Critical Mass

Amazon Has an Odd Idea about “Adult” Literature…

By Eric Banks

At the LA Times blog Jacket Copy, Caroline Kellogg follows the lead of NBCC member Bethanne Patrick in reporting on Amazon’s apparently new policy of stripping the sales rankings from so-called adult titles (a category that bizarrely includes Nataniel Frank’s Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America)—a policy that seems rather capricious at best in its application:

“Our research shows that these books have lost their ranking:  ‘Running with Scissors’ by Augusten Burroughs; ‘Rubyfruit Jungle’ by Rita Mae Brown, ‘Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic’ by Alison Bechdel, ‘The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1’ by Michel Foucault, ‘Bastard Out of Carolina’ by Dorothy Allison (2005 Plume edition), ‘Little Birds: Erotica’ by Anais Nin, ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ by Jean-Dominque Bauby (1997 Knopf edition), ‘Maurice’ by E.M. Forster (2005 W.W. Norton edition) and ‘Becoming a Man’ by Paul Monette, which won the 1992 National Book Award.

“Books that remain ranked include:  ‘Naked’ by David Sedaris; ‘Tropic of Cancer’ by Henry Miller; ‘American Psycho’ by Bret Easton Ellis; “Wifey” by Judy Blume; “The Kiss” by Kathryn Harrison; the photobooks “Playboy: Helmut Newton” and “Playboy: Six Decades of Centerfolds”; “Naked Lunch” by William Burroughs; “Incest: From ‘A Journal of Love’” by Anais Nin; “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” by Jean-Dominque Bauby (2007 Vintage International edition), “Maurice” by E.M. Forster (2005 Penguin Classics edition).

De-ranking of titles, Kellogg points out, may also mean that the books don’t show up on Amazon’s search engines—the case with the hardcover edition of Unfriendly Fire, for example, but not its Kindle edition.