Monday, April 13, 2009

Leaving Amazon

By now, it's likely that you've heard (via Towleroad, 365gay.com, and other sources) that this weekend, Amazon.com decided to remove adult titles from its sales rankings (which means, they disappear from search results). However, it seems the only books that disappeared from Amazon were gay- and lesbian-themed — hundreds of works of GLBT literature were removed from Amazon's rankings, including Brokeback Mountain, Running with Scissors, and works by Edmund White, James Baldwin, and Michelangelo Signorile; as well as non-fiction works like The Advocate College Guide for GLBT Students.

Meanwhile, nothing seems to have changed, at all, regarding straight erotica. You can still find all the Playboy and stright X-rated DVDs you want on Amazon, as well as books about dogfighting and other "adult" material.

Also note that if you type the word "homosexuality" into the search engine at Amazon, your number one result is a book called, A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality.

I contacted Amazon.com and asked them to delete my account and WishList and encouraged the fans of my photography page on Facebook to do the same. I received the following response from Amazon, which confirmed what bloggers are saying:
Thanks for contacting us. We recently discovered a glitch in our systems
and it's being fixed.Thanks again for contacting us. We hope to see you again
soon.
Personally, I find their one-line explanation as to a "glitch" that just happens to affect ONLY gay- and lesbian-themed works completely unacceptable. And besides, what is Amazon doing deranking any product, at all? I would understand if they chose to derank their books about, say, dogfighting (since it is illegal in all 50 states and carries a felony charge in most), but deranking anything that's legal to consume is censorship, plain and simple. I plan to spend today researching Powell's Books and BarnesandNoble.com, and moving my Amazon WishList items into new accounts on both. Powell's has been selling books longer than Amazon, anyway.

Please follow suit.

4 comments:

  1. I'm going to withhold action here and give them a bit of the benefit of the doubt. There are probably thousands of algorithms and lines of code involved in what Amazon does and since this is a first offense, I don't think all of us should overreact. Would you want someone to respond that way if something strange all of a sudden happened with your photography site?

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  2. Done! While I'm all for giving people the benefit of the doubt, the whole "glitch" explanation sounds a little too convenient.

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  3. I agree, Nightfly. It looks like this issue might not be Amazon's fault, exclusively. But if something happened on my photo site that singled out and alienated a specific and targeted segment of my customers, I would be quick and thorough in issuing an explanation, an apology, and a solution. I think Amazon wants us to pretend they didn't get caught.

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  4. O.K. I LOVED Amazon.com. Loved (past tense)
    So, I did a search (I work in reference at the county library... I know how to do a search). The first search with just "Homosexuality" did bring up mostly anti-homosexual items like:
    -A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality
    -Can Homosexuality Be Healed?
    So, they find THAT term objectionable, apparently.

    Then I did a seach of "Gay", "Gay Sex" and "Lesbian" and "Lesbian Sex" and "Gay and Lesbian Erotica". Bingo! I hit the motherload! I brought up:
    -The Joy of Gay Sex, Revised & Expanded Third Edition
    -Lesbian Sex: 101 Lovemaking Positions
    -Unmasked: Erotic Tales of Gay Superheroes

    I think that on the surface, the "Focus on the Family" types have gotten to them and that they want to display a "United Christian Front" (as if we are not Christian, I know, a different issue).
    But if one delves deeper (pun intended) then one can find the GLBTQ-centric items.
    My usual course of action is to patronize the small independent booksellers, like Von's here at Purdue. That should be the way we all approach our shopping, whenever possible and feasible. Amazon's "glitch" has given us pause and time to rally ourselves. We know how they roll, now. Let's take our $$ to Gay-Friendly booksellers.

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