Controversy over Amazon De-ranking Certain Books

Amazon appears to be using technology tactics to censor and suppress books with certain types of content.

Over the past few days, we've noticed that several books were registering a Zero (0) or no sales rank. Sales ranks help many sellers (including us) determine whether to stock a book, how many books to order or purchase, etc. This information is used in a huge variety of ways by many people - including, telling the Amazon search engine how to provide results to search queries.

Then, just yesterday a story broke about how Amazon may be suppressing (or de-ranking) the sales ranks of books with certain sales rankings - and in particular, books with GLBT (gay and lesbian) themes.

The first book I noticed which was de-ranked as "AIDS and the National Body" - an academic book about postmodern understandings of AIDS. The book was not written by a GLBT person, and is not particularly explicit, but I can only assume the book was targeted because of the subject. Ironic, given that this book argues that the AIDS stereotype still exists (i.e., a disease caught by deserving people because of their sick desires).

What does Amazon intend to gain by this practice? What are the perceived benefits/results from this practice? Are they trying to suppress GLBT subjects? If they have a problem, why not just "move" anything they deem questionable to an adult area, or require those over 18 to be logged in to view these items?

There seem to be many simpler (and probably more cost-effective) ways to accomplish their goals. Further, Amazon has always supported freedom of speech, and discouraged hate speech. My question is, why do they not target the many programs emerging over the past few months which support hate speech and encourage violence? (i.e., Glen Beck, Ann Coulter, etc)

Click here for the story at (which also contains a petition to stop this practice, if you feel so inclined to sign it).

(This post is not necessarily related to FBA practices, but anything related to censorship is important enough to mention)

No comments: