I think it's better to spread the word and protest amazon first. Give them the chance to change their minds (if they have back-ups of data restoring the sales ranking shouldn't be too hard). A boycott should be the last resort.
Apr. 13th, 2009 01:56 am (UTC)
Re: What good does a boycott do?
i already let them know i'm considering it though.
Apr. 13th, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC)
Re: What good does a boycott do?
Bottom line: I don't want to give my $ to a company that's in bed with religious intolerance. I can't help that my publisher sells through them, but my personal money? They can't have any. If a boycott does any good beyond that, fine too.
Apr. 12th, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC)
Mockery. Mockery is highly effective with this sort of thing. :)
Apr. 13th, 2009 01:29 am (UTC)

When I looked about an hour ago, there were around 3800 signatures. It's now closing in on 5000.

At this link there is a list of phone numbers of Amazon's Board of Directors (I posted these on my LJ, too.)


Tell them what you think of this move and why you will not be buying from them.
Apr. 13th, 2009 01:40 am (UTC)
Yes, and mine's one.

I found the "to do" list a couple hours after I made the comment.
Apr. 13th, 2009 01:43 am (UTC)

Did you see this?


I'll believe it when I see it .... but I think maybe we made an impression. Amazon claims it's backing down!

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