Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Amazon's disappearing act - Update

Amazon has responded to complaining customers with an official statement:
This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection.

It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay & Lesbian themed titles - in fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica. This problem impacted books not just in the United States but globally. 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.
This is good enough for some. Mark Probst, an author whose book was deranked and quickly spread the story, wrote on his blog following this released statement:
So it's over. Amazon admits they goofed, and I, for one, shall give them the benefit of the doubt and say I do not believe that there was any malicious intent. Case closed.
Others are less quick to forget (half the posts). Still, Probst makes a good point. As I mentioned earlier, it makes no sense that Amazon would actively support a policy that alienates so many customers. This is still a weird story, important if only as proof that Amazon (the huge online everything store) is less in control than it was back in the good old days of book-selling (interesting takes by the Seattle Pi here and here).


  1. There's so much uproar over this. I'm not sure if it was an error, deliberate sabotage, or someone trying to make everyone else live by their standards. By the way, I gave you a blog award!

  2. Oh AmazonFail. What to make of you.

    Someone ostensibly validated tehdely's conspiracy theory, but someone else showed that confession to be unlikely. Though if you don't know tech-y things like code, you pretty much have to just take their word for it.

    I don't know anything, really, but I've thought for a while (relatively speaking, seeing as this thing only gained major visibility two days ago) that Amazon just couldn't possibly be so stupid as to do this on purpose. But one never knows...

  3. Weird indeed!

    Please check my blog for an award for you.

  4. I'm going with really stupid mistake. Occam's Razor and all.


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