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What Has Amazon Bookshop got against against Gay People?
It was said in 2009 that the famous online bookshop Amazon was guilty of being prejudiced against gay people! What a shocking notion! As if they would be?! Apparently the rumour stared because the bestsellers list in Amazon USA was curiously adjusted from the Amazon UK bestsellers list, and all gay authors had apparently disappeared? So, people asked: Is this some sort of homophobia going on?
Well it turns out that the problem was not as clear-cut as it seemed. It was largely a mistake in categorisation, almost like a Chinese-whisper where some information is conveyed and mistranslated somehow. In the case of Amazon, the UK best sellers list was the same as it would be expected to be, with famous authors being on there regardless of whether they were gay or not. So, for example, Stephen Fry's autobiography was categorised by Amazon UK in the classification "biographies" which makes perfect sense. However, in the USA, because of a slightly different set of assumptions, any autobiographies of gay authors were categorised primarily in the GAY section. Also, another odd quirk of Amazon USA was that anything classed as "GAY" was also classed as EROTICA, and therefore was removed from the family-friendly best sellers list! This double mistake left Amazon USA devoid of books by gay people in the Amazon USA Top20.
Representatives of Amazon described the mix-up as A GLITCH and made no big fuss about it.
Looking at it rationally, if there had actually been any homophobic motive behind the situation at Amazon USA, somehow a deliberate censorship of all gay books, then it would be pretty obvious, and would lead the famous online bookshop into a lot of trouble and some ridicule. It would have made no sense at all, as the next thing that would happen would have been a backlash from the LGBT movement, as well as grumbling from various authors who would justifiedly feel miffed that their perfectly reasonable books were missing out on the fame they deserved!
So, it's a mistake, and a rather silly one at that. Someone had made a categorisation mistake, and then someone else has made another categorisation mistake, and then the result has embarrassed Amazon. Well, not to worry.
The thing is, time will tell, and if you go to Amazon and do some searches and buy some books, they will have to cope with public demand. It's a situation more democratic than politics. If the situation regarding Amazon and the gay issue is as bad as some people imagine, then it will be a bit like what happened when The BBC banned a famous Punk Rock record from being at Number1. The publicity was so good it couldn't have been bought with cash.
On books, there was a famous book by Salman Rushdie, the Satanic Verses, which some people felt so strongly about that they BURNED it in public demonstrations against the perceived heresy in it. This made sales boom, and Penguin couldn't have bought such publicity even if they'd paid for a mass advertising campaign.
So, don't feel too bad about Amazon. Instead, go and buy some books! See a page about Amazon Bookshop