A current kerfuffle on the Internets has to do with Amazon de-ranking GLBT-themed books as reported on the LA Times Jacket Copy blog.
Amazon’s policy of removing “adult” content from its rankings seems to be both new and unevenly implemented. On Saturday, self-published author Mark R. Probst noticed that his book had lost its ranking, and made inquiries. The response he got from Amazon’s customer service explained:
In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude â€œadultâ€ 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.
Probst wrote a novel for young adults with gay characters set in the old West; he was concerned that gay-friendly books were being unfairly targeted. Amazon has not responded to the L.A. Times request for clarification.
Our research shows that these books have lost their ranking: “Running with Scissors” by Augusten Burroughs, “Rubyfruit Jungle” by Rita Mae Brown, “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” by Alison Bechdel, “The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1″ by Michel Foucault, “Bastard Out of Carolina” by Dorothy Allison (2005 Plume edition), “Little Birds: Erotica” by Anais Nin, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” by Jean-Dominque Bauby (1997 Knopf edition), “Maurice” by E.M. Forster (2005 W.W. Norton edition) and “Becoming a Man” by Paul Monette, which won the 1992 National Book Award.
Maybe this is just a new marketing gimmick – create viral annoyance to get your brand out there. Certainly Kindle 2 got a lot of attention when the text-to-speech feature was disabled because the Author’s Guild has put its head in a place that shouldn’t be mentioned in polite company.
In any case, libraries have one thing going for them – we defend intellectual freedom. Let’s see if we can tweet that to the world. Support your free (as in beer and as in speech) library.