Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sick of Fail

I'm supposed to be writing a more in depth post about self-publishing before diving back into fiction (I stopped putting up with blockage and pushed through that bit of dialogue). What I'm actually doing is feeling guilty that I have not taken down my beloved Amazon carousel widget. Can I condemn Amazon's "de-ranking" of adult (i.e. gay/lesbian/transgender) titles while keeping that on my blog? I mean, it's to promote the authors and it's cute. It's not really supporting Amazon, is it? Surely, it doesn't make me a hypocrite?

You're right. I'll take it down.

But what do I do instead? I'm all for retuning to indie booksellers, but there's a catch. Pandemonium --the fantastic indie sci-f/fantasy/horror store--introduced me to Roger Zelazny and otherwise made my youth a better time than it would have been without them. As my life is now, however, they are well out of my way and the cost of this special trip is more than standard shipping. Now double that since, even on the days in which I want to run away and join the circus, I will eventually return home.

Plus, that won't help me convince you lovely people to support my favorite (and not so favorite) authors. I'm not saying that you're lazy, but it is easier to click a link and buy the book you want than to go out of your way or keep a list on you just in case you happen by the bookstore.

Borders and Barnes & Noble are online, but aren't they part of the mega-store culture as Amazon that put indies at risk even before the economy tanked? Yeah, after my long and previously happy relationship with Amazon, it's a little late to worry about that.

Or maybe there is no too late. Maybe there are only actions and consequences. In February, Amazon started blocking a title or two for being "adult" products or material. (Note, those of you who aren't going to click the link, that the title in question is a memoir, not erotica or even romance.) The creators complained, but most of us never heard of the problem, so Amazon felt free to "de-rank" hundreds of books, mostly with gay/lesbian/transgender themes. Mark Probst's book, for instance, is a young adult title. People noticed. The Internet practically hummed with all the entries on Amazonfail.

"It was a glitch!" announced Amazon. What? Nothing to do with adult content? Or not a glitch, as reps told some, and about sales rather than censorship. Apparently the idea was to make it so that if you searched for something like "Harry Potter", you wouldn't end up with something like "Harry Does Patty", get offended and end up not buying anything. That, of course, still doesn't explain why LGBT titles (even the children's book with the two daddy penguins) were de-ranked but most (and I admit that some were) flat out heterosexual porn wasn't.

They did it because they thought they could get away with it, and I'm afraid any mega-seller I turn to will do the same. So what now?


Julie said...

I believe they blamed it on a glitch because of the outcry as well.

Unfortunately there isn't a lot to be done. ABE Books is pretty cool too but unless another Amazon pops up, Amazon isn't going to go away.

I'll probably continue to use it off and on, especially since our local indy bookstore moved to Oldtown (read downtown) and I avoid Oldtown like the plague unless it's not during normal business hours. Alas. Good move for them, bad move for me.

An Again said...

When Mark Probst updated, he wrote they fixed the issues and apologized, so now no harm no foul. Yet, I'm still *feeling* fouled.

I donno. On the one hand, they're busted and won't pull that crap again. On the other is the fact that theyd did pull it (and come on; there are some reasonable people saying it really was a glitch, but if it was, the mistake was in not getting hetero porn, too, not in the censorship to begin with..and even that's stretch. I haven't taken the widget off, but I cringe a little each time I see it.

azteclady said...

Oh it's definitely harm AND foul--and the only thing to do is to remain vigilant from now on.

Won't they pull it again? Maybe not soon--and quite likely not in such an obvious manner. But I wouldn't put it past them to do something else equally outrageous.

An Again said...

Right. So we shouldn't suddenly trust them since they're clearly untrustworthy. But we can still do business with them as a company we know we've gotta watch.

I think I can live with that.