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[Via james_nicoll :] As noted in this post by Mark R. Probst, a couple days ago Amazon.com began removing the sales rankings from hundreds of gay- and lesbian-themed books. Probst's novel The Filly was one of those affected. When he wrote to Amazon to find out what was up, he 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."

The definition of "adult material" Amazon is choosing to apply here apparently includes gay-, lesbian-, and transgender-themed fiction and nonfiction, whether or not there's any explicit sex. Books stripped of their rankings as of this posting include Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain, Nicola Griffith's Ammonite, Slow River, and the Aud series, E.M. Forster's Maurice, Randy Shilts's The Mayor of Castro Street, Dan Savage's The Commitment, and Vito Russo's The Celluloid Closet. (meta_writer has a longer list of affected titles here).

Books presently NOT deprived of their sales rankings include such children's fare as Playboy: the Complete Centerfolds (currently ranked #61,464), Dwayne Bell's Super Beauties: Nude and Natural (#79,360), and Peter Gorman's Touch: Naked girls home alone (#388,338).

One anomaly several people have noted is that the Kindle editions of affected titles have been exempted from the rankings purge, so if you check the best seller list in Amazon's "Gay and Lesbian" section, it now consists almost entirely of Kindle downloads. This has led to some interesting conspiracy theories.

My own hope is that this will turn out to be a misguided policy decision by some lower-level Amazon manager left to mind the store over the holiday weekend (or, better yet, the result of Outside Agitators somehow gaming the customer feedback system). We'll see. In the meantime, there's a petition collecting digital signatures here, and you can contact Amazon directly here.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 12th, 2009 09:57 pm (UTC)
As I said in my LJ and elsewhere, I suspect this is result of a glitch in Amazon's back end, and unfortunately, it came to light Easter weekend, when at least half of everybody is out of town someplace.

A bunch of noise on people's desks tomorrow will help get this resolved quickly, though.
Apr. 13th, 2009 12:59 am (UTC)
Sitting in my comfy zone of commie Australia, it seems to me to be yet another example of how conservative thinking in US of A is panically running into walls ever since a black guy got to stand behind the presidential seal.
Apr. 13th, 2009 01:22 am (UTC)
Amazon and the USA are not interchangable. I think.
I get what you're saying, and agree to some extent, but I'd argue that Amazon policy (no matter how stupid) isn't much of a hint as to my country's mood. Crazed gun-hoarders shooting at policeman, on the other hand...
Apr. 13th, 2009 01:24 am (UTC)
Re: Amazon and the USA are not interchangable. I think.
And what's with all this tea-bagging you guys are doing?
Apr. 13th, 2009 02:14 am (UTC)
Re: Amazon and the USA are not interchangable. I think.
We've always hated tea and have actively sought the means with which to destroy it. Don't Aussie schools teach anything?
(Deleted comment)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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