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Amazon Fail – more to the story #amazonfail

As some of you may have read, Amazon.com has begun pulling the sales rank numbers from several gay and lesbian books, claiming that the books are “adult” and should be excluded from some searches and lists. You can also do a search on Twitter for “amazonfail” to see the plethora of stories and posts about this issue.

The problem with this approach, other than the obvious decision that because a book deals with GBLT issues it must be “adult”, is that it’s also completely and utterly inconsistent. Books such as autobiographies of Ellen Degeneres and Melissa Etheridge, along with books about the history of homosexuality and a biography of Harvey Milk are flagged, while other books, like the Anarchist’s Cookbook, autobiographies by Ron Jeremy and Traci Lords, nude photography books, Playboy coffee table books, and “A Parent’s Guide To Preventing Homosexuality” retain their sales ranks.

The sales rankings matter because they affect search results drastically. Amazon.com is in essence manipulating the search results for books in a highly discriminatory way, and it’s completely despicable.

I did some digging and discovered some additional products that are also being excluded by Amazon:

  • Sensual lubrication with the flavors of pineapple, cherry, or guava
  • Both the largest and peewee size Durex condoms
  • Kittens
  • Any movie with C. Thomas Howell in it
  • The Shamwow
  • Used copies of “The Da Vinci Code” that are sold from stores in Kentucky
  • Red staplers
  • The Kundle, a Croatian competitor to the Kindle
  • Havarti cheese
  • Any product from any store that has the word “allegory” in the title or description
  • The Stink-No-Mor cat litterbox cleaner
  • “Paul Blart, Mall Cop”
  • The KOHLER K-10433-VS Forte Single Control Pullout Kitchen Sink Faucet with Color-Matched Sprayhead and Lever Handle
  • Any brand of platinum grillz, and, finally,
  • The Book of Mormon

Before, it might have just been a mild annoyance, but after seeing this new list, it’s a total outrage! Maybe if Jeff Bezos read my inspirational Bible verses for Easter from yesterday’s post, he wouldn’t be treading down such a dark and evil path!

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27 Replies to “Amazon Fail – more to the story #amazonfail”

  1. martymankins

    While we will see no more “Paul Blart Mall Cop” for sale, the Book of Mormon is still going to be free from the mormons via an 800 number or some barely 20 teen knocking at your door.

    FWIW, stretching out a peewee sized Durex condom doesn’t prevent those little swimmers from staying inside the condom. Just saying.

  2. RebTurtle

    What? Some upper-management at Amazon suddenly had a compulsory case of selective morality? Great. If I boycott them, where else will I shop besides NewEgg?! Amazon is one of the rare retailers that will extend free shipping offers to Hawaii. That comes in handy when ordering heavy things like, umm, books.

  3. NYCWD

    Now you see, if all those items you listed had signed the agreement to allow to Kindle to read them out loud, then this wouldn’t be happening.

    Personally, I was looking forward to the Kindle‘s interpretation of the guava sensual lube.

  4. Grant

    As long as they continue to carry the Satanic Bible and those Simply Asia noodle meals I like, I’m okay. I’m sure everything will be fine if I don’t protest their actions until they affect me personally.

  5. Avitable

    Maddie, Havarti cheese is made from the devil’s milk!

    Miss, it’s an outrage is what it is.

    Amanda, I’ve read a theory that it was actually a group of fundamentalist Christian activists who ranked books “objectionable” en masse, thereby triggering Amazon’s automatic removal of their sales rank.

    Jay, Mormons are cool! Well, the ones I know.

    Marty, I have to tape 14 condoms together.

    BE Earl, see my reply to Amanda.

    RebTurtle, I didn’t learn until recently that you lived in Hawaii. I’m coming to visit you now.

    Britt, if you have to explain a joke, there’s no point. Especially when it’s absurdist. I was just picking random items that don’t make any sense to ban.

    NYCWD, it’s kind of like this: “gurggle whap whap whap OHHHHH!”

    Heather, as opposed to your family room? 😀

    Grant, you order noodle meals from Amazon?

    Sybil, it’s from “Office Space”!

    Finn, you should totally burn that place down.

    Robin, exactly!

  6. Sheila (Charm School Reject)

    Okay, so I understand the shittiness of banning Ellen over Ron Jeremy.

    But I still don’t understand how all of this “ranking” stuff works or what the hell is going on. Which means that I am too stupid to send them a nicely worded e-mail.

    I just know that if loving Ellen is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

  7. Avitable

    Grant, no. Unless of course you’re talking about your penis.

    Sheila, I explained it. Stripping the sales rank means that it won’t come up very high in search results because Amazon shows the highest selling items first. So if you search for “Ellen DeGeneres’s biography” on Amazon.com, you’d have to go through pages of products with similar keywords before actually finding her bio.

    • NYCWD

      Actually, that’s not true.

      If you did a search for Ellen Degenere’s Bio you will get Ellen Degenere’s Bio. Search is based on Title, Author, and then publisher selected keywords.

      However, if you look at a list of let’s say Biographies, a genre the book is listed under, if her rank would be let’s say #4 then the book would not be on that list of books in the genre with the sales rank removed.

      • Avitable

        Well, that was just an example I threw out there. Actually, it’s keyword based. If you search for, say, “homosexuality”, the first book that shows up is a book for parents preventing homosexuality, which was published 7 years ago. All of the relevant books that would otherwise be before that have disappeared.

        • NYCWD

          Well what book/books SHOULD be listed according to that search?

          The second result in that search BTW is the entire genre of Homosexuality-Social-Issues-Teens-Books. Now why is that entire genre coming up??? In fact… since when did Homosexuality become an accepted literary genre???

  8. whall

    I don’t get how you (even in joke form) jumped to the assumption that Amazon did anything proactively or intentionally with this issue. You claimed, before knowing any facts, that

    >> Amazon.com is in essence manipulating
    >> the search results for books in a highly
    >> discriminatory way, and it’s
    >> completely despicable.

    As far as I can tell, you have no idea if they are manipulating anything. You don’t know if the gay community got together and found a hack to make this into a hotly debated and emotional public issue, or if a bunch of churches got together in secret, or if the public just isn’t buying certain things but is buying other certain things, and their algorithms help promote the big sellers.

  9. Avitable

    Poppy, from Kittyzon.com!

    Crystal, and they love you.

    Kapgar, how can we live without Red Dawn?

    Whall, if you read the article, you would have seen that the response from Amazon at the time I wrote this was from a customer service representative saying that it was their policy to remove sales rankings from products marked as “adult” and that these products must have been marked as “adult”. That’s where that idea came from. The sales from the public didn’t remove sales ranks – something isn’t going to go from a #1 to non-existent over a weekend unless it’s a glitch or deliberate.

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