#Amazonfail

By now, if you are on Twitter, politically minded, Disabled, gay, lesbian, transgendered, feminist, an ally, womanist, or like classic novels you have heard about the #amazonfail.

Amazon is removing books that might upset children. This means books that include anything about womanist/feminist views, sexuality for the GBLT community, GBLT nonsexual issues, Disability issues, disability and sex, classics such as Lady Chatterly’s lover, and a few other things like that are coming down. No more selling books like that.

At first, the policy to remove access to adult material sounds great. I thought so, before I knew of the failure that it entailed. I presumed they would remove Playboy, Maxim, rape porn. Rape porn stayed. What they removed instead are books I have used to shape my own thinking and life. I like the way I think, and despite the complaints of a few people who are mired in the patriarchial thinking that keeps people oppressed, I rarely preach about it. I usually write instead about healing.

When I was suicidal I wanted a how to manual on killing myself. Instead I found self help books. They helped me. Those books are being taken down en masse. There is no help for people who might trust a book.

When I wanted to know exactly how to have relations with my Person, I turned to books for ideas. I needed ideas on adapting my body. Many of the most helpful books in the regard to disability and sex are gone. A few of those books focused on the basics of adaptation after a Spinal Cord Injury. This includes using the restroom, cooking, and adapting how you move. Those books made no mention of sex. They are gone.

I have to admit some of the books I was about to buy are also gone. This disturbs me. What bothers me more is that this censorship is not touching books like Mein Kampf. Hitler can remain but not Lady Chatterly? Why?

As a writer, this adds to a bit of pressure. How does this effect the sales and royalties I could get? How does this effect my ability to find an audience? Yes there are other places to buy books, but as the world and America become more entrenched in the internet, Amazon and it’s fellow online retailers hold more sway.

This is blatant discrimination. If you choose to do nothing, I respect your choice. Just remember, it won’t stop here. Eventually we will be told what we may buy, how we may pay for it, and what to think. Viva la Revolucion!

What can you do to speak out about this? Glad you asked!

Here are the links I have as I write this:
The #Amazonfail Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=70927484220&ref=share

A blog about disability and this very same issue http://lisybabe.blogspot.com/

A petition in regards to the Amazonfail http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/in-protest-at-amazons-new-adult-policy

Another blog: http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/weblog/comments/amazon-rank/
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 disability, 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 Chatterly’s Lover,” prominent romance novels, GLBTQ fiction novels, YA books, and narratives about gay people.

Example of usage: “I tried to do a report on Lady Chatterly’s Lover for English Lit, but my teacher amazon ranked me and I got an F on grounds that it was obscene.”

Alternate usage: “My girlfriend wanted to preserve her virginity, and I was happy to respect that, then she amazon ranked and decided anal sex was okay.”

7 Comments

  1. well, there s a moral to this story to…read between the lines and behold, a niche for new writers to carry on or graft onto the myths!

  2. I have now posted the following tweet. Others please feel free to copy/paste into their twitter.com also. It links both to this post here and also to Lisy Babe’s post:

    #amazonfail on #disability too. Please RT both http://is.gd/s5I6 and http://is.gd/s5Xr #glitchmyass #glbt #disabled

  3. [...] far less attention in most of the hullaboo so far is the fact that, apparently, at least some disability books have been targeted also, including at least one sociology text [...]

  4. [...] lessons from certain BBC watching adults about what they should and should not be selling. As Textual Fury puts it, they are removing books that might upset [...]

  5. Thanks for this. I didn’t know books on disability were also being affected until I found Lisybabe’s blog. I’ve linked to her, and this post.

  6. I was shocked by the entire thing. There have been some updates, including an interview with an Amazon Employee. I can’t find it right now but reading it earlier, it did indicate this is the result of errors by an employee. I am not sure I believe the glitch theory, more evidence is needed. I am working on a list of disabled books effected but, this is a slow process due to not being home all day.

  7. I wish Amazon would be more forthcoming with details about what happened. I do think it is possible that human error(s) were involved. But if so, I think the categories certain books were put into in the first place (even before those categories were flipped over to being defined as “adult”) still reflects underlying biases in the system that still need be addressed.

    Up to you as you know your own schedule and competing obligations best, and you also know best what you have on your list etc. But even a partial list of books, however small, would at least be a start. It might be easier to get visibility for the disability angle if we could show with specific examples of titles etc. that it was more than just one or two books affected. Also, putting up even a partial list might help stimulate more people to step forward to do a little research of their own and supply you with more examples of books affected.


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