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Archive for April 12th, 2009

Sunday, April 12th, 2009
Amazon Behaving Badly

Dear Author and Booksquare have stories about how Amazon has de-ranked the books of several authors it deems to have “adult content”…whatever that means. I guess “adult” is code for “inappropriate” in this context. Erotic romance, erotica and some literary titles have lost their rankings. Why does this matter? First, censorship is a bad thing. Second, for the authors who have seen their books de-ranked it’s terrible because de-ranking the books means those books don’t come up when someone does a search in books under the author’s name. It also impacts bestseller lists and a host of other Amazon functions. Basically, the authors’ books disappear in some contexts. It’s as if they don’t exist.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, Amazon is calling this a glitch. Convenient, huh? Amazing how the word “glitch” came up only after people started really complaining. If you don’t believe Amazon’s excuse – and, honestly, I don’t – there is a petition you can sign.

And for those who think this is bad but that it doesn’t impact you? Yeah, well, it does. Tomorrow the bookstore could decide that what you read and write is inappropriate and make it disappear from the search screen. Don’t think it can’t happen. James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room and Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain, both kind of big books, got de-ranked. Who knows which books are next.