Is Amazon censoring gay and lesbian-themed literature?

April 12, 2009

amazonWhen shopping on Amazon, many people use a particular books ranking to determine whether or not to purchase it. A book’s ranking is determined by how many overall copies it has sold, and the more popular a book is, the more likely it will be to sell more copies. Recently, Amazon has decided to stop ranking titles that are categorized as “adult” titles, which includes a substantial amount of gay and lesbian books that are not adult in nature.

While Amazon does still sell the books, removing them from its sales rankings can and will have a dramatic negative effect on their sales. On his LiveJournal blog, gay romance writer Mark R. Probst explained the problem:

On Amazon.com two days ago, mysteriously, the sales rankings disappeared from two newly-released high profile gay romance books: “Transgressions” by Erastes and “False Colors” by Alex Beecroft. Everybody was perplexed. Was it a glitch of some sort? The very next day HUNDREDS of gay and lesbian books simultaneously lost their sales rankings, including my book “The Filly.” There was buzz, What’s going on? Does Amazon have some sort of campaign to suppress the visibility of gay books?

After contacting Amazon he received the following response:

In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude “adult” material from appearing in some searches and bestseller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

In addition to a substantial amount of gay and lesbian literature, several heterosexual romance novels have also been removed from the sites sales rankings several items however remain including:

–Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds by Chronicle Books (pictures of over 600 naked women)
–Rosemary Rogers’ Sweet Savage Love” (explicit heterosexual romance);
–Kathleen Woodiwiss’ The Wolf and the Dove (explicit heterosexual romance);
–Bertrice Smal’s Skye o’Malley which are all explicit heterosexual romances
–Alan Moore’s Lost Girls (which is a very explicit sexual graphic novel)

What do you think about Amazon removing the sales rankings for LGBT themed literature? Do you think that they’re justified in their decision or is it censorship? If you’re against Amazon removing the sales rankings for the books you can sign an online petition here.

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2 Responses to “Is Amazon censoring gay and lesbian-themed literature?”

  1. Lev Raphael:

    It’s worse than it seems.

    It’s important to realize that they’re not just ghettoizing gay books, but also gay authors whether a book has much gay content or not.

    Here are amazon reader tags for “My Germany,” one of my books that’s been de-ranked:

    holocaust(7)
    lev raphael(7)
    memoir(7)
    germany(6)
    jewish(6)
    judaica(5)
    gay and lesbian(4)
    gay(1)

    The tags accurately reflect the book’s themes and subjects (though it’s also a travelogue and I don’t know if that’s an amazon tag or not).

    http://www.levraphael.com/mygermany.html

  2. DavidB:

    Amazon isn’t known for discriminatory action, I suspect they will work out the glitches of whatever is going on.

    And honestly, anyone thinks these online petition things are worth anyone’s time?

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