Additional Reasons To Not Forget #amazonfail

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Yet more evidence has emerged that #amazonfail was not a glitch, nor was it an incident that began or ended on the weekend of April 12. Rather it apparently is part of an ongoing attempt by Amazon to exploit authors, discriminate against LGBTQ and erotic material, and control the book selling business.

Francine Saint Marie, author of the LAMBDA Notable Book, The Secret Keeping, as well as The Secret Trilogy and Girl Trouble, among others, has battled Amazon to get her rankings restored and Kindle royalty payments made by Amazon since January of 2008 (yes, 2008, that is NOT a typo).

She and her team started documenting Amazon’s anti-LGBTQ bias in the last quarter of 2008. At least some of the discussions about this subject on Amazon forums were deleted by Amazon.

“Censorship was clearly built into Amazon-Kindle’s digital-text-platform years ago when it was programmed to constantly crawl itself for new content and trip the automatic censors whenever it found certain keywords that Amazon’s leadership had designated as forbidden. Publishers and customers need to be aware that those dirty words (like “gay” and “lesbian” as well as “erotic” or “sexuality” or “adult”) will still cast you into the great Kindle abyss for all eternity and that missing sales rankings are really only the tip of the censor’s iceberg.”

On April 5, John Kremer, author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books reported in his Free Book Marketing Tip of the Week post that Amazon has deleted any reviews by authors who had the impudence to mention their own titles in posting their reviews.

I can’t speak for all authors, but I believe a review posted by another published author carries more weight. I’m proud to count some well known authors among those willing to praise my novels. As Kremer stated: “legitimate reviews that reveal that the reviewer is an expert (a book author) should be allowed, indeed should be highlighted.”

Amazon deleted reviews with no notice and only after much difficulty could anyone even obtain a reason why. As is typical with Amazon (along with the lack of communications) no change to this policy seems to be forthcoming.

Recently, Amazon instituted a policy of only allowing anyone “who has purchased items from Amazon and is in good standing in the Amazon community” to write reviews. As far as I know, Amazon is the only bookseller restricting online reviews to those who have given it money. This policy prevents anyone who has read and enjoyed my books, but chosen to purchase them from another vendor, from posting their opinions on Amazon. It has prevented me from posting a review of a book I enjoyed that was given to me by that book’s author.

I am not the only one (although we apparently are in the minority) still outraged by what has happened and what it means. A small sampling:

Dear Author: “Amazon offers up some plausible excuse – oh my it was an overzealous cataloguing error – and everyone assumes that this issue is over. But it’s not over, or at least it shouldn’t be, because the #AmazonFail episode is an example of how easily one company can make content essentially disappear from consumers.”

Richard Eoin Nash: “in a world where whiteness and straightness are “norms” and males benefit from our patriarchal history, it is always the GLBTQ books, the queer books, the non-normative books that get caught in the glitches, the ham-fisted errors.”

Patrick of Vroman’s Bookstore: “now is the perfect time to think about whether you want to trust one company to dominate the book market, or any market, for that matter. … It’s actually your freedom that’s at stake here, and putting things back the way they were, fixing the notorious “glitch,” won’t change that. Because your freedom was at stake long before this recent de-listing experiment.”

Lilith Saintcrow: “Talking points in place for a specific complaint is not a glitch. It is a marker of a policy. Just look at the initial responses Seymour got when he complained of deranking in February. ”

Nadia Cooke “The indies are failing because we, the consumers, turned to Amazon and the chains. No-one thought that their own actions carried any weight, forgetting that the power of capitalism comes from the aggregated effects of thousands—millions—of individuals.”

You can use this link to find the closest independent bookstores. The staff there should be able to order any book for you as long as it has an ISBN number.

If you don’t have access to a local independent or it censors what is available, two online independent options are Relatively Wilde and Powell’s of Portland, Oregon.

And, just for fun: #amazonfail The Music Video

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