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Amazonfail

Yeah, so, I was going to rant about AmazonFail, but you've all done so already.

Basically, amazon.com have deleted the sales rankings from what they're calling "adult" books, which actually means books with any sort of queerness in them. Like, Ellen Degeneres's autobiography has been de-ranked, but Ron Jeremy's hasn't. Classic literature like Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit has been de-ranked, but Chuck Palahniuk (much as I love him, he's definitely "adult") hasn't. A collection of Playboy centrefolds is fine, but a biography of Harvey Milk isn't. Stephen Fry and John Barrowman's autobiographies, Tipping The Velvet, Brokeback Mountain, and Heather Has Two Mommies have all lost their rankings. (You can tell by the title the latter is an "adult" book, can't you?)

Deleting the sales rankings means that the books don't show up in searches, unless you search specifically for them by title. They don't show up when you're browsing, and they never get recommended. It can have a huge effect on a book's sales, and just generally on the visibility of non-heterosexuality.

I can't tell what's happening with amazon.co.uk - the sales ranks seem to have been deleted for some of the books but not all of them, and it doesn't seem to have affected searches yet. Except that would mean that this has always been what you get if you search for "homosexuality"

amazonfail

Ouch.

This is all over twitter and ye olde blogosphere today: markprobst broke the story here, and there's more from mashable, Daytona Beach News Journal (somewhat randomly, but it's a good article), the LA Times book blog, and Jezebel. There's a compilation of links here and a post compiling information about what's been affected here, both at meta_writer.

I do feel slightly sorry for the Amazon CTO on Twitter, he's getting mashed. Tweets with the #amazonfail hashtag are currently running about two a second, and have been for hours - if you're feeling masochistic, you can try and keep up with them on twitterfall. And Amazon's site hits are going to be MASSIVE today, as the entire internets tries to figure out what they've de-ranked and what they haven't - I do hope this doesn't backfire!

(Also, my semagic really isn't working. Hmm.)

Comments

( 17 comments — Comment )
marcella_riddle
Apr. 13th, 2009 01:07 am (UTC)
I keep feeling like I should pinch myself because I can't believe this is happening.
pickwick
Apr. 13th, 2009 01:26 am (UTC)
They seem to be backpedalling liek whoa and trying to say it's just a software glitch (!???!) - good news in that it'll get fixed quickly; bad news in that some people will no doubt believe them, and not believe anyone who brings up any issues like this in the future :S
sloopjonb
Apr. 13th, 2009 08:55 am (UTC)
A listing (on amazon.co.uk) of best sellers in Gay & Lesbian Literature brings up some aafully obscure stuff, with poor old Sarah Waters nowhere to be seen.

Software glitch my arse.
pickwick
Apr. 13th, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think the "glitch" was just a panicked "stall them!" reaction (that's backfired horribly, of course.)

Oddly, #glitchmyass became a very popular hashtag on twitter last night too, heh.
strange_complex
Apr. 13th, 2009 08:56 am (UTC)
Oh dear gods! Thanks for the round-up - this is actually the first post about this on my flist, and clarifies some cryptic references in some later posts. It will be very pleasing indeed if the whole story ends up with Amazon having to recant their actions due to popular pressure, though.
pickwick
Apr. 13th, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC)
I think they will - people have said some books are being re-ranked already, and amazon have said they're working to "fix" the "glitch", as far as I know.
ninebelow
Apr. 13th, 2009 09:43 am (UTC)
If amazon.co.uk are doing this as well as .com isn't it indirect discrimination in goods and services and hence unlawful?
pickwick
Apr. 13th, 2009 03:41 pm (UTC)
IANAL, but it seems like it would be. But they're backpedalling at a rate of knots, so I doubt we'll get the chance to test it...
marrog
Apr. 13th, 2009 11:32 am (UTC)
gip
There's no way they won't have to recant - I just can't see what justification they would possibly find for the choices they made, regardless of their parameters. They're never going to admit to doing anything on purpose though...
pickwick
Apr. 13th, 2009 03:45 pm (UTC)
Re: gip
Ha, icon win!

Yeah, I think they're recanting, but they'll either try to stick to the "glitch" story, or they'll blame one poor coder. (It may well actually be one person or one team who's set the parameters wrong this time, but, you know, they put the mechanism in place for someone to do so.)
ciciaye
Apr. 13th, 2009 11:55 am (UTC)
Do you mind if I link to this post?

CCA
pickwick
Apr. 13th, 2009 03:45 pm (UTC)
Of course not, go ahead! :)
catofsteel
Apr. 13th, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
I'm not clear on what's actually happened here. If you search for an author, is it not returning the books by that author? Or search by the title? In that case, how can you find a book to buy it? Have they just stopped selling LGBT books altogether?
pickwick
Apr. 13th, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
As far as I can tell, it means that if you search in "all departments", the book doesn't come up. If you search within "books" AND for the actual title, the book will come up; if you search for the author it'll come up, but way down at the bottom of the search listings, because they're generally ranked by "bestselling". And they'll never appear on bestseller lists, recommendations, or "more books like this" links.
catofsteel
Apr. 13th, 2009 04:33 pm (UTC)
I see, thanks

I think I may use Amazon in a different way to most people judging by the uproar.I'd never by a book on a recommendation from strangers or by how many other people have bought the book. (Both things seem a bit mad to me.) In fact I almost always know what book I'm looking for before I go on to Amazon.

Bu it seems like a Bad Thing anyway. I hope they fix it soon.
daibhid_c
Apr. 14th, 2009 11:13 pm (UTC)
Another LJ pointed me towards this:

http://pastebin.ca/1390576

I'm not sure about it; it occurs to me the sort of person who would do something like that is also the sort of person who would claim "credit" even if they hadn't.
daibhid_c
Apr. 14th, 2009 11:18 pm (UTC)
Sorry, I followed ciciaye's link, and missed you had a later post mentioning this.
( 17 comments — Comment )

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