Money Matters - Simplified

Gay books disappear from Amazon catalogs

It was discovered last week that only the books related to gay and lesbian topics were removed from Amazon catalogues

Seattle, April 15: Amazon.com has claimed that an internal 'glitch' in its book cataloguing process caused the deletion of 57,310 titles from its sales rankings and search pages over the past few weeks.

The cataloguing error led to a raging controversy last week when it was discovered that only the books related to erotica, gay and lesbian topics were removed. Amazon was blamed for intentionally removing those titles.

But the company confirmed that the blunder was not confined to those titles only. Books related to health, reproduction and several other categories were also affected.

Amazon spokesperson, Drew Herdener, said in a statement, “This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloguing error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection.”

He further added, “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.”

But many bloggers are up in arms against Amazon and have questioned its cataloguing policies. The issue has gained momentum because last week many authors, who write on subjects like lesbianism etc., had asked Amazon about the lost rankings of their books.
For instance, author Craig Seymour’s book on gay strip clubs in Washington DC vanished from the rankings. However, other similar themed books like memoirs by screenwriter Diablo Cody and porn star Ron Jeramy were still there.

Author Mark Probst, who has written “The Filly”, stated on his blog that he had enquired from Amazon over the weekend about the book titles that had been deleted. Amazon had replied that it does not include specific adult material in some best-seller and search lists.

But the story does not end here. The twist in the whole controversy is a hacker named Weev. He has taken the responsibility of the disappearing titles from best-seller and search pages.

On his blog weev.livejournal.com, Weev wrote that he clicked on the “report as inappropriate” button present at the bottom of every product page. In this way he was successful in removing the listings.

He further wrote that he formed a small code that helped him find any book on the site that has been labelled as “gay” or “lesbian”. Weev then asked a lot of people to vote for the books.

Not only this, Weev also claimed that one of his friends had developed an “invisible frame” that made users flag Amazon books unintentionally whenever they visited unrelated websites.

Till now, Amazon has not confirmed reports of hacking and the case still remains to be solved.