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Random :: Amazon's big screw up
  submitted on April 13, 2009, 6:44 AM


Via Publishers Weekly

A groundswell of outrage, concern and confusion sprang up over the weekend, largely via Twitter, in response to what authors and others believed was a decision by Amazon to remove "adult" titles from its sales rankings. On Sunday evening, however, an Amazon spokesperson said that a "glitch" had occurred in its sales ranking feature that was in the process of being fixed. The spokesperson added that there was no new policy regarding "adult" titles. As of Monday morning, a number of titles affected by the so-called glitch are still without sales rankings.

For most of the weekend on Twitter, in conversations with the hash tag "#amazonfail," users were discussing the fact that the e-tailer was removing the sales rankings for books that it deemed featured "adult" content. Many readers, and writers, decried the fact that Amazon appears to be removing the sales ranking for titles that feature gay and lesbian characters and/or themes.

The director of the Erotic Authors Association, who goes by the pen name Erastes, told PW that many of her members "noticed their titles had been stripped of their sales rankings" on Amazon. One, Mark Probst, contacted a customer service representative at Amazon and wrote about the exchange on his blog. Probst wrote that the Amazon rep responded to his inquiry by saying that "'adult' material" is being excluded from appearing in "some searches and best seller lists" as a "consideration of our entire customer base."

Whether a glitch or new policy, titles like James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room and Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain are among the those that have lost their sales ranking.


This has caused quite a bit of commotion on the Internet, and if I had to guess I would say Amazon will either be fixing its "glitch" or amending whatever policy they decided to institute some time this week. When you're an internet-based company, it's probably not a good idea to piss off a large part of your internet-based customer group.

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