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?