When digging through Amazon's book listings this weekend, Washington state author Mark Probst found that his gay romance novel, The Filly, had its "sales rank" data removed just days ago, meaning it would no longer show up on things like Amazon's best-seller lists. A little sleuthing on his part revealed that many other gay-themed books had suffered the same recent editing, and in an effort to figure out if this was a mere glitch, Probst reached out to Amazon for a response. He got one:
In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.
Hence, if you have further questions, kindly write back to us.
Turns out the Gay & Lesbian bestseller list has become a wasteland as a result, listing only Kindle editions of books because every print edition has had its ranking stripped. Readers have taken to Twitter to raise a ruckus via the #amazonfail tag; there, I dug up a particularly interesting—and lonnnng—list of de-ranked books with gay themes. Hope you're not curious which lesbian pregnancy book is the best-seller at Amazon right now, for example.
Probst is quick to point out in his initial report that heterosexual erotica has been similarly de-ranked, and assuming Amazon doesn't disclose exactly which titles in their system were affected, there's no telling how niche this edit was. But de-ranking non-erotica, gay-themed books (yep, even Heather Has Two Mommies), so that they no longer aggregate in legitimate best-seller lists, while allowing this book to top Amazon's sitewide search for the term "homosexuality," is telling enough.
UPDATE: As a commenter pointed out, some of Dan's books are no longer ranked, either. Interestingly, he artfully dodges a de-ranking with one release, so gay authors and experts, if you could make America more comfortable by using the "Civil Rights & Liberties" topic instead, we'd appreciate it.