April 12, 2009
ADDENDUM #4: Amazon has officially owned the cock up, still insisting it’s a glitch, but their poor customer relations has insured that about 75% of the public believe it’s all BS and they intended to do it. IMO is was a glitch, but a glitch in a nasty and troubling system that Amazon uses to suppress titles it doesn’t like. So this may be a good thing, as the PR backlash might encourage people to demand they remove all the de-ranking logic from their site. (After all, what’s the point when you cannot purchase anything w/o asserting you’re over eighteen anyway, unless it’s to protect the women and the servants.)
ADDENDUM #3: Amazon seems to be trying to fix this on the down low. No press comments, nothing on their site, but a little experimentation shows that rankings are re-appearing. MZB’s book from below has its rank back, as does Heather has Two Mommies. The History of Sexuality by Foucault is still SOL.
ADDENDUM #2: And Dear Author points out something that very strongly implies that whatever is happening at Amazon is happening on their own servers.
ADDENDUM: A very interesting theory brought to my attention by a tweet from Toby. Brings up other possibilities. Could Amazon have been the target of a botnet?
Again, we have an example why is it a really bad thing to have centralized distribution channels, either state or corporate. I pointed this out earlier with some e-book censoring going on with Apple’s iPhone application store. Well, I can’t say I’m surprised, but Amazon has decided to follow suit, and in a much more egregious fashion. They’ve decided that if your book is “adult” enough, well, they’ll just nuke the Amazon Rank for the title and make it impossible to find via search. Quoth one amazonian asshat:
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.
Give me a fucking break. Do you have any fucking idea what happens when you type “dildo” into the search bar on Amazon? Something a tad more offensive than a book title and description. Then there’s “sex toy“, yeah that’s way less of an affront than a plot description of a Marion Zimmer Bradly novel. It is so awesome to know that Amazon is protecting us from these kind of evil search results. (Warning: all the links to Amazon here, except the MZB one, very very NSFW.)
This has leapt past hypocritical and into the completely asinine. This is an obvious attempt to suppress just one kind of literature, (romance and erotica, especially gay romance and erotica) in one particular medium (i.e. Books), with some pathetic rationale that falls apart when the SAME SITE SELLS HARD PORN DVD’s AND ANATOMICALLY CORRECT VIBRATORS.
Obviously, I’m not the only person who thinks this way. And, people are already compiling a list of the affected authors. (A list that incudes such people as Quintin Crisp, Anne Rice, and titles such as Who’s Who in Gay and Lesbian History.)