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    The Boston Brahmina is
    a copy editor, writer, and
    avid baker who blogs about media, politics, feminism,
    and dessert.

    She can be reached at:
    BostonBrahmina [at] gmail [dot] com

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Amazon finally says something

Amazon finally, finally issued a press release about the de-listing debacle:

This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection.

It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay & Lesbian themed titles – in fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica. This problem impacted books not just in the United States but globally. It affected not just sales rank but also had the effect of removing the books from Amazon’s main product search.

Many books have now been fixed and we’re in the process of fixing the remainder as quickly as possible, and we intend to implement new measures to make this kind of accident less likely to occur in the future.

This makes more sense than either the theory of deliberate persecution by Amazon or the terrible “glitch” excuse the company issued earlier, so I’m willing to (tentatively) accept it. The common thread between all the topics listed above is the likelihood that they will involve frank discussions of sex. I’m not sure how exactly they would be de-listed while, you know, actual porn was left alone—or why books in those categories that did not involve frank discussions of sex, such as Heather Has Two Mommies, were de-listed—but it is conceivable that such a thing could happen. I’m also still puzzled as to why so many things got de-listed so suddenly, and why it occured over a weekend. I feel Amazon owes the public a fuller explanation of how this happened and what is being done to correct it and prevent its recurrence.

It also owes its customers, particularly the LGBTQI, feminist, rape survivor, and PWD communities, an apology for letting this happen, for not reacting more quickly, and for leaving everyone waiting so long for an explanation. It’s a mark of disrespect that Amazon did not feel that the anger and silencing of these communities deserved to be addressed immediately, even if only to say, “We’re not sure what’s going on, but we didn’t do it on purpose and we’re working to fix it.”


2 Responses

  1. I want equal access to ALL Sexual Minority, Sexual Health and Sexual Freedom Literature!

  2. I didn’t find their response particularly slow, considering the twitstorm hit on Sunday. Initial response within about a day, followed by partial explanation about a day later and detectable evidence that fixes are in progress. The demands for the entire explanation right the hell now seem not to take into account the laws of space and time. It we don’t get better info later, though, I’ll join right in the criticism.

    I DID read the initial glitch response as “We’re not sure what’s going on, but we didn’t do it on purpose…”

    I work on a website with complex taxonomical issues and can easily see how something like this could indeed happen so suddenly given the right screwup.

    There is a heteronormative bias in classification (straight adoption memoir filed under adoption while Dan Savage’s adoption memoir filed under gay adoption) but I’m reluctant to lay that burden entirely at Amazon’s feet.

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