Things have really snowballed. In fact I’d say it’s a snow-boulder now, what with the Twitter hashtag #amazonfail, the online petition which is now at over 17,000 signatures, & a Google search on Amazon Rank now brings up as first result the satirical definition coined yesterday by Smart Bitches Trashy Books. (They’ve now got the definition in the Urban Dictionary too.) Trolls are taking advantage: one Livejournal blogger claims to have written code that brought the delisting about, only to be exposed by another Liveblogger as a metatroll with bad code. I’m only surprised that there’s not a Wikipedia article about it, though the Wikipedia entry on Amazon.com now has a section on the delisting (currently subtitled “Deranking of erotic, LGBT, feminist, progressive and sex-positive content”).
A huge public relations nightmare for Amazon.com. As well it should be. So far their only public statements are to the effect that #amazonfail was caused by a technical “glitch” which they are working furiously to resolve. But I have a hard time buying that as anything other than, as others have noted, a “templated” cover story as they try to resolve the issue internally. There’s too much data provided by bloggers researching the delisting for it to have been merely a glitch: how else explain why a search on “homosexuality” bring books about “preventing” or “curing” homosexuality to the very top of the search results, to the almost complete exclusion of the numerous other non-homophobic books on the subject?
Reports from the disabled community that Amazon also delisted books on disability & sexuality which news needs to be shared more widely.
I do think it possible that some enterprising homophobic souls within the Amazon hierarchy took it upon themselves to interpret a policy about “adult books” rather more widely than top management had intended. But that remains to be seen. For my part, I am looking for something more than weak babble about a software glitch. I want a public explanation & apology from someone at the very top levels of the Amazon hierarchy — preferably Jeff Bezos himself — on top, of course, of correcting the problem itself. They’ve lost a lot of trust, & they’re gonna have to work pretty hard to regain it. I’ve seen plenty or reports from people saying they’ll never buy from Amazon again, even if they do fix the “glitch.”
This, for me, comes on top of having learned a month or two ago (after I’d already purchased my Kindle) about their monopolistic actions with regard to their print-on-demand service BookSurge. This is currently in antitrust litigation — see the Small Publishers Association of North America page on the lawsuit and the Amazon Booksurge Antitrust Lawsuit Clearinghouse.
I know there are alternatives to Amazon, but I’m also a hoping-to-be-published writer, so this has relevance to me also as someone who recognizes Amazon as one of the most important places to have one’s books listed in order to be able to make a living at it.
There are signs that Amazon is making progress in relisting the delisted books, but it’s slow — & still no public explanation or apology besides the inadequate & mealymouthed “glitch” explanation offered so far.