ONTD Political

If you're a twitter user, you may have noticed that #amazonfail is the top trending topic for today. Here's the basic gist of it:

Amazon seems to be stripping the sales figures and accompanying rankings from GLBTQ books, erotica, and romance novels, particularly those with what they term “adult content” thus preventing them from showing up in some bestseller lists and searches (and potentially directly damaging their sales), on the grounds that they are "adult" material.

(This is regardless of whether they contain any explicit sex. Meanwhile, books with explicit heterosexual sex scenes retain their sales rank, as long as they're not overtly marketed as "erotica".)

A quick search reveals that books that have had their sales ranks removed include James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, Edmund White's A Boy's Own Story, Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain, and Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit.

When pressed for a reason, Amazon.com’s customer service department told YA author (and LJ user markprobst) Mark Probst:

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

Probst went on to say:

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.

[...] 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 just 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?

Compiled from various sources including here, here, here

http://community.livejournal.com/meta_writer/11992.html -- a list of books so far that have been removed
http://booksquare.com/open-letter-to-amazon-regarding-recent-policy-changes/ -- an open letter to amazon
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/in-protest-at-amazons-new-adult-policy -- sign the protest

http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23amazonfail -- at least 100 tweets every minute
http://wthashtag.com/wiki/Amazonfail -- keep an eye on this too

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books is running a Google Bomb. They say:

I’ve created a page with the definition for “amazon rank.” LINK TO http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/amazonrank with “Amazon Rank” as the anchor text. The link should look like this:

Amazon Rank
ETA2 The current top results for amazon searches on "homosexuality" are:
  • A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality
  • Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality, Revised and Expanded Edition: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church
  • For the Bible Tells Me So
  • Can Homosexuality Be Healed?

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    synekdokee 12th-Apr-2009 08:38 pm (UTC)
    I was waiting for this to show up here.
    piratesswoop 12th-Apr-2009 08:40 pm (UTC)
    I refreshed like 500 times before I posted to make sure no one else had. lol, I was going to be pissed because I found that graphic like 5 seconds before I hit post and I was like NO I BETTER BE THE FIRST ONE BECAUSE THIS GRAPHIC NEEDS TO BE HERE.
    anandrine 12th-Apr-2009 08:41 pm (UTC)
    There are some RIDIC books being removed, like "The Advocate College Guide for GLBT Students." OH LORD, HOW ADULT.

    Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has a google bomb going on. And #amazonfail is now more popular than #jesus!
    piratesswoop 12th-Apr-2009 08:49 pm (UTC)
    Aha! I knew I was forgetting something. Thanks bb, I'll add that in!
    teresadivicenzo 12th-Apr-2009 08:41 pm (UTC)
    This is everywhere on my flist and all over twitter now. Words fail me.

    Some of what has been excluded apparently includes literature I've previously recommended undergrad students read.
    schmiss 12th-Apr-2009 08:41 pm (UTC)
    Um, wow. I own two of those books (A Boy's Own Story and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit) and I got them in high school from my local Barnes & Noble.

    ... meanwhile, some of the few things I have ordered from Amazon are not-appropriate-for-mass-community-sharing.

    weekendromance 12th-Apr-2009 09:25 pm (UTC)
    i doubt they are doing this for publicity because this is the worst kind
    dharmavati 12th-Apr-2009 08:42 pm (UTC)
    I heard about this fail this morning on my flist.

    Apparently, gay/lesbian YA novels are "adult material" but dildos aren't.

    roboplege 12th-Apr-2009 08:44 pm (UTC)
    I've already raged about this in the other topic, but still, fuck this. In the stump.
    apocalypsos 12th-Apr-2009 08:44 pm (UTC)
    Apparently someone on my friends list called Amazon to complain and invoked her Future Librarian Fu, as it were, and was basically told that they're working on it and they're terribly sorry for the inconvenience.

    Didn't take long for the Internets to knock some sense into them, it seems. :)
    windtear 13th-Apr-2009 03:34 am (UTC)
    Fingers crossed but I doubt it, that sounds awfully like "This is a line to feed the outraged liberals" to me.
    empressfunk 12th-Apr-2009 08:46 pm (UTC)
    What the shit, Amazon? Why would you deny people James Baldwin?!

    ...Crap, I always buy from Amazon. Suppose I'll have to ween myself off of it now. Dammit.
    iamcheryltweedy 12th-Apr-2009 08:49 pm (UTC)
    moonchylde 12th-Apr-2009 09:36 pm (UTC)
    piepiracy314 12th-Apr-2009 08:51 pm (UTC)
    horcrionebay 12th-Apr-2009 08:52 pm (UTC)
    Ugh fuckers.

    I'm regretting buying anything off them now =\

    cruel_disorder 12th-Apr-2009 08:52 pm (UTC)
    I'm amazed and impressed by the speech with which the internets managed to jump all over this and rip those assholes a new one. ♥
    cruel_disorder 12th-Apr-2009 08:52 pm (UTC)
    piratesswoop 12th-Apr-2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
    done and done :)
    metropolis22786 12th-Apr-2009 08:54 pm (UTC)
    Man, this is going to be one of those things that might make a major news site when it blows up in their faces. If Towleroad or The Advocate get hold of this, it's going to be a real popcorn moment.

    *considers sending it to certain UK publications*
    piratesswoop i'm readdddy12th-Apr-2009 09:01 pm (UTC)
    orwhoeveriam 12th-Apr-2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
    I called to complain. The dude was very confused, but he submitted a complaint form thing to the web developers. I told him I didn't think it was a glitch, but he seemed pretty convinced that was who should hear about it.

    Seems like a bunch of calls would have more impact than that petition that's floating around.

    The number is 1-866-216-1072, or there's a weird link where they call you in the help section of the website.
    ambeaux 13th-Apr-2009 01:35 am (UTC)
    I did this too!

    And they said the dept I need to talk to isn't open today. Then they emailed me to ask if my inquiry had been resolved to my satisfaction! So I wrote to them too.

    I deleted my wish list and won't use their site again regardless of how they try to resolve it.
    creativepseudo 12th-Apr-2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
    I was about to order another copy of Maurice to replace my worn-out, coverless version, but fuck that. And amazon.

    Thank you for posting this!
    roboplege 12th-Apr-2009 09:03 pm (UTC)
    Waterstones had some nice new shiny versions last time I checked.
    pageup 12th-Apr-2009 09:04 pm (UTC)
    What the fuck Amazon, you are a book SELLER not a censor. Go grow a pair and tell those dimwitted fuckers with sod all else to do but complain about everything and anything that doesn't conform with their narrow view of the world to piss off.

    I hope they lose a load of money over this until they fix the rankings back to include everything.
    sideofzen 12th-Apr-2009 09:04 pm (UTC)
    Imma gonna put this here, because my LJ is not searchable.

    Amazon Rank
    iamcheryltweedy 12th-Apr-2009 09:04 pm (UTC)
    Kate Bornstein Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws

    anti-suicide book? NAUGHTY NAUGHTY
    mandy_croyance 12th-Apr-2009 09:05 pm (UTC)
    This is ridiculous nonsense. I'm glad people aren't standing for it.
    sunoftheskye 12th-Apr-2009 09:46 pm (UTC)
    germli 12th-Apr-2009 09:14 pm (UTC)
    how is it that i find out about this post from twatlight? omg must stop scrolling too fast.

    wow, amazon. i just ordered something from you. :/
    anandrine 12th-Apr-2009 09:15 pm (UTC)
    lol I love that it was posted to twat. who says we're all bad? :)
    sideofzen 12th-Apr-2009 09:22 pm (UTC)
    Ellen, John Barrowman, Stephen Fry, and who knows who else have had their autobiographies striped of their ranking. THE GAY IS COMING TO GET YOU
    mollywobbles867 12th-Apr-2009 11:14 pm (UTC)
    Wait...seriously? I haven't read the list yet as I'm reading comments first. ffs
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