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Amazon Censors Its Rankings & Search Results to Protect Us Against...

UPDATE No. 2:   Amazon executive customer service email is:  [email protected] and the customer service phone number is  1-800-201-7575. You can use Robin’s template:

Dear Amazon,

It has come to my attention that you are de-ranking books, supposedly on the basis of "adult content." Apparently, according to the Amazon Dictionary, this is defined as books that have anything at all to do with GLBT characters, authors, issues, or references, with some general erotically-oriented works being roped in, as well. In the meantime, however, books on the illegal, inhumane, and horrifyingly violent sport of dog fighting remain ranked and appear on a first page search under "dog fighting":  http://bit.ly/18l70B. Further, a search under "playboy" yields as the first return "Playboy: Wet and Wild Complete Collection," followed by "Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds," and so on. At what point did "adult content" exclude nude women and dogs killing other dogs for sport?

This is nothing short of discrimination; this is nothing short of censorship. This is nothing a business that claims commercial integrity at even the most basic level would do. Consequently, as a longtime Amazon customer, I look forward to an immediate reversal of this ridiculous and unconscionable policy. Otherwise, I will purchase elsewhere and encourage everyone else I know to do the same.

UPDATE: Apparently romance authors are seeing their rankings removed as well. (If you comment, I’ll add you to the list)

  • Jaci Burton’s books 2 and 3 in her Wild Rider series have been deranked. If you type her name in, her most recent release will not show up.
  • Larissa Ione & Stephanie Tyler’s Sydney Croft series cannot be found from a front page search. (You can find books about dog fighting, though, from a front page search.   So does a search on “sex toys”).
  • Maya Banks’ Heat books do not appear in a front page search.   All Banks’ Berkley Heat titles have been deranked except June 09 release.
  • Alex Beecroft’s False Colors has no ranking.

Oh, Amazon, you make it so easy to despise you! Amazon has excluded GLBT books from appearing in “some searches and bestseller lists” based on the premise that books about gays falling in love and possibly having sex is “adult material.” Barnes & Noble had committed to shelving Running Presses new m/m romance fiction line in the romance section but is now moving these dangerous to our children books to the GLBT section, obviously because books with women having sex with barbed beasts is so much safer and morally circumspect.

This is the response to one author, Mark Probst:

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.

Hence, if you have further questions, kindly write back to us.

Best regards,

Ashlyn D

Member Services
Amazon.com Advantage

I’m no constitutional scholar and discrimination suits are very difficult but the exclusion of GLBT books from search engines and rankings on Amazon seems to be some kind of violation of something. Given the recent ruling of the Iowa Supreme court that the gay and lesbian community have the same fundamental right to marriage, it seems like GLBT books should be afforded the same rights in bookstores as those books depicting romances between straight men and women. Heck, even threesome books such as Lora Leigh’s Bound series is shelved in straight romance. COME ON, AMAZON!

Edited to add: I just remembered that eHarmony.com was sued because it failed to offer gay man dating services. The case was settled out of court and eHarmony agreed to set up another website offering gay and lesbian dating services.

Thanks to Erastes for the link.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

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