April 12th, 2009


And a Happy Easter to you, Amazon [/sarcasm]

*clambers onto soapbox*

So my friends list is buzzing over the news that Amazon.com is hiding the sales ranks of some books featuring homosexual characters. When the author of a de-listed “young adult” title wrote to Amazon for an explanation, he received this reply:
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

A commentator pointed out,
...a quick search reveals that books that have had their sales ranks removed include James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain, Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, and Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness. None of which can be called "erotica" by any stretch of the imagination.

(For reference, the only "sex scene" in The Well of Loneliness consists in its entirety of the words "And that night they were not divided.")

ETA: If I weren’t so angry, I might find this hilarious. The Well of Loneliness isn’t ranked, but The Lesbian Kama Sutra is. So, non-explicit novel = bad, but how-to book = okay.

Further ETA: Did Amazon de-list the 20th anniversary edition of Heather Has Two Mommies? You know, the children’s book? Some of the older editions are ranked, but not that one.

For further information:

A round-up of LJ posts on the situation is available here.

A list of un-ranked fiction is being assembled here.

Here’s a list of non-fiction titles whose rankings have vanished; the subcategory of transgender biographies has its own list here.

Google bombs, away!

Courtesy of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books:
Amazon Rank
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): amazon ranked

1. To censor and exclude on the basis of adult content in literature (except for Playboy, Penthouse, dogfighting and graphic novels depicting incest orgies).
2. To make changes based on inconsistent applications of standards, logic and common sense.

Etymology: from 12 April 2009 removal of sales rank figures from books on Amazon.com containing sexual, erotic, romantic, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or queer content, rendering them impossible to find through basic search functions at the top of Amazon.com’s website. Titles stripped of their sales rankings include “Bastard Out of Carolina,” “Lady Chatterly’s Lover,” several romance novels, GLBTQ fiction novels, YA books, and narratives about gay people.

Example of usage: “I tried to do a report on Lady Chatterly’s Lover for English Lit, but my teacher amazon ranked me and I got an F on grounds that it was obscene.”

Alternate usage: “My girlfriend wanted to preserve her virginity, and I was happy to respect that, then she amazon ranked and decided anal sex was okay.”