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Monday, April 13, 2009

Wow, It’s a Good Thing Porn is Still Ranked on Amazon

Happy Easter/Passover everyone! And in celebration of the holiest of holidays, we are going to discuss gay porn. Well, not exactly. But I got your attention, right? Truth is, if you hit Twitter on Sunday, you would have noticed a strange tag appearing every other post or so, #amazonfail.

You may have thought, “Hey, what’s that number sign thingie mean?” Well, basically, it’s a way to follow every Tweet with that phrase/tag. And wow, were there a lot of them. Because in the spirit of Easter Sunday religulousness, Amazon has decided to strip the rights of authors whose books touch on themes they deem to have a bit too much of a rainbow tint.


Photo taken in Philly a couple weeks ago

In short, some colossal bonehead over at Amazon (jury’s still out on who the fall guy will be) has decided to no longer allow books featuring “gay themes” to have an Amazon sales rank—thus removing them from best-seller lists and those awesome “people who liked this…” recommendations.

The romance author who broke the scandal, Mark R. Probst, got an Amazon rep to state why his gay novels were stripped of their ranks. According to the email Probst posted, Amazon claims that, “in consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists.”

This led many authors to go, “Omigod, are you serious? Really?” And then we all went and searched, and low and behold, everything from Ellen DeGeneres’ Biography to Becoming a Man has been stripped of its rank.

Yet, you can still search for vibrators. Some with rankings as low as #100. And Porn star Ron Jeremy’s biography is still being ranked. Last I checked his classy, not-too-adult-by-Amazon-standards paperback was in the #100,000s.

Given the enormous act of bigotry (right on the heels of Vermont legalizing gay marriage, too) and because the Internet is awesome, the publishing world has fought back. Namely, by way of a Google Bomb.

For those of you who have a website, you know that the more hits you receive and the more people who link to it, the higher your website appears in Google Searches. So in an effort to turn the Internet against the e-retail megasaurous, the wonderful book bloggers over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books decided to give a new definition to the phrase Amazon Rank.

Amazon Rank

Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): amazon ranked

1. To censor and exclude on the basis of adult content in literature (except for Playboy, Penthouse, dogfighting and graphic novels depicting incest orgies).
2. To make changes based on inconsistent applications of standards, logic and common sense.

Etymology: from 12 April 2009 removal of sales rank figures from books on Amazon.com containing sexual, erotic, romantic, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or queer content, rendering them impossible to find through basic search functions at the top of Amazon.com's website. Titles stripped of their sales rankings include "Bastard Out of Carolina," "Lady Chatterley's Lover," prominent romance novels, GLBTQ fiction novels, YA books, and narratives about gay people.

Their definition now appears No.1 on all Google searches for the term. Power to the People!

To be fair, Amazon is now saying—via an L.A. Times article—that the removal of the sales ranks is “just a glitch” and they plan to fix it (I’m betting soon). And maybe in their world computer glitches can possess the wherewithal to selectively de-rank books with gay content. But the thought of homophobic super computers kind of freaks me out.

Plus given that Probst claims his rankings have been stripped since February with a massive de-rank occurring this past weekend, that doesn’t sound like a “glitch” to me. More like an ongoing problem. But I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough on Twitter—my new source for real-time e-news.


POP CULTURE RANT: Go BU Terriers!

As an alum, I’m proud to report that Boston University’s Men’s Ice Hockey team won the National Championship this weekend! In an amazing overtime victory (that was proceeded by them scoring two goals in the final minute to tie it!), the little terriers-that-could defeated Miami University (no, not the one in Florida. It’s too hot for hockey there. This one’s in Ohio). This is BU’s first hockey championship since 1995, and tomorrow BU’s throwing a ticker tape parade with Duck Tour boats and everything! Wish I could be there! Congrats, guys!

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