Even after I joined the world of Twitter there was a little part of me that thought the whole thing was ridiculous.
Not anymore. It’s true that a lot of trivial and mundane information is passed around Twitter but it’s also true that it is now a social networking site with the power to change seriously misguided policies of corporate conglomerates.
To explain I’m going to have to bash Amazon for a moment here which I do with a certain amount of trepidation. Slamming Amazon a few months before my book is scheduled for release could conceivably have some not so happy consequences. But I also have long been an advocate for gay rights and as a black, Jewish, single mom I have a hard time sitting back and watching a minority group (even if it’s one of the few minority groups I can’t lay claim to) gets screwed over. I’m also not a really big fan of censorship. So with all that said:
This weekend Amazon experienced what they are calling a “glitch.” According to Amazon they had intended to remove the rankings from all erotic fiction and other “adult” books with pornographic content. This means that a book from say, Susie Bright (who writes erotica for a mostly female and gay demographic) could never be found on an Amazon bestseller list no matter how well it does. It also means that her books will occasionally not show up on a general search AT ALL. Instead you would have to specifically go to the “erotic fiction” link to find her.
Amazon can make an argument for the validity of this decision although I think it’s a thin one since Playboy Redheads (an adult, photograph-filled book clearly aimed at straight men) apparently isn’t offensive enough to lose IT’S ranking.
But it gets worse. The mysterious “glitch” managed to classify EVERY book that has a gay protagonist as an “adult” book unworthy of a ranking. It was the most discriminating of glitches because while it managed to remove the ranking of every Gay book with the world “homosexual” in the title it did not remove the ranking of Dark Obsession: The Tragedy And Threat Of the Homosexual Lifestyle. The “glitch” was also able to ferret out such books as Orlando by Virginia Woolf and Running With Scissors written by Augusten Burroughs. Both books have a gay or transgender protagonist and both had their rankings removed.
It was noticed by Mark R. Probst; a self-published, gay author. When he emailed Amazon to ask why his other gay books had lost their rankings a customer service rep (who had also apparently been affected by the glitch) told him the books were classified by the company as “adult” and thus would not receive sales rankings.
He blogged about it but of course self-published authors rarely have the biggest microphone and people are less likely to read blogs on the weekend anyway.
And then one person who read the blog decided to post a link to it on Twitter. And then another person wrote and tweeted and another and another. Pretty soon it was all over the twittersphere. Within hours the LA Times had picked up the story, then the Seattle Post Intelligencer, then Entertainment Weekly and The Wall Street Journal and by the end of Sunday GLAAD (Gay And Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) was on board and demanding answers. Somewhere between the slew of complaint emails and GLAAD Amazon decided that they had glitched up. This morning they corrected the problem and gay fiction (including Virginia Woolf) can be found on a regular search.
It’s kind of amazing what a boatload of 140 character tweets can do.
By the way, Susie Bright still doesn’t get a ranking and Playboy Redheads still does. Guess you can’t have everything…unless you shop at Barnes And Noble or a fair minded independent bookseller.
Bestselling Author of:
The Sophie Katz Murder Mystery Series,
SO MUCH FOR MY HAPPY ENDING
Pre-order LUST, LOATHING AND A LITTLE LIP GLOSS on Barnesandnoble.com or Indiebound.com today!