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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My LGBT Dilemma

So I am having this dilemma…I have always been a fan of, they offer a large selection of LGBT Books, clothing, accessories, etc, and all at reasonable prices. However, last Sunday hundreds of LGBT book titles were stripped of their sales rank in what they are calling a "glitch."

It was author and blogger Mark R. Probst who first discovered the problem when he noticed the sales rankings for two new high-profile LGBT books were missing, as well as his own book, The Filly. Since bestselling and high-ranking titles are displayed more predominantly when using the Amazon search feature, without these rankings, titles are more difficult to find can effect authors sales. When Probst complained to Amazon about this issue, the reply he received stated, "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."

Since then, an Amazon representative characterized the move as a mistake, stating that, "essentially, there's a glitch in our system and it's being fixed."

Meanwhile, both the LGBT and straight community are outraged and they aren’t shy about sharing their feelings. Twitter has exploded with thousands of comments from those who believe this is a homophobic issue. "Queerty" has posted an article called “Why We're Not Buying Amazon's Gay Book 'Glitch.’” And there is even a petition against Amazon and their new adult policy, which already has more than10, 000 signatures and counting.

Personally, I would like to believe that Amazon wouldn’t unfairly target the LGBT community. However, it is obvious that the company's new adult book policy has somehow tagged these books in a way that has targeted LGBT literature.

Now if it was all adult-themed literature that was being tagged equally, I may be a little more understanding, but from what I have read, many so-called risqué books with heterosexual pornographic content were not affected by this glitch, including: Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds by Chronicle Books, Rosemary Rogers’s Sweet Savage Love (explicit heterosexual romance) and Alan Moore's Lost Girls (which is a very explicit sexual graphic novel), leading me to believe that a homophobic bias does exists, at least to some degree.

And then, when I thought I had hear it all, this morning a new story came out stating that a programmer at Amazon France was editing the Amazon site to filter porn out of some search results, and he "mixed up 'adult,' which is the term they use for porn, with stuff like 'erotic' and 'sexuality.' The system he was working on is universal, so the change he made propagated across Amazon's sites worldwide.

Whether or not that story is true, Amazon should have admitted to this mistake days ago, instead of calling it a “glitch.” Either way, my guess is that Amazon will lose customers anyway, if no other reason then the way they dealt with this whole debacle.

But needless to say, I still have my dilemma, do I continue to use Amazon and trust that this was an honest mistake??? Hmmm….

1 comment:

barb elgin said...

why don't u call owner jeff bezos and ask him directly? has he offered a public comment? what do we know about his political 'leanings'? that may offer a clue as to whether this was purposeful or not...if amazon ISN'T on HRC's list of gay-friendly business' perhaps all of us should reconsider purchasing from them.

thx for bringing attention to the issue.


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