Amazon blames 'ham-fisted' error for book brouhaha

Apr 14, 2009
Amazon has blamed an "embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error" for the removal of tens of thousands of books from the sales rankings and search engine of the online retail giant.

Amazon has blamed an "embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error" for the removal of tens of thousands of books from the sales rankings and search engine of the online retail giant.

The Seattle-based company's admission followed reports that books with gay or lesbian themes had been pulled from the rankings, a move which could hurt their sales.

Amazon, in a statement distributed late Monday to several technology blogs, denied that books with homosexual themes were targeted and said that numerous categories of books had been affected.

"This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection," Amazon said.

"It has been misreported that the issue was limited to gay and lesbian themed titles -- in fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as health; mind and body; reproductive and sexual medicine; and erotica.

"This problem impacted books not just in the United States but globally," Amazon said. "It affected not just sales rank but also had the effect of removing the books from Amazon's main product search.

"Many books have now been fixed and we're in the process of fixing the remainder as quickly as possible, and we intend to implement new measures to make this kind of accident less likely to occur in the future," it said.

Among the books which lost their rankings were James Baldwin's "Giovanni's Room" and Annie Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain," according to Publishers Weekly.

The disappearance of particular books from the Amazon sales charts was first noticed by Mark Probst, the author of a gay romance, who wrote about it on his personal blog.

Probst queried Amazon about it and was told that the company was excluding "adult" material from searches and bestseller lists "in consideration of our entire customer base."

Several petitions condemning began circulating online following the reports that certain had been removed from the rankings. One petition has drawn more than 22,000 signatures.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Group protests Kindle e-reader's read-aloud limits

Apr 07, 2009

(AP) -- A group representing the blind and other people with disabilities protested limitations to the new read-aloud feature on Amazon.com Inc.'s latest Kindle electronic reader Tuesday, arguing that the ...

Sony e-book reader gets 500,000 books from Google

Mar 19, 2009

(AP) -- Google Inc. is making half a million books, unprotected by copyright, available for free on Sony Corp.'s electronic book-reading device, the companies were set to announce Thursday.

Google makes books available online

Nov 03, 2005

Google said Thursday it will make public-domain books available on its Web site -- but said it would limit access to any copyrighted material for now.

Recommended for you

Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

Dec 18, 2014

The detective work blaming North Korea for the Sony hacker break-in appears so far to be largely circumstantial, The Associated Press has learned. The dramatic conclusion of a Korean role is based on subtle ...

UN General Assembly OKs digital privacy resolution

Dec 18, 2014

The U.N. General Assembly has approved a resolution demanding better digital privacy protections for people around the world, another response to Edward Snowden's revelations about U.S. government spying.

Online privacy to remain thorny issue: survey

Dec 18, 2014

Online privacy will remain a thorny issue over the next decade, without a widely accepted system that balances user rights and personal data collection, a survey of experts showed Thursday.

Spain: Google News vanishes amid 'Google Tax' spat

Dec 16, 2014

Google on Tuesday followed through with a pledge to shut down Google News in Spain in reaction to a Spanish law requiring news publishers to receive payment for content even if they are willing to give it away.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.