17 April 2009

If Not Amazon, Then Where?

On Tuesday, Ember mentioned the #amazonfail debacle that occurred over the Easter weekend. (Link goes to the Dear Author ‘amazon’ tag, which lists all the articles they ran regarding the issue.)

Amazon had been stripping titles of their ranking according to metadata that often included the terms ‘gay & lesbian’ and ‘erotic.’ It wasn’t an across the board deranking, but it did affect nearly 58,000 titles. To this point, I still have no idea whether it was a software glitch, some French programmer with a language problem, or the work of an insidious hacker. Amazon is sure as heck not spilling the beans. The upshot was that authors of gay and lesbian literature, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as authors of heterosexual erotic fiction, had their titles virtually buried for at least two full days, if not longer.

One of the most telling things about the entire 48 hour orgy of idiocy – from my perspective, at least – was that Amazon decided that the authors who were targeted by this issue didn’t deserve a direct and sincere mea culpa. Yes, there was the “embarrassing and ham-fisted” statement, but it did skirt the whole issue of ghettoizing, however inadvertently, an already marginalized category of literature.

The upshot is that I don’t shop at Amazon anymore. I’ve never been comfortable with the way they do business. I don’t like the mega-corp model, even though I get the economics of them. Instead, I’m choosing to do my book-buying from other independent stores. My online shop of choice is Powells, a bricks and mortar store in Portland, OR that also has a pretty extensive online catalog. I’ve also looked into Alibris and Borders, B&N and Books*A*Million are also options. I understand that some UK buyers have moved to BookDepository, as well.

If you’ve recently made the decision to spend your book dollars elsewhere, what’s your shop of choice?

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