Monday, April 13, 2009

My Response to Amazon's Statement

Amazon has just released this statement about the controversy:

This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection.

It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay & Lesbian themed titles – in fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica. This problem impacted books not just in the United States but globally. It affected not just sales rank but also had the effect of removing the books from Amazon's main product search.

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.

MY RESPONSE: It's a start but insufficient. It does not explain why writers, like myself, were told by Amazon reps that our books were being classified as "adult products." It also doesn't address why they took so long to do something about it, when they clearly knew about my issues back in February. Why didn't they address and fix the problems at that time?

And exactly what does "cataloging error" mean? Was the error that they ever had an "adult" category or was the category simply applied to the wrong books? And if Amazon is going to maintain an "adult" category, who is going to determine what is "adult?" How will they ensure that it's not disproportionately applied toward books with gay and lesbian content; and will there be a way to appeal the process once the determination has been made? What is their commitment to transparency? (It took me three weeks to get any info about what they had done to my book.) Despite what some have argued (um, former Publisher's Weekly editor, Sara Nelson comes to mind), Amazon should be held accountable for these questions, largely because they tout themselves as "building the Earth's most customer-centric company."

I don't think Amazon should be let off the hook until they address some very specific questions. Enough with the generic and vague statements.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Craig noticed this in Feb, Not last Friday! Below is part of a statement from Amazon.

It all started Friday when Mark Probst, a 45-year-old writer from Camas, Clark County, noticed that a couple of popular gay romance novels had lost their sale ranks and were no longer on their genre's best-seller list. Saturday, Probst noticed that his own gay romance, "The Filly," as well as hundreds of other gay titles, also had lost their sale ranks, so he wrote to Amazon's customer-service department.