Amazon explanation fails to actually explain

Online retail giant issues an explanation for delisting of books — many of which had gay and lesbian topic matter:

amazon-sucks "This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error," Drew Herdener, spokesman for the online retailer, wrote in a statement. "It has been misreported that the issue was limited to gay- and lesbian-themed titles," he said. "In fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as health, mind and body, reproductive and sexual medicine, and erotica."

As David Sarno reports at the LATimes this explanation has more than a few holes in it. Among the books effected (not impacted!) were:

“Ellen DeGeneres: A Biography," "Milk: A Pictorial History of Harvey Milk" and "Greek Homosexuality"…  Herdener did not respond to requests to clarify the cause of the error, nor about why works such as the "Milk" pictorial — which did not appear to be listed in any of the categories mentioned by Amazon — may have been removed from the search listings.

I am told that “Heather Has Two Mommies” was delisted. Would it fall under health, mind and body, reproductive and sexual medicine, or erotica?

Well, this certainly means those book orders not filled by my two favorite local dealers – Pandemonium Books & Games and Brookline Booksmith – will be going to Powell’s and, as a last resort, Barnes & Nobles. If you’ve ever seen my house you know this is no small revenue stream.

UPDATE: Turns out Amazon has a history of dropping LGBT books from its lists. Friend Erik Sherman reports the full story & gets more wishy wash from Amazon.

FURTHER UPDATE: Amazon now tries to blame this on the French (I wish I could make this stuff up)

Amazon managers found that an employee who happened to work in France had filled out a field incorrectly and more than 50,000 items got flipped over to be flagged as "adult," the source said. (Technically, the flag for adult content was flipped from ‘false’ to ‘true.’)


Amazon unveils homophobic computer software

Over the weekend Amazon seems to have broken through the Turing barrier and unveiled an artificial intelligence that is predisposed to homophobia. At least that’s how I read their explanation for why the sales rankings for books with gay, lesbian and other non-heterosexual “adult” topics.

“We recently discovered a glitch to our Amazon sales rank feature that is in the process of being fixed.  We’re working to correct the problem as quickly as possible.”

That’s one highly selective glitch. As Peter Kafka (who is skeptical of both sides) points out: “Amazon’s listing for Annie Proloux’s “Brokeback Mountain” doesn’t have a sales rank. But the author’s newest book does have one.”

The story of the glitch or suppression is one of those twitter-nightmares marketers now live in fear of. #Amazonfail is the #1 trending topic there at the moment.

While the sales rank for Brokeback had been restored by this morning( #18,894 far ahead of “The Shipping News” which I love), the damage has been done and it’s going to be interesting to see how Amazon tries to fix it. As yet no official press release from them on the topic.

If this was an attempt to hide gay content it was doomed to fail. The High School Musical DVDs are the top 6 bestselling DVDs for tweens on Amazon. Nothing could counter that.