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WTF, Amazon?

bad day kitten
Happy Easter, GLBT folks and allies, from your friends at Amazon! Your books have been stripped of sales rankings!

markprobst, writer of the now de-ranked THE FILLY, and publisher, is one of the first to post about it here, got some kind of reply/statement from an Amazon official, for what it's worth. LJ community meta_writer is compiling a list of affected books. And the nice people at Dear Author give us some more information.

What does Amazon hope to gain by this? It's not, as one commenter said, to steer people to Kindle, where the GLBT content's rankings stand. Some of the titles aren't even on Kindle, like the socially radical and threatening HEATHER HAS TWO MOMMIES, or the racy, full color sexpurgasm AM I BLUE?, an anthology of short stories with GLBT themes for teens edited by Marion Dane Bauer. [edited to correct the editor's name!]

Maybe other writers are made of sterner stuff, but I live on my online sales rankings. My mood rises and falls on them. And even worse, what a way to further disenfranchise people, to tell them their sales aren't even worth tracking.

I expected this crap during the Bush years, not now.

edited to add:

Here's more information, including Amazon's so-called rationale, from the Denver Internet Examiner.

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Comments

( 80 comments — Leave a comment )
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dark_puck
Apr. 12th, 2009 09:32 pm (UTC)
It's an utter load of bullshit. I've been following it on sf_drama and at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. They've suggested to hit Amazon right in the PR, by linking to a new definition of Amazon Rank.

I also will not be buying anything else from Amazon.
ancalemon
Apr. 12th, 2009 09:36 pm (UTC)
You can still see the sales ranking for any section of the store you choose to look at, the only thing that's been removed is the sales rank being listed on the item page itself.

SMTB is grossly exaggerating in their new "definition" by saying search results are being censored. Search results haven't been changed (e.g. The Filly, Lady Chatterley's Lover).
cunningplan
Apr. 12th, 2009 09:58 pm (UTC)
actually, if you look at those links you'll see that for many entries they're for the Kindle editions only. The actual print books no longer have rankings and can't be searched. Some authors have found that their Kindle editions have been de-ranked as well.
(no subject) - ancalemon - Apr. 12th, 2009 10:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ex_drakyn - Apr. 12th, 2009 10:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - valarltd - Apr. 12th, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
dormouse_in_tea
Apr. 12th, 2009 09:37 pm (UTC)
Yes, clearly they are trying to protect me by making sure I don't see any wild and racy guides to pregnancy for lesbian mothers.

I've already e-mailed them to explain why they've lost a customer. Hint: it includes the words censorship and homophobia.

Thank you for helping to make this public.
magic_at_mungos
Apr. 12th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)
I've sent an email to them telling them I've got the hump.
cunningplan
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:00 pm (UTC)
One of the worst parts is that for many of these de-ranked books, an actual search for the title or author on the main page won't turn up anything.
ex_drakyn
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC)
Ahh, yes, trans* biographies are sooooo racy and immoral.

(Anyone in the US looking for a replacement site can check out Indiebound--they help you find local independent stores so you don't have to support Borders/Barnes&Nobles/Amazon/Walmart/ETC. Many of these stores will let you buy online & ship to you.
I've also heard that Powell's is good; they're an independent bookstore based in Portland OR.)
thedilettante
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:14 pm (UTC)
In the comments at Booksquare someone mentioned that biographies of gay actors (Stephen Fry and John Barrowman?) had been de-ranked too. Completely ridiculous.

(Hey Drakyn!)
(no subject) - ex_drakyn - Apr. 12th, 2009 10:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Not so with amazon.ca, though... - dewline - Apr. 12th, 2009 11:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Not so with amazon.ca, though... - tammy212 - Apr. 13th, 2009 04:01 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Not so with amazon.ca, though... - dewline - Apr. 13th, 2009 12:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Not so with amazon.ca, though... - timeliebe - Apr. 13th, 2009 05:40 am (UTC) - Expand
Barrowman? - dewline - Apr. 13th, 2009 12:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
tif123
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:09 pm (UTC)
As far as I can tell, the Canadian subsidiary of Amazon hasn't done the same.
dewline
Apr. 12th, 2009 11:20 pm (UTC)
Confirmed so far as I can with my first test case(see above)!
seika
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:14 pm (UTC)
linked here by a friend
I'm sure up for sending Amazon a message with amazon rank. I won't call it "googlebombing"-- that word sounds, well, like we're doing something destructive. We're not; we're simply advertising what we think of Amazon ranking.
dragontail
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:18 pm (UTC)
And yet we true crime authors are left alone, when we're writing about real perversion, actual rape and heinous events that actually happened. As are historical writers. Now, I'm not saying we should be censored too... I'm saying that if our work is left alone (as well it should be), so too should LGBT fiction, non-fiction and social analysis (because it bloody well should be left alone).

There's simply no rationale for this, no matter what Amazon tries to claim. It's a sliding scale based on the company's own morality, and nothing more.
tammy212
Apr. 13th, 2009 04:03 am (UTC)
And yet we true crime authors are left alone, when we're writing about real perversion, actual rape and heinous events that actually happened. As are historical writers.

As are the hetero romance writers, some of whom leave me crossing my legs and looking for a duvet to hide under. As is a photo book of Playboy centerfolds. Hypocritical much?
camlina
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:27 pm (UTC)
WTF? I understand why they might want to remove the adult content from the rankings, but their method of determining which items are "adult" seems pretty out of whack.
juno_magic
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:32 pm (UTC)
Wow, WTF indeed.

I'm SO fed up with that hysterical, prudish attitude towards sex. Jeez.

If only they were as concerned about violence and other adult topics, such as political extremism or religious fanaticism.
desayunoencama
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:53 pm (UTC)
Actually, AM I BLUE? is edite dby Marion Dane Bauer. The title story, though, is by Bruce Coville.
tammy212
Apr. 13th, 2009 04:04 am (UTC)
Oh. Ha. ::blushes:: Oops. Will fix! Thanks. ::crawls off::
desayunoencama
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:54 pm (UTC)
The worst thing is not just the sales rankings but removing them from the search engine.

Type in "homosexuality" now and the first book is A PARENT'S GUIDE TO PREVENTING HOMOSEXUALITY. Book 3 is YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE GAY. Book 4 is FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO. Book 5. is CAN HOMOSEXUALITY BE HEALED?

Absolutely disgusting, what they've done!
valarltd
Apr. 12th, 2009 11:00 pm (UTC)
FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO is a DVD. It's put out by Soulforce and is a very powerful pro-gay exploration of Christianity, homosexuality and the intersection points. Our local GLBT film festival screened it. Bishop Gene Robinson's ordination plays a central role in it.

But yes, the rest is pretty disgusting.

Edited at 2009-04-12 11:01 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - desayunoencama - Apr. 12th, 2009 11:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dormouse_in_tea - Apr. 13th, 2009 12:14 am (UTC) - Expand
dewline
Apr. 12th, 2009 11:07 pm (UTC)
Well, I don't think I've written or drawn anything that such efforts might be designed to make "disappear" just yet. But you're absolutely right to file this in a "What the FRAK‽‽‽" folder.

Edited at 2009-04-12 11:09 pm (UTC)
morpheus0013
Apr. 12th, 2009 11:15 pm (UTC)
I'm reserving permanet judgment until tomorrow. Hopefully a higher-up in Amazon's heirarchy will present an explanation as to how this occurred--perhaps a user-based system gone awry, which is more of a lapse in judgment than a malicious act. If there's no reasonable explanation by tomorrow evening, though...=(
tammy212
Apr. 13th, 2009 04:08 am (UTC)
-perhaps a user-based system gone awry

I've heard a rumor that they are now citing a computer glitch, but I find it very hard to swallow. It's a very specific glitch.
"Yeh, GLITCH! That's the Ticket!" - timeliebe - Apr. 13th, 2009 05:46 am (UTC) - Expand
poetic_pixie_13
Apr. 12th, 2009 11:31 pm (UTC)
Amazon has just lost my business. Obviously books like Heather Has Two Mommies and The Well of Loneliness (with that racy line "And that night they were not divided") will corrupt the children. This is just total and utter bullshit.

Also, I'll use this opportunity to help with the Google bomb of Amazon rank. I hope you don't mind.
desayunoencama
Apr. 12th, 2009 11:39 pm (UTC)
I urge people to check http://indiebound.org for a local independent shop
(no subject) - poetic_pixie_13 - Apr. 12th, 2009 11:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Not sure if this helps for you... - dewline - Apr. 12th, 2009 11:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Not sure if this helps for you... - poetic_pixie_13 - Apr. 12th, 2009 11:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Not sure if this helps for you... - dewline - Apr. 12th, 2009 11:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Not sure if this helps for you... - poetic_pixie_13 - Apr. 13th, 2009 12:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tammy212 - Apr. 13th, 2009 04:09 am (UTC) - Expand
archangelbeth
Apr. 12th, 2009 11:42 pm (UTC)
I've left a politely miffed letter via their customer support. Muwhahaha!
dormouse_in_tea
Apr. 13th, 2009 12:16 am (UTC)
*sighs softly* I salute you for being polite.

I'm afraid I ended up using words such as 'censorship', 'homophobia' and 'stupidity'.

I didn't swear, tho!
(no subject) - archangelbeth - Apr. 13th, 2009 12:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tammy212 - Apr. 13th, 2009 04:11 am (UTC) - Expand
tigtogtiffy
Apr. 12th, 2009 11:43 pm (UTC)
Had you seen this petition? Don;t know if it will make a difference but.....
tekanji
Apr. 13th, 2009 12:03 am (UTC)
My guess is that they will redact the changes shortly. Whoever made this decision clearly wasn't thinking about the shitstorm it would cause, or couldn't fathom that targeting vocal minority groups would actually impact their sales.

Of course, if we believe their stated reasons for the implementation of the change it's still pretty poorly thought out. I mean, I can (sort of) understand wanting to keep adult and non-adult bestseller results separate, but to do it in this fashion was just asking to be smacked down. Sure, another method would have taken more company resources (deciding guidelines for what qualifies as "adult", figuring out a method that achieves separation without potentially hurting the sales of the adult material, etc etc) but in the end it would have avoided branding Amazon as sex-negative and anti-queer.
tekanji
Apr. 13th, 2009 01:28 am (UTC)
I wrote to their customer service, the letter can be found on my blog.
(no subject) - tammy212 - Apr. 13th, 2009 04:16 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tekanji - Apr. 13th, 2009 12:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
trialia
Apr. 13th, 2009 12:17 am (UTC)
0_0;

And have you noticed Will of the Empress seems to have dropped down the rankings list in the last few days, too? I don't know if that's specifically to do with Daja's romance, but I wouldn't count it out. FCOL! *headdesk*
tammy212
Apr. 13th, 2009 04:29 am (UTC)
It's probably just normal market fluctuation. I hope. X -- crossed fingers.
(no subject) - trialia - Apr. 13th, 2009 04:31 am (UTC) - Expand
writegirl23
Apr. 13th, 2009 12:49 am (UTC)
This infuriates me. It's the complete hypocriticalness of it.

I've helped Google Bomb it, send a complaint and signed the petition.
prydera
Apr. 13th, 2009 01:06 am (UTC)
It's not just LGBT-related books. Books about sexuality and disability have also been pulled from the rankings.
dewline
Apr. 13th, 2009 01:14 am (UTC)
Also disturbing.
(no subject) - tammy212 - Apr. 13th, 2009 04:30 am (UTC) - Expand
lunalovegoddess
Apr. 13th, 2009 01:20 am (UTC)
My hubby mentions that Harlequin romances apparently retain their ranks... "considering the whole point of those is Let's Get With the Sexin'!"

So, it's all right for soft porn... as long as it's about heterosexual coupling.

Food for thought...
lunalovegoddess
Apr. 13th, 2009 01:28 am (UTC)
Also, Amazon has massive fail because:

Brokeback Mountain does not have a rank as a novel; however, it does for the DVD. So, does that mean that sodomy is acceptable to view, but not read about? Just wondering...
(no subject) - weyrlady - Apr. 13th, 2009 04:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lunalovegoddess - Apr. 13th, 2009 04:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
raienna
Apr. 13th, 2009 02:02 am (UTC)
Ugh.

Just ugh.

See, I saw AM I BLUE in with the books you listed, and honestly laughed. I read the story "Am I Blue" when I was ten and forced to read an anthology for class (Man, am I ever glad that I chose ODDER THAN EVER), and the full anthology AM I BLUE by thirteen. Hell, I became an ally at age ten, before I either knew anyone who was homosexual or those who I did know had recognized it.

The story and the book didn't corrupt me, didn't send me into therapy due to "lewdness" or any such nonsense, didn't turn me lesbian, and didn't turn me into anything but a human being who tries her hardest to make sure she treats everyone equally and without hate.

Literature has power. Literature gives people their voice. Thanks, Amazon, for signing that gag order. I'm sure everyone will thank you for it.
evilstorm
Apr. 13th, 2009 07:21 am (UTC)
I know, right? That actually very nearly triggered my rage buttons--well, worse than before. I read Odder Than Ever in lower school, somewhere between 1st to 4th grade (probably in 2nd, really), and Am I Blue? burned itself into my mind so deeply that I dug it out again in 11th grade and this time archived a copy for all time. I agree, I think I became an ally then, without even knowing what the hell homosexuality was other than that some people are different and It's Okay Too (and then went queer years later, but). Such a beautiful story, so much incoherent rage.
(no subject) - raienna - Apr. 14th, 2009 02:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
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