Recent comments from Amazon seem to directly dispute the idea of a hack or external tagging issue, but rather an internal cataloguing error. I don’t think that Amazon’s explanation is any explanation at all. It doesn’t address what it’s “adult content” policy is and what it will do in the future to books in terms of rankings. It is clear that ranking can have very adverse affects and without any transparency regarding this issue, the hamfisted mistake can be trotted out a dozen times to explain a “glitch” that probably had the exact effect that Amazon had wanted; just not the consequences.
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.
From Customer Service email I just received:
Thanks for contacting us. We recently discovered a glitch in our systems and it’s being fixed.
Let me assure you that Amazon.com does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts; we do support the right of every individual to choose his or her own reading material or entertainment.
As a retailer, our goal is to provide customers with the broadest selection possible so they can find, discover, and buy any item they might be seeking. That selection includes some items which many people may find objectionable. Therefore, the items offered on our website represent a wide spectrum of opinions on a variety of topics.
Amazon.com believes it is censorship not to sell certain titles because we believe their message is objectionable. Therefore, we’ll continue to make controversial works available in the United States and everywhere else, except where they’re prohibited by law. We also allow readers, authors, and publishers to express their views freely about these titles and other products we offer on our website. However, Amazon.com doesn’t endorse opinions expressed by individual authors, musical artists, or filmmakers.
We value all feedback from our customers, and I thank you again for taking the time to send us your comments about this issue. Although we won’t be able to comment further on this topic, we hope you’ll allow us to continue to serve you