So, where were we?
I emailed Amazon to complain about the missing sales rankings and all. Got not a whisper in reply. Mopsy, on the other hand, got not one but two answers, and has given me permission to share them with you:
Here’s her original note:
I recently read about Amazon’s decision to strip the sales rankings from a host of books with LGBT characters or themes. Stripping the ranking means these titles are less likely to show up in search results on the site. My understanding is that Amazon claims this stripping is necessary because these
titles are “adult” … meanwhile, plenty of truly adult material with herterosexual themes and characters continues to show up in searches.
I’ve been a happy Amazon customer, until I read this. I’ll be happy to resume using Amazon when this policy is rescinded and LGBT writers and books are back on the shelves where they belong.
Looking forward to hearing from you soon,
And here’s Amazon:
Thanks for contacting us.
We recently discovered a glitch in our systems and it’s being fixed.
Thanks again for contacting us. We hope to see you again soon.
Please let us know if this e-mail resolved your question.
Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming
To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit the Help section of our web
We’re Building Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company
Mopsy was less than thrilled with this ovbiously pro forma, perhaps even computer-generated, response, so she clicked the link that indicated the response didn’t, in fact, resolve her issue:
Your email said that there was a glitch in the system and that it’s being fixed. This is a pretty short response to an important issue. I’m disappointed in the email I received.
This second email got her some attention, seemingly from a person, not a computer:
This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection.
It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay & Lesbian themed titles – in fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica. This
problem impacted books not just in the United States but globally. It affected not just sales rank but also had the effect of removing the books from Amazon’s main product search.
Many books have now been fixed and we’re in the process of fixing the remainder as quickly as possible, and we intend to implement new measures to make this kind of accident less likely to occur in the future.
Thanks for contacting us. We hope to see you again soon.
Now, I’ll admit that, hateful cynic that I am, I still believe there was something underhanded and unpleasant going on with these books. But I’ve been checking random titles these last few days since the firestorm hit, and slowly but surely, sales rankings began to return. Maybe it really was a glitch … except there’s still Mark Probt’s email from Amazon explaining how his book was too “adult” to keep its listing, and there doesn’t seem to have been any news about the delisting of books in the other categories Girish mentions (you know, except from Amazon).
But I also have to say, I love this second response. Clearly someone at Amazon realized that if they were going to affect any kind of damage control, they’d have to put together a better answer than, “Oh, there was a problem. We’re working on it. Thx!” So they came up with this very informative reply … and best of all, they started it all off using the term ham-fisted. Who (aside from me) says ham-fisted?
To say the cataloguing error was ham-fisted is funny. Can a computer program be clumsy or lack dexterity and grace? Well yes¹, but those descriptors are so … human.
So. I don’t know. Amazon certainly got a message as a result of this delisting adventure.
¹ Cue Google, who put up adds for weight-loss surgery and diet aids when I received an email in my gmail account about a woman who had died during weight-loss surgery. I would say that wasn’t a very dextrous or graceful move on the part of that computer program.²
² And maybe I need to stop it with these footnotes, no? I’ve begun to get a little ridiculous.