Sunday, April 12, 2009

Amazon Deranking -- censorship or protection?

Have you caught the weekend furor over Amazon's "new policy" of "deranking" publications it deems "adult content"? It seems this is now Amazon policy, but it is not administered in an even handed manner (as discussed by some of the posts below). Deranking means a publication does not show up in general topic searches nor comes up at the top (ranking shows how many copies of a publication have sold compared to all others, basically popularity). Titles for GBLT publications, with or without explicit sexual content, seem disproportionately 'deranked' compared to other forms of 'adult content'.

Read these links for more information.

The original post:

Dear Author post 1

Dear Author post 2

The LA Times book blog

There are more and more posts popping up everywhere.

I believe that a retail organization has the right to sell or not sell whatever it likes. What bothers me about this particular move is that Amazon is still selling these publications (and making profit from it) while at the same time refusing to treat the books as it does any other publication. It has not taken the option of, say, marking publications as "adult" and giving consumers the option of not SEEING these in their search results (giving consumers the choice) but has done this rather arbitrary thing to, supposedly, protect the consumer.

I really didn't know I needed protection like this, myself. Does it really protect anyone, or just penalize authors? Is it censorship or a response to customer demands?

I've canceled my advance orders . I had some feedback to send to an Amazon vendor, in which I indicated I was no longer looking for books via Amazon. I sent an email expressing my thoughts on the matter.
I am very disappointed in Amazon's recent "de-ranking" policy for supposed 'adult content' publications.It is ill conceived at best.Even the intimation that a retail outlet of Amazon's status and influence is indulging in any kind of censorship is heinous.If you do not wish to sell such publications, do not sell them, but do not attempt to profit from them while at the same time refusing to treat them as any other publication, creating a sort of 'ghetto'. Such "protection" is mere pandering and hypocrisy, shameful in what was once a respected Internet business.

I have not yet canceled my account, but I am considering it seriously.The loss of just my business is meaningless, but I shall do my best to encourage others via my blogs and contacts on reader-friendly sites.

I'm not sure about the source of this -- is it policy or a very selective 'glitch'? Either way, I think it's very questionable behavior from Amazon. Barns & Noble, here I come!

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