(Image from Bill T)
So, as most of us expected, Amazon says that the stripping of ranking from LGTBQ materials that I screamed about in my last post was a glitch. I call bullshit. If it were a glitch, then the authors who had complained to Amazon as far back as February about having lost their rankings would not have all along been treated to responses explaining that their materials had been classified as adult and stripped of ranking.
Meta Writer on LiveJournal has begun compiling a list of de-ranked books, the “strip-list” as I like to call it, and I think maybe there is something going on over on Twitter as well, but I draw the line of my technogeekery at Twitter, so I don’t know. What I do know is that Heather has Two Mommies is on that list. Heather has Two Mommies!?! In what fucking universe?
Nicola Griffith’s Always was reported to be stripped of rank, too, but I checked just now and it appears to be ranked in Kindle sales, although not in Books. Oh, proprietary software, that’s *another* rant…but I’ll save it for another day. The point is, Griffith, one of my favourite authors, as I believe I have mentioned before, doesn’t write smut. Not that I would mind if she did; I seem to recall complaining that there wasn’t enough sex for me in Slow River. But I digress.
The point is that books like these, children’s books and YA novels and mysteries and sci-fi adventures and historical documents and canonical works and scholarly texts and and and and…are being knocked off of the front page of any search. If I search for Heather has Two Mommies, it doesn’t show up until much further down the page. Meanwhile, Playboy’s top ten moments in whack-off history is doing just fine. The number one hit for a search on the word “homosexuality” is A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, followed by a slew of books on “healing” gayness.
Now that really is some kind of glitch.
Jane at Dear Author has provided not only an excellent concise breakdown of the events so far, but also a phone number, email address and even a template for what you may like to write to the folks at Amazon to make your voice heard. Building on that template, I sent them the following:
It has come to my attention that you are de-ranking books, supposedly on the basis of “adult content.” It appears that by Amazon standards “adult content” is defined as books that have anything at all to do with LGBTQ characters, authors, issues, or references, with some general erotica being roped in, as well. In the meantime, however, books on the illegal, inhumane, and horrifyingly violent sport of dog fighting remain ranked and appear on a first page search under “dog fighting”: http://bit.ly/18l70B. Further, a search under “playboy” yields as the first return “Playboy: Wet and Wild Complete Collection,” followed by “Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds,” and so on. At what point did “adult content” exclude nude women and dogs killing other dogs for sport? Meanwhile, “Heather Has Two Mommies” is stripped of its rank. By what criteria is this groundbreaking children’s book considered “adult content”?
I have seen the claims published in “Publisher’s Weekly” and the Associated Press about a glitch in the system causing this, but I am not convinced. Authors who complained about the lost rankings to their books have been receiving the response that their materials have been classsified as “adult” for over a month. This has been an ongoing and sneaky obliteration of the availability of LGTBQ materials. The only “glitch” here is hatred and the misconception that LGTBQ literature is obscene.
This is nothing short of discrimination; this is nothing short of censorship. This is nothing a business that claims commercial integrity at even the most basic level would do. Consequently, as a longtime Amazon customer, I look forward to an immediate reversal of this ridiculous policy. Otherwise, I will purchase elsewhere and encourage everyone else I know to do the same.
I already purchase elsewhere—I used to work in an indie bookstore and am devastated by the state of the publishing and bookselling industries—but I guess I have used them from time to time, very grudgingly. No longer. Stick it to ‘em.