Sunday, April 12, 2009

Amazon Epic Fail

Most of you have probably heard about this one already. I woke up to a flurry of Twitters about it., in all its wisdom, has decided to strip the sales ranks of books they consider to contain "adult" situations. What does this mean, other than that the authors suddenly have one less thing to obsess over?

Amazon's search results, lists of top sellers, and even suggested books (the "others have bought . . ." thing you get on a particular book's page) are produced using sales ranks. So a book with no sales rank effectively has no power on Amazon, a website that has made seventy-six-squillion dollars (conservative estimate) by spoiling you for choice the minute you express a preference in books, movies, and everything else they sell.

I went poking around and found a list (apparently still being added to) of books that have had their Amazon sales ranks stripped due to containing adult content.

Among those listed are the lesbian-moms classic Heather Has Two Mommies, Alex Sanchez's Rainbow trilogy (Boys, High, and Road) and Linas Alsenas's Gay America (which I happen to know for a fact contains no explicit content). Where's the "adult" in this equation?

This isn't applying across the board yet. Many of Sanchez's other books (most of which have gay characters if not outright romance) still retain their sales ranks. But it's probably only a matter of time.

Some heterotica has made the list (a dubious distinction) but it's overwhelmingly populated by GLBT titles. Which means? "Adult," in this case, is mainly code for "stuff about those nasty gays and lesbians."

You know what happens when a company like Amazon does this? A teen web surfer, trying to find books which reflect his or her experience, hears, "You're alone. You're a freak. Your sexual orientation, or that of your friend/mom/cousin/next door neighbor, is something you should keep behind closed doors, because everybody else is too grossed out by it. Here, have a book about healthy, normal, heterosexual kids who never, ever, ever think about someone of the same sex THAT way. Euuwwwwww. Does your mother know you're making this search?"

I've been an Amazon Associate for awhile now, linking from my reviews and monthly reading roundups. Mainly it's a way to show the covers and give more info about the book because I've made so little in kickbacks that I've never even gotten a check from them. But I know they have made money from me. If you know of a way I can break the huge number of links I've made from my blog to Amazon, let me know in the comments.

For the world's most pervasive book seller to censor in this way, directly targeting the GLBT population, is nothing short of disgusting. Fix this, Amazon.

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