Amazon.com apparently hasn't gotten the memo that the culture wars are dead.
They've stripped the sales rankings--and therefore, the search ratings--of books that deal with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues, as well as feminist books like Full Frontal Feminism.
It affects the search rankings for books. For small authors who depend on Amazon reviews and sales rankings, this is disastrous. Of course, it's also terrible for freedom of expression. When I searched BY TITLE for Full Frontal Feminism it didn't even come up on the first page of the search, which means that many people may erroneously assume that Amazon doesn't have the book. (Interestingly, Jessica Valenti's other book, "He's a Stud, She's a Slut" DOES come up first on a search for Full Frontal Feminism.) Julia Serano's Whipping Girl does appear, but only the Kindle edition, pointing out the randomness of this move.
Author Nicola Griffeth, whose books lost their rankings, said:
I am tired of being the low-hanging fruit that cretins pluck when they need to pander to Moral America. This time, I hope some people choke on their soft fruit.
Amazon probably didn't count on the intense blowback, though. Twitter has been buzzing with #amazonfail, noting books that have been affected, and offering other options for bookbuying for those interested in boycotting, as well as contact information for various executives to contact and harass. The technogeek in me loves watching Twitter do what it's best at--spread information fast and far. #amazonfail is a top trending topic on Twitter right now.
Neil Gaiman, with his 200,000+ Twitter followers, has commented on the subject, and Jezebel is tracking the books with sales rank removed--as well as noting the hypocrisy of the ones that remain. There's also a Facebook group.
I suggest IndieBound as a good alternative to buying from Amazon, and apparently Powells is contemplating a sale on GLBT-themed books in response.
Also, Smart Bitches Trashy Books has a page to link to to Google-bomb the term "Amazon Rank."
This is exactly the problem with large corporations. They force smaller companies out of business, and then when there's no competition left, they are free to enforce their ideologies on you.