Glitch or not, fuck Amazon (Update)

April 14, 2009

Posted by Nick Sarno


From Publishers Weekly:


A groundswell of outrage, concern and confusion sprang up over the weekend, largely via Twitter, in response to what authors and others believed was a decision by Amazon to remove “adult” titles from its sales rankings. On Sunday evening, however, an Amazon spokesperson said that a “glitch” had occurred in its sales ranking feature that was in the process of being fixed. The spokesperson added that there was no new policy regarding “adult” titles. As of Monday morning, a number of titles affected by the glitch were still without sales rankings. No one at Amazon was available this morning to discuss when the problem might be fixed or what caused the glitch.


And from the National Post:


Online bookseller Amazon has a bit of a PR nightmare on its hands. It started earlier this weekend when customers and Amazon visitors began to notice that books that had gay, lesbian, bi and trans-gendered themes began to disappear from the site’s crucial sales rankings. Author Mark Probst was the first on the case:

“On 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?”

The books were actually being refiled as “adult” books and kept out of sales rankings. Amazon’s new policy was so broad that dozens if not hundreds of seemingly innocuous titles were caught in the net. Popular blog Jezebel notes that items like sex toys were somehow left out of the adult material dragnet but books by authors such as Henry Miller, Anais Nin and D.H. Lawrence were listed as “adult” and stripped of their sales rankings.


And this is from Jezebel:


According to author Mark R. Probst, has begun pulling the sales rank numbers from several gay and lesbian books, claiming that the books are “adult” and should be excluded from some searches and lists.

Probst noticed the disappearing rankings after searching for a few high-profile gay romance novels; believing there was some sort of glitch in the system, he continued researching and discovered that “HUNDREDS of gay and lesbian books simultaneously lost their sales rankings,” including his own book, The Filly. When Probst contacted Amazon regarding the situation, he was given this response by the company:

“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 Advantage”

This sounds like a big old bowl of BS, does it not? Especially when you consider the fact that Amazon has vibrators, clitoral stimulators and anal plugs available in their search system with sales ranks attached. One wonders why these items are allowed to remain in the system with sales ranks while books including gay and lesbian content, themes, and even, as a commenter points out, autobiographies of gay and lesbian authors such as Stephen Fry, are deemed too “adult” for such things.


And this is from the Green Lantern:


Fuck you, Amazon.




From the New York Times:


In response to nearly two days of angry online commentary, particularly on Twitter, said on Monday that “an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error” had caused thousands of books on its site to lose their sales rankings and become harder to find in searches.

A Twitter screen concerning Amazon. The subject was among the most popular on the site.
Most of the company’s online critics complained that the problem appeared to have a disproportionate effect on gay and lesbian themed books, leading to cries of censorship.

The titles that lost their sales rankings during the weekend included James Baldwin’s “Giovanni’s Room,” the gay romance novel “Transgressions” and “Unfriendly Fire,” a recently published book about the government’s policies on gays in the military.

But in an e-mailed statement that came late Monday, Amazon said 57,310 books in several broad categories had been affected, including books on health and reproductive medicine.

On Sunday night, an Amazon spokeswoman told The Associated Press that there had been a “glitch in our systems,” but the company offered no further explanation for most of Monday, allowing suspicion and conspiracy theories to run rampant.


From the Green Lantern, again:


No, seriously. Fuck you.


One Response to “Glitch or not, fuck Amazon (Update)”

  1. pops Says:

    Amazon is the pits.

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