Okay, it’s Easter Sunday (hope you’re enjoying it!), which is one of the last days of the year I want to wake up to such disturbing news, let alone have to post about it.
It seems, my friends, I’ve been amazon ranked.
You see, in the past few days Amazon has decided that its customers must be protected from books with “adult” content and has “delisted” the sales rankings for books with erotic or GLBT themes. (See Dear Author post here for initial story and analysis.) At first, I was relatively unconcerned, as I thought it just meant my book would no longer have that “sales ranking” number, which frankly, of late, only serves to depress me.
It turns out, however, that this “delisting” has a number of other negative consequences, since it also hinders direct searches for books that have been determined to be in the “adult” category. This means that, if you search on Amazon in “All Departments” for either my name or my book title or a combination of both, my book does not come back in the search results and, in fact, my last name is even crossed out as though I don’t exist. (Apparently, if you narrow your search to Books, I magically exist as does the bookThe problem with this is that, if you have just searched “All Departments” and have been assured no matching product exists, your next thought is not going to be, “Well, it’s a book. Maybe I should search there.” I mean, if there is no matching product in all departments, how can there be one in books?)
Now, I can (as a parent with young children) have some sympathy for the notion that content should be filterable to prevent the small fry from finding books that are inappropriate for them, and I would say the erotic books qualify as inappropriate (though the notion that any book with a GLBT theme, including non-fiction and YA stories, should be hidden from is simply appalling and mind-blowing). But why not have a simple toggle swtich–something to allow the end-user to indicate they DON’T want the adult content filtered out? Granted, kids could click on it, but really, they can click the “I’m an adult” link on YouPorn and get in, for crap’s sake.
Of course, while we’re at it, there is the fact that all novels with clearly sexual and adult content aren’t being blocked by Amazon. All of Laurell K. Hamilton’s books are still right there, easily accessible, and though I’ve never read any of her work, there’s no doubting they’re brimming with erotic content. The sheer arbitrariness of which books get delisted or not is breathtaking and frightening. With a single swoop of their pen, Amazon has decided that it’s perfectly okay to destroy some authors’ careers while preserving others. That is…atrocious.
So, please, until Amazon rectifies this grievous wrong, do not purchase anything from them. It isn’t often that I believe the world is out to get us, but in this case, paranoia is warranted. And please help all the authors who have been affected by this (it’s not just me, not by a longshot) by contacting Amazon’s customer support, either by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and the customer service phone number is 1-800-201-7575.
Thank you for your support.