Monday, April 13, 2009

Amazon Debacle

Over the weekend there was an explosion of sorts those who have been following the groups, blogs, and especially Twitter know what I'm talking about. The Amazon Fail, #amazonfail on Twitter, or Amazon Rank, from Smart Bitches Trashy Books. This entire thing apparently started with a post on Twitter and spiraled into what can be only described as viral campaign on the internet. Mark Probst posted on his blog Sunday morning that two high profile m/m romance books had been stripped of their sales ranking, “Transgressions” by Erastes and “False Colors” by Alex Beecroft. When he inquired to Amazon about this he received this letter...

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 Advantage

Craigs Pop Life claims that the removal of certain book's ranking has been going on since February, but we're just now noticing. True it seemed to be only books that Amazon deemed “adult” a majority of them being GLBT books. But also some erotic and romantic het, just so they don't appear homophobic. Harsh possibly but the fact is my books, and there fore sales have been effected. The thing that got me was some of the books appearing on the lists were YA or didn't have any graphic sex. (You can see lists of authors effected here and here All in all there appeared to be no rhyme or reason other than the continuing theme that, most of them, are GLBT. Dear Author looked into this more pointing out it seems certain metadata categories were targeted. This means certain search words, used would basically hit a wall.
So what does Amazon say to this PR nightmare, well according to them via Publisher's Weekly
it's a glitch. A three month glitch, that is now being rectified. There was/is no new adult policy. Hmm, sounds like someone might be covering their ass. What about the letter above? Ms Ashlyn D must be in a world of trouble.
This whole thing seems, to me, to be Amazon not wanting to be associated with our books, yet they still want the money. I can understand my local Borders, slowly pushing ero-rom farther to the back of the store each time I'm in there. But being shoved to the back of a webstore, when you can find Playboy, Penthouse and sex toys... that burns my biscuits. I don't like censorship, I even hated doing it on here, but the thing that really pissed me off was this seemed hypocritical. We'll sell your books, take money from it, but we won't let you use all the features on our site. Now the back peddling. They can't even come out and say "We fucked up. Sorry. We'll fix it." Nope we'll blame it on technology.

Which is total BS, Dr. Karl a 20+ year IT veteran explained why on Midnight Seductions yahoo group and has given me permission to repost it here...
"That doesn't look like a "glitch" to me. As of late Sunday evening however, Amazon has come out and tried to spin the whole thing as a technical "glitch" This is a glitch:

select total_sales, total_dollar, title, author from books where
total_sales <50;>50, but typed <>

Now I might not be as tech savvy as Dr.K but even I noticed that the "glitch" was pretty specific. Many others out there are saying the same thing.
The fact is this whole thing is pretty much over, with the authors winning.
Erastes posted on EAA (the Erotic Authors Association) yesterday False Colors is back up on the bestsellers list. So in the end it came down to the bottom line, their bottom line that is. If we kept this up you could see people going else where and Amazon losing money. I guess the real lesson here is never underestimate the power of pissed off people with blogs and a following.
The petition protesting the policy change is still alive and growing. When I last checked it was at 10,937. Here's the link in case you haven't signed.