Sunday, April 12, 2009

Amazon Strikes Again

As I've mentioned before, my newest erotic romance, Bad Boy, was released on Tuesday.

One of the addictive things about a book release is checking your sales rankings. When Bad Girl was released, I checked compulsively every hour or two. This time around, I've been limiting myself to a daily check.

On Friday morning, I noticed there were no sales rankings for Bad Boy. Thinking it was a computer blip, I checked Bad Girl, too. Nothing there either.

I figured--it being Good Friday--maybe Amazon was understaffed. My university considers Good Friday (which we call "Spring Break" to be politically correct) a holiday. I decided to wait until Monday when things got back to normal to check again.

Imagine my surprise to learn via Twitter that Amazon has a new policy relating to "adult" books. Mark R. Probst was the first person who had any solid information to offer on his blog:
As I am a publisher and have an Amazon Advantage account through which I supply Amazon with my books, I had a special way to contact them. 24 hours later I had a 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 . . .

Ashlyn D
Member Services Advantage
You can read Mark's entire post here.

By now, the #amazonfail thread on Twitter is over one hundred pages long. You can find it by doing a search for #amazonfail here.

Initially, people thought it was gay and lesbian literature being excluded. Then erotic literature was added to the list. Now classic works of fiction and non-fiction are on the list, including works by James Baldwin, E.M. Forster and Annie Proulx. And a how-to manual on sex for the disabled.

I wonder if Ray Bradbury expected to live to see Fahrenheit 451 in real life.

I'll admit it. It's an effort not to say "I told you so."

There . . . Now that I said it, I can relax.

This initiative should come as no surprise. Amazon has been sending signals of their determination to dominate publishing for a long time now. They have been moving to integrate vertically through their purchases of Abe Books, Audible, BookFinder, BookSurge, Brilliance Audio, FillZ, GoJaba, Library Thing, Mobipocket and Shelfari as well as their development of the Kindle e-reader.

I did a pair of posts last June 7th and 8th here and here, predicting the future. In the second one, I said: "Eventually Amazon will have so much power, they will be able to decide WHAT is worthy of being published."

While Amazon is jumping the schedule I predicted, I have no doubt that their intent is to be the dominant player in the book industry.

In my next post, I'll talk about this some more.

If you want to take a stand now, you can go sign a new petition here. In the time it has taken me to write this post, the number of signatures has doubled.


Jenna Howard said...

Ugh. Disgusting.

Evil Book Empire.

Kaz Augustin said...

Otoh, if you consider the petition to be a bit passive, and you have a website or a blog, you can googlebomb them. Go to the Smart Bitches for details.

Wordtryst - Liane Spicer said...

What? WHAT? I've seen threads on Goodreads this week where authors were perplexed over their vanishing sales rank, but the assumption was that it was a technical error that would be fixed after the holiday.

My scalp is crawling here. Off to check those links.