Sunday, April 12, 2009 Removal of Sales Ranks from "Adult" Material. has found itself in a world of trouble based on its latest enterprising action back into censorship.

Mark Probst recently discovered his novel had been stripped of its sales rank. Curious, he e-mailed Amazon to find out why this had occurred. Amazon responded:
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 Advantage
Apparently, gay and lesbian material falls under the "adult" category, even if published as a young adult novel. But how does Amazon justify their sales ranks still affixed to vibrators, hard core porn, and other adult entertainment products?

Here is a list from listing some books that currently are and are not missing sales ranks:

Books Stripped Of Amazon Sales Rankings:
Ellen DeGeneres: A Biography
Outing Yourself: How To Come Out As Lesbian Or Gay To Your Family, Friends, And Co-Workers
Gay Life And Culture: A World History
Homosexuality And Civilization
The Way Out: The Gay Man's Guide to Freedom No Matter if You're in Denial, Closeted, Half In, Half Out, Just Out or Been Around the Block
The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World
Coming Out Of Shame: Transforming Gay And Lesbian Lives
The Gay And Lesbian Self-Esteem Book
Heather Has Two Mommies
Dude, You're A Fag: Masculinity And Sexuality In High School
Sexing The Body: Gender Politics And The Construction Of Sexuality
Chelsea Handler's My Horizontal Life: A Collection Of One Night Stands
Sex and the Single Girl by Helen Gurley Brown
Full Frontal Feminism by Feministing's Jessica Valenti
Lady Chatterley's Lover
For Yourself: The Fulfillment Of Female Sexuality
Queer Theory: An Introduction
Out In Theory: The Emergence Of Gay And Lesbian Anthropology

Books NOT Stripped Of Amazon Sales Rankings
Fear Of Flying
Belligerence and Debauchery: The Tucker Max Stories
The Complete A**hole's Guide To Handling Chicks
Lesbian Couples: A Guide To Creating Healthy Relationships
How To Be A Happy Lesbian, A Coming Out Guide
Ron Jeremy: The Hardest Working Man In Showbiz
Traci Lords: Underneath It All
I'm With The Band: Confessions Of A Groupie
Emma And Meesha My Boy: A Two Mom Story
Boy Meets Boy (YA)
She's Not There: A Life In Two Genders
How To Be A Super Hot Woman
The Complete Idiot's Guide To Amazing Sex
Female Chauvinist Pigs
Getting Off: Pornography And the End Of Masculinity
A Parent's Guide To Preventing Homosexuality
Gay Children, Straight Parents: A Plan For Family Healing
Confessions of a Video Vixen
The Vixen Diaries
Candy Girl: A Year In The Life Of An Unlikely Stripper by Diablo Cody

Really Amazon? Really?

A petition has already been set up for those who wish to protest. Twitter is aflame at #amazonfail, including best-selling authors Meg Cabot and Lilith Saintcrow.

As I type this, search restrictions on some of these banned books have been lifted, for books such as Brokeback Mountain. The LA Times has picked up on the story in their blogs section.

The rumour is that Amazon has done this to the book portion of their site so that gay and lesbian books do not rank on their new Kindle search and downloading systems. Why? I'm sure we can all come up with different presumptions. Some reasons include wanting to have a "mainstream friendly" search engine or guarding against bigot customer complaints about not filtering books.

The most profound impact of this situation? The number one book under the topic homosexuality is now A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality. This is a very sad day, indeed.

As a result, many twitterers (tweeters? Seriously, someone needs to make dictionary of terms to use and people need to agree on it) are resolving not to buy books from Amazon any longer. Some authors, including Sherwood Smith, are resolving to remove links from their websites to not endorse such an act.

What do you think of this? What do you think of the backlash? That is something every author needs to consider right now. Where do you stand when it comes to corporate involvement? Do you not mind policy changes that intercede on others intellectual babies or do you believe it is part of the author's role in publishing to voice opinions over a part of the consumer's process to receiving the book?

ETA: Indie bookstores are also taking a hit with this policy change. They are stuck in the crossfire between people boycotting Amazon while indie bookstores use Amazon as a mediator agent.

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