And now that I have your attention…
On April 10, for some reason, the Amazon sales rankings for two highly-promoted books disappeared. Those books were False Colors by Alex Beecroft and Transgressions by Erastes. They’re both historical romances: One is about high seas adventure in the 1700s and the other is a sprawling epic occurring during the English Civil War.
Oh, and they’re both homosexual romances. Which, apparently, freaked out someone at Amazon. Or possibly someone Amazon is listening to.
Over the next few days many more authors found themselves stripped of their rankings. Mark Probst, author of The Filly, asked about this and received this response:
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.
Well, huzzah for Amazon and their excellent protection of the children, even for those of us who want no such protection and are actively angered that it exists. Because we are not being protected from adult content, you see, all the usual sex-soaked bestsellers and romance novels are fully ranked. (So are vibrators.)
Amazon is protecting us from adult gay content. All of the books being unranked (MetaWriter is keeping an updated list here) are written for and by the GLBT community, even those books with absolutely no explicit sex involved. James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain, Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, and Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness, all stripped.
The Well of Loneliness, written in the 1920s, is considered the first openly lesbian-themed book in the English language. The disgusting, anti-children, filthy sex part? Exactly one line: “”And that night they were not divided.” My god, how did the country survive?
Award winners. Books on health and lifestyle. Books on homophobia and lesbian parenting and the military gay ban. Books on Harvey Milk. Young Adult books on coping and understanding. All of them being blocked from Amazon’s bestseller lists because there weren’t enough pairs of in and out plugs involved.
Well, Amazon, I’m not going to join the rapidly growing wave of outraged people complaining about this apparently homophobic filtering. No, no, no! I applaud your new moral code! I only ask that you be even handed in its application. Clearly all “adult” works should be removed from your bestseller lists.
I demand you remove the Twilight series from your top ten bestseller list.
Hey, that’s five of your top ten books cleared out right there, leaving room for more wholesome fare. But how can you filter tender, non-explicit books of male romance but condone brutal necrophiliac sex that leaves the girl bruised, battered and ultimately dead? (That’s in Book #4, Breaking Dawn, by the way, currently #2 in total sales ranking.)
Sure, you could just create an opt-in filter, the way Google does for image searches, so children can search uninfected by reality and Amazon’s formerly excellent service can continue unimpeded for the grownups. But no, I demand that you remove the sales ranking for any book that includes the slightest hint of interpersonal relationships no matter what the context or writing quality, leaving the bestseller lists for safer things, like cookbooks.
Anyone agreeing with my “Block Twilight” idea should write firstname.lastname@example.org or Jeffrey Bezos at 1200 12th Avenue South, Seattle, Washington 98144-2734, 206-266-1000. Let’s get this bestselling necrophiliac smut out of our faces!
Oh, and Harry Potter, too. Rowling has said that Dumbledore was gay, so let’s get those highly profitable books tagged properly so Amazon can do the right thing.