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Update: Amazon.com and Gay, Lesbian Lit

By April 14, 2009

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For those still making sense of the recent Amazon #amazonfail debacle, I'll do my best to sum it up. Essentially, Amazon labeled some number of its books as "adult" -- including thousands of gay and lesbian titles -- thereby removing them from their general product searches. (So, as the Seattle Times explained, "Books without sales rankings are still listed on Amazon.com but deleted from its best-seller lists, reducing the chances that they'll come to the attention of someone browsing the Web site for popular titles.") And though the company didn't consciously embrace a policy of censorship, that was the de facto result. Amazon offered something approximating an apology and assured customers that they "expect to start seeing evidence of its correction immediately." But the incident points to larger problems about how GLBTQ works are categorized in mainstream society. Richard Nash makes a strong case for why this can't happen, especially in a world where these mainstream retailers make it possible, even likely, that the forums that traditionally supported GLBTQ literature will go out of business.
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