Sunday, April 12, 2009

AmazonFail, or, Dirty!

[Yes, that is Tom Everett Scott, best known as Zack Morris's sidekick in Dead Man on Campus. And that movie where he played a young Tom Hanks.]

Amazon Follies, by Mark R. Probst.

Amazon under fire for perceived anti-gay policy, by Andrea James, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

AmazonFail: A Twitter movement in action, by C. A. Bridges, Daytona Beach News-Journal Online.

Online censorship? Amazon strips ranking of Gay and Lesbian books, by Mari Kurisato, Denver Internet Examiner. Emphases mine.


One of the most powerful indicators of how a book is doing sales wise and can be a leading factor for generating or killing interest in a book. Though many factors go into the sales ranking system, the primary driving factor has been sales-number of books sold. Using that method, a shopper could look at similar titles within a genre and see which books were generating sales. The method however, now seems altered, in a manner that feels similar to the unsavory practice of banning books.


Amazon isn't actually no longer selling the books, of course, but it is delisting “adult” titles from the sales ranking system. Which would seem like a fine policy, if it were applied equally. But as an online petition points out the following publications remain on the sales ranking system:


-Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds by Chronicle Books (pictures of over 600 naked women)
--Rosemary Rogers' Sweet Savage Love" (explicit heterosexual romance);
--Kathleen Woodiwiss' The Wolf and the Dove (explicit heterosexual romance);
--Bertrice Smal's Skye o'Malley which are all explicit heterosexual romances
--and Alan Moore's Lost Girls (which is a very explicit sexual graphic novel)


while the following LGBT books have been removed:


--Radclyffe Hill's classic novel about lesbians in Victorian times, The Well of Loneliness, and which contains not one sentence of sexual description;
--Mark R Probst's YA novel The Filly about a young man in the wild West discovering that he's gay (gay romance, no sex);
--Charlie Cochrane's Lessons in Love (gay romance with no sex);
--The Dictionary of Homophobia: A Global History of Gay & Lesbian Experience, edited by Louis-George Tin (non-fiction, history and social issues);
--and Homophobia: A History by Bryan Fone (non-fiction, focus on history and the forms prejudice against homosexuality has taken over the years).


Overall, the sales rank delisting may seem like a minor issue, but it can have a very serious impact for publishers and authors of lesser known works which depend on the sales ranking to get noticed and help spread the word. Amazon pulls unranked books from search results.



Do not worry, hetero Amazon users: 9 1/2 Weeks, Wild Orchid, SuicideGirls: Beauty Redefined, How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale and XXX: 30 Porn-Star Portraits are still available on Amazon for purchase and rating.

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