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Confused (What's Amazon doing?!)

April 12th, 2009 (08:07 pm)

current mood: pensive

When going through my f-list this afternoon, I spotted a post regarding some Amazon fail that's been happening over the past few days. I'll admit, I'm not into homosexual books currently, but I did go through a major boys love phase in my manga and even novel reading in the past. (We're talking... maybe 5 years or more ago. :P ) So, out of curiosity, I decided to see what came up in a quick search on Amazon Japan...

Going through the primary interest post and related relevant list, I picked out a children's book title Heather Has Two Mommies, which was identified as one of the titles that was stripped of its Amazon Sales Ranking. Searching for the title on amazon.com resulted in a number of other books well before the book with that exact title. (Go figure.) Searching on amazon.ca, I at least get the title at the top of the search list, but it too has no sales rank listing. So what do I get on amazon.jp...?

It's a warning stating that this store contains items or items containing material inappropriate for those under 18 years of age. Absolutely no one under the age of 18 is permitted. It then asks if you are over the age of 18.

Going through to the actual book shows that this book is an adult item, cannot be shipped outside the country, and cannot be sold to those under 18 (<-- I guess that makes sense since you had to confirm you were over 18 in order to view the item in the first place...). But what's really interesting is further down the page where it mentions the book's meant for children 4-8 years old. Granted I'd be very worried if a 4-8 yr old had ready access to online shopping unsupervised, but... putting it in an adults only section seems to be going a bit far, isn't it? Especially if you consider all the boys love titles that can be found normally over there. ^^;

Mind you, I don't doubt that much of this (sic on amazon.jp) is simply because it's an import, so no one over there would even be familiar with the material let alone the author. From what I've seen, there's one title listed under J books for that author, but it looks like it'll be the upcoming 20th anniversary version (in English) for the book that I saw listed while poking around.

English books aside (I am looking on amazon.jp after all), I decided to look at things that are a little closer to heart: boys love manga and novels. Novels are a bit more difficult because, as I mentioned earlier, I'm no longer into that area for reading normally. The titles I'd read before may no longer be in print or the original publishers may no longer be around. (People more into this area should take a look around and see how heavily they're affected by this Amazon Sales Rank removal. Most likely you'll be able to see the effects more clearly than I can.)

I had to wrack my brain for titles that I'd read before, let alone authors, and the only ones I could think of readily were Matoh Sanami (Fake), Kodaka Kazuma (Kizuna), and Tateno Makoto (Tama Yori Hayaku, Aoi Hitsuji no Yume). Using Fake, I found it was recently re-released in bunko format and does indeed have a J Amazon sales ranking of #185,835 in books. On amazon.ca it's an adult book with no ranking but is available and can be found in a search from the main page. The ringer though is amazon.com. There, a regular search brings up the German version (which has a sales ranking) and a couple of weirdly titled out of stock volumes of the English version with no known time for re-stocking. Doing a search under Books gives me the appropriate list of TokyoPop volumes which are all in stock, but again, they have no sales ranking.

Quite frankly, I'd want to see what sort of results would come of searching for different books (sic novels), but there might not be much that's been brought over and translated on that front. Likewise, there's the distinct possibility that anything that's been licensed and translated will be out of print in Japan. >.> That said, Ai no Kusabi is readily searchable on all fronts and does have its Amazon Sales ranking. Never having read the book, I don't know how explicit (if at all) it might be. It's also readily searchable on amazon.jp (where it seems to have gone through a re-release?) and is ranked at #4508.

Quite frankly, I don't use amazon.com period. My (English) books pretty much come from either amazon.ca or Chapters/Indigo, and since I don't read much pure (English) smut (homosexual, heterosexual, or otherwise), this issue might not affect me currently. Still, it's rather disconcerting to consider if this were to be affecting me *now*. Being unable to find books readily or having to jump through Amazon's hoops in order to find things? No thanks.

But for those people who are thinking that it doesn't affect them, if you're into yaoi and use Amazon, it very well *may* affect you. To what extent, though, is something only you can determine.

Oh, and the requisite post of relevant links to the fun.


Posted by: Because loving ONE Seki-sama isn't good enough! (sekitx2)
Posted at: April 13th, 2009 01:03 am (UTC)

BL doujin anthologies don't have sales rank showing on amazon.jp now.

Someone on myflist did a post with lots of links but didn't really explain what she was talking about... if amazon wanted some (bad) attention it got it. ~_~

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: April 13th, 2009 03:35 am (UTC)

Hmm... weird stuff. I can search for something like 'doujinshi' but I'm not always getting sales ranks for the items. Of course searching for 'doujinshi adult' tends to have lots of warning pics where the book pic should be. :P

Someone from Amazon claimed (via Twitter?) that it's a glitch, but that doesn't explain the letter sent to that one author regarding what happened. It'll be interesting to see what comes up in the next few days.

Personally, I'm having a hard time trying to figure out what's going on with amazon.jp. Tateno Makoto's manga has shifted from Hana to Yume to serious BL publishers and when ranked is listed under 'comic/anime/BL'->authors->'ta'->tateno makoto, so it's really only a ranking based on the author's own books. (Perhaps too lowly ranked overall to have a listing??) The good thing is that you can readily find her works (compared to amazon.com), but... I'm not sure how seriously this affects the J site over all.

Posted by: Because loving ONE Seki-sama isn't good enough! (sekitx2)
Posted at: April 13th, 2009 04:15 pm (UTC)

As long as they don't get excluded out of searches on JP site I can live without a ranking. I didn't come across the warning page like in the screenshot.

I find regular anime DVDs can be a challenge to find on .ca at times (and tend to be listed much later than on amazon.com) *_*

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: April 13th, 2009 08:31 pm (UTC)

That's the thing that bothered me about the .com site--being unable to find things from a main page searcj. (Fortunately, that's not an issue for the .ca or .co.jp sites.)

I find regular anime DVDs can be a challenge to find on .ca at times (and tend to be listed much later than on amazon.com) *_*

Yeah, that's a bit annoying. I don't have any R1 titles that I'm following at the moment, but I remember being frustrated and annoyed at that when I was. >.>

Posted by: The Hamster Of Death (vampyrichamster)
Posted at: April 13th, 2009 02:30 am (UTC)

Heather has Two Mommies is a pretty popular book, but perhaps for too many unfortunate reasons. It's a children's book with an inclusive view of lesbian parents raising a child. This has meant that there are quarters who would prefer to keep it away from readers for a variety of reasons. According to its wiki, it is the 11th most banned book in the US. As you've pointed out, even if Amazon was trying to shield itself from legal flack, it's a touch too far. A children's book should not, by common sense, be put in a category with potentially pornographic material. I had no idea they even did this before -- but now I do. *shakes head*

Thanks for posting your findings!

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: April 13th, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)

Thanks for the link! I had no idea the book was that controversial, but if it was one of the ground-breakers for the whole area, I can see people having issues with it.

It'll be interesting to see what Amazon.com does about things in the days to come.

Posted by: The Hamster Of Death (vampyrichamster)
Posted at: April 15th, 2009 01:57 pm (UTC)

In an interesting development, my husband found this link today: http://consumerist.com/5210378/amazon-gay-book-removal-was-massive-prank-i-did-it-claims-troll

Although it's not necessarily true that this troll was responsible, it makes sense if Amazon was attacked. I just searched for Heather has Two Mommies on Amazon.com -- showed up just fine, with no warnings!

Posted by: wanderingdreamr (wanderingdreamr)
Posted at: April 13th, 2009 11:21 am (UTC)

Dumb question, what does .ca mean? .com is the US one I know, and .jp is Amazon Japan, but I can't think of what .ca means (California?).

Posted by: crystaljazz.wordpress.com (ext_180929)
Posted at: April 13th, 2009 03:22 pm (UTC)

lol it's .ca for Canada.
Yay, you're Canadian! I didn't know that. Awesome! :)

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