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Monday, April 13, 2009

Transgressions One of Many Gay-Themed Books Stripped of Amazon Sales Ranking

Posted By on Mon, Apr 13, 2009 at 3:44 PM

Transgressions, the M/M romance savagely reviewed by Unreal last month, was among the first books stripped of its sales ranking last weekend. (And, no, it did not reveal its firmly-muscled chest.)

Amazon's "glitch" or "purge", depending on who you talk to, removed sales rankings from hundreds of books with "adult" content -- "adult" apparently being a synonym for "gay-themed." The list of afflicted books includes Ellen DeGeneres: A Biography and Randy Shilts' classic The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk. (Actually, the list would make a fine syllabus for an introductory college course on gay and lesbian history or queer theory.)

Strangely enough, titles like The Complete A**hole's Guide to Handling Chicks and Exercising The Penis: How to Make Your Most Prized Organ Bigger, Harder & Healthier were allowed to keep their rankings.

An uproar of protest on Twitter, plus an online petition and complaints from the gay/lesbian/transgender community, has inspired Amazon to look into this glitch and fix it right up.

However, as of this writing, Transgressions still hasn't got its sales ranking back, though False Colors, the second M/M romance, has been restored and currently stands at 3,235.

Update: Although a hacker is claiming responsibility for the Amazon uproar, Kate Harding at Salon reports, via Brooke Warner, an editor at Seal Press, that the glitch is entirely Amazon's fault. Warner wrote in an e-mail to one of her authors, Jessica Valenti (whose book Full Frontal Feminism was among the de-ranked):
 Basically he said that amazon has been experimenting with the way they dole out content specifically so that people who are searching Harry Potter or whatever won't run into links to products that might be offensive... [T]his is mandated from their bosses, who essentially want to be Walmart.... also said no human is responsible for the decisions per se, and that it's all about tagging and feeds which are constantly being tweaked. He does think that amazon will retweak the tags based on the uproar that happened over the weekend.
For an alternate theory, see the link Andrew posted in the comments.

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