Anime Vice News

Dear Amazon, !@#$ You

You may have been seeing this referred to as "AmazonFail."

I'll admit from the get-go that the direct relationship between AmazonFail, as it's come to be known, and the anime/manga world is a bit tenuous-- it appears to have had some effect on yaoi (and possibly yuri?) manga, though, and it could have an effect on your ability to purchase adult materials on Amazon.com, not that they've had all that much hentai available on the site in a while.

Nonetheless, the news is thus: Amazon.com has pulled primarily LGBT books from their sales ranking system. That might sound pretty harmless, until you realize that this is one of the ways that many people find books on the site because the sales ranking affects the site's search results. Go ahead, do a search for “homosexuality” on Amazon.com: as of 9:15am CST today, the search results in almost nothing but books on how to “cure” or “fix” homosexuality.

Adding insult to injury, Amazon has sent all sorts of mixed messages, calling this “removing adult titles” from the sales ranking-- but many of the books removed were not sexual in nature (such as the non-fiction “Homophobia: A History”), while many sexual books (like Playboy or Alan Moore's graphic novel Lost Girls, which even features primarily lesbian action!) were left on.

A lot of people are writing about this right now, as you might imagine, but true to form Erica Friedman offers the level-headed best response:

“This is not a crisis, nor should we run screaming, but I think it is important enough that every reader, writer, publisher, editor and all champions of freedom of expression should take note. Amazon has changed its policy and has de-ranked books that it deems "adult" in nature. This includes anything they count as erotica and many non-adult LGBT books, as well.  

I do not advocate being outraged. Outrage accomplishes nothing. I *do* advocate a polite, but firm letter campaign asking that Amazon allow sales to indicate sales rank and nothing else.”

Now, Amazon has come out and called this a “glitch” to Publishers Weekly, but an earlier interaction with a customer service representative referred to it as part of the company's new policy to protect its userbase from accidentally finding adult materials.

Now, again, the effect on Japanese-related materials has been pretty minimal-- even yaoi titles with more generic names like “Love Circumstances” and “The Devil's Secret” and “Meeting You” have come up in search without much difficulty for me, although Simon refers to reports that some yaoi have proven more difficult to find. But if it's not nipped in the bud, as so many authors and readers are now working to do, it could definitely move that direction.

Besides which, it's bad policy in general to let companies get away with “protecting” the public from homosexuality, if you ask me. What do you think?

Sources: Okazu, Icarus Publishing, Mark Probst, Lilith Saint Crow, Meta Writer
lordhaseoon April 13, 2009 at 7:46 a.m.
wow
Devillyon April 13, 2009 at 7:48 a.m.
Gives me all the more reason to avoid Amazon damn you!!! stay away from my ....... Yuri!!!!
VamptVoon April 13, 2009 at 8:33 a.m.
I am actually of the opinion that this was an attempt by ultra-conservatives to game the Amazon system, using the site's new policy of removing adult content to tag pro-homosexual and pro-feminist content as adult, thereby causing it to automatically be de-listed. That's really the only reason that Amazon would have taken these steps. (And it would explain why manga hasn't really been affected. An anti-gay group wouldn't target such a small subset of the homosexual community)
HeeroYuyon April 13, 2009 at 9:03 a.m.
Well, considering there isn't a chance in hell of them being able to pull the same thing on amazon.co.jp without huge retribution on a level unseen before, I'm not too worried. I usually don't buy much from Amazon.com itself except occasional electronics and obscure parts (example: DVI to HDMI cables for cheap, mini fiber optic to TOSLINK adapters, and my z5500 speaker system).

Just about everything mainstream nowadays is getting so effed up and overly "politically correct" everyone's forgetting the original reasons for such services existing in the first place... I know I should care, but I just can't find it in me to.
giaon April 13, 2009 at 10:01 a.m.
Vampt: Interesting theory. More to the point on yaoi, though-- it's not aimed at the homosexual community anyway, really. Target demographic for yaoi is straight women :)
Lunarmothon April 13, 2009 at 10:37 a.m.
What happen to the old days where book protesters use to be ironic. Where protesters would go out to buy the book (increses the sells.. haha...) to burn it (not cool but they buyed the book so their lost). But each store has the right to sell what it wants or don't wants. So my segestion is to not buy from Amazon if it don't make you happy. Money to them is going to speak louder to them then words.
HeeroYuyon April 13, 2009 at 10:47 a.m.
Well, it's pretty true. Nothing sells more than controversy...
Lanon April 13, 2009 at 11:14 a.m.
You know, while users may "accidentally stumble" across "adult materials" they're not going to see anything more than title, sales ranking, and cover picture. There's nothing forcing them to look at the preview to see what "atrocities" the books contain, nor is showing adult materials being at the top of the sales list going to force or convince people who are offended by such things to buy them.  Is this an attempt to protect the "delicate sensibilities" of conservatives or the "innocence" of young users? I think not. It's more a ploy by those crazy conservatives to try to get everyone to see and do things their way. If no one sees these materials ranked so high, it could reduce sales and thus save the world from the dirty liberals, feminazis, and homosexuals. It really doesn't make sense why Playboy would still be ranked on there--maybe because it doesn't "encourage"  subversive culture...however Alan Moore's comic...that's more interesting. I don't really think these people even know the content of the books they're trying to keep off the sales lists; it's the only explanation that makes sense. 
transgojoboton April 13, 2009 at 11:29 a.m.
What's more surprising is the gall Amazon had to think they could pull this off and that no one would notice. Did they think the LGBT community would sit still and stay quiet?
ethan staff on April 13, 2009 at 11:40 a.m.
Gia you are like the "Title" master.  :)
Sigueon April 13, 2009 at 11:57 a.m.
NO! NOT MY LESBIANS!
Baku_Senseion April 13, 2009 at 1:15 p.m.
Oddly enough, Sigue's life story is still on Amazon, and that's the most homosexual piece of literature I've ever read.
Rathanyon April 13, 2009 at 1:43 p.m.

I am actually quite a bit bewildered by this as yaoi has it's own 'shop' and that 'shop' was fairly high up on the search tree.  

If you go to 'books', then to 'comics and graphics novels', both 'manga' and 'yaoi' are listed directly under 'comics and graphic novels'.  It always seemed to me that yaoi, at least, was fairly well promoted on the site.  The 'yaoi' section is well organized and has it's own 'bestsellers - updated hourly' list.  

Though, if the company has some new people running certain sections, they would have taken a bit too much initiative and made descisions contrary to the overall structure.  It used to be the norm that gay romances were considered 'adult' even if they had no adult content.  Early on, Amazon did not seem to rank things that way.  

If I were a betting person, I'd put my money on mid-level manager who made policy descions he or she was not entitled to make.  At least, I hope that's the case.  I've always liked Amazon.  

MoonStormon April 13, 2009 at 5:44 p.m.
Someone out there away think they know what is bast for you, at least that what Fox New whats you to believe. Amazon pulled some books and as a business that is their choice. If they don't what the money form it it's their lost. What bother me is we have to go some where else to get it. It wrong to single out people because of the thing they chose.
DJTyranton April 13, 2009 at 6:46 p.m.
Protip a hacker did this: http://gawker.com/5210142/

I had a feeling people were knee jerk reacting a little too quickly.
kiroshimatsuon April 13, 2009 at 11:44 p.m.
Burn'em *firey eyes*
HeeroYuyon April 14, 2009 at 12:54 a.m.
AAAaaaaahhh.... That would make a lot more sense DJTyrant. It would also explain why Amazon would claim it as a "glitch" then too...
giaon April 14, 2009 at 11:20 a.m.
DJTyrant: If it was a hacker, then why did a customer service rep say it was site policy? That doesn't make any sense.
HSaabedraon April 14, 2009 at 4:42 p.m.
Gia: Because it wasn't a hacker at all.  The situation was cleared up by an ex-employee that broke down how the backend works when it comes to entering listings and updating information.  The backend itself is linked heuristically across all of Amazon's worldwide portals, and once a change is made on one site, it's applied to allsites regardless of location.

I'll go ahead and link both of my articles here:
AnimeNews Article
EcchiNews Article with affected Yaoi/BL/Yuri Titles
giaon April 14, 2009 at 10:27 p.m.
For what it's worth, it wasn't the hacker; he's just a troll. http://bryant.livejournal.com/672165.html

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