Queer Twitterers and bloggers set off an internet firestorm on Sunday, after it was revealed that online retailer Amazon.com had labelled hundreds of queer books as “adult material” and removed their sales rankings.
Blogger and author Mark Probst was one of the first to break the story. He noticed that many gay and lesbian books simultaneously lost their sales rankings over the weekend, including his book The Filly.
When he emailed Amazon to ask if this was a new policy, he received this response from customer service:
“In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude ‘adult’ material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.”
Among the queer books that had been labelled “adult” and stripped of their sales ranking include Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain and children’s book Heather Has Two Mommies. Check out a long list of censored queer books, compiled by bloggers.
As outrage spread quickly over blogs and Twitter, Amazon made a brief statement to try and dispell the idea that homphobia was behind the delisting of books. In an article on Publishersweekly.com, Amazon blamed a computer glitch for the delisting of queer titles and said that there was no new policy on adult materials. The company says it is working quickly to fix the bug. But the damage has already been done. The Amazon fiasco was the most talked about topic on Twitter on Sunday, and it remains the top topic on Monday morning. Check out the ongoing outrage by following the #amazonfail and #glitchmyass hashtags.
As of Monday morning, the affected gay titles still had no sales ranking on Amazon.com. Angry users are applying “amazonfail” tags to books that have been censored on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.