Here, have a heaping helping of #amazonfail

So as I was waiting for Norwescon to wind down, I settled in to hang out in the lobby and check in online. And I found that the Internet has apparently exploded this afternoon. Yeah yeah yeah, I hear you say, isn’t the Internet always exploding about something or other?

This one, though, is personal. They’re calling it #amazonfail on Twitter, and here’s the sitch: apparently Amazon has started de-ranking books on “adult” topics. This has the effective result of making books so quantified very, very hard to find on the site; it’s the equivalent of pulling them off the shelves in a physical bookstore and forcing people to go to the Customer Service desk to ask for copies.

The problem? By “adult”, they’re including a whole host of GBLT-themed books, many of which aren’t “adult” in theme at all, such as Heather Has Two Mommies and John Barrowman’s autobiography. To add insult to injury, if you search for “homosexuality” on Amazon right now, the top hit is something called A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality. Books of similar nature also show up in the top ten search results.

And this hits me where it hurts. Those of you who have read Faerie Blood know that two of the second-tier characters are a male couple, and should I get to write Books 2 and 3, chances are good that a couple of the other second-tier, female characters will form a couple as well. So if this policy of Amazon’s remains in place by the time Faerie Blood comes out, it’s certainly possible that you’d have a hard time finding the book there.

While I respect the principle of needing to be careful with adult content on a site that can be searched by minors, I am deeply offended that what’s getting called “adult” in this case is so blatantly discriminatory. I’ll be telling them as much, and I’ll be prepared to take my business elsewhere if this policy does not reverse itself pronto.

Pertinent links I’ve found so far include:

For those of you on Twitter, follow the #amazonfail hashtag. There’s also a petition you can sign if you choose to here.

ETA: Since I’ve been asked on Facebook, here’s a quote from about how to express your opinion on this matter to Amazon:

Amazon executive customer service email is: and the customer service phone number is 1-800-201-7575.

5 Replies to “Here, have a heaping helping of #amazonfail”

  1. So *that’s* what’s been going on! I was wondering (been busy, hadn’t had time to search what’s up)….

    And boy, that *is* discriminatory. As a librarian it makes me cringe not just because it’s blatantly discriminatory, but it is a form of CENSORSHIP.

    I understand the parental need to “shelter” our children from learning too much too soon, but geez! It’s a massive Internet bookstore, and what they’re doing would be like a public library locking up their adult section behind bars. Um, hello? What people read is their business, and it’s not your place to tell them what they can and can’t read. Even children (because that’s the parent’s *responsibility* to monitor what their kids are up to).

    If people are concerned what children can get into online, then their parents need to be more proactive. They need to grow up and take some responsibility for their get. Set some boundaries and actually enforce them.

    It’s not *our* responsibility to monitor others’ children.

    What on earth is our society coming to??

    1. Yeah, it’s a big ol’ mess all around. As a general update, as of yesterday afternoon Amazon did issue a statement calling this an “embarrassing, ham-fisted cataloguing error”, and said that the problem would be corrected. I haven’t yet been able to independently verify this but I’m looking on the net this morning to see what folks are saying.

  2. Well, if it’s a glitch, it’s a glitch, and hopefully can be fixed. (But it still sounds a wee bit fishy, since glitches usually happen ‘across the board,’ and don’t target specific genres of books….)

    1. Indeed, the fact that so many GBLT-themed books is a big point of concern I’m still seeing voiced out there. Other genres were hit, yeah, but it’s telling that the ones I’m hearing mentioned are all non-mainstream sorts of things like erotica in the romance genre, pagan books, books about dealing with disabilities, and the like.

      At this point I’m willing to buy that okay, yeah, somebody might have committed a major fuckup and accidentally flipped the “adult” bit on on over 50,000 books. The problem I still have though was aptly expressed by Charles Stross over here: to wit, that there was a mechanism in place to begin with that could have this kind of global effect. Even if the intent of such a global mechanism is not initially political, it’s all too vulnerable to being manipulated for political reasons. I’m very much of the mind that instead there should be some sort of user-changeable setting that says “don’t show me items in the categories I specify”. Whatever those categories may be, adult, all-ages, or what.

      I’m also bugged that there hasn’t been any real report out of Amazon as to what exactly got screwed up. It’d just be nice to, y’know, know.

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