The Amazon rank is back up for CONTROL FREAK. I hope this signals the end of the whole sorry mess, but here’s a few final thoughts.

The fact that non-erotic LBGT books were targeted is totally outrageous and unacceptable, but putting aside the issue of which titles actually deserve a naughty label and which don’t, I still find the underlying concept of Amazon’s “adult” labeling system very disturbing. Amazon has publicly admitted that they made a mistake by including all gay and lesbian titles in the adult category, but as the author of a book that is unquestionably erotic and meant only for adults, I’m still pissed off at the fact that this type of blatant economic censorship was ever considered in the first place.

If Amazon wants to put ANY titles into an unsearchable, unranked “adult” category that renders them nearly impossible to find, then they need to take a smaller cut from sales of those titles. After all, a publisher pays their tithe to Amazon in exchange for certain services. If full access to those services is withheld for any reason, it seems only fair that the cut should be proportionately smaller.

Or better yet, why not just leave things well enough alone and let people make their own choices about what they do or don’t want to read.

I know this will never happen, but I really wish that someday, we all might be allowed to move beyond the idea that adult Americans need to be protected from the word fuck, or books about people fucking, or the very idea that people might fuck in an unconventional manner.

I see things on the internet every single day that I’d rather not be exposed to. Things like spam, celebrity gossip, reality TV recaps being sold as “news” and flashing, twitching ads that make it next to impossible to read the article beside them. I don’t want to read creepy Christian how-to-cure-your-queer-kid books or dog fighting books or Mein Kampf, but, hey, I don’t scream and flail and write angry emails demanding that automatic filters be created to protect me from ever seeing anything I don’t like. I’m a grown up. I deal with it. I try not to click on things I don’t want to see, and if I click on them by mistake, I just navigate away.

I’m not against the idea of an obvious visual warning that lets people know a book contains adult material. After all, that kind of thing tends to sell more copies rather than less. Just ask 2 Live Crew. But preventing potential customers from being able to find the book at all is underhanded, unfair and just plain wrong.

And don’t get me started about “protecting the children.” If you’ve got ‘em, that’s your job. Period.

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Comment by Christa Faust on April 15, 2009 at 9:44am
"And even there, how does Amazon know, except from title, cover design, and blurb?"

It's my understanding that Amazon went by the user-created tags. The mistake they made was automatically including all books tagged as "gay" in the proposed "adult" category. They also included tons of other non-LBGT but also not-at-all erotic books such as sex advice for the disabled and several health related titles.
Comment by Dana King on April 15, 2009 at 7:17am
What's up with Amazon lately? Seems they do something stupid/offensive/wacky about three times a week lately. Really. Does anyone know of any major changes over there? Bought out by Mormons/Scientologists/White Supremecists/Rick Warren or something?
Comment by Aaron Hilton on April 15, 2009 at 6:06am
Amazon had no right to remove those sales ranks. They better start working on an apology, before a lot of customers go elsewhere. The 'glitch' excuse smells like the dead animal that decomposed under my apartment.
Comment by Christa Faust on April 15, 2009 at 5:42am
Yes there are children's books with LBGT themes, such as Heather Has Two Mommies and YA titles too, but that's beside the point. Amazon was using the "adult" label to mean erotic, (as in for-adults-only) yet a technical error allowed many non-erotic titles such as The Lesbian Parenting Book: A Guide To Creating Families And Raising Children or Created Equal: Why Gay Rights Matter To America to be included under that label. My argument here is that no title should be labeled in such a way as to be unsearchable and unranked, regardless of content.
Comment by I. J. Parker on April 15, 2009 at 5:10am
How do you tell a lesbian or gay book that's not adult from any other sort of book? Are the titles such that this is apparent? Are there YA and children's lesbian and gay books?
Or did you mean "adult" to refer to "erotic." And even there, how does Amazon know, except from title, cover design, and blurb?
And then, did you mean that only lesbian and gay books were targeted and not the hetero-sexual erotic romances?
From what I saw elsewhere, an employee in France goofed on this one.

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