The online universe is alive this morning with news of Amazon.com’s move to remove sales ranks from so called “adult” themed books. This seems to mean gay and lesbian books, specifically. By the time you read this, this may all well be old news; my bunions tell me Amazon is going to fix this issue today, in response to the wild and rightful cries of outrages, particularly on Twitter. (if you Tweet, you can follow the ongoing debacle via the subject #amazonfail, although I also suspect that Twitter and #amazonfail may well crash this morning as the internet fire grows.)
I’m one of the banned authors, and it’s probably worth mentioning why this matters. I noticed the change on Saturday, and thought it was just an odd “glitch” (as amazon is now claiming it to be). What happens, though, is that you can’t find my books by searching for them by topic; (although this is inconsistent throughout the country, depending on what server you get). If you search for “homosexuality”, though, you’ll get a half dozen books about how to prevent it; you wont’ get a single book by anyone who is actually gay.
She’s Not There, as most of you know, was one of the first bestselling books by a trans American; the fact that it had “national bestseller” on the cover helped legitimize it for lots of people who might have been timid about reading it. (Which they shouldn’t have been, but that’s another story.) That designation as “national bestseller” was in part a result of its amazon ranking. It would not recieve that ranking now, as a result of this policy.
More importantly, readers looking for my book by subject might not be able to find it as a result of this policy.
Amazon should know better. They’ve de-ranked books by James Baldwin, Rita Mae Brown, Christopher Isherwood. Mein Kampf stays. AMerican Psycho stays. “Heather Has Two Mommies” is out.
As I said, my guess is that we’ll see a quick retreat by Amazon on this, but this is another good reason why we should trust our local booksellers instead of mega-corporations.