Over the weekend, "hundreds of gay and lesbian books" written by authors from James Baldwin to E. Lynn Harris "simultaneously lost their sales rankings" as Amazon.com arbitrarily re-classified the titles as "adult". Author Mark R. Probst made the discovery while searching for his gay youth-themed novel The Filly. After contacting Amazon, he received this response:
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.
LiveJournal community MetaWriter is tracking de-ranked LGBT titles. Classics such as James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain and E.M. Forster's Maurice were among those losing their sales rankings, as well as numerous contemporary titles by black gay authors such as E. Lynn Harris, Frederick Smith and Nathan James. "I am incensed, because ALL of my books have lost their Amazon rankings," James tells Rod 2.0. "The Flesh To Flesh anthology has actually been made unavailable. The page says "we don't know when, or if, this book will be available again."
Flesh to Flesh anthology edited by Lee Hayes, as well as some other titles, are now available. Contrary to the explanation given to Mark R. Probst, an Amazon spokesperson tells Publishers Weekly "a glitch had occurred in its sales ranking feature that was in the process of being fixed. The spokesperson added that there was no new adult policy." Glitch or not, making books harder to find on the basis of their content is never a good idea. And at the same time many LGBT titles were randomly de-ranked and re-classified as "adult", Amazon had "vibrators and anal plugs available in their search system with sales ranks attached."
How you can contact Amazon AFTER THE JUMP.