Customers and authors claim Amazon policy is "homophobic"

13 April 2009

Amazon seems to have had an attack of the bible-belt morals over Easter; it's been noticed the online store has de-ranked books it considers to contain "adult" material. This has the potentially devastating effect of wiping out an author's revenue because no Amazon ranking can also mean disappearing from search results.

But what does Amazon mean by "adult" content? One author asked what they were up to, and received the following response from customer services:

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.

Except according to authors, customers and the Los Angeles Times, it appears what Amazon really mean is they're not prepared to promote "homosexual" content, and it's causing a furious backlash in online communities. The likes of American Psycho and any number of gore-splattered titles aren't seemingly considered "adult" in their nature, meanwhile one comment on the LA Times website reads:

...books on preventing suicide in gay teens (Dead Boys Can't Dance: Sexual Orientation, Masculinity, and Suicide) were de-ranked, while A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality and Does God Love Michael's Two Daddies? sail through just fine.

Given that "adult" titles are hardly going to leap out unless specific search terms are entered, it would seem to be a pointless and potentially damaging policy to engage in, and beyond the statement above by customer service reps, Amazon has so far refused to comment on the matter.

Yet a quick search by Bitterwallet for "gay" or "lesbian" book titles reveals there's more than enough material to pop both eyes clean out our skulls, which suggests there's more than a little scaremongering and bandwagon-jumping occurring. Until Amazon are prepared to make an official statement on the matter, it's difficult to know what their policy might be, and whether it exists at all.

[LA Times]


  • Steve
    Did anyone get hurt in this terrible and vindictive de-ranking of gay pulp fiction? I mean, did some gay teenage boys actually kill themselves because they couldn't find a book on why they shouldn't kill themselves on Amazon? Or is the world still turning? Honestly, some agendas seem to be able to blow up a Kilimanjaro out of a speck of dust in the back yard in order to get press-time and try to make people feel sorry for them as some kind of 'victim' of a heinous plot. All Amazon needs to do now to bring the loonies out in force is de-rank books promoting the infallibility of the Catholic church and to give a reprint edition of the Danish Mohammed cartoon an honorary top ranking... come to think of it, the agendists for all three groups would probably quite happily kill each other on the steps of Amazon's offices, before ever harming a single Amazon representative.
  • Graham N.
    They don't even sell Uphill Gardening for Dummies.
  • John
    Fucking hellfire. What has the world come to? We have gone from thinking homosexuality is a illness, to accepting it as being here. Now we are being forced to accept it, consider its right, on par with with normal relations and now people are furious if they are not given enough press. Homosexuality is obscene in my book, but I would not dream of abusing human rights over it. However Im getting sick and tired of the pandering that we all have to employ now.
  • h0dgy
    That's not the worst of it, apparently you can buy books written by black people too...
  • almost j.
    "we are being forced to accept it, consider its right, on par with with normal relations" I'd imagine that's because it IS right, and it IS normal. Be obscene, be, be, obscene Be obscene, baby, and not heard.

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