Sunday, April 12, 2009

Amazon Fail

I don't know what the hell Amazon.com is thinking these days. I come home from a very nice Easter service to find all of my portals to the internet on *fire* with their latest insanity. Twitter, in particular. The number one trending topic there is actually called #amazonfail.

A few days ago, people have been noticing that the Amazon sales rankings on certain books were mysteriously missing. Most assumed it was just some sort of tech glitch. Now, as I understand it, YA author Mark Prosbt inquired and got the following 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.

Hence, if you have further questions, kindly write back to us.

Best regards,

Ashlyn D
Member Services
Amazon.com Advantage

Which is when everything hit the fan.

The level of wrong in all of this is wicked hard for me to articulate. The idea that I'm being "shielded" from "adult" material when I have no wish to be because I am, after all, an adult. The fact that Amazon has shown NO consistency in choosing which materials fall into that category and which don't. And the awfully convenient sweep of GLBTQ titles underneath the virtual carpet, regardless of whether they contain sexual content or not.

I can no longer find Want Me by searching on Amazon's front page. A friend in Florida could earlier this afternoon, but in my experience this just means the change hasn't filtered through all the servers yet. You can find the book by searching in the Books section, but who knows how long that will last. You might be able to find it by browsing lists and or search terms in the Books section, but I haven't been able to yet.

But, like I said, it's not just sexually explicit material suddenly deemed too adult for the average consumer. A glance at http://twitter.com/timeline/home#search?q=%23amazonfail at any given second reveals more stunned people listing books that have essentially been blacklisted. Non-fiction books about lesbian pregancy. A guide for parents on preventing teen suicide. The list gets longer and more bizarre by the hour, and Meta Writer is actually trying to keep track of it here: http://community.livejournal.com/meta_writer/11992.html?thread=220376#t220376.

The book on preventing teen suicide broke my heart. Then I found out that a parents' guide to preventing teen HOMOSEXUALITY is alive and well in the search/sales rankings and I got physically ill.

I'm still feeling sick to my stomach, so we're moving on to the "what can we do" phase of this blog because I need a way to channel this.




  1. Sign the petition protesting Amazon's new "Adult" policy. It started at out zero this morning and is now clocking in at over 2500 signatures.

  2. If you're in the U.S., call Amazon's customer service number at 1-800-201-7575. They've currently been flooded with so many calls that they've requested email complaints only, but still make a call and then:

  3. Email Amazon customer service. This page (http://copperbadge.livejournal.com/2742329.html) gives an excellent guide on how to do it if you find yourself daunted, or--like me--you were too pissed to think coherently. Also, you can complain directly through your Amazon account.

  4. The Smart Bitches have set a most excellent Google bomb. All you have to do is LINK TO http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/amazonrank with “Amazon Rank” as the anchor text. The link should look like this:

    Amazon Rank


If you have more ideas, I'm open to hear them. And if you'd like to learn more about the Fail, check out these sites:

http://copperbadge.livejournal.com/2742329.html

http://community.livejournal.com/meta_writer/11369.html

http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2009/04/12/amazon-censors-its-rankings-search-results-to-protect-us-against-glbt-books/

http://booksquare.com/open-letter-to-amazon-regarding-recent-policy-changes/

http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/weblog/comments/amazon-rank/

2 comments:

warrioritagaki said...

Well Rowan I didnt find "Want me" either which is a shame thats a wonderful book. Warm Rush is still there. I signed the petition and sent out links to my other friends so that should add on 3 more. I hope we can make the goal this is a bunch of malarky. The that really gets me is keeping all the explicit heterosexual stuff up like it dosent count to them. You know I always feel theres an underlining sexism to that like its okay one way but not another.

Rowan McBride said...

Thank you so much for the support! It's amazing how many people went to bat for this. I think I remember Alex Woolfson saying that he couldn't imagine this kind of public reaction ten years ago.

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