Sunday, April 12, 2009

#Amazon FAIL

You thought Twitter was this pointless, grating, self-serving site but look! So did I! But last week, Demi Moore's twits? Twats? alerted the authorities to save the life of a woman who was tweeting about how she was in the process of slicing open her veins.

I can also see how Twitter could help to galvanize a protest, or gather evidence from the scene of a crime. And's something that affects me directly!

If you're on Twitter--you'll see it's all abuzz with #amazonfail tags. It turns out that Amazon has de-ranked most of their gay titles. Why? Because they've deemed them "adult" (all gay stuff!).

Now what exactly is a "sales ranking", and why does it matter? Well, so if you search "gay travel in South America" you would normally find my book--because it's ranked, and it's on their site. But try that now. You won't find my book. Try typing my NAME in an Amazon search. You still won't find my book!!!

Unbelievable. Try typing "Gay Cowboys" and you will not find Brokeback Mountain!

Oh yes, the titles are still all there. Here's a link to mine. But you can't find them unless you type in the exact title...and go under not general, but the "books" department. It gets better-- if you go to Amazon and search the word "homosexuality", the first result you'll find is this:
#1"A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality"!!!!
#3? "You don't have to be gay"
#5) "Can Homosexuality Be Healed?"

Try it! This is insane. They're all faith based books! So who is behind this? Sally Kern? Jerry Falwell? Or the homophobes at Amazon? Time for a boycott!

Author Mike Probst wrote to Amazon about his de-ranking and got this response:

"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.

So what is "Adult"? Did you know.... "American Psycho", Bret Easton Ellis' story of a sadistic murderer is still ranked. So is "Playboy: Six Decades of Centerfolds".

BUT....the biography of Ellen DeGeneres is de-ranked!!

The LA Times
just covered this story, too. They showed how the #1 gay book right now, "Unfriendly Fire" --Nathaniel Frank's well-reviewed empirical analysis of military policy "don't ask, don't tell"----does not have a sales rank! Which means, as the LA Times puts it:

("Unfriendly Fire") would not show up in Amazon's bestseller lists, even if it sold more copies than the "Twilight" series. In some cases, being de-ranked also means being removed from Amazon's search results.

Some writers have already come up with their own definition for "Amazon Rank" which ought to make urban-dictionary very soon! I just called and spoke to a frantic Amazon operator who's now told me it's a "glitch" and will be resolved. Seems a pretty targeted "glitch" and, what's more-- on the site you can see some GLBT authors were complaining about being de-ranked back in February.

To help change this, please sign this petition. Or you can go here and join this Facebook Group.

I hate to admit this--but if this blatantly homophobic "glitch" is suddenly fixed, we have Twitter to thank.

All hail the Twitter-verse!

----*UPDATE* this "glitch" was fixed 12:00 am Tuesday---


Anonymous said...

This is appalling. How can it be such a targeted glitch? I read around and discovered the only "adult" categories being de-ranked are "gay" material...also found this blog post which explains how to buy from Amazon, without giving $$ to amazon (with the free-agent vendors, which Amazon hides in small print on each product page)

Dr. Frank said...

Jesse, I too was OUTRAGED to say the least. My book was also de-ranked. A health book for Pete's sake. What does this say about our community and how corporations perceive us? It deeply saddened me particularly for people like you and I who write, live and work to promote gay acceptance. I hope this gets overturned. Thank you for writing about this subject and raising awareness.

Tony said...

Hey Jesse -

As of Monday AM, looks like they may have fixed the "glitch."
But what a crock of ....
Didn't know about it till it was menitoned on NPR earlier today.
Signed the petition on "WE" anyway.

Don said...

You said it all! I signed with pleasure. This is no "glitch" and is targeted for sure!!

Z said...

No wonder I have never liked Amazon! I always buy books from Barnes & Noble

Anonymous said...

Hi Jesse, My partner and I will order from Amazon NO MORE. That really stinks. Movienut