Amazon Ranked: GLBT themes, authors

Amazon.com apparently has made a policy decision that will determine what the primary point of view will be of books you will find when you search on certain subjects.  They have chosen to de-rank what they are calling “adult” books, regardless of the sales figures for these books.  They responded to one author’s complaint with this response: “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.”   I just checked on the ranking of this author’s book, The Filly and it has returned to the list of rankings.  However, This book does not belong in the category of  Literary Criticism.  This is another complaint by author’s regarding their works, that they are being placed in irrelevant categories to make them harder to find. 

However, obvious adult content with titles like Girls Gone Wild: Girls on Girls have not been deranked.  Now Amazon.com claims this is a ‘glitch’ that just happened to target GLBT  books and authors.  There seems to be a double standard at what is adult content and what is not.

Authors most hit are those that are pro-gay, pro-feminist, pro-disability.   Do a search on the subject of Homosexuality and six out of the top ten books are aimed at the prevention of homosexuality. When I did this search the number one book that comes up is A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality.   It appears the policy is not whether it has adult content but whether it matches their point of view.

Author Heather Corinna, writes in her blog [which happens to be on Amazon.com about this deranking and policy]: ” My book is intended for young adults, and is GLBT-inclusive, and penned by me, a queer author.  It is not salacious, it is not pornography: it is a sexuality, sexual health and relationships reference book. Heather Has Two Mommies is a supportive and classic children’s book about gay families.  Hello, Cruel World is a suicide prevention book (which just happens to be written by a transgender author).  That’s a short list, but the point is, many of the books that have been deranked are not adult books at all, nor adult or salacious material, but what nearly all of them, so far, do seem to be are tagged or labeled in some way as GLBT, or as books addressing sexuality in a non-heteronormative or gendernormative way.”

Here in the south where bookstores try to cater to the customers in the region, online buying becomes a godsend to sexual minority folks looking for information on a topic that is closeted in the community.  Having these topics amazon ranked (see definition here) amounts to being a hate crime.

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2 Comments

  1. Had you checked with Amazon, you would have learned that this otherwise baffling and uncharacteristic move on the part of Amazon (here-to-fore a quite progressive company) is a software glitch which they are trying to fix.

    You really gotta be careful of what the twitter-sphere decides is true on a Sunday afternoon….

    Christine, I appreciate your advice but I did indeed check with Amazon, in fact I noted in my blog that Amazon claimed it to be a glitch, re-read my post where I write: “Now Amazon.com claims this is a ‘glitch’ that just happened to target GLBT books and authors.” However, after doing more checking, it seems that is not entirely the case but indeed a policy change.

    I take seriously what I write. I sought to verify every claim that was being made by the authors by going to Amazon’s web site and checking the rankings of several books and other items. I also noted in the post where corrections had been made.. ie Probst’s novel The Filly, removed from ranking and now back in the ranked list but miscategorized to literary criticism. If I am indeed in the wrong here, I will write a retraction but my checking into this does not indicate that to be the case. Until then, I stand by what I have written.

  2. Check out this news story:

    “Hacker and Amazon Claim Credit for The Great Amazon Gay Book Debacle – UPDATED”
    http://blog.wired.com/business/2009/04/hacker-claims-c.html

    Apparently, the de-ranking of BGLT books was done by a hacker who exploited a flaw in Amazon’s software through some clever scripting and hiring folks to sign up for bogus Amazon accounts to manipulate book rankings.

    From this news report and others, it appears that Amazon was careless or stupid – not evil.

    Steve-thanks for this but this report was updated again with an addendum of Amazon claiming the deranking was purely an internal glitch and not a hacking. I will wait for more of this story to come out before I exonerate Amazon’s responsibility.


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