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Amazon? What Is Going On?
Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Well, the murmur is turning into an uproar. Apparently over the weekend Amazon decided to de-rank several erotic or GBLT titles. Don’t be fooled by the idea that this issue is just about egocentric authors who want to know their rank. This is about something much more serious.

See…Amazon runs like a regular bookstore, but online. I blogged about it extensively recently at Fresh Fiction. What does that mean, though? Well, in a nutshell, when you go into your local bookstore, what do you see, right off the bat? You see the bestsellers, right? This is PRECISELY how Amazon works. If I search–bestsellers in romance, surely Lora Leigh is going to pop up, right?

Well…according to Amazon’s infinite wisdom, not anymore. According to Amazon, you see, Lora L. is erotic romance…and therefore is relegated to the back room. She’s there. But you readers have to search a bit harder to find her.

Amazon is all about exposure. It’s about being in the storefront. In one decisive fell swoop, they apparently have taken that away. If you want to buy anything associated with erotic or GLBT, you’re have to go to the back room and ask for your stuff.

(Which will likely be delivered in a brown paper wrapper.)

Suddenly, one third of my rankings disappeared on Amazon. Now…I liked to see my rankings. But to focus on the rankings misses the point. We’ve just been moved off of lists that people might search in order to buy our books. And by the way…the things Amazon has decided to leave up vs. erotic romance? My eyes are still bugged.

Some really good links that I’ve read so far…

Dear Author
Lauren Dane (Lauren gives the place to write in protest and also the original statement from Amazon for reference.)
Naughty and Spice

I’m no expert, but this seems really wrong.

4 comments to “Amazon? What Is Going On?”

  1. Tracy
      · April 12th, 2009 at 8:57 pm · Link

    Hi Beth,

    I just read your post, and Lauren’s too. I will certainly send in my protest for their latest shenanigans! I am floored that they decided this action was in “the best interest” of anyone. You don’t have to be an expert to know that this is plain wrong. I’m hoping Amazon will hear from many others in protest, and perhaps rethink their decision. Until then, I will buy from B & N, or Borders.
    I hope your sales are not too badly affected.

  2. Stacy ~
      · April 13th, 2009 at 4:27 am · Link

    This is the comment I made at HelenKay Dimon’s blog, and I thought I’d post it here as well:

    “I happened to run across the Amazon posts on Twitter, and I’m dismayed about the whole situation. Many of the wonderful authors I read are being impacted by this, and it’s sad. Amazon is regressing to an almost “book-burning” mentality here, like they have to right to monitor what their customers read. Makes me glad I don’t spend much time or money at Amazon…not when, thank God, I can go elsewhere.”

  3. beth kery
      · April 13th, 2009 at 7:32 am · Link

    Stacy and Tracy,

    Well, I understand that Amazon has reported the whole issue was a ‘glitch.’ We’ll have to see if they reverse the non-ranking. As of Monday morning, no go. Maybe all the letters made a difference.

  4. Beth Kery
      · April 13th, 2009 at 6:02 pm · Link

    Hi. For those interested, this is the reply I just got for my letter of protest to Amazon…in case you haven’t gotten your own inadequate, inaccurate note yet.


    Thank you for contacting Amazon.com.

    This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection.

    It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay & Lesbian themed titles – in fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica. This problem impacted books not just in the United States but globally. It affected not just sales rank but also had the effect of removing the books from Amazon’s main product search.

    Many books have now been fixed and we’re in the process of fixing the remainder as quickly as possible, and we intend to implement new measures to make this kind of accident less likely to occur in the future.

    Thanks for contacting us. We hope to see you again soon.


    Customer Service Department

    Note: this e-mail was sent from a notification-only address that cannot accept incoming e-mail. Please do not reply to this message.

    I especially loved that last comment. I’ll bet.

    I don’t know how you guys sent your note, or if you did, but I specifically had this in my note that they are supposedly replying to…

    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

    So…what about that…the company email, I’d like to know? And, precisely, what do they mean by ‘ham-fisted?” I think I get the analogy, but I’m not getting how it applies…or how it relates to any hint of responsibility taken for this disturbing occurrence from Amazon. They do refer to an ‘accident.’ Yeah? Come on, take responsibility, Amazon. Stick those Sexual Reproductivity and Mind and Body genres in there to make things sound clinical, but this was an attack on books dealing with sexuality that perhaps is considered to be distasteful to a certain portion of the public.

    What a sugarcoat.

    Just as an aside, my rankings have not yet been ‘fixed.’

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