Sunday, April 12, 2009

Please Boycott Amazon!

Okay, it's Easter Sunday (hope you're enjoying it!), which is one of the last days of the year I want to wake up to such disturbing news, let alone have to post about it.

It seems, my friends, I've been amazon ranked.

You see, in the past few days Amazon has decided that its customers must be protected from books with "adult" content and has "delisted" the sales rankings for books with erotic or GLBT themes. (See Dear Author post here for initial story and analysis.) At first, I was relatively unconcerned, as I thought it just meant my book would no longer have that "sales ranking" number, which frankly, of late, only serves to depress me.

It turns out, however, that this "delisting" has a number of other negative consequences, since it also hinders direct searches for books that have been determined to be in the "adult" category. This means that, if you search on Amazon in "All Departments" for either my name or my book title or a combination of both, my book does not come back in the search results and, in fact, my last name is even crossed out as though I don't exist. (Apparently, if you narrow your search to Books, I magically exist as does the bookThe problem with this is that, if you have just searched "All Departments" and have been assured no matching product exists, your next thought is not going to be, "Well, it's a book. Maybe I should search there." I mean, if there is no matching product in all departments, how can there be one in books?)



Now, I can (as a parent with young children) have some sympathy for the notion that content should be filterable to prevent the small fry from finding books that are inappropriate for them, and I would say the erotic books qualify as inappropriate (though the notion that any book with a GLBT theme, including non-fiction and YA stories, should be hidden from is simply appalling and mind-blowing). But why not have a simple toggle swtich--something to allow the end-user to indicate they DON'T want the adult content filtered out? Granted, kids could click on it, but really, they can click the "I'm an adult" link on YouPorn and get in, for crap's sake.

Of course, while we're at it, there is the fact that all novels with clearly sexual and adult content aren't being blocked by Amazon. All of Laurell K. Hamilton's books are still right there, easily accessible, and though I've never read any of her work, there's no doubting they're brimming with erotic content. The sheer arbitrariness of which books get delisted or not is breathtaking and frightening. With a single swoop of their pen, Amazon has decided that it's perfectly okay to destroy some authors' careers while preserving others. That is...atrocious.

So, please, until Amazon rectifies this grievous wrong, do not purchase anything from them. It isn't often that I believe the world is out to get us, but in this case, paranoia is warranted. And please help all the authors who have been affected by this (it's not just me, not by a longshot) by contacting Amazon's customer support, either by email at ecr@amazon.com and the customer service phone number is 1-800-201-7575.

Thank you for your support.

5 comments:

Shelli Stevens said...

Yeah, I think I'm going to have to stop giving them my money.

Courtney Milan said...

Jackie,

I am just so appalled by this whole thing, and I'm afraid that the mainstream will dismiss this as "just" about erotic and GLBTQ material, when it's really about Amazon controlling the content of how we browse for books.

This makes me sick.

India Carolina said...

Jackie, I'm stunned. I can't believe this is happening in 2009. This is more than a personal issue, I know. But on a personal level I just want to say I support you 1000%. You have a gift, you've worked hard. I'm so proud of what you've accomplished. I'll buy your book elsewhere!!

Jackie Barbosa said...

Thanks, Shelli, India, and Courtney for your care and support.

Intellectually, I know that this isn't the end of the world for my book, but it's very discouraging and I'm DEEPLY offended on behalf of authors whose books have been delisted even though they don't actually contain "adult" content. (At least mine is arguably a book that younger readers have no business reading. Same can't be said for many other delisted books.)

Writer and Cat said...

I got ranked, too! Looks like we'll remain ranked, though, huh?