Monday, April 13, 2009

Something is rotten in the state of Washington

"Adult book." To me, it's any book not published for a YA (or younger) audience. Shows where my mind has been of late. To Amazon, however, it seems to be most books with GLBT content. The authorblog world is atwitter with complaints that many books with GLBT content, regardless of how sexually explicit or not they are, are being stripped of their sales rankings.

People, this is really, really uncool. In a very small nutshell, books without Amazon sales rankings don't exist on Amazon. That means when you search for a subject (and oh, how we librarians love our searching!) on Amazon, it will show books that have sales rankings first. Author Heather Corrinna shows us the current results for a search on all of Amazon for the word "homosexuality."

Those are some strange-looking results, no? It seems that not 100% of GLBT-positive books have been stripped of their rankings. Boy Meets Boy still has its ranking and appears on page 3 of the search results for "homosexuality." A search for "Rainbow Road" brings up three other Alex Sanchez books but does not bring up Rainbow Road, which has been stripped of its sales ranking. You can find it IF you do a search for "Rainbow Road Sanchez."

I don't know how Amazon is deciding which books get sales rankings and which ones don't, so I thought I'd run a few popular YA authors of GLBT literature through Amazon searches and see how they shook out. Sex and violence as subjects don't seem to be limited across the board, given that Adam Rapp's books are certainly easy enough to find in a search for "Adam Rapp." (I just picked him because I know his books have controversial content and wanted a test subject.) A search on "Ellen Wittlinger" shows all of her books from Hard Love to Parrotfish. Julie Anne Peters is a mixed bag; grl2grl has no sales ranking. Neither does Between Mom and Jo. Luna and Keeping You a Secret, however, still have sales rankings. Gay America: Struggle for Equality by Linas Alsenas has no sales ranking and doesn't show up in an Amazon search on "Gay America," and if you search for the title with the author, it won't show the in-print, reviewed, available version of the book, only a used one for about $70.

Here are some more links and news you can read:

-Is this book (or its author) too gay for an Amazon? by Heather Corinna

-Amazon de-ranks so-called adult books, including National Book Award winner, from the LA Times Jacket Copy blog

-Amazon Follies by author Mark Probst

-Meta Writers has a compiled list of books whose sales rankings have been removed

-Amazon criticized for de-ranking 'adult' books from CNet News is keeping a comprehensive list of all books losing their sales rankings

-Twitter hashtags: #amazonfail and #glitchmyass

Will this be big news beyond the end of this week? I have no idea. Maybe Amazon will see the incredible stupid and restore sales rankings to all books and materials. And maybe while they're doing that, they'll redesign their reader's advisory algorithm so it doesn't think I want a copy of Twilight every time I look at the record for a YA novel. Stay tuned.

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