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.
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:
ETA2 The current top results for amazon searches on "homosexuality" are: