steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

The Glitch that Stole Christmas

Amazon has put its hands up. The official statement reads: 

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.

Sounds plausible to me, as far as it goes. At least it confirms that the mess stemmed from inside Amazon (sorry, trolls and troll groupies). 

It's more notable for what it doesn't say, though. I must have missed the apology for the distress this caused, to say nothing of the missed sales for the authors affected. If even Gordon Brown can learn to say sorry, surely it's not beyond Jeff Bezos? No mention of how long this has been going on, either - days, months? And a little more detail on how this error/accident came about wouldn't hurt. Was it an over-zealous human deciding that books on disabled sexuality were likely to be offensive (as well of course as anything GLBT related), and using the publishers' metadata to remove their rankings? That's still what it looks like from here.

As for "many books have now been fixed" - at the time of writing, the top title on an Amazon search on Homosexuality is still The Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality. Amazon won't be getting my business back any time soon, if ever.

Tags: books, current affairs, gender
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