Two Quick Apologies

1. To everyone who clicked on Neil’s tweet the minute they saw it, sorry, my web host doesn’t expect that level of business. Hopefully responses are better now.

2. To Kate Bornstein: guilty as charged, I guess. My main concern was to alert people to what was going on, not to highlight every issue. And as Jenny Boylan remarked ironically on Twitter, this was one occasion when LGBT really was inclusive. But, just as Amazon can simply not think about LGB issues when worrying about “adult” content, so T issues tend to get forgotten when people are thinking about LGB issues. The number of trans-related books that got hit was doubtless only a fraction of the 57,000 or so books affected, but those books, and their authors, are no less important.

6 thoughts on “Two Quick Apologies

  1. Thanks for keeping tabs on this and writing it up in a coherent way.

    I actually chose to not sign the petition you publicized after doing my own research yesterday – to my mind, the changes seemed too random to be an intentional policy, so I wanted to wait a bit and see what came of it.

    Bornstein was one of the authors I searched, and I did find her books without trouble (they may have been already fixed or not yet broken when I did my search). I also found an anthology that called itself gay erotica, several titles by Dan Savage, Kushner’s Fall of the Kings (a fantasy that includes gay relationships), and other explicit sex books both homo and hetero. My search terms were just based on random thoughts and a glance at the bookshelf nearest my computer – maybe I wasn’t specific enough, because I later heard on NPR that the tag “lesbian” seemed to have been targeted. At first I did focus on more famous authors (testing the “one of the good ones” rationale). I don’t remember _not_ finding lesbian content, but I also can’t come up with a positive example just from memory.

    Maybe I missed something, or maybe it made a difference that Amazon knew who I was when I searched.

    At any rate, I will keep an eye on them and be ready to kick them in the pants in future if they don’t shape up. If they are claiming that the erotica books and sex manuals I found (with reviews and sales ranks) aren’t adult content, they are on shaky ground!

    But I also agree with Bornstein’s point (on her blog at that buying books from small vendors is better. Small Beer Press has mentioned (here: that they hardly make money when they sell a book at Amazon. I wish that wasn’t the case because it’s so convenient to buy from them (especially to find obscure/niche authors as I so frequently do) … but Amazon might be the WalMart of booksellers. Until now they had not been known for censorship like WalMart is … sigh.

  2. Though not a T, one of my closest friends is, and I always feel sad for her when her group is ignored.

    Even the No on 8 groups kept forgetting about the Ts, which is the group most unevenly treated regarding marriage from state-to-state, as either your earlier or your later legal sex is considered to be the definition of what sex you are at the time of marriage.

  3. You’re a dear. My concern is media focus on GL, with a teeny bit (if any) focus on the BT. But I’m even more concern with media assumption that ANY sex positive, sex ed, queer theory, erotica, could b pre-judged as “unfit for youth” by a *bookseller* — have we really become a Wal-Mart culture? Why doesn’t Amazon (like all other sites with adult content) insert a “click here if over 18” button to access it’s main page?

  4. Kate:

    Well, I guess Amazon wants kids to browse the site and beg parents to buy books for them, and I have some sympathy with that idea. OTOH, there may be some sort of technical solution to this. People who have Amazon accounts, for example, can have their ages verified because they have credit cards. So limiting adult titles to people with accounts would be an incentive for some people to create accounts.

    But you are right, the whole idea that anything to do with sex or gender is somehow dangerous to children is very wrong-headed. That way lies the Russell T Davies line that Doctor Who can’t be a woman because then fathers would have to explain sex changes to their children.

  5. Hi Cheryl
    I found you via Kate Bornstein (I heart hir) via Twitter.

    Thanks for your various coherent postings on the Amazon problem. I want to point out that has been somewhat queer-phobic and greatly trans-phobic for years, in their various corporate policies. Also, as others have mentioned, this wasn’t just queer books — it was also a wide range of feminist titles, titles on disability and sexuality, and a lot of others. I don’t know whether their site got hacked, wormed, trolled, screwed up by an incompetent amazonite, or what…but I do know that I was not surprised.

    There seem to be a lot of Amazon apologists, and I’m not sure why. They are a giant corporation, not particularly nice people, not particularly concerned about the people who are important to me. Instead of framing this is an anti-queer problem, or as a glitch that can now be resolved and yay, back to shopping!, is it possible we could see it as a reminder that there’s a reason we (people who are different by virtue of whatever stripe, not just queerness) should stick with our independent bookstores — local or distant, whatever.

    I have kids, and no, I don’t particulary want them accidentally browsing into super-adult material. But why would it be better for them to accidentally find Jackie Collins or Penthouse letters than to find Gay Erotica XII or something? I’m not saying that you suggested it would be — but I am concerned that folks seem to feel that way. Kids are going to find their way into all manner of stuff — and they’re not going to order it off Amazon anyway — and we, their parents and adults, need to be ready to explain and educate.

    Including if Dr. Who is a woman suddenly. 🙂

    Anyway, thanks again. Don’t know where you are, and thus what local bookstore I could [pedantically] recommend, but I will definitely be back to check out your SF stuff. Looks excellent.


    Rafe (angry queer blog) (happy queer blog)

  6. Hello Rafe:

    Amazon does appear to have some history. Ron Hogan of GalleyCat was tweeting about it enthusiastically on Sunday.

    As to why people are defending them, well, people love their books, and Amazon makes it easy and cheap to buy books. Also people in the publishing industry have to be careful what they say.

    Right now I am in Darkest Somerset where good bookstores are hard to come by, but if I ever get back to San Francisco you can recommend Borderlands and Other Change of Hobbit to me as much as you like. 🙂

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