April 12th, 2009


A few things

First off: Happy holidays if you celebrate them!

Secondly: I just wanted to reassure people that lurking is totally okay. I know that for a lot of "personal" journals, lurking can be kind of creepy, but I really think of this as sort of a hybrid journal/media blog, and I generally don't post anything I wouldn't want repeated (very much keeping the "open universe" concept in mind). So linking to an entry here is okay, and quietly reading without saying anything is completely fine. Based on my site stats, the majority of people don't say anything, in fact. (And since I have anonymous commenting turned off for the sake of my own sanity, I imagine that a number of them can't.) I like chatting with people when I can, but you're not under any pressure or obligation, and I don't think it's weird if you stay in read-only mode.

Thirdly: Since I was discussing the imminent release of the NECA Bella figure in the comments, and a few people raised concerns that having a Bella around would suck, let me ask you this: would you have believed me if I'd told you two months ago that you would love The Littlest Edward? (I mean, not all of you do, I guess, but he's pretty popular now.) Keep in mind how crazy Bella drives me in the books. And that I know y'all are concerned about this. And that I know that reenacting Twilight unironically would be super lame besides, I don't have a truck or bad vampires. And also, that TLE still has My Little Ponies to take care of. And also-also, that Anna still hates him. I'm just saying, there's lots of places we could go with The Littlest Bella, and even I haven't decided what all they could be. So, you know. No worries.

And we haven't even opened The Package yet, and no matter who's in there (uh. Creepy choice of words, sorry), it will obviously affect the entire Shelf. But I promise you, we have gotten through everything we need to get through--or we will have, after the conclusion to yesterday's cliffhanger, which I might be able to post tonight, I don't know. Depending on how long it takes me to write, we could have The Reveal by Monday or Tuesday.

Fourthly (are we on four now?): I got a couple of related-to-doll stories recs. From melayka, abe_kroenen, a multi-fandom Hellboy-centered photo comic (hey, is that an Elrond?), and--help, I've lost the comment! Who recommended Kimono's Townhouse, the one with the My Little Ponies? ETA: It was dakiwiboid, thanks!

Fifthly, the doll food in the previous entry was from Pancake Meow, although the milk was real, and if you look closely, you'll see two tiny doll "aspirin" (it's the little touches that mean so much).

Sixthly, the Aromaleigh samples really are very becoming.

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Well, I'm having a bit of block (at the word-by-word sentence level) on the new Secret Life (and once we get to the entry after that one, you will understand why I've been trying to plow through), so let's discuss the big hot-button topic today: Amazon making an ass of itself (aka "#amazonfail" on Twitter, where much of the protest has been fomenting).

Amazon de-ranks so-called adult books, including National Book Award winner.
"American Psycho" is Bret Easton Ellis' story of a sadistic murderer. "Unfriendly Fire" is a well-reviewed empirical analysis of military policy. But it's "Unfriendly Fire" that does not have a sales rank -- which means it would not show up in Amazon's bestseller lists, even if it sold more copies than the Twilight series. In some cases, being de-ranked also means being removed from Amazon's search results.

Amazon's policy of removing "adult" content from its rankings seems to be both new and unevenly implemented. On Saturday, self-published author Mark R. Probst [markprobst] noticed that his book had lost its ranking, and made inquiries. The response he got from Amazon's customer service explained:

In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude “adult” material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

Probst is the author of a novel for young adults with gay characters set in the old West; he was concerned that gay-friendly books were being unfairly targeted. Amazon has not responded to the LA Times request for clarification.
The issue isn't that "adult" content is being deranked; it's that Amazon is pulling gay and lesbian content (and then feminist/general sexuality) that was not explicit (E.M. Forster's Maurice!) from sales ranks, greatly decreasing its visibility and sales potential, while letting explicit heterosexual content remain. (Moreover, Dear Author reports that, due to the derankings, "if you search 'homosexual' on Amazon.com, your first search result is 'A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality.' ")

Among the targeted works:
For example, books that are about Lesbian parenting have been identified as “adult content” and deranked. Patti O’Shea’s book that is listed “erotic horror” despite having only one sex scene has been deranked and removed from front page search results. Amazon has deranked Annie Proulx [Brokeback Mountain], E.M. Forster, but not American Psycho. Mein Kampf and books about dog fighting are ranked and can be searched from the front page, but not books about gay love or books with erotic content. (Dear Author)
(More thorough listings at meta_writer.)

Furthermore, Smart Bitches explains, "Craig Seymour['s] book All I Could Bare, a memoir of his job as a stripper, was stripped of sales rank back in February 2009, despite memoirs from prominent pornography actors remaining within the ranks. So this has been creeping up insidiously, it seems, until massive delisting occurred over the last few days."

Then Smart Bitches took it to the streets with the Google bomb Amazon Rank; they add that, "As of 7:54pm EST, Amazon has given out a host of explanations, which I’ve heard from Twitterers, along the lines of 'people complained' to 'we will have more information tomorrow.' I smell a giant meeting in PR at Amazon HQ bright and early tomorrow. We’ll see what the morning brings."

Of course, Amazon Says Glitch to Blame for "New" Adult Policy. Unfortunately, Dear Author foresaw that explanation: "Craig Seymour first complained about his book being adversely treated by Amazon back in February." Plus, you know--THE EMAIL TO MARK PROBST. So tomorrow should be interesting.

ETA: Traffic killed the Publisher's Weekly "glitch" article, but I managed to grab it here.

ETA 2: On Amazon Failure, Meta-Trolls, and Bantown. I don't know how that would take February and the Probst email into account, though.

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