Previous Entry Share Next Entry
From “Transgressions” by Erastes to “False Colors” by Alex Beecroft
An iron curtain has descended across Amazon.

Although by the oddest coincidence this new Amazon policy seems to have the side-effect of steering people towards Kindle.

  • 1
Funny that, eh?


"We're protecting literate internet users from the existence of gay people, as well as tiny thumbnails and keywords that they might see in a search function! We're just doing our best for the customer. Don't be angry, gay people!"

Yes, my books (written under my pseudonym) are also 'gone'.

@jane_l (of Dear Author) "So on a front page search you can find books on dog fighting, a sickening despicable act, but not about love and sex. Gd forbid."

I edit this again to note that one of my books -- the only one available on Kindle -- can be found by directly searching for my pseudonym. Nothing else shows up.

Edited at 2009-04-12 05:07 pm (UTC)

Meanwhile, the Gor paperbacks continue happily with their sales rankings intact...

Has Amazon been under pressure from the fundies recently, or has it stepped up in the last few months?

It seems only books put into the "Gay & Lesbian" categories lost their sales ranking, like Caribbean Pleasure Industry from University Of Chicago Press. Authors like Mercedes Lackey, Laurie J. Marks, and Tanya Huff who avoid those categories still have sales ranks.

Hmm. There seems to be the feeling amongst authors of gay adult literature that this is somehow anti-gay, but some experimental searching seems to show the same standards across sexualities: erotica is excluded. Books of gay relationship advice are included, novels about serious gay relationships are included - Amazon has across the board stopped listing sales rank for whatever it has deemed smut, but it's wildly misleading to say that "everything gay" has been deemed smut. It looks to be just gay erotica, strangely enough.

You mean like "Heather Has Two Mommies"? Books on pregnancy for lesbians? Books on christianity and homosexuality? Biographies?

Oh, and I can still search from the front page for books on how to talk my girlfriend into anal sex and threesomes and DVDs of 'chicks who love it up the ass'.

Edited at 2009-04-12 05:36 pm (UTC)

Well, there do appear to be some unknown factors in what receives an Amazon sales rank, e.g. the 10th edition Heather Has Two Mommies has no sales rank, but the out of print edition and the hardcover edition both do. So, if that's systematic discrimination, it's pretty shoddily executed.

By contrast, I did an Amazon search for "gay parenting" and got Tango Makes Three, The New Family Book, The Gay Uncle's Guide to Parenting, Too High a Price: The Case Against Restricting Gay Parenting, No Irish Need Apply, and many more, all of which have sales ranks. Did you keep looking until you found an example that didn't, and hold it up as a generalization?

The problem of selection bias here is enormous. It's easy to get dozens of people looking for a conspiracy to sift through books related to homosexuality and find some that, for whatever the real reasons are, don't have sales ranks. But no one is looking for the non-homosexual equivalents that lack ranks, nor paying any attention to all the counterexamples that treat homosexuality and do have them.

Is it possible that Amazon has indiscriminately cut out some books that it shouldn't have? Sure, they have a ridiculous number of books, and their systems are imperfect like everyone else's. Is it possible that they are harboring a massive anti-gay agenda? Not bloody likely.

It's vastly more probable that there are other voodoo reasons for some books having them and some not, and that it is easy to read in whatever meaning we want in such mystery.

(And for that matter, that DVDs, photo collections, etc. get categorized in wholly different ways from textual books, making them problematic examples.)

Edited at 2009-04-12 08:05 pm (UTC)

Or, you know, you could go straight to the response from Amazon that it's stripping the sales ranking from all 'adult' material to protect it's customers (and the proof that it's doing it badly). If you weren't so busy trying to prove that the queers are getting hysterical again.

(Deleted comment)
On the other hand, and now that I think of it ... I can't figure out what I get if I win this argument, but I suspect it's not an active, helpful participant in the effort to do something about this nonsense, and I'm over my limit for this sort of thing this week...

Hee. Some days I should really suppress my "Somebody is wrong on the Internet!" instincts and favour this response instead. It would be better for my mental health.

(Deleted comment)


...could be handy.

(Deleted comment)
Yeah. I definitely noticed a distinct lack of reading the links provided and a good bit of 'teh gayz' and 'teh dataz' intersecting.

Amazingly reminiscent of RaceFail09.

(Deleted comment)
I have not noticed you to be bitter; salty on occasion, but not bitter.

There's a reason why I explicitly said in the post in my own LJ that I'm Kinsey 0. I don't normally do that, but occasionally it's necessary to use a clue-by-four along the lines of "It's not just the faggots and dykes you're pissing off with this, you know."

Maybe I should have pulled out the BSc (Hons) Mathematics and Physics while I was at it, but I usually need that for a different type of argument.

(Deleted comment)
Or "The Well of Loneliness," the sum total of whose erotic content consists of the line, "That night, they were not divided."

Edited at 2009-04-12 06:06 pm (UTC)

See above; aggregate data (without a problematic selection bias) are lacking to really say anything meaningful about this.

It looks to me like Amazon is hiding books that don't deserve to be hidden under the criteria that Amazon is claiming to be using. Are you saying that we don't have the data to make that claim, or that the claim lacks meaning?

I have not been able to find a comprehensive statement from Amazon about what is and what is not given a sales rank, or included in various kinds of search. They are very unlikely to say anything about the latter, as search is usually proprietary, fiendishly complex, and jealously guarded. About the former, though, I have seen only one customer service response to one person about one book, which says that adult books do not receive a sales rank and may be excluded from searches. That seems to not be quite true across the board, but more to the point it says nothing about what other reasons might excluded a book.

In that sense, making a claim about what criteria they are using to include or exclude books requires some pretty large amounts of data, and data that shows the percentages of negative and positive results depending on factorization. If you only compile a list of books that have gay themes, and aren't erotica, and don't have a sales rank, you can say that there are a certain number of them, but you can't say anything meaningful about how that number compares to books that don't have gay themes and aren't erotica and don't have a sales rank, or have gay themes and are erotica and do, or any other relevant subset.

(Deleted comment)
See above; aggregate data (without a problematic selection bias) are lacking to really say anything meaningful about this.

Here are 12 random gay and lesbian books, none of which have sales rankings. Now show me an equally simple search that produces a list of non-GLBT, non-erotica books without sales rankings.

I like Robert Lee's logo for this. There's also some remarks that suggest this is more of a computer algorithm gone psycho than a carefully-thought-out plan.

Discussion over at meta_writer also points to Amazon's Kneejerk Emergency Response Policy as a possible culprit. 1. Fundy wailing. 2. Junior tech told to fix problem. 3. ??? 4. #amazonfail!

The weird thing is that the books Fag Hag and Closet Case have not had their sales ranks removed, and When You Were Me, What They Did To Princess Paragon and Kept Boy all have. All five are by the same author, Robert Rodi. At least three of them - both of the ones that still have their sales ranks and at least one that doesn't - are from the same publisher, Plume. (I'm too lazy to dig out my copy of Princess Paragon right now, and I don't own a copy of When You Were Me. Yet. ;) )

Queer Fear 2 seems to have had its rank removed (they don't seem to have the first book), whereas Queer Blood: The Secret AIDS Genocide Plot (I kid you not) still has a sales rank listed.

So if it is an algorithm, it's a very strange one.

No. Doesn't cut it. An algorithm to hide "adult" content is one thing, but someone or something is labelling books with no explicit content as "adult" and this is just plain wrong.

The lesson here seems to be not to mess around with the search algorithms on your live system just before a long holiday weekend.

Either that, or fundies have taken over some positions on Amazon's staff.

Has anyone tried correlating the banned books with any right-wing hit lists?

Re: Amazon retreats

"I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD."

(Deleted comment)
They'll fire a code monkey, and everything will be peachy keen again.

Does anyone in the publishing or computer industries believe the explanation?

Re: Amazon retreats

I've never met anyone in the computer industry who believes "the computer had a glitch!!!" It's always an excuse either for (1) we intended to do that and got caught, or (2) we didn't think about what we were asking the computer to do. More often (2) than (1), given that rule about "never attribute to malice what can be chalked up to stupidity."

  • 1

Log in