Uh, Oh.. Outrage Time Again

Something very strange is happening in Amazon land. It appears that someone at the online bookseller had decided to strip the sales rankings from any book that includes gay or lesbian romance on the grounds that this is “adult content” (i.e. pornographic). The alarm was first raise by some gay writers (see here) whose books had been affected, but I’ve just seen a tweet from Neil pointing me to this list of affected books which includes classics such as Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit and The Well of Loneliness.

This is clearly not a move against books with explicit erotic content. This is defining any mention of gay relationships as disgusting and pornographic. I am very disappointed in Amazon.

Update: John Coulthart reports (via Twitter) that academic books with LGBT content have also been hit. I immediately went to look for Queer Universes and I can’t see it listed at all. I’ve been checking some of my friends. All of Nicola Griffith’s books appear to have been hit. Christopher Barzak’s have not. Kelley Eskridge is also untouched.

Update 2: There is now a petition. Please sign.

13 thoughts on “Uh, Oh.. Outrage Time Again

  1. Wants to say “Is shocked”, but to be honest, I’m not really surprised. People can be such idiots.

  2. Ack! don’t get me started. They lost my custom the moment I realised they were also hitting the academic books.

    There might have been an argument for an error of judgement for the fiction books (or employees that were just lazy to check actual content, and clicked the erase button every time the word gay came up) but when they moved onto non-fiction section, you know it’s bigotry.

  3. The stupid thing is it all seems very scattershot. Alan Hollinghurst is okay (Booker Prize winner…duh), Edmund White not so. Dennis Cooper is blanked but William Burroughs isn’t, including Queer of all things.

  4. Also: I emailed Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic. He’s a major league blogger and author of Virtually Normal, a gay rights book which has no ranking either. They left his other book alone. Would be good if he picked up on this.

  5. I checked a few books I thought of off the top of my head that have gay relationships and aren’t mentioned here, and they’re all fine so far. Either they’re not well-known enough, or I’m just reading the wrong books.

  6. There are plenty of books that haven’t been caught. My guess is that anything that openly identifies itself as having gay or lesbian content will have been identified by their software, but anything that doesn’t mention such material won’t have been.

  7. So it’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell for books, essentially. If they’re out, they’re outta there – closeted books okay.

  8. Woohoo, Andrew Sullivan posted about it, calling it “one of the weirdest and least defensible policy changes imaginable”. This should be reaching the big news outlets next.

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