links for 2009-04-13

  • Best summary of the ongoing glitch-a-thon I've seen so far:

    "Although the move does not mean the affected books are no longer on sale, it does block them from being able to access some of the site's most powerful areas – potentially affecting sales as a result. Without sales ranks, books cannot appear on many of the site's popular charts or suggestion pages, for example.

    "The move has left authors, publishers and readers angry, but also highlights the extent to which Amazon has become one of the most powerful forces in the publishing industry – with the power to make or break a book."

  • What does Tristram Shandy have to do with The Man from La Mancha? Find out here.
  • Via The Morning News
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden has the best guess I've seen so far at how Amazon's de-ranking disaster might have gone down:

    "My own guess would be that it has nothing to do with homophobia and everything to do with the fragility of large organizations…"

    Read on to see how easily this sort of massive mistake can happen.

  • 'I can't reasonably explain what good Amazon expected to gain by removing sales ranking data from all LGBT books that it sells. All it did was to fuel a Twitter-swarm that is now ripping Amazon apart (not surprisingly, using a shared Twitter tag of "#amazonfail"). Even though LGBT books are not singled out by the company's policy and are included as part of the "adult" category, I thought that a company like Amazon – weren't they supposed be the powerhouse of tags and labels, the emperor in the kingdom of the miscellany, the master of the new digital disorder?- would know the value of tags as emotional symbols and wouldn't stupidly insist on a policy, which, to say the least, is misguided and belongs to the pre-digital world.'
  • Chilling account by Douglas Preston, co-author of THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE, of how journalist Mario Spezi remains under attack by Italian legal authorities.
  • "It’s been called #amazonfail on Twitter, but it represents the greatest insult to consumers and the most severe commercial threat to free expression that we’re likely to see in some time. Amazon has decided to remove certain books that they deem “adult” from their ranking system. But the “adult” definitions include such books as D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover (Amazon link) (screenshot), Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina (Amazon link) (screenshot), Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain (Amazon link) (screenshot), John Cleland’s Fanny Hill (Amazon link) (screenshot), and numerous other titles. Books that, in some cases, have fought decades to gain literary respectability have become second-class overnight because of Amazon’s draconian deranking policy. "
  • 'On Amazon.com two days ago, mysteriously, the sales rankings disappeared from two newly-released high profile gay romance books: “Transgressions” by Erastes and “False Colors” by Alex Beecroft. Everybody was perplexed. Was it a glitch of some sort? The very next day HUNDREDS of gay and lesbian books simultaneously lost their sales rankings, including my book “The Filly.” There was buzz, What’s going on? Does Amazon have some sort of campaign to suppress the visibility of gay books? Is it just a major glitch in the system?'

    Short answer — it's not a glitch. Read the rest at Mark Probst's LiveJournal.

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