Monday, April 13, 2009

#Amazon Fail

A couple of days ago, I received an e-mail requesting I sign a petition, concerning Amazon’s decision to exclude what they consider “adult” material from their searches and bestseller lists. The petition, set up by Erates, has received almost 20,000 signatures at last count. I signed of course and found more information on a Yahoo group I belong to, in fact on several groups. I asked permission to reprint the information here early this morning. I had to work, so that’s why I’m just getting to this now. I’m sure everyone involved in the genres knows about this by now and in fact Amazon has admitted that they made a “mistake”.

As far as I’m aware, this was done without notice or warning. Hell, at least this is the first I’m hearing of it.

Author Lee Rowan originally penned the following and as previously stated it’s on a few of the groups I belong to as well as being printed E-Book Addict:

I hate to interrupt your Easter/Passover/Easter festivities, (I suspect most of you won't see this until Monday anyway) but I think the timing of this strike against gay romance was quite deliberate, to pander to the religious dominionists. Some het erotica was targeted, but most of the books affected are glbt, fiction and nonfiction--titles as diverse as a survival guide for GLBT college kids and discussions of where glbt folk fit in religions.

What this means to an author? It's difficult to measure the exact effect (other than morale) of having a book on the Bestseller list, but having it there means any reader clicking on the category will see your book. Repeat exposure is a tried-and-true sales technique... so what this means is all the small-press glbt books are going to lose free advertising that we cannot afford to replace.

This is the letter from their representative "explaining" why they've changed a policy that has been working perfectly well for many years.

(note from Mark Probst, author and publisher, who finally pried an answer out of Amazon)
I have just received a reply from Amazon. I'm dumbfounded. I truly don't know where to go from here. Here is the response in full:

Amazon's reply:

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.
Hence, if you have further questions, kindly write back to us.
Best regards,
Ashlyn D
Member Services
Amazon.com Advantage

(end quotes)

So--PLEASE--consider whether you want to continue buying from a company that would do this to writers without any warning whatsoever. If you choose to buy elsewhere, write Amazon and let them know why.

This is the email addy you get after slogging through all the online barriers: connect-help@amazon.com

My colleague Erastes has posted some other suggestions for what you can do.
1. Sign the petition
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/in-protest-at-amazons-new-adult-policy

2. Write to the CEO
Jeffrey Bezos.
1200 12th Avenue South,
Seattle,
Washington 98144-2734,
United States
Phone: 206-266-1000
Fax: 206-622-2405

3. Contact info for Amazon for calls, emails, faxes letters
http://clicheideas.com/amazon.htm

A list of some of the banned books (growing by the minute) can be found here:
http://community.livejournal.com/meta_writer/11992.html?#cutid1

This is ridiculous. If a parent wants to keep a kid out of glbt books, it is the parent's responsibility to set browser controls. To deny authors and publishers the information on their books' sales ranking is discriminatory and unbusinesslike.


Then an article appeared on a site called seattle.pi.com where Amazon calls their mistake “embarrassing and ham-fisted” but at the same time they seem to say it was just a glitch? So what’s the deal? Several books have been re-listed but not all of them. Amazon has a lot more work to do. One commenter asked why Amazon hasn’t given a timeline when this will be fixed. Good question. Guess we’ll have to keep on them until we receive a good answer.

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