Oh Amazon, how you’ve failed us. The online retailer came under fire this weekend for deranking a long list of books they’ve suddenly deemed “adult” material. Among the books deemed too adult to appear on searches and best seller lists on the site? Hundreds of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender books, including Gay Life And Culture: A World History, Heather Has Two Mommies, and The Lesbian Parenting Book: A Guide To Creating Families And Raising Children.
Over the course of the weekend, however, it became clear that the gay and lesbian community wasn’t the only one being targeted — books focusing on sex and feminism also lost their ranking, including Full Frontal Feminism by Feministing’s Jessica Valenti, and many of the erotica titles edited and written by Frisky contributor Rachel Kramer Bussel.
Other books that have been deranked? Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Sex and the Single Girl by Cosmo‘s Helen Gurley Brown, Ellen DeGeneres: A Biography, My Horizontal Life: A Collection Of One Night Stands by Chelsea Handler, Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs, Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown, and The Mayor Of Castro Street: The Life And Times Of Harvey Milk. Jezebel has kept a running list of many of the titles.
All of this is appalling and puzzling. Why have these titles been deranked when other books with similar subject matter — like Exercising The Penis: How to Make Your Most Prized Organ Bigger, Harder & Healthier and A Parent’s Guide To Preventing Homosexuality — have retained their rankings? Did we mention Amazon, in addition to selling books and music, also sells vibrators and butt plugs? How family-friendly!
Amazon sent this email missive to author Mark Probst when he inquired about his book being deranked:
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.
But yesterday, as the controversy became the topic du jour on the internet, Amazon blamed the derankings on a “glitch” and said that it was “in the process of being fixed.” It remains to be seen what that means exactly, and which titles will have their rankings reinstated. We’ll keep you posted, but in the meantime tell us what you think! Do you think there really was a “glitch,” or is Amazon just trying to cover its butt for what was a poorly considered and offensive policy?