It all started when Amazon removed the “Sales Rank” from all gay & lesbian books (apart from homophobic books which now appear at the top of an Amazon search for “Homosexuality”). The story is covered in detail on Jane’s Dear Author blog.
This got picked up in a blog, then spread like wildfire across Twitter under the hashtag AmazonFail with just over 27,000 posts last night.
Amazon finally responded and blamed it all on a “glitch”. A “glitch” implies a technical mistake, but Amazon had already replied to author Mark Probst saying that this was their policy. It’s not a technical glitch and to try to pass it off as such is an insult to Amazon’s customers (and the customers know this).
So what does Amazon need to do?
- Immediately reverse this policy change.
- Explain truthfully why it happened.
- Make sure it will never happen again.
Amazon will have lost some customers permanently due to its actions – it can’t reverse that.
Trying to pass the whole thing off as a computer glitch is just insulting. It’s clearly not a computer glitch – it’s the result of a human decision based on personal bigotry. The person who made the decision needs to be fired.
Rebuilding Trust and Reputation
Then Amazon needs to work hard at rebuilding trust and reputation with the people it’s pissed off. One way to do that would be to prominently promote the very books that were affected.
The big problem for Amazon is that, in a world where an online petition can get nearly 10,000 signatures in less than 12 hours over a weekend, they should have done all of this yesterday.