Amazon, already the scourge of small publishers and independent booksellers, has finally gone too far. No, I am not talking about the Kindle. That thing is just pointless. I am talking about Amazon’s new policy of labeling any and all LGBT printed matter as “Adult.” This policy strips the material of its sales rank, excluding it from bestseller lists and certain search results, and basically destroys its sales. This policy has not just been applied to erotica, but to general fiction, young adult novels, academic theory, political treatises, history books, dictionaries, and self-help books. Books that have not suffered the same fate include heterosexual romance novels by authors like Jackie Collins or even pornographic books published by Playboy.
Here is a constantly expanding list of books that have been stripped of their rank, classified as “Adult” for daring to contain mentions of the horrible, deviant behavior that is same sex love. Examples include classics such as Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle, James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, and Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Also marginalized are Brokeback Mountain, Stone Butch Blues, books by respected fiction authors like Sarah Waters and Christopher Isherwood, as well as non-fiction (and completely non-erotic) works by Kate Bornstein and Randy Shilts, including The Mayor of Castro Street, which certainly must have received a boost in sales after the release of the Oscar winning film, “Milk.”
Thank you Amazon, for first putting all my favorite bookstores out of business, and now trying to make it so that no one will ever publish LGBT books ever again. Because with profit margins tight and a terrible economy, why bother sinking money into a book that will never sell, because the largest bookseller in the world will declare it to be shameful porn and hide it on a dusty shelf behind a beaded curtain at the back of the store?
EDIT: Amazon has declared the de-ranking of almost all gay related titles to have been the result of a “computer glitch,” which is apparently what we get instead of an apology or an explanation. I think it is highly improbable that a simple “glitch” managed to somehow single out only titles that mention homosexuality in a positive light, but leave titles like A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality alone.
Pissed off about this new policy? Want an apology? Here’s what you can do: