Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A, you're an Amazon?

I've never been much one for on-line shopping, so I don't know much about the workings of Amazon.com But a little while back there was a little brouhaha over sales rankings for feminist and gay books disappearing from the site--something that could hurt the sales and popularity of these books. I discovered this all via a fascinating post over on Viva la Feminista.

Apparently, Amazon.com has a policy that it doesn't show sales rankings for "adult" titles. Over the Easter weekend, the sales rankings for large numbers of feminist and gay books--but not for "soft-core" hetero porn--started to disappear. As one might have hoped, a virtual volcano of online protest erupted, mostly on Twitter. (Twitter is another one of those phenomena that I haven't spent time on and don't know much about.) Shortly thereafter, Amazon.com announced that the whole thing was just a "glitch."

Calls for a boycott of Amazon seem to be continuing, according to Deanna Zandt, who wrote the Women's Media Center post that Veronica at Viva La Feminista picked up on.

But Veronica takes the analysis further:
I've seen many a feminist blog and website that has an Amazon bookstore widget. Huh? Really?

Perhaps they missed the story of how the beloved Amazon feminist bookstore tried to sue Amazon.com for stealing their name? They settled out of court, but obviously the fact that a feminist bookstore had their name for 30 years meant nothing. Oh...and Amazon.com actually asked the owners whether they were lesbians during the pre-trial depositions? I admit that I'm practically ancient when it comes to online wars. And that I had forgotten this detail until I reread this article, but I've tried to limit my Amazon.com purchases since the throw down with the bookstore. I'm sure that I knew that tidbit back then, but just remembered "Try not to use them!"
Okay, I'm certainly not in the business of telling anyone where to shop. Really. But I think Veronica is making the point that Amazon.com is a typical large corporation interested in doing whatever it can to make the most money possible. If promoting feminist and gay literature is profitable for them, they'll do it. If suppressing free speech is profitable for them, they'll do that, too. If stepping on the oldest independent feminist bookstore  in North America is good for their bottom line, they'll do it. That's what giant corporations do. There's no reason to be surprised by Amazon.com's bad behavior.

If you'd like an independent alternative, you might try the IndieBound web site.

No comments: