As CNET reported this weekend, major online bookseller Amazon has come under fire for delisting titles in their ranking system, particularly titles with gay and lesbian themes. Titles affected include books on homophobia and novels such as Radclyffe Hill’s classic novel about lesbians in Victorian times, “The Well of Loneliness,” and Mark R. Probst’s (who uncovered the story) novel “The Filly” about a young man in the wild West discovering that he’s gay. Not only did this remove them from the ranking system, it also meant the titles no longer came up in Amazon’s main product search.
A furor rose online in reaction, criticizing the company of offenses ranging from censorship to homophobia, and now Amazon has issued a statement claiming that it was an “embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error.”
Personally, I’m actually willing to give Amazon the benefit of the doubt here, as I have doubts that any corporation would be stupid enough to actually make a move like this with the awesome power of Twitter now able to unite against them. My money is on it being either a computer error or some overzealous Puritan employee who got their hands on the ranking system, who the company will now be burying in the bureacracy.
It is interesting that so many people are making a fuss over the ranking on Amazon though, something that outside of the Top Ten I’m guessing very few ever pay attention to. God bless the mix of anti-homophobia and big corporation paranoia that leads to a news story when space is short.
What’s your thoughts, Hive Mind? Are Amazon secret bigots or is this just an error that is being blown out of proportion? Or is the answer somewhere in between?