…Not 15 minutes ago I put the finishing touches on a very nice post about why I was still angry at Amazon, and it’s more or less moot now since it mainly castigated Amazon for hunkering down in the hopes that thousands of Twitter users would eventually get bored and move on. So I’ll move on, because hey: I never run out of things to say. One of the joys of being a writer, and (however needlessly) opinionated.
The Seattle PI published a brief statement from Amazon’s Drew Herdener:
This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection.
It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay & Lesbian themed titles – in fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica. This problem impacted books not just in the United States but globally. It affected not just sales rank but also had the effect of removing the books from Amazon’s main product search.
Many books have now been fixed and we’re in the process of fixing the remainder as quickly as possible, and we intend to implement new measures to make this kind of accident less likely to occur in the future.
I am, I will say, more willing to buy this than the thought that a giant corporation decided to implement a global policy of blatant discrimination. Maybe that’s naive of me, maybe it’s not, but the idea that anybody would do something so visibly bigoted did seem a wee bit whacked. I’m still pretty damned curious about the policy that drove this cataloging error, referred to by CSRs responding to inquiries about missing sales ranks well before the proverbial poo hit the palm fronds. I’m happy Amazon finally has something to say on the subject, but it wasn’t much of an apology, and I think a lot of people, authors and readers alike, deserve one of those.
Explanation-wise, I just hope they don’t stop here, because I have lots of questions now.
How do they choose which books will be deranked in the future? What criteria marks a book as “adult”? And who makes these decisions? Will Amazon notify the author and the publisher of their decision to derank a book –before or after it has happened? Is there room for discussion?
More explanation is definitely needed: whatever the cause for this little debacle, it shed light on a fairly interesting practice. One that should be far more transparent than it is right now.