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Amazon Culls "Offensive" Books From Search System

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the streisand-effect dept.

Books 470

Miracle Jones writes "Amazon has instituted an overnight policy that removes books that may be deemed offensive from their search system, despite the sales rank of the book and also irrespective of any complaints. Bloggers such as Ed Champion are calling for a 'link and book boycott,' asking people to remove links to Amazon from their web pages and stop buying books from them until the policy is reversed. Will this be bad business for Amazon, or will their new policies keep them out of trouble as they continue to grow and replace bookstores?"

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470 comments

Surprise. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27551627)

What do you really expect from Amazon.

Re:Surprise. (4, Funny)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | about 5 years ago | (#27551639)

Apparently leather-fetish nazi self-help materials.

You should have logged in. (1, Offtopic)

alfs boner (963844) | about 5 years ago | (#27551825)

Slashdot moderators love banal comments like this, that say absolutely nothing but vaguely agree with the editorial slant of the article summary. Personally, I'd be embarrassed to have a comment like yours attached to my name, but I don't come up these sorts of banalities so you probably don't have my capacity for shame. It's a shame you won't get the karma bonus when one of the mods sees your comment and mods it "insightful" while nodding his head and scratching his chin.

Re:You should have logged in. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27552185)

Personally, I'd be embarrassed to have a comment like yours attached to my name

Personally, I'd be embarrassed to have a name like yours, alfs boner [slashdot.org] .

Cry me a river (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27551689)

It's a corporate website that can do anything within the law. FTA;

Evidently, Amazon's starting to stick their "adult" shit in a virtual back room behind a virtual curtain, and his book got fingered in the first wave.

But the books are still available even. It's just that Amazon decided to cordon off adult material into a different section, like many brick and mortar stores. This article should have never been on Slashdot in the first place.

Re:Cry me a river (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 years ago | (#27551887)

Ok, this comment comes up every. single. time. Can we please put it to rest?

Yes, Amazon is a business that can do whatever it likes with its website. That doesn't mean that anything it does is immune to criticism, or must be agreed with.

What is it with the "well, $ACTION is legal, so shut up." line of thinking? Sure, if somebody proposes that the Ministry of Fairness, Niceness, and Free Ponies at Taxpayer Expense be called in to save the day, than it is an appropriate response. So long as it is people drawing attention to the issue, and suggesting that others make their displeasure known, it is nothing more than a non-sequitor with a veneer of plausibility.

Re:Cry me a river (5, Funny)

db32 (862117) | about 5 years ago | (#27551967)

Uhm...do you have the contact information for the Ministry of Fairness, Niceness, and Free Ponies at Taxpayer Expense? I would like a free pony.

Re:Cry me a river (4, Insightful)

Old97 (1341297) | about 5 years ago | (#27552039)

I agree that though it's Amazon's right to sell or not sell what they want it's also our right to boycott and/or otherwise protest their policy. Nevertheless, it isn't censorship on Amazon's part. Amazon is not a government or other authority or monopoly so we are still free to shop elsewhere and many will. I think it's the people carelessly tossing about inflammatory and inaccurate terms like "censorship" that these folks who annoy you are responding to. Remember, the people who are "offended" are also calling for boycotts and issuing condemnations against retailers who dare to sell things they don't like. That's is there right too. So Amazon has to make a choice as to which group they will choose to offend by not offending the other. The sensitive people who are easily upset by some reading material apparently are better at maintaining a stink and a boycott that we more thick-skinned folks.

Re:Cry me a river (4, Insightful)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | about 5 years ago | (#27552219)

Nevertheless, it isn't censorship on Amazon's part. Amazon is not a government or other authority or monopoly so we are still free to shop elsewhere and many will.

It is still censorship, just of their search results. I don't know why it is people think only the gub can censor things.

Re:Cry me a river (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27552043)

Like you said, Amazon can do what it pleases with its business within the law. This is legal. More people are going to thank them for it (myself included) than be upset, thus it is in their financial best interest to keep it. That crap about the MFNFP doesnt make sense.

Its funny to me that when something conservative/moral is legally done, it is discriminitory to those with looser/liberal morals. However, when the conservative/moral people legally protest, they are told to shut up and deal with it.

AC cause i used mod points already

Re:Cry me a river (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27552115)

PS

If Amazon suddenly started filtering all religiously themed books, would you guys still be so upset? Methinks not. It would be a lot of "F$#@ religion" and "idiots with invisible friends" talk supporting said change.

Personally, I think the best way is to have an opt in flag on your account. It is not visible to the public, but if you log in (which you have to do anyway to buy it...) then you can choose to include them or not. You get to have your dirty smut, and I dont have to see it flaunted in my face.

I think youtube has that in place, but i dont use youtube very often so im not sure.

Re:Cry me a river (4, Interesting)

nicolas.kassis (875270) | about 5 years ago | (#27552199)

Yeah sure I agree a safe search isn't a bad idea. Google does it and most don't realize or care but it's plainly displayed when you do a search that it's on or off.

If they removed said books and refused to sell them then it would be worse.

And I would be as annoyed if any books were removed even religious ones but should a safe search include some of the more extreme religious books with more extreme views? It's a slippery slope.

Atheists would fight for your religious books (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27552263)

I'm an atheist who used my mod points. Yes, I would be outraged if they did the same to religious books. I may not believe what you believe, but I will never side with those who would silence your faith.

Some time ago, some friends invited us to a baptism at their church. We went in order to be polite. They had a place for the toddlers and little kids to go and play, and hear bible stories. Which didn't bother me, until I realized that in this context these weren't stories - they were true lessons. The children would likely be asked to repeat back and affirm what they had learned about Jesus or God or what have you. I don't know that I have ever felt so protective towards my son. I had to get him out of there *right now*. I don't think about religion much, so I had never realized how passionately I feel. And in that moment I understood how many religious people must feel. I may not respect their religion, but I do respect people as human beings with a fundamental right to believe what they want - and yes, to teach it to their kids.

So don't run around making stereotypes of those who don't believe what you do. I have seen religious Americans on TV about the depravity of atheists, about how perhaps they should not even be recognized as full citizens. Then I have seen atheists turn around and say exactly the same thing about believers. Don't stand for that stupid, stupid ignorance and hate. We are still friends with that family. That is one of the greatest things about our society.

By the way, I think your opt-in/opt-out solution (yes, YouTube does that, as does Google) is perfect.

Re:Cry me a river (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27552071)

The books are still available at Amazon. I fail to see where the criticism is the least bit justified. They can decide how books are promoted, arranged, or even sold for that matter. Not every store can (or will) carry every book or category of book their is, or put all books in the first page of search results. I get it, your books deserve "special" exceptions because they represent the homosexual community??

They made a legal business decision. Cry into your pink towel.

Re:Cry me a river (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27552181)

hahaha! Pink towel. It's funny 'cause they're faggots.

Re:Cry me a river (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27552131)

Let's try a little experiment..

I don't like these pro-gay comments. I'm going to boycott Slashdot until people stop writing them.

Re:Cry me a river (1)

mtrachtenberg (67780) | about 5 years ago | (#27552241)

As we lose more and more independent bookstores, Amazon becomes less like a regular business and more like a monopoly. Monopolies DO have more legal responsibilities than regular businesses, because they become many people's only realistic option for obtaining some particular service. When they don't meet their responsibilities, they get (well, they once got) broken up by the government.

Re:Cry me a river (2, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | about 5 years ago | (#27552159)

Exactly. I just did a search for "cock" and found a pile of excellent materials on Amazon.

What's the fucking problem that people have? Sales ranking? Does that dildo really feel that much better in your asshole when you know it's the North American dildo sales leader?

Re:Cry me a river (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27552233)

Think of it this way, you're sticking a moulded rubber cock into your ass that is the most popular rubber cock in North America. Thousands and thousands of identical cocks have been inserted into the anuses of men across the continent. That might be a turn on to some people!

Already removed my links. (3, Interesting)

palegray.net (1195047) | about 5 years ago | (#27551697)

I removed all Amazon affiliate links from my sites some time ago for unrelated reasons: extremely low CTR (even on highly relevant articles), "funny" reporting on their stats system that didn't jive with my internally monitored figures, and crappy support.

This gives me yet another reason to steer people away from their programs.

Re:Already removed my links. (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 5 years ago | (#27551815)

I removed all Amazon affiliate links from my sites some time ago for unrelated reasons: extremely low CTR (even on highly relevant articles), "funny" reporting on their stats system that didn't jive with my internally monitored figures, and crappy support.

Those reasons might inflame nerds and business people, but even semi-censoring sex is something guaranteed to inflame vast swaths of society.

As always, the best way to effect change is through directed complaints to the company and more importantly, to Amazon's advertisers and partners.

Re:Already removed my links. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27552037)

I removed all Amazon affiliate links from my sites some time ago for unrelated reasons: extremely low CTR (even on highly relevant articles), "funny" reporting on their stats system that didn't jive with my internally monitored figures, and crappy support.

This gives me yet another reason to steer people away from their programs.

I think that it is horribly immature for people to react in this manner, society really has fallen a long way as is evidenced by some of these unscrupulous comments. We should be grateful for the removal of filth from the internet, there is already enough available as is.

The new reality (2, Insightful)

ringbarer (545020) | about 5 years ago | (#27551717)

There was a time when we'd trust our collective knowledge to impartial institutions like libraries.

The gestalt of society is now firmly in the hands of corporate interest. Books from Amazon(tm). Friends from Facebook(tm). Meeting for Starbucks(tm). One brand identity after another. As soon as the books offend the brand identity they are stricken from the record.

One day the world will be Disneyland. Forced rictus smile sterility.

And we let it happen.

Re:The new reality (2, Insightful)

digitig (1056110) | about 5 years ago | (#27552029)

Does your public library have a prominent gay porn section? Mine doesn't seem to, but maybe things are different where you are.

Didn't block for me? (3, Interesting)

olddoc (152678) | about 5 years ago | (#27551719)

I used a fresh browser session so I waasn't logged in and I searched for Brokeback Mountain and the Filly and found them both.
Did they change policy?

RTFA - Erotica removed from RANKINGS (5, Insightful)

TheMiddleRoad (1153113) | about 5 years ago | (#27551933)

Erotica books were removed from page rankings. This particularly impacts gay-themed books since they're labeled more often as erotica, even when they have real plots. "Brokeback Mountain" get's no ranking while "Clan of the Cave Bear," with its throbbing members entering vaginas, gets a ranking. Meanwhile "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" sits happily with a ranking. Amazon is censoring sex, the fucking pansies, while considering hate-speech OK for the wider audience.

Re:RTFA - Erotica removed from RANKINGS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27551943)

I can search adult [socuteurl.com] and gay [socuteurl.com] material fine and all titles I checked appear in the sales rank.

Re:RTFA - Erotica removed from RANKINGS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27551999)

No, sorry. Het erotica hasn't been affected. Apparently it's not offensive.

Re:RTFA - Erotica removed from RANKINGS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27552169)

while considering hate-speech OK for the wider audience.

while speech that I consider hate speech is OK for the wider audience.

There, fixed it for ya'.

Re:RTFA - Erotica removed from RANKINGS (1)

nbates (1049990) | about 5 years ago | (#27552287)

They are not censoring just sex, but all kind of gay related books also, fiction and non-fiction. Check site After Elton for this week's article about this problem.

Consistency (3, Interesting)

gmuslera (3436) | about 5 years ago | (#27551723)

What they have the books in the 1st place if they dont plan to sell them or at least being locatables?

If some search results requires i.e. over certain age to see them, so be it, but not for every user.

It's Amazon's business (2, Insightful)

tftp (111690) | about 5 years ago | (#27551735)

Amazon has no obligation to advertise (or even sell) books that the company considers detrimental to their business. It may be that they will eventually limit themselves to politically correct generic choices that offend no one - but again it's up to them to decide.

This will only create more business opportunities for other people to sell what Amazon doesn't. The barrier of entry into book selling online is very low. Everyone who whines and screams right now should be registering domains and dusting their LAMPs off.

Re:It's Amazon's business (5, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | about 5 years ago | (#27551767)

Amazon has no obligation to advertise (or even sell) books that the company considers detrimental to their business.

You're absolutely right. That said, their affiliates have no obligation to continue promoting their products if they disagree with Amazon's practices. I won't sell their stuff.

Re:It's Amazon's business (3, Insightful)

davidgay (569650) | about 5 years ago | (#27551769)

Amazon has no obligation to advertise (or even sell) books that the company considers detrimental to their business. It may be that they will eventually limit themselves to politically correct generic choices that offend no one - but again it's up to them to decide.

I just hate this mindset, which is rather common here: "Why are you complaining? They're perfectly within their rights to do that!" The rebuttal is trivial: We're perfectly within our rights to rebuke them/boycott them/etc if we don't like their actions. If we're lucky they'll be shamed into acting better and/or decide that what they did was detrimental to their business...

David Gay

Re:It's Amazon's business (-1)

tftp (111690) | about 5 years ago | (#27551851)

The rebuttal is trivial: We're perfectly within our rights to rebuke them/boycott them/etc if we don't like their actions.

It's a very weak rebuttal. You definitely have a right to ask a company (that you do not own in any controlling way) to do certain things. I can, for example, ask Wal-Mart that I'd like their personnel to talk to visitors only in Elbonese. This is my right to ask. But it's up to Wal-Mart to consider my request, and if they don't see a value in it they will ignore it. After all, they are officers of the company who are directly responsible for the company, and not me.

So yes, you can complain and you can boycott. I heard many calls for boycott of this and that (RIAA, MPAA, Sony, SCO, and probably tons of other) but I don't remember of any major impact of them. Boycotts are more of a personal thing - something that you feel right. You hate the company - definitely don't work with it, if you can. But it's very hard to involve others, who do not share your dislike of the company. Unless the company really managed to alienate a critical mass of people, your boycott will remain a drop in the ocean.

While you are still entitled to furiously type posts on Internet and IMs on IM network about this Amazon atrocity ("they dared to make a decision without asking me!" :-) as I suggested why don't you just create an online book store that competes with Amazon and sells all these eeevil books that Amazon is afraid of? One of US beliefs (don't know if you are in the USA or not) is that doing is more valuable than talking. I'd be amazed if it took you more than a couple of days to put together an online storefront (an hour if you use Google or Yahoo accounts.)

Re:It's Amazon's business (5, Insightful)

xigxag (167441) | about 5 years ago | (#27552189)

as I suggested why don't you just create an online book store that competes with Amazon

If it's such a awesomely profitable idea, why don't you do it yourself? Maybe you're already a busy person with a comfortable income? Maybe you're not interested in becoming a bookseller? And not to be overlooked: What happens if/when Amazon changes its mind two months later because a bunch of people disregarded your advice by boycotting, making noise, and shaming Amazon into reconsideration? Likely your little storefront and whatever time, energy and money you devoted to it would be instantly crushed.

Overall, this philosophy you're trying to convince everyone of, that the best response to an enterprise you disagree with is to directly compete with it, is, bluntly put, silly. If you don't like your Senator because she's too religious, you can't just vote against her, you have to run against her? If you don't like the latest blockbuster film because it's got bad science, you can't just be a critic, or warn your friends off, you have to produce and distribute your own film? If you don't like the music that's out there, boycotting the major labels is no good, you have to start your own band? Sure, some people will have the time, the ambition and the talent to make these kinds of responses worthwhile, and perhaps the world would be better if more of us had the courage to do so (although perhaps not...,) but for the vast majority of people it's simply unworkable for one reason or another.

Re:It's Amazon's business (0)

tftp (111690) | about 5 years ago | (#27552289)

If it's such a awesomely profitable idea, why don't you do it yourself? Maybe you're already a busy person with a comfortable income? Maybe you're not interested in becoming a bookseller?

Or maybe I'm not interested in those books...

What happens if/when Amazon changes its mind two months later

You will lose two days of work, minus all the profit that you racked up while Amazon was dithering. Besides, what business is free of risk?

this philosophy you're trying to convince everyone of, that the best response to an enterprise you disagree with is to directly compete with it

If you disagree with an online retailer then you can compete with it, and since it surrendered the ground you have a good chance. If you disagree with AT&T you'd be ill advised to go and lay your own cable. Why is it that people so often want universal answers that apply to every single situation? There is no "must" or "have to", you always have options, and your goal is to choose wisely.

Re:It's Amazon's business (1)

hoskeri (948924) | about 5 years ago | (#27551793)

I just hope we are not on the road to this. [wikipedia.org]

Re:It's Amazon's business (2, Insightful)

tftp (111690) | about 5 years ago | (#27551919)

I just hope we are not on the road to [F-451].

Yes, we are, but not because of book stores. We are because people watch TV more and more, and read books less and less. We will reach the F-451 point when we will still have tons of books in small, dark book stores, and nobody will want to read them, just as today hardly anyone is rushing to read Sumerian clay tablets.

Re:It's Amazon's business (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27552099)

In Sumeria, clay tablets read you.

1. Sumeria
2. Clay tablets
3. ???
4. Profit!

Imagine a Sumerian clay tablet cluster of these!

I, for one, welcome our new Sumerian clay tablet overlords.

All your Sumerian clay tablets are belong to us.

Sumerians with frickin' clay attached to their tablets!

Re:It's Amazon's business (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 5 years ago | (#27552253)

We are always on the road Fahrenheit 451 and similar situations. Indeed, in the 1950s we had book burnings in the US of comic books and had all sorts of legislation passed against them. Read David Hajdu's "The Ten Cent Plague." Somehow, we've recovered from that point. It isn't a matter of being on the road or not. We are always on the road, we must constantly fight against censorship and there will always be a push for people to censor things they don't like. I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who said "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

And they're Amazon's customers. (1)

Virak (897071) | about 5 years ago | (#27551799)

They have no obligation to let Amazon make changes they dislike and not complain about them. It may be that they could buy from somewhere else that doesn't pull such bullshit instead of (or in addition to) complaining; but again, it's up to them to decide.

Re:It's Amazon's business (1)

crossmr (957846) | about 5 years ago | (#27551829)

They very well may if they have any kind of contract with the publisher of the book regarding its promotion or expected visibility.

Re:It's Amazon's business (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27551843)

Amazon has no obligation to advertise (or even sell) books that the company considers detrimental to their business.

I agree. There's really no free speech issue because Amazon is not a government agency.

This will only create more business opportunities for other people to sell what Amazon doesn't. The barrier of entry into book selling online is very low. Everyone who whines and screams right now should be registering domains and dusting their LAMPs off.

Well... perhaps if you are Google, Microsoft, Apple, or one of their respective billionaire founders there could be an opportunity. Anyone else who is not a billionaire (full disclosure: I am not a billionaire) would have a tough time convincing a bank or VC to back their competing online bookselling venture.

If you google for online booksellers, it seems that practically all of them leverage Amazon's warehouse, IT systems and distribution in some way. There are probably specialty book retailers out there that don't go through Amazon, but I don't think that was what parent was talking about.

Re:It's Amazon's business (1)

glwtta (532858) | about 5 years ago | (#27551901)

It may be that they will eventually limit themselves to politically correct generic choices that offend no one - but again it's up to them to decide.

And it's up to their customers to let them know when they make bullshit decisions - what's your point? It's not like anyone is suggesting that they be forced to advertise or sell books they don't want to.

Re:It's Amazon's business (0, Redundant)

tftp (111690) | about 5 years ago | (#27551953)

It's not like anyone is suggesting that they be forced to advertise or sell books they don't want to.

Here is a quote from the summary:

Bloggers such as Ed Champion are calling for a 'link and book boycott,' asking people to remove links to Amazon from their web pages and stop buying books from them until the policy is reversed.

What does this resemble more - "letting them know" or "forcing them to advertise/sell" ?

Re:It's Amazon's business (1)

fumblebruschi (831320) | about 5 years ago | (#27552097)

So, if I run into the guy who owns one of the two gas stations in my town, and I tell him, "You know, Jim, I use Bill's gas station instead of yours because I can get coffee at his place," I am forcing Jim to start selling coffee?

Re:It's Amazon's business (1)

DirePickle (796986) | about 5 years ago | (#27552103)

...it is customers organizing to display their dismay at the changes. If the customers don't care one way or another, they don't participate. If Amazon is more profitable with the changes and without the angry customers' business, then they are free to keep the changes.

Re:It's Amazon's business (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27551949)

It may be their right to do this but isn't it our right to complain about something a business does that we don't like? Isn't that the whole point of "letting the market decide" and all these other values that seem to be sprouted so much on /.?

I don't see a problem with complaining about something a business does when you don't like what your doing.

Everyone who whines and screams right now should be registering domains and dusting their LAMPs off.

It would be a good idea to set up your own alternative, but for most people that is simply an unachievable task. There are already plenty of alternatives already available. Everyone who is "Whining and screaming" now should simply boycott amazon and urge their family and friends to do the same. I know I won't be using amazon again.

Re:It's Amazon's business (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 5 years ago | (#27552053)

No shit sherlock, that's why people try to organize a boycott rather than taking them to court.

Re:It's Amazon's business (4, Insightful)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | about 5 years ago | (#27552075)

This will only create more business opportunities for other people to sell what Amazon doesn't. The barrier of entry into book selling online is very low. Everyone who whines and screams right now should be registering domains and dusting their LAMPs off.

Damn straight. This is America. We don't have an oppressive government, right? When one major corporate vendor drops you, you just pick yourself up by your own bootstraps and start a new store yourself. "Find a need and fill it," as Henry Ford and Ron Jeremy would no doubt agree.

So I'll just crank up my Linux/Apache skills and launch a storefront for erotica and other adult content, just like you're saying. Never mind Amazon Payments, I'll accept PayPal instead, and... wait, what [zdnet.co.uk] ?

You mean that any sufficiently-entrenched oligopoly is indistinguishable from an oppressive government?

Who would'a thunk it?

Re:It's Amazon's business (1)

kimvette (919543) | about 5 years ago | (#27552093)

Likewise, their affiliates and ultimately their customers can voice their opinion and follow up by voting with their wallets, as they are free to do so. Amazon can respond by catering to customer preferences or they can go the way of the dodo.

OT: SSH discussion closed early (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27551739)

For unknown reasons, the preceding article about SSH attacks has been archived and no more comments are allowed. What's going on?

Amazon goes both ways (0, Troll)

retech (1228598) | about 5 years ago | (#27551753)

So they sell them just not publicly allow them to be searched. On one side the pander to the bible thumping cons on the other they give service to their share holders.

I'd be more shocked if they took a stand... any stand.. and said this is the code of ethics that we're bound to uphold. But that's not what business is about.

Next up on /. - Disney makes horror movies and other profitable R rated flicks, shocking.

Re:Amazon goes both ways (1)

downix (84795) | about 5 years ago | (#27552171)

Um, you know Disney was the backing behind Dimention films, a major horror film distributor, right?

Prejudicially including GLBT material as adult (5, Insightful)

Gailin (138488) | about 5 years ago | (#27551781)

One item that I find very offensive is that Amazon is classifying GLBT material as adult, while not designating similar heterosexual titles as such.

They are a private company and are free to classify items how they wish. Similarly, I can choose where to spend my money. I'll spend my money with a company that celebrates diversity. Not one that is so blatantly prejudicial.

Citations:
http://community.livejournal.com/meta_writer/11992.html (contains growing list of books) [livejournal.com]
http://markprobst.livejournal.com/15293.html (screen caps and more info) [livejournal.com]

Re:Prejudicially including GLBT material as adult (1)

Gailin (138488) | about 5 years ago | (#27551795)

Hmm, I thought the linked article was a different one I read this AM. Sorry for the duplicate comment and links to the article.

digital revolution = shut up, stupid prudes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27551783)

While this is an idiotic move designed to placate a small number of ignorant prudes who, in their feeble attempt to sanitize the world according to their own individual codes of morality, take the time to write in and bother Amazon with complaints, at the same time, we are now living in a world where it is no longer possible to put genies back into bottles.

In the digital age, information is finally truly free and fully accessible and will remain so short of the very destruction of civilization itself.

Powells.com (5, Insightful)

narrowhouse (1949) | about 5 years ago | (#27551797)

They are everything Amazon is not, privately owned, good to their employees, socially responsible even when it doesn't show up in the press. They even have some brick and mortar locations (Portland OR, and Chicago). And the toll free phone number to contact then is on the front of the web page instead of being something you can only find in a 3rd party blog around Christmas time.
Are they perfect? No. Are they small enough to care what even one or two percent of their customers think? YES. When corporations get too big they get arrogant, it is in your interests to not let companies you like feel as if they can ignore you. Punish bad behavior with vocal and public criticism.

And to all those who say they are just creating an adult section, ask your self why children's books that try to discuss homosexuality delicately are delisted, but racy explicit romances is not.

Re:Powells.com (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 5 years ago | (#27551831)

They are everything Amazon is not, privately owned, good to their employees, socially responsible even when it doesn't show up in the press. They even have some brick and mortar locations (Portland OR, and Chicago).

While I am a big Powell's fan and visit whenever I am in either city; the Chicago and Portland stores are not owned by the same people. They were started by the same family, however.

Re:Powells.com (0)

tftp (111690) | about 5 years ago | (#27552025)

ask your self why children's books that try to discuss homosexuality delicately are delisted, but racy explicit romances is not.

My guess is that nobody will mistake a racy explicit romance for a children book, buy it and give it to a child.

Re:Powells.com (3, Insightful)

TrekkieGod (627867) | about 5 years ago | (#27552137)

ask your self why children's books that try to discuss homosexuality delicately are delisted, but racy explicit romances is not.

My guess is that nobody will mistake a racy explicit romance for a children book, buy it and give it to a child.

Any reason why you didn't quote the entire relevant section you were responding to, other than trying to be deliberately dishonest? Allow me:

And to all those who say they are just creating an adult section, ask your self why children's books that try to discuss homosexuality delicately are delisted, but racy explicit romances is not.

(emphasis mine)

Are children's books supposed to be in the adult section now?

Re:Powells.com (2, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | about 5 years ago | (#27552251)

While I agree with you, Powells and Amazon have one thing in common. The are mega book outets that tend to put smaller, more service oriented outlets out out of business. Powells has the other negative impact of encouraging people to travel to their brick and mortar store rather than just visiting their local independent book store, which probably has no other employees than the owners who just love books.

And amazon has one big advantage over Powells. Those stores that Powells would likely be happy to see out of business, Amazon gives them a leg up by posting competitive prices when showing the results of a book. So, if a customer wants to buy from an independent, they can.

I am certainly ambivalent about what Amazon is doing, mostly because I have never bought anything based on the Amazon rank. I assume it is fixed, and this tends to prove it. I am not ambivalent about Powells, and see no reason to buy there, just because they are cool Portland book store. In most cases I can use Amazon used books to find a seller much more local, which means I don't have to excessively pollute the environment just so I can say I order from Portland, where the cool light skinned people live.

A long time ago, I used barnes and noble used book service, which was very good. They messed it up and I went to Amazon. Maybe it is time to go back. Or Alibris.

Interesting (0)

oldfashionedlovesong (1529791) | about 5 years ago | (#27551853)

I use Amazon for the same reason I shop at Walmart. It is of no concern to me that Amazon hand picks their book selection. They have just as much right to not sell particular books as I have to buy them. It will not affect my future purchases. But I am disturbed to read that some still strive to limit access to literature. What kind of enlightened people are these? Are we all stupid and only they are smart?

Adult toy section? (1)

Banichi (1255242) | about 5 years ago | (#27551857)

Any word on what this means for Amazon's unobtrusive sex toy section?

Re:Adult toy section? (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | about 5 years ago | (#27552123)

No kidding. Those toys might wind up in the evil hands (errr... other places?) of people of the same gender, hell-bent on corrupting the morals of America with their deviant practices. I guess we've got to ban anything that could conceivably be used in a non-comforming manner.

Shades of Abunga? (4, Interesting)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 5 years ago | (#27551859)

Abunga http://abunga.com/ [abunga.com] was a "family friendly" alternative to Amazon. Abunga was similar to Amazon but people could vote on books being family unfriendly. If a book received enough votes it was removed from the website. Abunga failed miserably. It isn't clear to me why, given Abunga's failure, Amazon would do this. Censorship on the internet even when you have a right to engage in the censorship (as Amazon does as a non-government organization) frequently pisses off far more people than you make happy.

Re:Shades of Abunga? (1)

perlchild (582235) | about 5 years ago | (#27552191)

Well Amazon already has succeeded in getting mindshare, before starting.

Seems to me abunga might have failed to gather enough interest, regardless of family friendly or not, and just got selected out of the market.

And Amazon Japan is for pedophiles (0)

Neptunes_Trident (1452997) | about 5 years ago | (#27551865)

I wonder how Amazon would filter this shit? This http://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/B000N2CXFU?ie=UTF8&redirect=true [amazon.co.jp] is one step closer to fulfilling a particular desire, you think? And you do not even want to know the other crap that Amazon sells. I am absolutely convinced and cautious that the consciousness of the people in this world and their respective "business's" are confused. In the end your sanity and safety will always fall second to greed and profit. I look at my son and daughter and do my best for them.

Re:And Amazon Japan is for pedophiles (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 5 years ago | (#27551945)

She's clearly 18 but shaves and just happens to like to dress like a school girl. What's the harm in that?

counterproductive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27551869)

Is there a book that doesn't offened someone in someway; furthermore isn't one of the virtues of literature its ability to offend. I think half the books we call great are great because they are so offensive. The classic example is "The Assayer", but I'm sure we can all think of an effective example.

What books would they ban? (1)

actionbastard (1206160) | about 5 years ago | (#27551987)

'The Bonfire of the Vanities'?
'Atlas Shrugged'?
The collective works of Jacqueline Susann?
After all, this isn't 19th Century Boston.

Nothing to complain about here. (1)

Animats (122034) | about 5 years ago | (#27552013)

What's he whining about? His book has a rank of 6,811 in the electronic (Kindle) edition, which is quite good for a niche book. It's at the top of "Any Category > Books > Gay & Lesbian > Literature & Fiction > Fiction > Romance > Gay". Amazon published the author's note promoting his web site, his YouTube video, and a bunch of other links.

If there's a problem here, it's that Amazon seems to be heavily favoring the on-line Kindle editions.

Same shit, different company (5, Insightful)

fadir (522518) | about 5 years ago | (#27552015)

When Facebook started to delete pictures of breastfeeding moms as "offensive" there was the same outcry - and a few months later no one really cares anymore.

I bet Amazon is playing the same card. They know very well that people will complain but they also know that people forget faster than a fly.

Amazon business decision on whom to annoy! (1)

redelm (54142) | about 5 years ago | (#27552031)

Amazon is not required to respect human rights (particularly free speech) beyond a _very_ limited set of Equal-Employment and anti-racial consumer credit & service laws. The right of free speech can be claimed only against governmental authorities.

Amazon most particularly is not required to stock any books that it does not want to, for any reason or no reason whatsoever. Nor report any sales to the general public.

What Amazon has done is make a business decision that it preferred annoying GLBT people and their allies rather than "The Moral Majority"types who undoubtedly complained.

Perhaps a rather sad state of affairs, but probably accurately reflective of Amazon's customer base. You cannot legislate preference or tastes, let alone morality.

Glass half-empty or half-full? One can at least be happy Amazon carries the books at all.

Forget the gay nonsense (0, Troll)

leicaman (1260836) | about 5 years ago | (#27552033)

A friend of mine has a son who is a major department head at Amazon, and he's gay. So I have to point out this is not a witch hunt against gays. So get off that argument or you'll lose credibility. If you don't like adult materials being put behind a wall, then boycott them. But you better boycott eBay and a lot of other places too. Being a journalist, I'm against censorship. And yet I also have to point out people have no right to tell any store what they can and can't sell. Amazon is not alone. So, check things out or you're as big a hypocrite as you claim Amazon is.

Re:Forget the gay nonsense (2, Informative)

Cassander (251642) | about 5 years ago | (#27552133)

A friend of mine has a son who is a major department head at Amazon, and he's gay. So I have to point out this is not a witch hunt against gays.

Just because Amazon happens to employ gay individuals in positions of relative importance does not mean that the company as a whole isn't on an anti-gay witch hunt to appease the religious right-winger nutjobs. A good capitalist will gleefully oppress their own kind to make a profit.

Re:Forget the gay nonsense (4, Insightful)

fumblebruschi (831320) | about 5 years ago | (#27552157)

I also have to point out people have no right to tell any store what they can and can't sell

Of course they do. It's called the free market. It goes like this:

1) Amazon decides to categorize what they sell in a manner that a certain group of people finds objectionable.

2) The offended group responds by withholding their business from Amazon.

3) If the losses Amazon suffers from this are above a certain threshold, they will reverse the policy; if not, they won't.

Every interest group in America uses this approach all the time. It was probably an interest group that caused the policy decision at Amazon in the first place. It's Amazon's fiduciary responsibility to maximize its income, so it will appease whichever group spends more money.

Overblown but a catalyst for me (1)

forgottenusername (1495209) | about 5 years ago | (#27552045)

I've always felt vaguely guilty about all the box I've ordered from Amazon over the years. Probably about 800-900ish. It's just so damned convenient to click n ship, and with Amazon Prime, I don't pay for 2day (or greater) shipping.

However, it does have an impact;

- Extra (recyclable) packing material
- Extra resource usage in shipping and delivery (fuel etc)
- Most importantly, I really love smaller, independent bookstores.

I work on the same block as Elliot Bay Books in Seattle, yet almost never go in there. Several other good bookstores are in the area.

I supposed one could argue that I'm providing work for people regardless - I guess it comes down to where you want your support in the form of money to go. This article brings up a very late new years resolution - buy most books in local bookstores!

WRT to this article, I found it to be particularly sensationalist and uninteresting. Amazon does have a huge issue in restricting 'adult' material such as pr0n, sex toys etc - not to mention unexpected search results (try like 'Girl Scout Cookies') and this is clearly not the way to address it. However it's not like they're refusing to sell or display adult books.

I think it is just recommendations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27552063)

I don't shop at Amazon.com, so I am a little confused about what this is about -

but I think it is that when you enter the Gay & Lesbian category list and then search on customer recommendations, that adult material has been filtered. It is not that they have stopped selling certain books. And they consider all LGBT books to be adult, unless they are anti-gay. Gay people get quite upset when the top-rated book is on how to change the sexual orientation of your gay teenager.

Also I think they have already reversed this policy, so I think you will not be able to recreate the problem if you go to Amazon.com

Private company (0, Redundant)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 5 years ago | (#27552087)

Amazon is not government run. They answer only to their shareholders, primarily through the board of directors.

This means that they have complete and total control over not only what they choose to sell, but how they choose to present it (or not present it). Your only recourse is to not support them (as the author recommends).

THEY PISS ME OFF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27552135)

REALLY. IT'S ENOUGH! I GET SICK OF IT! Now this stupid system is telling me I'm yelling. Yeah so what. It's frustrating and it deserves yelling!

This story smells funny (1)

belmolis (702863) | about 5 years ago | (#27552145)

I can understand Amazon not wanting erotic books to show up when social conservatives or children do searches, but the implementation described makes no sense. If they want users to be able to filter, give them the choice the way Google does. Perhaps even default to "safe search", but allow users to choose "full search", or provide a more nuanced system with multiple categories that can be excluded.

In any case, there's no reason that a book should be excluded from sales rank in order to exclude it from search results. Surely Amazon has better programmers than that.

Sales De-Lising Includes Political Books (4, Interesting)

dtaciuch (229229) | about 5 years ago | (#27552165)

Andrew Sulliva;s Virtually Normal has been delisted: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/04/amazon-delists-gay-books-as-adult.html [theatlantic.com] Sullivan's post may be misleadingly titled: is Virtually Normal, (a non-fiction book about gay rights, from a conservative perspective) a "gay-themed" book? Or is it just that its politics is likely to make someone uncomfortable?

Hmm, what's Offensive? (2, Interesting)

aitikin (909209) | about 5 years ago | (#27552201)

I greatly deem the Left Behind [wikipedia.org] series of books to be extremely offensive, how do I get these results to match up with the books and movies that they decide are offensive?

It Gets Even Better... (5, Informative)

jhage (9442) | about 5 years ago | (#27552207)

Do a search on 'homosexuality' on the main page of Amazon now. If that's a genuine search result, Amazon has issues above and beyond just delisting books.

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