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SHOCK: Is Was Amazon.com Once Again Censoring Gay Books?


After gay-themed books started disappearing from search queries and began losing their sales rank status in April, Amazon.com quickly blamed the event on a technological glitch. We weren’t exactly buying their story, but the giant book shop insisted they weren’t trying to hide gay lit and that it wasn’t an instance of homophobia. Fine. Situation resolved, right? Not quite.

A Queerty reader shopping around Amazon for a few queer titles discovered the problem appears to have resurfaced. Try searching on Amazon.com for Kirk Read’s How I Learned to Snap: A Small Town Coming-Out and Coming-of-Age Story. You won’t find it.

Sure, the title can be found through Google or Yahoo. But the only way to find the book on Amazon is to first navigate to its Gay & Lesbian section, and then search.

The same is true for Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. But is this really a return to April’s scandal?


It might be. Last month, Amazon began hiding, among other books, Michelangelo Signorile’s Outing Yourself: How to Come Out as Lesbian or Gay to Your Family, Friends, and Coworkers. Guess what? Once again, you can’t find it via search. And Mark Probst, who originally spotted the absence of his own The Filly, will once again be unable to find his own book (though if you begin typing the book’s title into Amazon’s search bar, it auto-completes the query).

What technical error will they blame this one on?

UPDATE: Queerty readers report site-wide problems with Amazon’s search, though Amazon’s official blog is silent on the matter.

UPDATE 2: Gay books are back. Amazon.com’s main search engine appears to be working properly again. Still no official word from the company.

On:           May 19, 2009
Tagged: , , , , , , , ,
    • Monica Jones

      This is not about sex that time.
      Search for whatever you want and you will most probably not find it. Amazon Search is completely messed up since 3 hours.
      Try to Search within books. Results are even worse. Everything will show up, but not the books you are looking for.
      Hacked? A bug? How long will it take until it’s fixed?
      Amazon will loose millions of $$$ …


      May 19, 2009 at 11:09 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • richard labonte

      yep – i just checked the anthologies i edit for cleis press and arsenal pulp press; type in ‘best gay erotica’, and where a dozen titles in the series formerly popped up, now only one slips through, on the second page of rankings. type in ‘richard labonte’ and a few more appear, but several titles appear first, none connected to me (though there may be a blurb from me on a couple of them). amazon’s got some ‘splainin’ to do!

      May 19, 2009 at 11:13 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Monica Jones

      Check it. It’s a general search bug for all searches.
      Better correct your headline ;)

      May 19, 2009 at 11:13 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alexa

      You know, when you cry wolf and don’t check your facts it just makes YOU look stupid. Monica is right, Amazon search was having problems this morning – I happened to be there searching for something completely unrelated to anything gay and got some bizarre results. It seems to be fixed now – Tales of the City brings up over 3000 results, and I found what I was searching for earlier.

      May 19, 2009 at 11:19 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kye

      Wow. Maybe it’s time for a fact checker.

      May 19, 2009 at 11:22 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • eww

      Your writers//editors are now so bad .. merely bitter and shrill .. that it is almost pitiful. This used to be a much better blog once upon a time. Sad.

      May 19, 2009 at 11:23 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Oaklander

      Titrate the lithium, cowboy. This is a technological, hopefully temporary, glitch. My kindle is loaded with gay works including erotica, a comic book, and some ‘real’ literature.

      May 19, 2009 at 11:24 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JB

      Thank you for posting this! I thought I was alone. Some friends at work have tried searching gay and non-gay books. We get strange results: like for ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and we get something called ‘For Straights Who Hate Gays.’ For ‘Twilight’ we got a bunch of religious books. It seems like the search engine is working OK for some of my friends. It sounds like a hacker.

      May 19, 2009 at 11:24 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Monica Jones

      Well said Alexa.
      But the problem is still going on.
      Just as an example: Search for “Twitter” and all the twitter books are NOT showing up, but hundred of completely unrelated books. So this is taking more than 4 hours now. Hope they will fix it soon. This will cost amazon, publishers and authors A LOT OF SALES!

      May 19, 2009 at 11:26 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sims

      I was able to find Tales of the City, but only by including the author’s name in the search. Same thing for The Making of Me – you have to type out the name of the writer or just search their name directly. If you just search under the title of the book you get buried in a snowstorm of other texts with titles that aren’t even close.

      I found Outing Yourself only by typing the entire title out in quotes, which is a pain. Looking for Gay Parenting, by Joy Schulenburg, will bring up a flurry of child theraphy and family law texts, but you can find it on the second page.

      The Filly is, as you said, gone.

      May 19, 2009 at 11:32 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JB

      @Sims: I typed the author’s name and title and it didn’t work for me. Tried Sapphire Push. Nothing.

      May 19, 2009 at 11:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark

      I think it might be irresponsible to continue to have this post up in its current form, since it’s very clear that this is not just a gay book problem. Search for “John Grisham,” “Harry Potter,” or “Janet Evanovich,” and you’ll see that results are highly flawed for all of those authors/titles.

      May 19, 2009 at 11:54 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mick

      Just went to Amazon and had no problems.

      May 19, 2009 at 11:57 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dabq

      I just received my summer reading books from Amazon, ordered this past Thursday, and, they are all gay titles and I had no problem searching for them, so, maybe its just a glitch than a out and out conspiracy.

      I get all my books from Amazon as there is no gay bookstore in my town, and I would prefer to do it locally, I have never once had a problem, other than a few reiviews that were off.

      May 19, 2009 at 12:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Stitch

      Isn’t this Obama’s fault? I’m appalled that Queerty hasn’t made the connection yet. He’s clearly throwing us under the bus and he only hates us because he’s kind of black. What happened to his campaign promises?? He’s mysteriously shifted toward the center, like every politician does after winning an election to satisfy a larger piece of the constituency, yet we were totally and naively unprepared when we weren’t treated like the new kings of the universe on day ONE. Shame on Queerty for not mentioning this.

      May 19, 2009 at 12:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Rachel Kramer Bussel

      Yes, I noticed the flaw this morning too (searching “cupcakes”). But I just wanted to say, if you haven’t read Kirk Read’s How I Learned to Snap, I highly recommend it. It’s an excellent, hilarious book.

      May 19, 2009 at 2:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tony

      “Isn’t this Obama’s fault? I’m appalled that Queerty hasn’t made the connection yet.”

      I was just about to make the connection (sarcasm). No I don’t think that all homophobia and discrimination stems from Obama, I merely think that he reflects the homophobia of our society. The reason I hate him is because he LIED about it and used us to get elected and now that the Republican’t party is the brand of last choice, he has thrown us under the bus like a used condom at a frat party, because he no longer needs us.

      I am glad that Obama is always on your mind. Did you send him a “Balentime”….LOL>

      May 19, 2009 at 3:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Abbie

      Thank God for Lambda Rising. They need and deserve our support.

      May 19, 2009 at 4:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Edna Sonambulist

      @eww: Yeah it’s sad to say that things were better run and more accurate under Andrew Belonsky than now.

      May 19, 2009 at 5:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Prof. O. G. Whataschnozell

      What were the sales of these books like before the “glitch”? Does anyone know?

      May 19, 2009 at 5:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hephaestion

      Ah, so Dick Cheney is now running Amazon.com! A-ha!

      May 19, 2009 at 7:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • rick

      so, what is the problem? look in the gay and lesbian section. the bar is on the side of the page. it helps limit results and limits people not wanting something from seeing it.

      as one who shops a LOT on amazon i have no problem with this at all. i buy all my books there. now if they can clean it up so that when you search for comic book it doesn’t give you the results for everything that has the word comic in the review and then informs you that some results are not included (you can click to include them) because of relevence when most of the stuff they give you isn’t relevent and has nothing to do with comic books at all.

      May 19, 2009 at 9:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Greg Ever

      @Rachel Kramer Bussel:
      I also recommend Read’s “How I Learned To Snap”. I read it a few years ago and it’s just great.

      May 19, 2009 at 10:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mb00

      I’ve never had a problem searching for books on amazon. Eveything I’ve searched for has come up. In fact, last month I did a 7 book marathon in two weeks. I decided I was gonna read all of the Armistad Maupin’s Tales of the City. They all showed up.
      Maybe whom ever is doing the searches isn’t doing them right?

      May 20, 2009 at 3:02 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mb00

      Oh yeah, and I almost forgot. My partner and I own & run a used bookstore and this problem isn’t specific to “Gay” books only. I could have a book right in front of my face and if I look for it on Amazon, sometimes we have to search for pages and pages of results until it shows up.
      You have to understand that Amazon, along with the rest of the world wide web, is polluted with so much CRAP that it’s almost impossible to find what you’re looking for anymore.
      Has anyone ever given that a thought?

      May 20, 2009 at 3:05 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Employee

      I work for Amazon and can attest that it’s a very gay friendly company and this article is unfair and untrue. Amazon has more gay people working for it than most companies and our sexuality at work is not an issue. This was just a simple glitch that affected all titles not just gay and lesbian ones. Please stop crying wolf when not necessary it takes away from the message.

      May 20, 2009 at 9:30 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • osocubano

      I’m afraid Queerty’s paranoia is showing…

      May 20, 2009 at 10:55 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ralston6000

      This an awful article and should be taken down. As far as I can ascertain, this was a glitch that happened when performing lots of searches… both gay and straight. I hope Amazon sues! I always thought Queerty was negative but I thought I’d give it another chance. I will be deleting Queerty again from my bookmarks. This is so incredibly wrong!!!!!

      May 23, 2009 at 4:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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