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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 05:24 pm (UTC)
Re: They're not censoring anything - you can still buy the books!
Truly, they aren't censoring anything; as a private seller, they don't have that power. But when they hide gay YA romance in the back room and put Playboy Centerfolds in the store window, what message does that send about what's acceptable for children to view?
Apr. 12th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)
Re: They're not censoring anything - you can still buy the books!
It sounds like a mistake. Just send in a complaint asking for the Playboy stuff to be taken out of general searches and sales rank too if it really bothers you that much.
Apr. 12th, 2009 05:56 pm (UTC)
Re: They're not censoring anything - you can still buy the books!
How exactly is it a "mistake"? The Playboy stuff in and of itself doesn't bother me in the slightest; what bothers me is the implication that gay romance is less suitable for a general audience than heterosexual sex. This is a concept with long-standing precedence in American culture, and it's deeply damaging.
Apr. 12th, 2009 07:17 pm (UTC)
Re: They're not censoring anything - you can still buy the books!
I agree that they probably did not intend to leave the het sex in the store window. But I believe they did intend to put the gay romance on the back shelf.

And that's a huge problem. They would never in a million years put het romance on the back shelf; that would mean protecting children from Snow White and Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and all the rest of the Disney empire and Grimm's Fairy Tales.</i> Nonsexual romance, when it's heterosexual, is by definition deemed absolutely fine for children by everyone in the whole world. Nonsexual romance, when it's gay, suddenly isn't. And I absolutely believe Amazon's actions indicate an intentional acceptance of that distinction. And I strongly object to that.
Apr. 13th, 2009 12:44 am (UTC)
Re: They're not censoring anything - you can still buy the books!
Speaking of Sleeping Beauty, Anne R's bondage-athon is still ranked.
Apr. 13th, 2009 12:00 am (UTC)
Re: They're not censoring anything - you can still buy the books!
Um, I don't care about Playboy being ranked. I care about the freedom and easy access of material. By targeting gay and lesbian books and making it harder to find and less accessible, they are discriminating against a group of people and giving them the message that their love and lifestyle is not appropriate. I think tat if they are going to have a ranking system at Amazon, then everything needs to be ranked.

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