With all the buzz about Amazon sales rankings being removed from lesbian and gay books in the name of avoiding "adult" content, I thought I had better check out QU. Typed in "queer universes" in the search box and got 5 pages of results with the word "universe" in their title -- but none with the word "queer." No QU. Disturbing. Typed in my own name, wondering whether I would have personally been Amazon Ranked because of my middle name (what would that do to Gay Talese, I wonder?). Got some of my essays (nice that Amazon.com can make a profit out of selling my work, but doesn't have to pay me royalties), but, again, no QU. Typed in Veronica's name. Ditto. No QU anywhere.
Then I tried a few keywords, like "sexuality and science fiction." Still no QU. Finally I went to Amazon.ca, where -- at least for the moment -- a title search on Queer Universes still actually produces a result. I then copied the ISBN into Amazon.com. Bingo! There's our book. From that page all the links worked -- I could get to my own name, to Veronia's and Joan's, and back to the book. Closed the browser, re-opened it and tried the search under "queer universes" again. Disturbingly, no book.
So clearly this is not just about ranking. It's about making actual books disappear. As an academic book -- a category that many folks consider dry by definition -- I don't really think it could be condemned for "adult" content. What gives the lie to this, in any case, is that Amazon has left up the links and rankings for dildoes, vibrators, anal plugs, as well as for straight sex manuals, such as The Idiot's Guide to Amazing Sex.
I think a strongly worded email is on its way, not to mention a head's up to both Liverpool University Press and to the University of Chicago Press, which is QU's distributor in the US.
By the way, the ranking on Amazon.ca has disappeared, but at least the book still exists. All things considered, I'm with Nicola on this. It's despicable beyond belief.
Larissa on Quill & Quire cover in November
2 weeks ago