Shall we call this AmazonFail 09?
It seems that Amazon.com and its subsidiaries Amazon.ca and Amazon.uk – and possibly other Amazon subsidiaries as well – have decided that books addressing gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and other queer issues – and a number of other books dealing with issues of sexual diversity - are very naughty books. You can still buy them, if you know how to search for them, but books that have been identified as dealing with these issues have been stripped of their sales rankings and therefore do not appear in bestseller lists or (I am told, I haven’t in the past used Amazon often enough to know the ins and outs) certain kinds of searches based on sales rankings.
One small press publisher who noticed that the titles he sells had lost their sales rankings asked Amazon what was up, and received this charming note in 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.
People who have been checking out the extent of the stripping have reported that, while the exact list of “disappeared” books varies from country to country, the kinds of books being excluded are:
*Gay and lesbian romance which is not sexually explicit, or is no more sexually explicit that your typical straight romance
*Literary classics such as James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain, Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness, Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle and E. M. Forster’s Maurice
*Books on gay and lesbian parenting
*Non-fiction books on everything from theological discussions of homosexuality in the church to gay histories to reports on the US military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy
*Biographies and autobiographies of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trangender people from John Barrowman to Christopher Isherwood to Harvey Milk to Oscar Wilde
Apparently, fiction and non-fiction books dealing with BDSM, polyamory, and other kinds of sexual difference, ranging from Jacqueline Carey’s very popular Kushiel fantasy series to non-fiction books on sexuality aimed at people with disabilities, have also lost their rankings.
A master list of books known to be affected on at least one of the Amazon websites can be found here.
Information on how to complain to Amazon.com and its various subsidiaries is being posted in various places. On-line petitions are in process and strategising for protest is happening. For more information on taking action, look through the posts being archived here.
As for me, I certainly won’t be shopping at any Amazon website until this policy has been changed, and I certainly urge anyone who reads this to consider doing the same – and to let the Amazon website that serves your country know exactly why you are refusing to buy anything more from them.
And if you can think of anything else you can do to bring pressure to bear, the more power to you, and to us all.