Is Amazonfail a Win for the Indies?

Whether Amazonfail was policy-induced censorship, a programming glitch, a hacker with too much free time on his hands since the final episode of Battlestar Gallactica, or a scheme perpetuated by the French to get back at us for bastardizing the croissant into the Croissan’Wich (sacre bleu!), there is a silver lining. When it comes to picking out some great new reads, I’ve turned off the one-click-and-your-done laziness in favor of interacting with real people again.

Talk about sacre bleu!

It’s true. Amazonfail gave me just the boot in the ass I needed to get back to the independent bookstores and libraries that make the book-lovin’ community in my neighborhood so unique and special. Check out my Amazonfail/Indiewin post on AuthorsNow and share your thoughts on what Amazon’s PR nightmare could mean for libraries and indies.

Amazon Fails with Gay “Book Burning” B.S.

Monster-sized online book retailer Amazon.com is “burning” books, stripping from sales rankings and search results books featuring homosexual characters and themes, feminism, help for rape and suicide prevention, and any other books with content Amazon now deems “adult.” Even books written specifically for or about young adults and children — including kids’ picture books — aren’t immune from AMAZONFAIL!

Since when does gay automatically = adult content? Since never, in my book, but thanks to Amazonfail, about two days ago.

From affected author Mark R. Probst’s LiveJournal:

On Amazon.com two days ago, mysteriously, the sales rankings disappeared from two newly-released high profile gay romance books: “Transgressions” by Erastes and “False Colors” by Alex Beecroft. Everybody was perplexed. Was it a glitch of some sort? The very next day HUNDREDS of gay and lesbian books simultaneously lost their sales rankings, including my book “The Filly.” There was buzz, What’s going on? Does Amazon have some sort of campaign to suppress the visibility of gay books? Is it just a major glitch in the system? Many of us decided to write to Amazon questioning why our rankings had disappeared. Most received evasive replies from customer service reps not versed in what was happening. As I am a publisher and have an Amazon Advantage account through which I supply Amazon with my books, I had a special way to contact them. 24 hours later I had a 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

As Mark points out in his post, Amazon de-listed and de-ranked his books featuring gay content on the grounds of being “adult,” but the ever-popular hardcover, “Playboy: Complete Centerfolds,” is still ranked.

Seriously, Jeff Bezos? Are you kidding me?! What century is this, anyway?

Check out Jezebel’s take and the open letter to Jeff Bezos at Publishing Talk. And in case there’s any doubt as to how quickly this is spreading, here: #amazonfail on Twitter.

As a result of this utterly craptastic homophobic censorship B.S., I’ve removed all of Twenty Boy Summer’s Amazon links and replaced them with links to BN.com and Indiebound and hope that other authors will continue to do the same (many already have!), and that readers will direct all online book purchases away from Amazon.com.

You know, I’ve been Amazon customer since the mid-1990s, back when they used to send me free coffee mugs just for being loyal. Now? I’m just disgusted. Keep your coffee mug, Jeff. You fail! Take this!

amazonfail